Dan Carlin's Hardcore History - Show 68 - BLITZ Human Resources

Episode Date: March 7, 2022

The Atlantic Slave Trade mixes centuries of human bondage with violence, economics, commerce, geo-political competition, liberty, morality, injustice, revolution, tragedy and bloody reckonings. That s...ounds like a lot, yet this show merely scratches the surface of this enormous subject.

Discussion (0)
Starting point is 00:00:00 It's hardcore history. The Blitz Edition. These shows that we do are improvised. There's no script. I'll usually come in the studio, remember where we were the day before, write down some thoughts that might have occurred to me in just sort of maybe bullet point form or whatever, and then we improvise. And if we don't like it, we throw it away.
Starting point is 00:00:26 We do like it strings together with the stuff we did previously. But the reason that matters is I don't have a real roadmap or idea of how what we're about to start here is going to go. We take this journey together, and then you look at what you have and say, well, what is that? There's no chance to go over the script later, double check things, decide if this works or that doesn't. You know, time it out.
Starting point is 00:00:55 And none of that is available to us. And I think that's partially why it sounds kind of different than a lot of the similar productions. But this is part of how we've always done it, right? So I don't know how this is going to go. The people that have advised me that I've divulged what I'm going to talk about today, the people that I've talked to have told me it is not going to go well. It doesn't matter how what I do, it's not going to go well.
Starting point is 00:01:18 They said you should not touch this topic. It is a no win situation. Go do, you know, go do one of the crowd pleaser topics. There's so many, you know, that people will love. I wrote down a quote that sort of summed up the problem and the reason that those people are saying that it's attributed, I always say that now because every quote is somehow debunked. Nobody ever said anything they're quoted as saying in history, apparently, but the Ohio
Starting point is 00:01:42 State University historian Robert C. Davis is quoted as saying that history is often as not our present politics projected onto the past. And you can see that easily. I mean, that is an obvious statement when you go and look at, for example, the brand new books that are coming out on certain historical things and how they'll tend to, they'll tie it in. It's something that the editors want, right? Tie it into the current events.
Starting point is 00:02:07 I mean, it's encouraged. But the problem is, is that that means a lot of the material that you might use to discuss this topic that everyone tells me not to discuss today is going to be woven into the political, you know, anger of our current times, right, the zeitgeist. And if there's one thing we've seen in our current times is a big part of the problems that no one accepts the sources of the other side and that the first thing you say in any discussion is who are your sources and the minute you don't like them, it's discussion over.
Starting point is 00:02:40 And this is one of those subjects that everyone should have as part of their sort of foundational knowledge. As my mother always used to say, she would say, intelligent people know these things, right? So a certain bedrock of a knowledge base. And you might not get any higher than that from me because that's another reason that maybe you want to steer clear of the show like this is because it's monumentally huge and a person like yours truly is completely inadequate to dealing with it.
Starting point is 00:03:05 I always hope that I can be one little tile in the giant mosaic that is the picture here and that that tile has something to offer that's unique. So one of the things I thought anticipating the criticism here and wanting people if they don't already, because many of you are going to know all of this stuff, wanting people to have this knowledge base is that I was going to steer clear of any of the controversial sources. Now, you miss out when you do that, you lose a lot of the cutting edge ideas, you lose a lot of the pushing, the envelope stuff, some very interesting things.
Starting point is 00:03:39 At one point, I thought maybe I'll do a compare and contrast sort of deal. Well, that quickly became something that was too high of an intellectual level for years truly also. So I thought, I'm going to approach this like a Blitz show topic where we sort of dive in and dive out and I highlight things that I think are interesting or important. It's not chronological, it's not a history of, but it's something that when I look at my archive seems like a glaring omission. It's the discussion of the Atlantic slave trade and that period in history and some
Starting point is 00:04:12 of the ideas that are out there and some of the thoughts that matter on some questions that I think are, well, I want to say that they're interesting, but some of them I would say are almost the obvious things to ask and no one asks them, which is, you know, maybe I'm the wrong in the wrong there, maybe they're not that foundational, otherwise other people would have asked them, but you can be the judge of that assuming that without this script we ever get to that. Now we did a show quite a while back called addicted to bondage that looked at the overall human institution of slavery going back, you know, to the very beginnings of civilization.
Starting point is 00:04:51 It wasn't as in depth as that makes it sound, but it was more of a holistic look at the slavery question than dealing and I think it specifically tried to avoid the more recent version that was specifically mostly African in nature to give a sense of how common this thing was in human history all over the world. And then we examine the sorts of reasons that that might be and you get into these borderline upsetting sorts of lenses to look at it. But when I was a kid and this is what we said in the addicted to bondage episode, they were always promising the kitchen of tomorrow today.
Starting point is 00:05:28 All these labor saving devices were going to take all the drudgery of life away from you so you could go enjoy your golf game or whatever it was, you know, radar ranges, stuff like that. But as we had said in addicted to bondage, the ancients and the people in earlier eras and the people in some places still today, they have the kitchen of yesterday today and it's just as good, but instead of labor saving devices that are mechanical, they have people that do the same job. These were one of the original labor saving devices.
Starting point is 00:06:00 And when you read the views of slave holders in slave societies, they will often connect it to the highest, you know, aspirations of mankind as a whole, right? It's people who do the slave type jobs that free up the people that push society forward and think and write and come up with all these, you know, pieces of art that otherwise would not be available because they'd have to go to, you know, the grocery store in the morning. The marketplace would probably be more apropos and pick up the stuff for tonight's dinner and then make it, right? And then clean up after it.
Starting point is 00:06:32 Otherwise, I mean, how are we going to have time to write and read? You'll see that all the way into post-colonial times in the United States, right? This is how societies push forward. Even, you know, famous Athens in the era where it was democratic, right? It's sort of the shining city on the democratic hill for people looking back at the beginnings of things like democracy, it was an enormous slave state. Nice chunk of its population was enslaved. So what was once referred to as a peculiar institution, slavery is not.
