Review of "A South-Side View of Slavery" by Nehemiah Adams

This book will perhaps at first seem racist.  Adams, however, has solid Progressive bonafides.  And, he opposed slavery when it was actually happening, which the rest of us cannot claim.  Also, there is very little in Adams' book that wasn't rediscovered by economists.  You can start here and follow citations.

Essentially findings include that the lives of slaves compare favorably in many dimension to the lives of free, poor workers.  This shouldn't be shocking since slave owners have a reason to keep their slaves healthy and productive.  It's just interesting to see Adams realize this along his journey.  Adams was surprised to find that not all salves yearned immediately for freedom and all its uncertainties.  His conclusions about how Northerners should be careful to allow Southerners to help blacks once they are free is interesting in light of the early years of Reconstruction in which this advice was not followed and disaster ensued.  Adams further warned about Southern backlash which would be terrible if the advice was not followed, which happened after Reconstruction.  As I've said elsewhere, almost everyone will choose safety and security over freedom and uncertainty.  It's not surprising that slaves would do the same.

Moreover, if being a slave is synonymous with having a ruler who can control every aspect of your live and who, in turn, provides you with your basic needs, then maybe we're all slaves now.


2 Responses to Review of "A South-Side View of Slavery" by Nehemiah Adams

  1. […] Rev’d Nehemiah Adams has a similar thought in his admirable work, “A South­side View of Slavery,” which we regret is not before us. On some public occa­sion in Charleston, he was struck with the […]

  2. […] I think I’ve now read almost all of the books recommended in this post (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here – here and here are a couple others on the same period that were […]

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