Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Slavery, Segregation, Solutions, and No Gratitude

Editor's note: permission to post this was generously granted by Rev. Sewell.  It is 4500 words long and will cause a revolution in your mind (metanoia) concerning racial problems in America.   

Slavery, Segregation, Solutions, and No Gratitude
by Rev. Dr. Samuel Orrin Sewell 

I wrote this little essay to help me clear up my own bewilderment about racial issues. I hope it will also be useful to others

My brow is furrowed, and I have question marks colliding with each other in my brain. Oh, where to begin? Research is always a good way to reduce the number of question marks!


I think it is safe to say that most people know white people did not start slavery. Slavery is an ancient institution, as old as the human race. I suspect that every ethnic group on the planet has, at one time or another, been enslaved or owned slaves.

The specific instance of slavery experienced by some American blacks had its roots in black tribal chieftains selling their own people to slave traders, or selling captured prisoners of war. In fact, raiding another tribe to sell those who were captured was a commonplace way for black chieftains to acquire wealth.

The slave traders were mostly Arabs. The Arabian slave markets sold black slaves to white ship owners, who then transported their “cargo” to those who used slave labor. Of all 1,515,605 families in the 15 slave states in the US in 1860, nearly 400,000 held slaves (roughly one in four), amounting to 8% of all American families. So, at the apex of slavery in the United States, only 8% of American families owned staves, and some of those slaves were owned by black Americans.


Some slaveholders were black, or had some black ancestry. In 1830 there were 3,775 such slaveholders in the South who owned 12,760 slaves, with 80% of them located in Louisiana, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. There were economic differences between free blacks of the Upper South and Deep South, with the latter fewer in number, but wealthier, and typically of mixed race. Half of the black slaveholders lived in cities, rather than the countryside, with most in New Orleans and Charleston. Especially New Orleans had a large, relatively wealthy free black population (gens de couleur) composed of people of mixed race, who had become a third class-between whites and enslaved blacks-under French and Spanish rule. Relatively few slaveholders were “substantial planters.” Of those who were, most were of mixed race, often endowed by white fathers with some property and social capital. For example, Andrew Durnford of New Orleans, was listed as owning seventy-seven slaves. According to Rachel Kranz: "Durnford was known as a stern master who worked his slaves hard and punished them often, in his efforts to make his Louisiana sugar plantation a success.”

The historians John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger wrote: A large majority of profit-oriented, free black slaveholders resided in the Lower South. For the most part, they were persons of mixed racial origin, often women who cohabited or were mistresses of white or mulatto men. Provided land and slaves by whites, they owned farms and plantations, worked their hands in the rice, cotton, and sugar fields, and like their white contemporaries, were troubled with runaways.

The historian Ira Berlin wrote: “In slave societies, nearly everyone – free and slave – aspired to enter the slaveholding class, and upon occasion some former slaves rose into slaveholders’ ranks. Their acceptance was grudging, as they carried the stigma of bondage in their lineage and, in the case of American slavery, color in their skin.” Free blacks were perceived “as a continual, symbolic threat to slaveholders, challenging the idea that ‘black’ and ‘slave’ were synonymous.” Free blacks were seen as potential allies of fugitive slaves, and “slaveholders bore witness to their fear and loathing of free blacks in no uncertain terms." For free blacks, who had only a precarious hold on freedom, “slave ownership was not simply an economic convenience but indispensable evidence of the free blacks' determination to break with their slave past, and their silent acceptance – if not approval – of slavery.”

The historian James Oakes in 1982 notes that, “The evidence is overwhelming that the vast majority of black slaveholders were free men who purchased members of their families or who acted out of benevolence.” After 1810 southern states made it increasingly difficult for any slaveholders to free slaves. Often the purchasers of family members were left with no choice but to maintain, on paper, the owner-slave relationship. In the 1850s “there were increasing efforts to restrict the right to hold bondsmen, on the grounds that slaves should be kept ‘as far as possible under the control of white men only.”

In his 1985 statewide study of black slaveholders in South Carolina, Larry Koger challenged the benevolent view. He found that the majority of black slaveholders appeared to hold slaves as a commercial decision. For instance, he noted that in 1850 more than 80% of black slaveholders were of mixed race, but nearly 90% of their slaves were classified as black. He also noted that a number of small artisans in Charleston held slaves to help with their businesses.