Starting point is 00:07:12 We live in the strange time now, a time where slavery is universally reviled. Now I did read that there were more than 40 million people classified as slaves right now in the world, which if true, would make it almost certainly this period in human history where there were the most slaves, 40 million is a lot. But sometimes the criteria is, let's call it slavery on a sliding scale and that isn't meant to be trite, but there's all kinds of slavery and it's sort of on a gradient. On one end you have things like, you know, wage slavery as some people would say, right? People that are trapped in jobs that don't make them enough money to live, but they get
Starting point is 00:07:54 paid. Then you have things like bond slavery, debt slavery, which is really the same thing, indentured servitude all the way down to the lowest level of slavery on the gradient, chattel slavery. Chattel slavery is where we take human beings and we make them things. slavery would be more apropos rather than comparing them to a hammer or a chair to compare them to some sort of animal you'd find on a farm. Because the slave owners would often try to keep them healthy the same way you would try to keep some livestock healthy, but it's, you know, you own them, you can do whatever
Starting point is 00:08:32 you want with them. That's chattel slavery, serfdom, peasantry, there's all kinds of these things that would fall somewhere in the category, but chattel slavery is the lowest of the low and that's the kind of slavery that the world had going on when Christopher Columbus found the new world for the Europeans and the old world. How about that? The Europeans isn't even the proper term because the old world stretched from, you know, the edges of Europe, right, Ireland, Western France, Western Spain, and what's now Portugal, right?
Starting point is 00:09:06 Those are the edges of Europe, the European, Asian continent. When you follow it all the way through, though, and I mean, China on the other side is connected to this pipeline and everything in between. Now, there's not close contact, but silk is making it one way, money's making it the other. In other words, that there are things like diseases, foods, codes of conduct and morality that are shared, you know, I mean, the Mongols alone in the 1300s, 1200s would have been spread and a lot of this stuff against everybody else as well.
Starting point is 00:09:45 So when Columbus rolls up into the new world, so-called new world and lands, the person that is landing there is a person from the Middle Ages, and this is important to point out. Now, Columbus was a bad guy, I think, when you look at his conduct as judged by the people of his day. At the same time, it's hard to imagine somebody else showing up and all of a sudden behaving radically different, right? Even if they were not as ruthless as someone like Columbus, how much different are they
Starting point is 00:10:23 going to behave and how much different is that going to make everything that follows afterwards? But the important thing to remember is if you look, and I always do this, if you look at when Columbus was born, in other words, the world he was born into, I think he was born in the 1450s. The 1450s is like the War of the Roses in England. Go look at a picture, you know, a painting of what people were looking like in the Wars of the Roses era.
Starting point is 00:10:50 These are knights. This is medieval combat. We haven't even yet, or we're just in Columbus' day progressing to the point where we're getting into that period where you have the Inquisition and people being burned. I mean, look at what life is like for these people in the world Columbus was born into. They break people on the wheel. The executions are public. I mean, so what sort of person was going to show up in the new world and just by modern
Starting point is 00:11:19 standards behave, right? That was an ugly world they were coming from. And as I said, not, you know, it's tempting these days, people will blame it on Europe. But I mean, this is the way it is in North Africa, what's now the Middle East, Europe, of course, Russia, China, the Mongolian area, India, I mean, this is a shared understanding of man's inhumanity to man and things like slavery. Well, it's everywhere. And it's an equal opportunity, atrocity in Columbus' day before he finds the so-called
Starting point is 00:11:58 new world. Slavers were more likely to care about the slaves' religious affiliation than their skin color. The Christians in Spain would enslave the Moors across into North Africa, the North African peoples who are like Moroccans and Algerians today. And those people would enslave the Christians as well. The Turks had lots of slaves, the Arabs had lots of slaves, the Italians had slave markets, the Russians had slaves, the Mongols enslaved everyone, the Chinese had slaves, the Indians
Starting point is 00:12:30 had slaves, they had slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa with so-called black Africa. And they had slavery in the Americas before Columbus even got there. Similar pattern to the rest of the world too. Some peoples had it, some peoples didn't. Amongst the peoples that did practice slavery, it was on the slavery gradient scale too. I mean, there were, and you'll often hear people sort of try to defend these tribes. It's not really being slave owning tribes because the slave was more like a family member, a family member who couldn't leave and had to do whatever they were told, but that is
Starting point is 00:13:06 a little different on the slavery gradient scale than someone who's captured in war and is a slave who's held as raw fodder for some human sacrificial religious event that is upcoming, right? They're going to be the star of the show. And needless to say, things like skin color did not play a role because the peoples of the Americas were basically close to each other's skin color. It wasn't playing a large role at the time Columbus arrived in the old world yet either. Anyone could become a slave, as we'd said.
Starting point is 00:13:42 I mean, anyone of Columbus's crew could have found themselves on a ship captured by pirates or slavers, end up in some slave market on a Mediterranean island, find themselves auctioned off, and a galley slave in the sultan's fleet or something like that. White slavery, as it was called, the pulp comic books of the 20th century play on that a lot, right? Especially the women who ended up in the sultan's harem, the white women. It was such a racial trope. But during this time period, there was some of that and the Turks had Christian slave
Starting point is 00:14:15 soldiers, which is a different slave level on the slavery gradient scale, too. There could be some really powerful slaves, slaves who owned lots of slaves. I mean, the slavery thing defies easy classification. The bottom line, though, is one of the things where you start to say, okay, now, why did this happen? The interesting questions that come into play is, so how did this become a thing where all of a sudden, a bunch of powers in the world were hooking black Africans up to the proto or early capitalist globalized supply chain and logistically figuring out ways to start
Starting point is 00:14:56 a pipeline of human beings from the African continent over to the Americas? There's obviously no easy answer to this if there's any answer at all. It's not a two plus two equals four kind of question, certainly. So I started writing down, you know, while scouring the history books, a bunch of the different ideas that were thrown out there as major influencing factors to this whole thing. And as my list got longer and longer and longer, I started to realize that this really isn't a list that's about slavery per se.
