The Internet provides me with lots of reading material; some of it is fascinating. Recently I've come across four absorbing articles with a common subject matter - the American system of slavery. These have all provided interesting viewpoints, new information or intriguing analysis. At least to me.
You should be warned that Mixed Meters does not have a fact checking department. Like so much of life, you are free to form your own beliefs.
These articles are good examples of why the past is never really past. There is much relevance here to contemporary issues. And we often need to be reminded that the explanations we are taught about why things happened are usually oversimplifications and possibly just plain wrong.
The four articles are:
The Second Amendment was Ratified to Preserve Slavery by Thom Hartmann at TruthOut. These days the phrase "well regulated militia" is an excuse for the NRA to turn our country into an armed camp. But back when they were agreeing to the Bill of Rights, one of the reasons for guaranteed gun ownership was the need for state militias to keep the slaves enslaved. And the South didn't trust the Federal government to do that chore for them.
10 Things You Need to Know About Slavery (That You Won't Learn from Django Unchained) by Imara Jones originally from Colorlines; I found it on AlterNet. Slavery was a source of skilled labor? The American Revolution was intended to preserve the slave economy? Southern anti-tax attitudes started as a way to maintain slavery? Wall Street firms made fortunes from slavery? Who knew?
The South's Shocking Hidden History: Thousands of Blacks Forced Into Slavery Until WW2 by Douglas A. Blackmon in The Washington Monthly (again, I found this via AlterNet). A system of virtual slavery lasted nearly a century after the Civil War. The rehabilitated Southern states passed laws that could turn any Black person into a criminal who could be "leased" to plantation owners. Once released, he could still be forced to work, couldn't freely change jobs and probably owed his soul to the company store.
How presidential elections are impacted by a 100 million year old coastline by Dr. Craig McClain from The Deep Sea News. In short, ancient geology gave rise to the best farmland in the South, the so-called Black Belt, where the largest plantations had the most slaves. These areas now have high populations of Black people who are reliable Democratic voters. As a result there is an electoral Blue Belt inside certain Red States.
I recommend AlterNet as a good source of liberal, progressive information and opinion. I thank Leslie Harris and Jim Angus for alerting me to the other articles.
Here's an article about a Southern Republican who defended slavery - during the 2012 elections.