The initial motive for the Civil War was to preserve the Union, but that soon proved to be an inadequate motivator.  Freeing the slaves became the more noble reason for war. A strong Christian influence was working toward ending slavery, and the abolitionist movement was gaining political power. 

The first national Anti-Slavery Convention was held in New York City in 1837.

The following year the second Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women convened in Philadelphia and was met with pro-slavery riots. The Liberty Party, a political action group, held its first national convention in Albany, N.Y. in 1839. That same year, Africans mutinied aboard the Spanish slave ship Amistad, and asked New York courts to grant them freedom. Their plea was answered affirmatively by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1841.

After the first year of the Civil War there was a consensus that the goal of the war was to free the slaves.

Slavery is an evil as old as humanity, and has been practiced by all races. So why do modern day blacks blame the entire white race for slavery, when all races have participated in slavery, and in fact it was white Americans who stopped slavery?

In 1860, at the height of slave ownership, the total number of slaves was 3,950,528. In the American Civil War that ended slavery 2,138,948 men served in the Union Army. 596,670 Union soldiers were killed wounded or captured. Do black Americans have a special day set aside to show their gratitude for the sacrifice made on their behalf by these men? Why not?

So, black chieftains sold black slaves to Arabs. Arabs sold those slaves to slave traders. Slavery was a fact of life. Even free black Americans owned black slaves. Black Africans and Arabs made slavery possible. White Americans stopped slavery. Where is the gratitude on the part of blacks toward white abolitionists?

So, in summary, white people had a small part in supporting slavery in America. White people had a very large part in ending slavery. Blacks have not expressed their gratitude to white people!

So, Republicans and Union Soldiers fought for the freedom of black people. The 14th  Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified on July 9, 1868, during the Recon-struction era. It, along with the 13th and 15th Amendments, are collectively known as the Reconstruction amendments. Its broad goal was to ensure that the Civil Rights Act     passed in 1866, would remain valid, ensuring that "all persons born in the United States... were citizens, and were to be given full and equal benefit of all laws."

After the Civil War it became possible for blacks to vote in the south. This was made possible by the passage of the Reconstruction Acts by Congress. Five states had a majority black population: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Prior to the Reconstruction Acts, which were given more support by the 14th  and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, there were 627,000 white voters in the south, and no black voters. After blacks gained the right to vote, and there were 703,000 who did so, it became possible for blacks to hold office on a local and statewide basis.
All the early black Congressmen (and Senators) were members of the Republican Party. This is because the Republicans, exemplified by President Abraham Lincoln, were the Party in office during the Civil War, and most abolitionists belonged to the Republican Party. The Democrats were opposed to all attempts to banish slavery.

Thirteen of the twenty-two blacks elected to Congress during Reconstruction were ex-slaves. All were self-taught or family trained. There were seven lawyers, three ministers, one banker, one publisher, two school teachers, and three college presidents. Eight had experience in state assemblies and senates. There were problems, however, as five of the first twenty blacks elected to the House were denied their seats, and ten others had their terms interrupted or delayed. Claims of vote fraud were the most common ploy used by Democrats to deny an elected black person his seat.

In 1869 James Lewis, John Willis Menard, and Pinckney B.S. Pinchback — all of Louisiana — were elected and never seated. In 1870 Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina was the first black to be seated in the House. He ran for reelection in 1872, won, and in 1874 his reelection was challenged. He was seated after the House, several months later, voted to seat him. He won again in 1876, and was again challenged. He was seated, and after eighteen months the investigating committee recommended his seat be declared vacant. The full House of Representatives however, did not vote on the matter, and referred it back to committee.

Other blacks who were elected to the House and seated, often had very rocky tenures. Only a few did not have to face hostile, organized opposition within Congress.

During Reconstruction, southern Democrats suddenly found themselves looking at former slaves not only eyeball to eyeball, but as equals before the law, and in the ability of the freed slaves to obtain elected office. Many Southern Democrats never ceased trying to "turn back the clock" so to speak.
Through the imposition of "Black Codes," laws designed to limit black participation in all areas of life, the establishment of sanctioned violence and "control" on the local level by the Ku Klux Klan, and the active and passive aid — via passing legislation and refusing to act when called upon in certain circumstances — the Democrats were eventually successful in bringing about the end of Reconstruction. In Reconstruction's place Segregation was instituted in the South and voting rights for blacks ceased. Thus, toward the end of the 19th Century, it became virtually impossible for blacks in the south to be elected to any office. This reality did not alter until the mid-1960s.