Starting point is 00:15:29 You could better describe this ever-lengthening list of influential factors, discoveries, events as something that tries to explain what reality was like in the so-called old world in the 15th and 16th centuries, right? What the zeitgeist was like, what the economic system was like. In other words, what you can draw from that is that slavery is so interconnected in that world that you can't tease it out like a strand in a rope. It touches everything. It influences everything.
Starting point is 00:15:58 It's such a basic part of the makeup of things that it's impossible to talk about the influential factors in the slave trade without just talking about the influential factors in life. The one thing that has always struck me about this era is because some of it, especially economically, begins to look like, well, there's a modernity to it. It's not the kind of economic system we have now, but we're clearly an evolved form of it, right? We're descendant from this system that's about to develop in the 1400s because it's the first truly globalized system, right?
Starting point is 00:16:38 Because it's the first time that the so-called old world and the so-called new world are aware of each other, first time they're included in the economy, the first time you have a global economy, right? And yet the idea that you could take a kind of a proto-capitalism and inject human bondage as one of the commodities that it works with, the same way you would work with sugar or tobacco or oil today, it's bizarre. They seem to be from different eras, like slavery should have already died out before we got to this level of ability to maximize mercantile operations, right?
Starting point is 00:17:28 Already decided that things like people shouldn't be the officially traded products on the New York Stock Exchange, right? And instead of these old ideas going away because they don't fit into a new modern paradigm, what instead you see is a fusion, don't you, of this very ancient human institution of bondage mixing with the proto-modern economic system of the Renaissance, the first globalized. Usually you'll see history books call it a commercial revolution or a mercantilist revolution or trade revolution, but an era where it would not be out of place and I'm sure it's been done and I feel like an idiot for not having checked it in advance, but I mean, I'm sure
Starting point is 00:18:12 an economist could write this history in a way that it makes total sense as crazy as that sounds. If you take the human being part out of this and you just focus on numbers and trade and profit and loss, well, you can make all of this kind of work, it's the moral part that screws up the whole slave trade thing. And if you want to be a historical optimist, you can say that there were, there were events on a historical slavery timeline that looked like there's progress happening here and there. People will eliminate slavery and do away with slavery and make rules that further constrict
Starting point is 00:18:47 slavery. And I'm not saying they're not progress, but when you make rules, for example, I believe it was one pope that said that, you know, Christians could be slave owners and Christians could be slaves, but here on after you can't have Christian slaves owned by non-Christian slaveholders. Now, anything is progress in the right direction, but this to me sounds more like we don't really have a problem with the idea of slavery. We just have a problem with people like us being enslaved, but again, not going to quibble
Starting point is 00:19:15 with progress. Just going to point out that the historical optimists who want to make a point can point to some things that often if you examine them on the ground with a critical eye, look, again, progress, but look more like you're promoting the lowest people in your society, a level or two up on the slavery gradient scale, right? Maybe something from a chattel slave to a serf, or from a serf to a peasant, or from a peasant to an indentured servant, you know, I mean, I'm not, again, saying it's not progress. But the historical pessimist would come back with, yes, doesn't seem to mean that much
Starting point is 00:19:52 when you look at how many new peoples are going to be enslaved and how this is going to be turned into a machine. And perhaps you could compare the entire slave trade as it's always existed as a machine, right? Go to the Mediterranean. Those are old trade networks in people. I mean, take, for example, the Black Sea, the Black Sea is like a slave trading highway that you take them from the areas, well, a lot of times it was the steppe people, the
Starting point is 00:20:17 various tribes, they would make a living raiding Slavic villages, stealing people, and then selling them. They'd be transported across the Black Sea, a lot of times to Constantinople, from there to the Mediterranean. I mean, it's a trade network in people. But you add the modern stuff to it, and we have investors, right, and big firms. And it just, again, it could be told in the pages of the Wall Street Journal this story. If you make human beings a legal commodity to trade, I mean, opium was that way for a
Starting point is 00:20:51 while, you could just make it a legal commodity, then it is like sugar or tobacco or oil. And the mind reels, right? Oil doesn't feel pain, right? Oil doesn't suffer. Human beings do, though, right? And yet supply and demand does as good of a job explaining some of this stuff as any other thing you can think of. I mean, look, we've talked about it before.
Starting point is 00:21:17 I'm not a historian, and it's difficult to try to take the various strands in this story and rank them in a triage type of level of importance, right? This has happened, and then this was more important. I can't do that, but I can bring in some of the strands that were going on around this time period to provide the context, right? So let's go back to when we started about Columbus's birth period, because that's an interesting time, and there's a lot of things that are happening during that same time period. Now, start with the fact that there is the beginnings, as we all know, of something your
Starting point is 00:21:47 history books call the Renaissance. Renaissance means rebirth, and it was always associated with new ideas, or a better way to put it would be old ideas that were rediscovered. The rediscovery of classical civilization was the way my old history book used to label it. Now, modern histories do a better job of, as I think I alluded to, pointing out that the people in Europe, for example, had gotten their hands on some of this ancient Greek and Roman stuff a couple of centuries earlier.
Starting point is 00:22:17 They were pouring through the scientific side of this stuff, but at the Renaissance, they start getting, and they become popular, right? These works never died out. They were in small little enclaves of knowledge, including, you know, in the Arabic language that gets retransmitted over, but it wasn't in wide general dissemination, and then during the Renaissance, all of these ancient Greek and Roman pre-Christian cultural and philosophical and artistic works sort of blow into the consciousness of the literate people in Europe, and it begins to change everything.