Blacks mostly voted Republican from after the Civil War through the early part of the 20th century. That’s not surprising, when one considers that Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president, and the white, Segregationist politicians who governed Southern states in those days were Democrats. The Democratic Party didn’t welcome blacks then, and it wasn’t until 1924 that blacks were even permitted to attend Democratic conventions in any official capacity. Most blacks lived in the South, where they were mostly prevented from voting at all.


Republicans joined forces with northern Democrats, and Civil Rights volunteers. Several important factors contributed to the paradigm shift toward eliminating discrimination and establishing Civil Rights for blacks in America.

  • ·       Work is a virtue with significant value beyond a pay check. The Work Projects Administration; WPA was the largest and most ambitious American New Deal Agency, employing millions of unemployed people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. Black workers were well represented in the WPA crews. About 10% of WPA workers were black, which was about the same percentage as the blacks in the general population
  • ·       The election of Roosevelt in 1932 marked the beginning of a change. He got 71 percent of the black vote for president in 1936, and did nearly that well in the next two elections. But even then, the number of blacks identifying themselves as Republicans was about the same as the number who thought of themselves as Democrats.
  • ·       The Tuskegee Airmen is the popular name of a group of African-American military fighter and bomber pilots who fought in World War II. In July of 1944 the Tuskegee Pilots received the North American P-51 Mustang, the most agile Warbird of World War II. They really distinguished themselves, and became American heroes. It became very difficult to think of a college educated black man who was an officer in the U. S. Military, and the hero pilot of a “Mustang” protecting our bomber crew, as just some Nigger.

  • ·       In early 1948, Harry Truman issued an order Desegregating the armed services, and an executive order setting up regulations against racial bias in federal employment. Truman garnered 77 percent of the black vote in 1948, and for the first time the majority of blacks reported that they thought of themselves as Democrats.


In the early 1950s, once again racist Democrats tried to block Civil Rights. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Many southern political leaders claimed that the Desegregation Decision violated the rights of states to manage their systems of public education, and they responded with defiance, legal challenges, delays, or token compliance. As a result, school desegregation proceeded very slowly. By 1960s, less than 10 percent of black children in the South were attending integrated schools.

In 1957, National Guard troops under orders from Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower were the first Federal Troops used to enforce Civil Rights. But, even after Little Rock, school integration was painfully slow, and segregation in general remained largely untouched.

In February 1960, four black college students sat down at a Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., and asked to be served. They were refused service, and they refused to leave their seats. Within days, more than 50 students had volunteered to continue the sit-in, and within weeks the movement had spread to other college campuses. Sit‑ins and other protests swept across the South in early 1960, touching more than 65 cities in 12 states. Roughly 50,000 young people joined the protests that year.

Across the nation, more than 70 percent of African Americans voted for J F Kennedy, and these votes provided the winning edge in several key states. When President Kennedy took office in January 1961, African Americans had high expectations for the new administration.

But Kennedy's narrow election victory, and small working margin in Congress left him cautious. He was reluctant to lose southern support for legislation on many fronts by pushing too hard on civil rights legislation. Instead, he appointed unprecedented numbers of African Americans to high-level positions in the administration, and strengthened the Civil Rights Commission. He spoke out in favor of school Desegregation, praised a number of cities for integrating their schools, and put Vice President Lyndon B Johnson in charge of the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity. Attorney General Robert Kennedy turned his attention to voting rights, initiating five times the number of suits brought during the previous administration.

In the fall of 1962 the Comprehensive Civil Rights Bill cleared several hurdles in Congress, and won the endorsement of House and Senate Republican leaders. It was not passed, however, before November 22, 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated. However, with the support of Republicans and northern Democrats the Civil Rights agenda continued to progress. Southern members of the House and Senate were vehemently against such an act. Republican Congressmen and Senators prevailed, and in February of 1964, the House of Representatives passed the Civil Rights Act by a vote of 290 -130. The Senate vote was 73-27. President Johnson signed the bill into law on July 2, 1964.