Starting point is 00:22:47 And to find a historical analogy now is to tread into science fiction territory, because this is a thousand years or more before the people of the Renaissance. Can you imagine finding a book, fifteen hundred years old, and it's got all this stuff we didn't know yet in it, or calculations we didn't think about, or philosophical ideas that we've never been exposed to, and then this stuff reaches the internet high of mind and changes everything? That's kind of the crazy stuff behind the Renaissance rediscovery of classical civilization, but what's funny is part of the reason that this is new to the people in Europe at this
Starting point is 00:23:22 time period is because they've been living with centuries of, you know, one sort of mental construct that they were working with, which sort of excluded a lot of these pre-their mental construct ideas, right? They lived in a very Christian world. One professor by and described it once as a fanatical steaming cup of coffee that all of a sudden gets an injection of pre-Christian, you know, cream or half and half into the mix and you can imagine, you know, what that does. The turbulence of the time period upcoming is in part influenced by all of these ideas
Starting point is 00:24:00 that a bunch of people who had a very, very, very, very Christian worldview and one that was enforced. Remember, this was the kind of mental thing that if you deviated from it too much, you would find yourself in dire, dire, dire straits. You could find yourself burned in this period for having a worldview too far off the beaten path, right? So to all of a sudden bring in these people who were immune from punishment, I mean, you can't burn Aristotle at the stake, but all of a sudden people might read it.
Starting point is 00:24:31 Aristotle, by the way, is not a bad person to pivot off of this because one of the things that the rediscovery of classical civilization did was expose the Renaissance Europeans to this idea that slavery is just fine, right? I mean, if you're trending away from slavery, but all of a sudden, and I remember reading one historian who described the Renaissance love affair with the classical Greeks and Romans or an infatuation with them, right? And you're looking at this great civilization that was so great that you could actually read stuff from a thousand years ago that they created and it's better than your stuff
Starting point is 00:25:06 or more interesting or different or stimulating or you hadn't thought of that, right? What accounts for such a great society? And there's this little bit of, you know, wondering what the secret sauce of classical civilization is. And the people in this time period couldn't help but notice that these societies, whether you're talking about the ancient Athenians or whether you're talking about the Romans, these are slave states. Maybe slavery's got something to do with it.
Starting point is 00:25:26 And then you start reading some of the ancient Greek justifications for slavery and some of the Roman justifications for slavery. And you can't help but notice that these will become like the standard justifications that you will hear all the way up into, you know, like the United States, antebellum, 1850 era or something. You can hear in the lines that, listen, slavery's good for the slaves. What was that philosopher's line? You know, it better to be ruled by the reason of another than no reason at all, right?
Starting point is 00:25:55 You'd be better off listening to your master's decisions on life because you'll be a happier person than if you made your own decisions because you're not rational. The other idea that comes from the ancient Greek philosophers, this idea that, you know, some people are just born slaves, right? There's, you know, it's like created from birth. The gods willed it or what have you. You know, some of you were born Greek, some of you were born barbarians, the barbarians are the slaves.
Starting point is 00:26:19 Then there's that other idea from classical civilization, which was absolutely adopted by later slave states. And that's that slavery was good for everybody because it allowed society's cream of the crop. I'm not sure what the right word to use for these people are, but, but society's best and brightest, right? The most enlightened thinkers and statesmen and, you know, whatever it might be, it allows those people the time to concentrate on what only they can do, freeze them because they're
Starting point is 00:26:45 slaves to do all the drudgery work, right? To make them the money on the farm, whatever it might be, freeze them to push society forward. Only by being a man of leisure could, you know, these people play their role in society just like the slave plays their role in society. And you can almost see a cosmic, you know, organization to it all. Can't you? See how it all fits together. The point being is, you know, in a time period where maybe a historical optimist could see
Starting point is 00:27:13 signs that, um, you know, along with this new modern world, maybe there'll be a more modern view of, of human relations when it comes to things like slavery. And then all of a sudden you get this intellectual competition, right? A school of philosophy that kind of by way of example argues for just the opposite, right? Well, it didn't hurt Greece or Rome to have all those slaves. You also begin to run into a terrible, you know, this could be on the Wall Street Journal pages too, but it's a terrible supply and demand situation that various developments in this day and age seem to offer a resolution for.
Starting point is 00:27:51 So let me explain. Let's go back to Columbus's birth again, right? So 1450-ish, 51, 52, right in there. By this time, there have been advances in European ocean going travel. That's a good way to put it, right? Ocean going exploration. And this is, of course, one of the more interesting things in all your history books. To go from a situation where for the most part human beings would hug coastlines with
Starting point is 00:28:20 naval vessels to going into the open ocean, right? Venturing forth into the Atlantic or the Pacific or what have you, the Indian Ocean. Now they're, and this is part of their, um, their charm and what blows you away about them. The oceans in canoes, Vikings in long ships, they had famously done this stuff, but there's a difference between some of that and the sort of regular ongoing commerce that will be initiated by, you know, man's venturing forth into the open oceans with big ships. And when you go read the accounts from when this first starts, right?
Starting point is 00:28:53 So go to what's now Portugal, right? Kingdom of Portugal, Kingdom of Castile, all these places sort of on the most western part of the European peninsula, along with Ireland. And you read their early accounts of venturing forward with the ships. If you look at a map, it looks like they're going almost nowhere. You want to say to yourself, really, that's a big deal going from, you know, the coast of Portugal to that little island right there. It's only a half inch on my map, something like that.
Starting point is 00:29:20 But back in those days, there was a very good chance if you went off into the open ocean, even a short distance away, you weren't coming home, and it was the coming home with regularity part that changed everything. And it was different ship designs, different navigational tools, different theories, a bunch of really intrepid individuals who would go a little bit farther than last time. And then a little bit farther than that, you can go see a timeline of Portuguese investigation off of their coasts of the islands nearby, then the coast of Africa. And you know, every year you can see they're like going a little bit farther down the west
Starting point is 00:29:53 coast of Africa, then eventually they'll round the tip, go up the other side, eventually cross the Indian Ocean. This does a whole lot of things, obviously, right? The first thing it does, though, is open up a direct channel to Central and Southern Africa, so-called Black Africa, right? Sub-Saharan Africa. Europeans and Sub-Saharan Africa have always been connected, just not directly, right? So if Africans from Sub-Saharan Africa move across their continent up to the Mediterranean
Starting point is 00:30:26 Sea and get transported to slave markets in Italy, for example, I mean, that all happens, but it's very different than having a direct, you know, European correspondence with the Great African Kingdom south of the Sahara Desert, right? And the Sahara Desert's one of the big reasons that that's not happened before this time. It's, what, 75, 80 days to travel across the Sahara Desert in this time period, and it's a total death zone. Armies can't traverse it. I mean, there are some slave caravans and some trading caravans, but by and large, this
Starting point is 00:30:58 is an enormous barrier. And then above that, if you look at a map north of the Sahara Desert, if you're the Europeans trying to have direct contact with the so-called Black Africa, you have another problem, and it's powerful North African states, right? You have a barrier there, so first you have a powerful North African state blocking you from Central Africa, and then south of them, you have the giant Sahara Desert. You could see why the Sub-Saharan Africans and the Europeans required middlemen to do much interaction before this time period.
Starting point is 00:31:30 But what's so monumentally different about this era is eventually the Portuguese making their way down the African coast, get to the level that's south of where the Sahara Desert is. Their ships make direct contact with Sub-Saharan African kingdoms, and one of the first things that they do is grab some of the people that they see on the coastline, throw them in chains and take them back to Portugal. So they harbinger, maybe, of things to come. This is what's happening right around Columbus's birth, and then in 1453, something famously
Starting point is 00:32:06 happens that, once again, in a supply-and-demand conversation about the global trading patterns and the price of investments and all those commodities, in 1453, Constantinople falls to the Turks. Now, if you go look at a map, Constantinople's modern-day Istanbul, right, old Roman city that becomes a later Roman city, you would call Byzantine city, maybe, and then in 1453 it gets taken finally by the Turks. And if you look at Istanbul today, you can see how it basically controls access to the Black Sea.
Starting point is 00:32:40 It's the nozzle on the wineskin bag that is the Black Sea. And as we said earlier, the Black Sea is a major, major slave transport zone. I mean, this is how you get your so-called white slaves from the Slavic regions and all there, all the way down to the major slave markets. And when Constantinople falls, the Ottoman Turks cut off, they divert the slaves that were coming from that area to the major slave markets in the Mediterranean to their own areas, the Islamic areas in the Middle East and places like that, which had always had a lot of slaves anyway.
Starting point is 00:33:19 But when they do this now, in our supply-and-demand situation, we have a supply squeeze, right? What would any good business person do if all of a sudden your access to raw materials were cut off or reduced? And that's a good way to look at this, too, because slavery, even though it's like currency basically, I mean, people are like money, and you can get money for human beings. So in a straight-up currency trade, there were value that way. But they're also, if you consider it like a prime component of everybody else's business, it's the same way if energy prices went up, it ripples up and down everybody's life,
Starting point is 00:33:59 doesn't it? It affects everything. The price of meat in the grocery store is everything. So that's how this slave thing is, too, because everybody needs slaves. There's a relatively constant demand. And sometimes new, enlightened policies end up making that situation even worse. For example, if you say something like, well, you know, Christian shouldn't be slaves anymore, you just cut the market that's available in that raw materials category, don't you?
Starting point is 00:34:28 So this is a time period where there's a heavy-duty demand, supply gets curtailed, and anybody in their right mind is going to look for a new source of raw materials, and it's right around the same time period that the Europeans have made direct contact with Sub-Saharan Africa, which has always been a big source of slaves, not to the Europeans. To the Islamic states, for example, there was a big, big slave rebellion lasted more than a decade, killed a ton of people in what's now modern-day Iraq, led by the black African slaves, 869 ADCE, I believe, big rebellion. But it shows you how long these training patterns have been working.
Starting point is 00:35:09 I mean, if you're an African ruler and you defeat your opponent in war, you take the captives and you sell them, or you make them your own slave, and this is not a universal thing. It just happens a lot. That's a good way to put anything, right? This is not universal. It just happens a lot. People could fall into slavery due to crimes and be punished by their own people.
Starting point is 00:35:32 The bottom line is that at a certain point, the Europeans, and when we say that now, we really mean the Portuguese. I mean, the English are not doing this yet, for example, but the Portuguese start to realize that rather than steal your own men, that man-stealing is another term that they used to use for slavery, man-stealing. Rather than steal your own people, you could just tap into the already existing trade network, make deals with rulers in these areas, and let them just cut you in for some of the slaves. They're already capturing and selling to other people anyway.
Starting point is 00:36:05 A lot of people are going to make a lot of money during this time period, and that's another thing that's worth dealing with is one of those strands to try to unpack here, and it's a key reason why even people who had nothing to do with slavery ostensibly were impossible to disentangle from the slave trade because money touched everything and connected everything. You never want to say that money's not important, but in different time periods, things like currency and trade are more important than others. In the Europe after Rome fell, there was, I mean, if you could see again, the business
Starting point is 00:36:42 graphs of historic performance and economic output over the eras, I mean, that's going to be a kind of a down period. Some places returned to more barter systems, trade was curtailed. It was in the Middle Ages, again, the part that was percolating beneath the Renaissance and then exploded where you started to see the merchant classes develop, and it became so powerful and it made enough money that they wanted to be more like blue bloods in the nobility. You started seeing the banking houses that would eventually be very powerful arise.
Starting point is 00:37:11 You started seeing trade increase in places like the Baltic or the Hanseatic League and all that and the rise of the Italian city-states even during the Crusades that were financing these things. You begin to see modern systems of investment and shareholders and all sorts of things that look, again, very modern indeed. You even see it affect everything like exploration and warfare. This is a time period in history where a lot of places will just hire their defense forces and usually they'll just, like in Italy, they'll hire a general, you know, it's a condatieri
Starting point is 00:37:48 and that's a word that is connected to contract, so you hire them, you sign a contract and they often come with their own armies. Everybody signs a contract. For two years, we will be the army of this Italian state and this approach to dealing with things actually is involved in the Columbus explorations. I mean, this looks like a giant, well-invested, well-capitalized financial expedition. It's entrepreneurial colonialism, in a sense. I mean, Columbus, if you follow his career, he went and gave presentations to potential
Starting point is 00:38:21 investors. It's like right out of a Renaissance version of Shark Tank, you know, goes to these people and says, I have a proposal, I'm going to go in the other direction and reach Asia and we can open up our own direct trade channels, right? This is a trade deal. It's a money-making thing. It's going to be like Pier 1 imports, you know, the 1492 style version of it and he gets put off and the investors don't think he's got his calculations right, but at one
Starting point is 00:38:47 point the rulers of Castile, who will eventually become the Spanish monarchy, they decide they like his idea enough that they don't want him taking it elsewhere, so they give him some money to sit tight on it. It's almost like a Renaissance version of a non-disclosure agreement or non-compete, but when Columbus eventually undertakes this expedition, he's acting as an agent of the monarchy of Castile, right, the Spanish monarchy to be, but he's not the Spanish Navy. He's also getting a percentage deal. All right.