The take away from the Civil Rights story is that white northern Democrats and Republican leadership led the way for blacks to achieve legal equality. The so called “Solid South” part of the Democratic Party remained openly racist, and used ignoble tactics to continue the oppression of black people.

So, why in the world do black voters consistently vote Democratic? Why are black people so angry with white people?

Where are the monuments erected by black people to honor the white, fallen soldiers from the Civil War? Where are the brass plaques for the white Civil Rights martyrs such as James Reeb, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner who gave their lives to the cause of black equality?


Shortly after the Civil Rights movement victories, Democrats began passing laws to help “poor people,” by providing subsidies for food, clothing, and shelter.
As a part of the Great Society, President Lyndon B Johnson believed in expanding the federal government's roles in “helping” black people. Here are some of those programs:

Medicaid Grants to States
Food Stamps (SNAP)
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
Housing assistance
Child Nutrition Program (CHIP)
Support Payments to States, TANF
Feeding Programs (WIC & CSFP)
Low Income Home Energy Assistance
Food Stamp Act of 1964
The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 which created the Job Corps, and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), centerpiece of the "war on poverty" – August 20, 1964
Elementary and Secondary Education Act - April 11, 1965

Fifty years and $20 trillion later, LBJ's goal to help the poor become self-supporting has failed.

Or, maybe it accomplished exactly what the racist Democrats wanted in the first place. Unfortunately, blacks became subservient and dependent, rather than free. The Democrats re-enslaved black people with handouts. Black Americans sold their hard won freedom for food stamps and housing subsidies, just as Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of pottage. This biblical example about Esau sees pottage” is something immediately attractive, but of little value, taken foolishly and carelessly, in exchange for something more distant and perhaps less tangible, but immensely more valuable. The phrase alludes to Esau's sale of his birthright for a meal of lentil stew ("pottage") in Genesis 25:29–34 and connotes shortsightedness and misplaced priorities.


Democratic voters declare that property belonging to citizen "A" be confiscated by the government, and given to Citizen "B," or maybe even to a non-citizen. That is fundamentally wrong! Anyone who cannot see the violation of morality in that scenario has a corrupt soul.

Also, “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” George Bernard Shaw

So liberals steal from some citizens, to buy votes from other citizens. This behavior is just plain evil!

So now blacks vote overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates.

Of course, it would have been dramatically more effective and much less expensive to ensure that blacks were fully equal and fully participating in our society. But that obvious solution did not fit the desires of southern Democratic politicians. These racists do not want black people to be free! They want black people to be beholden to Democrats. And in modern times, the political tactics of liberal Democrats have replaced those of the group of southern Democrats, and now almost all Democrats are involved in oppressing black people by encouraging their dependency.

"The only thing you can give a man without hurting him is an opportunity." Henry Ford

A biography of Lynden B Johnson reports this quotation from 1964 which illustrates how Liberals and old school Democrats see the their victory in the war on poverty, “These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days, and that’s a problem for us, since they’ve got something now they never had before; the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference. I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.” —Lyndon B Johnson to two Southern governors on Air Force One.

Johnson’s and Obama’s “wars on poverty” are frauds to keep people poor and dependent on the federal government. By keeping blacks dependent on them, the Democrats “own” blacks, and keep them doing their bidding, their work. This is the modern face of slavery, slavery being something the Democrat party has always owned and has no intention of giving up.

In the mad dash to vilify the Republicans and Conservatives today many have forgotten the fact that it was the Republican Party that was the champion of Civil Rights and freedom for African Americans. Today that story goes either untold or when it is told, those that do so are immediately under attack, and accused of being a racist. Many today would like you to believe that just because Conservatives would rather assist in moving people off the rolls of welfare or any number of assistance programs, we do not care about those that have been conditioned to be dependent on those programs, and that is one of the most fatal mistakes that Progressives make. Conservatives under-stand that people need assistance, but they also understand that it cannot become a lifestyle, that is passed down from generation to generation.


We need to begin accepting that there is an underclass of people who are racist, criminal, use more than they produce, feed at the public trough, produce fatherless children, see themselves as victims, use dangerous drugs, promote prostitution, whose speech is full of vulgarities and reeks of ignorance, and who hate white Americans. Gee, who could that class of people be? Do we have a name for them? Or is the name unspeakable?