Starting point is 00:39:16 Well, a percentage deal doesn't sound like it's out of place when you're talking about establishing trade routes with already established great states in Asia since that was the plan. It looks very different indeed when you stumble upon lands that are not what you thought and have people on it who cannot militarily resist you. Then if you're Columbus and you're getting a percent of whatever you find or put together or whatever this expedition turns out in terms of proceeds, what are your proceeds when you land in modern day Haiti or Cuba? Well, it gets a little bit dicey, doesn't it?
Starting point is 00:39:55 And once again, I think the angle I'd like to look at this from now, and we're going to change this angle over the course of this discussion that will focus on different things at different times, but I'm trying to get into the, you know, how impossible this is. We're playing a game here, right? Just little games to see if we can get a step closer to understanding things a little bit more in context with these people. I mean, if you take the human element out of this question, I forget about suffering and injustice and death and torture and all the things that this involves and just think
Starting point is 00:40:29 of it in, you know, a profit or loss sort of way. The story has, it's interesting how, as I said, it sort of falls into place. I mean, take Columbus to start with here for a second. Now, I've read some stuff recently that suggests that maybe the traditional interpretation of what Columbus was after may be wrong. I still think those are really outlier things, so I'm not going to go down that tangent, but I wanted to acknowledge that, you know, he may have told his investors one thing and had a different thing in mind, but the traditional impression given by Columbus himself apparently
Starting point is 00:41:05 was that he was looking for another route to Asia. Why would he want this? Money. Okay. Asia is where? And Asia in air quotes, because these guys have like a Marco Polo level of understanding of Asia. What's more, it's like a time machine version.
Starting point is 00:41:22 I was reading that one of the people they were hoping to hook up with was the Mongol Khan in order to make a sort of a trade deal with him, but they don't know the Mongol Khan is not in charge of the area anymore, right? Their information is like seeing the light of a star from so far away. You're seeing, you know, the past light of a star, Marco Polo is the past light of what Asia was, but they know that's where the good spices and all that stuff come from, right? Think of the money involved. The spices and all the good stuff from Asia in air quotes, that stuff comes via a land
Starting point is 00:41:56 route to the Mediterranean, European part of the world, caravans and all those sorts of things. And generally, you know, merchant to merchant to merchant handoffs, and we all know there's juice on each of those deals, right? So by the time it arrives in the, in the, I don't know what we want to call it, the Euro Mediterranean Theater in North Africa, that whole area, these spices are old, so they're not exactly fresh, and there have been a lot of markups along the way. So they're very, very expensive.
Starting point is 00:42:23 I mean, what was the old television commercial with the crazy 80 guy, you know, you know, cut out the middlemen and save. Columbus really made it to Asia in air quotes. The middleman's gone, and the spices will arrive fresh, and you can tap into a completely ripe and ready to go and already operating in a trading operation, right? All you have to do is make a deal and give them something and fill your ships with the good stuff and head back home. Everybody makes a fortune.
Starting point is 00:42:54 Easy to calculate Columbus's percentage then, right? Columbus has stumbled upon a completely different sort of business thing when he rolls up into the Caribbean. I had an investor once explain to me that he considers there to be two kinds of investments and he called them green bananas and yellow bananas. Yellow bananas are investments that are going to be ripe quickly, that will pay off in the short term. Green bananas are the ones that require watering and fertilizing and pruning and maintenance
Starting point is 00:43:29 and all sorts of investment to eventually turn into something that is paying off. Columbus was heading if the Asia destination thing that we've always thought was true was true, Columbus was looking for a yellow banana deal and he stumbled into a green banana deal. He has obviously found something valuable and he's got to be giddy, don't you think? This was a guy that if you were betting on it, you were going to bet he was going to die somewhere on the way, you know, off the map to the west. So just surviving is a victory, not having his crew mutiny because they think that they're never going to get to any destination, you know, throwing him overboard and then going
Starting point is 00:44:10 home or taking the ship and himself going home and then living in, you know, shame and disrepute and embarrassment. I mean, so this is a victory no matter what, but it's not what he was after apparently, right? He's after an instant payoff and he's arrived at something that's going to require some work. The good news is there's a labor force when he gets to the new world and it's the indigenous people of the Americas, right?
Starting point is 00:44:36 There's millions of them. We have already established the old world's attitudes about things like slavery and forced labor and all that kind of stuff. So it won't be any problem, you know, deciding how to employ the indigenous labor one way or the other, but you've got people here to turn green bananas into yellow bananas, right? Create cash cows out of these places, extract all the good juice that these islands can produce, including sugarcane juice and a lot of them, tobacco juice and other ones. That's gross, tobacco juice.
Starting point is 00:45:12 You can see by the way in the letters Columbus writes back, there's one you can read, you can find online where I guess he's writing the treasure or something, these are the investor type people and he's basically explaining, you know, that we found great stuff and the potential is huge and there's as much gold as you want. All this kind of stuff, it just is going to require a little bit more money. I mean, this is fully stuff that looks like one of those dot com startup CEOs telling his old line investors, yeah, it's not exactly what we thought, but this is maybe even better. Just need a little bit more money, not a round of financing.
Starting point is 00:45:46 But he's laying out all this stuff that this new find that he's claimed for his employers in Spain, you know, all these ways it's going to pay off. And the stuff that you can grab off the natives ears or trade or trade for their bracelets or other jewelry, I mean, that's movable wealth right now. You have people, which as we've already explained during this period is movable wealth and Columbus will quickly do a couple of wages back and forth across the Atlantic and he'll take indigenous peoples back with him to Spain, kind of to show off, listen, these people make great slaves or whatever, but they start dying quickly and large numbers.
Starting point is 00:46:26 And that's going to be the problem that crops up in this whole green banana long term investment deal. The indigenous peoples who are going to be the labor force here are dying like flies from multiple causes. These causes are so fascinating, extreme hardcore intense, however you want to phrase it, that it takes every ounce of my strength without a script here to keep me anchored to resist the Ouija board like pull of the storytelling towards the unbelievably fascinating nature of shall we call it first contact fallout.
Starting point is 00:47:10 I did a couple of takes where it just went off forever. I mean, you would have been justifiable if you'd said something like I didn't like the show. I thought it was supposed to be about something else. So I'm trying to avoid doing that again. But it's worth pointing out that what creates the situation that leads to the Atlantic slave trade involves the fact that these indigenous peoples who otherwise would be the workforce aren't around anymore.
Starting point is 00:47:37 And the number one reason, I don't know what two, three, four, five, six would be ranked, but it's number one and then everything else. The number one reason for this is the germtastrophe and the germtastrophe is it's mind boggling science fiction like Twilight Zone, it's got all those elements that fascinate someone like me, but there's a little guilt in the fact that it's a holocaust. And for the most part, it's a hidden holocaust. The majority of the people affected and the victims of this are going to be in the interiors of the Americas having caught these ailments from other indigenous peoples through the
Starting point is 00:48:13 trade routes and everything that they have going. And most of these places in the deep interiors of the far areas of the Americas continent won't be discovered for a century or more. When Lewis and Clark, by the way, finds the peoples and cultures of the Northwest and places like that and then tells the people back in the Eastern United States what these cultures are like. He has no idea that he's looking at remnants and survivors and rebuilders and people whose cultures had been skeletonized and whose numbers reduced by 80 to 95 percent.
Starting point is 00:48:50 There's never been anything like that in his book The Slave Trade Author Hugh Thomas calls it a population collapse. I'm always fascinated with things like the Black Death in Europe, but 85 to 95 percent numbers is much worse than the Black Death. And what's so fascinating about how Europe and places affected by the Black Death, or maybe you could even go back and say the Justinian plague earlier than that, is what they do to societies. It's not just the number of people who die.
Starting point is 00:49:20 It starts destroying the things, the framework of societies, the religious bedrock sorts of elements. The interaction between human beings, the hierarchies, I mean, everything gets turned upside down and societies become unstable. And the survivors are like traumatized sometimes for generations. And then when it comes back again and takes out the survivors, well, as Charles C. Mann had written about these diseases, and I mean, this is the closest you'll ever find to a literal version where you could use the term Pandora's box and have it apply because when
Starting point is 00:50:00 the Europeans show up and it's not just the first crop of them, I mean, it's this establishing this regular back and forth is what really, because the Vikings didn't spread a germ catastrophe, right? When they were here in the 1020s, but when it gets going, it involves all the diseases against a population that's never had any of them, Charles C. Mann wrote, quote, it was as if the suffering these diseases had caused in Eurasia over the past millennia were concentrated into the span of decades, end quote. In his book in human bondage, a historian of slavery, David Breon Davis puts it this
Starting point is 00:50:39 way to give you a sense of, I mean, if this is a Pandora's box of bad things that can happen to you, what exactly are these bad things named? What's in the box? This writes quote, the Amerindians throughout the hemisphere had little capacity for resisting imported diseases, both temperate and tropical pathogens, including smallpox, malaria, yellow fever, influenza, typhus, and the plague. Given the previous isolation of the Western hemisphere, this disaster has been called a virgin soil pandemic.
Starting point is 00:51:15 In whites, he writes, suffered heavy mortality, of the 2,500 colonists who arrived in Hispaniola in 1502, 1,000 died in a fairly short period of time. But the Spaniards were bewildered, he writes, and some even horrified, as the Indian populations seemed to evaporate before their eyes, end quote. He also writes that they couldn't just compensate for the disease deaths by increasing the birth rate, because the people of child-bearing years were as badly affected as the old and the young, took out everybody. In terms of numbers, well, because no one knows how many people were in the Americas
Starting point is 00:51:59 in the pre-Columbian era and nobody has a good idea of numbers or percentages, and some of this stuff, I mean, you keep your fingers crossed, might be answered by DNA type stuff in the future, but Davis writes quote, while specialists differ with respect to numbers, which are necessarily somewhat speculative, we are clearly considering the greatest known population loss in human history, that is, mortality is a percentage of population. The population of central Mexico may well have fallen by almost 90% in 75 years. Estimates for Peru and Chile, he writes, where the diseases spread well before the arrival of Europeans, are almost as high.
Starting point is 00:52:40 The death rate was even worse in the Caribbean, he writes, where pestilence coincided with the Ecomienda system and much mass slaughter. Estimates of Hispaniola's pre-Columbian era whack, and I believe it's Taino, Indian population, range from about 300,000 to half a million. By the 1540s, there were fewer than 500 survivors, end quote. Now, the thing about the germtastrophe is that for the most part, I'm sure we can quibble and there's ways you could argue that it would impact numbers one way or the other, for the most part, it wouldn't have mattered who showed up or what their values were to
Starting point is 00:53:19 initiate first contact. This germtastrophe holocaust is happening anyway. The people who first showed up could have been angelic pacifists, and you're still going to lose. Let's pretend you can make it better by having a different relationship, you're still going to lose seven out of 10, but it's a holocaust anyway you look at it. But of course, the people that showed up to initiate first contact are not angelic pacifists. They are in fact quite the opposite, and there's a sense here, part of it, because Columbus
Starting point is 00:53:53 is lucky. I mean, if you believe the accounts, he's landed in the Garden of Eden. He could just as easily have landed in some island full of cannibals, or he could have gotten really unlucky and landed in one of those areas of the Americas that have organized states with organized militaries and people ready to resist and fight in lots of them. Steady lands into a place where the native indigenous peoples there are almost hopelessly tame, and submissive, and passive, and friendly, and sharing, and open, and curious, and innocent. Look at the time period these people coming from the old world come from.