Quote from a psychology professor I once had; “People are not who you think they are. People are not who they think they are. People are what they do. That is why this is called the behavioral science." Forget the labels; they are all misleading. By paying attention to, and describing these people, regardless of their color, according to their behavior, all the racist politics dissolve into the nothingness from which they came. The word "racist" was invented by Democrats to buy votes. The social pathology I describe below is not specific to any particular race, and could happen to any ethnic group.

  • ·      If you participate in criminal behavior you are a criminal, and you don’t deserve to be treated as an equal with law abiding citizens.
  • ·       If your demographic group commits more crime than other demographic groups you will be looked upon with suspicion, even if you personally are not a criminal.
  • ·       If your demographic group has a large number of dysfunctional families, your children will not be well adjusted nor do well in school or the workplace.
  • ·       If your demographic group has a large percentage of “fatherless” children, your culture is sick and does not deserve equality.
  • ·       If your demographic group has a high drop-out rate for high school, you are not the equal of educated people.
  • ·       If your demographic group uses illegal drugs and abuses alcohol you will not be the equal of sober responsible people.
  • ·       If you cannot properly read, write, and speak the language of your country, do not expect equal treatment when you apply for a job or interact with those who are fluent with the primary language.
  • ·       If you behave hatefully toward other demographic groups, you will not be respected.
  • ·       If you use more than you produce or accept handouts, you are of no value to your society, and cannot expect to be treated as an equal.
  • ·       If your demographic group makes up 12% of the population and accounts for 49% of all homicides, and if 93% of those murders are committed by other people in the same demographic group, your group is pathologically violent and should not be seen as equal to other less violent groups.
  • ·       If it is safer to be in the military than in your neighborhood, enlist now. If you get through boot camp you will be treated as an equal. 
  • If you are blaming other people for your dysfunctional behavior, you have serious psychological problems, and don’t deserve to be treated as an equal.
Equality doesn’t come to you because of your color or heritage, no matter what it is. Laws cannot bestow equality, no matter how much politicians will lie to you to get your vote. You will be respected because of your behavior. You will be equal when your behavior is equal to other people in the nation.

There are dozens of additional demographic studies that have not been cited above, but which make the same point. Don’t blame your color for your lack of equality. Blame your own behavior.

Yourself To Blame by Mayme White Miller

If things go bad for you
And make you a bit ashamed
Often you will find out that
You have yourself to blame
Swiftly we ran to mischief
And then the bad luck came
Why do we fault others?
We have ourselves to blame
Whatever happens to us,
Here is what we say
“Had it not been for so-and-so
Things wouldn’t have gone that way.”
And if you are short of friends,
I’ll tell you what to do
Make an examination,
You’ll find the faults in you…

You’re the captain of your ship,
So agree with the same
If you travel downward
You have yourself to blame


The good news is that there is a way out. You do have equal opportunity. Change your behavior, and you will leave your demographic group behind, and become an equal.
You may be right that "simple will power" is not adequate to reverse decades of social pathology in your culture, but I do know that validating pathology and subsidizing it will prevent any tactic from being efficacious. The sub-culture we are discussing is sick to its core.

However, the solution is available within this very same demographic group. Not everybody is sick. One of the most valuable areas of research for epidemiologists is studying those who don't get sick. How are the functional people in this demographic group behaving? Mostly they succeed because of hard work, good values, and responsible living. And that is a universal recipe for success, and is not confined to any demographic group. These are nongovernmental solutions that can heal a sick society. Blaming the pathology on other people is not a solution. Blaming the pathology on history is not a solution.


There are no government solutions. There isn’t a “program” that will rescue you!

Need an example? The Washington Post report notes that Dr. Ben Carson’s mother, Sonya, had a big influence in the life of a “screw-up kid with a temper” who later went on to become a world famous neurosurgeon and ultimately an outspoken, Conservative critic of many of President Obama’s policies, especially ObamaCare.

“Sonya had 24 siblings and was married at age 13. When she found out that her husband, Ben’s father, had a second family, they divorced. Unable to read, Sonya encouraged her kids to stop watching television and read two books per week.” Sonya Carson's life motto is: "Learn to do your best and God will do the rest." Thank you, Sonya! That is the solution.

Rev. Paul Samson can be reached at

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