Starting point is 00:54:32 Let's remember, you know, you would think that history would always be moving in one direction and we'd be getting less and less terrible to each other over time, right? Surely things being done to each other in this time period are not as bad as when we were practically animals in the very distant past, but you'd be surprised. Those of you who know this period well know what I'm talking about. I mean, the area, you talk from like 1400 to 1700, it's brutal. And people have been trying to figure out why forever. The culprit that is the usual suspect, although, you know, people make arguments, is religion
Starting point is 00:55:06 because this is when you have the great split in Western Christianity, you know, Protestantism and Catholicism, and that sort of turns the fire up maybe literally in the intensity level and the philosophical wars and the worldview and the hatred for each other and the sense that the stakes are biblical in nature. The point is, go look at the way the Spanish behave in the Netherlands. Go look at how the Turks behave in the Balkans. Go look at the Thirty Years' War and the apocalyptic scene, that is. Go look at the English in Ireland.
Starting point is 00:55:39 Go look at the, I mean, how about this, a generation before Columbus's birth, Tamerlanes running around just east of here and, you know, killing 15 to 20 million people. These people come from the geopolitical equivalent of the Serengeti Plain. They're going to unleash them in the Galapagos Islands, and the indigenous flora and fauna there are going to become endangered pretty quickly. We obviously don't have the indigenous people's account of these happenings, but we do have the accounts of people who were their defenders. I mean, I'm thinking of one Dominican Spanish friar in particular named Bartolome de las
Starting point is 00:56:29 Casas, who is known as the defender of the Indians. He's a famous figure in places like South America even today. In Spanish circles, he has a more mixed heritage because who's going to love a person that paints the country in such a negative light? There's something known as the black legend, which is a contention among some historians that the enemies of Spain, be they geopolitical enemies like the English or the Dutch or religious enemies like the Protestants of all stripes conjured up this terrible legend of Spanish cruelty that isn't deserved, and Bartolome de las Casas' work is often cited as sort
Starting point is 00:57:10 of the fountainhead, the origin of the black legend. I was trying to research this a little bit, and I stumbled upon one historian who, you know, the minute I read her sort of evaluation of the situation sort of rang true to me. What she had said was that the black legend itself in terms of the facts on the ground is probably true. What's going on in the Americas, for example, that people like Bartolome de las Casas talks about, but that the reason it's unfair and sort of propagandistic is by singling out the Spanish as somehow unusually cruel and different, these people, these other countries that were
Starting point is 00:57:49 often singling out the Spanish were hiding the fact that they themselves have a history in the Americas and amongst the slaves traded all these things that have every bit as dark moments and black marks as the Spanish stuff. So it's unfair to single them out for behavior. All these European colonial powers will be engaged in one way or the other. But de las Casas talks about the Spanish treatment of the natives, you know, aside from the whole disease question, and he basically portrays them just the way we suggested, like predators used to fighting and dying over the water hole in the Serengeti who are unleashed upon
Starting point is 00:58:28 people that de las Casas refers to as gentle lambs, always portrayed in the sort of a garden of Eden light and maybe the beginnings of some of these ideas of the noble savage trope. And de las Casas says, quote, it was upon these gentle lambs imbued by their creator with all the qualities we have mentioned that from the very first day they clapped their eyes on them, the Spanish fell like ravening wolves upon the fold or like tigers and savage lions who have not eaten meat for days. The pattern established at the outset, he writes, has remained unchanged to this day and the Spaniards still do nothing, save tear the natives to shreds, murder them and inflict
Starting point is 00:59:13 upon them untold misery, suffering and distress, tormenting, harrying and persecuting them mercilessly. We shall in due course describe some of the many ingenious methods of torture that they've invented and refined for this purpose, but one can get some idea of the effectiveness of their methods from the figures alone. When the Spanish first journeyed there, he writes, the indigenous population of the island of Hispaniola stood at some three million, today only two hundred survive. The island of Cuba, which extends for a distance almost as great as that separating Valladolid
Starting point is 00:59:50 from Rome, is now to all intents and purposes uninhabited, and two other large beautiful and fertile islands, Puerto Rico and Jamaica, have been similarly devastated. Not a living soul remains today on any of the islands in the Bahamas, he writes, which lie to the north of Hispaniola and Cuba, even though every single one of the 60 or so islands in the group, as well as those known as the islands of giants and others in the area, both large and small, is more fertile and more beautiful than the royal gardens in Seville, and the climate is as healthy as anywhere on earth. The native population, which once numbered some 500,000, was wiped out by forcible expatriation
Starting point is 01:00:35 to the island of Hispaniola, a policy adopted by the Spanish in an endeavor to make up losses amongst the indigenous population of that island, end quote. So what this Dominican friar is saying is that already the Spanish are trying to figure out workarounds to their labor issue as people disappear on some islands, they go get them from other islands and bring them in, which depopulates the old islands, and then they die in the mines anyway, so you can only keep that up for so long. Now the actual reading of Delas Casas' work is Nightmarish. I was going to include one of the really horrible scenes Delas Casas talks about, he's very
Starting point is 01:01:26 graphic, it's Einsatzgruppen-level stuff, I mean really horrible, but you can't differentiate one from another. And some of these things he saw himself and some he more heard about, but it's as bad as anything you can listen to, and it completely helps explain why in addition to disease there would be less and less of the natives, if not only are you killing them, but you're scaring the heck out of them, they're going to leave. So these islands being depopulated is due to several things, including these people fleeing, you know, who wouldn't flee.
Starting point is 01:02:03 But then you add to that the fact that when the Spanish start using the indigenous peoples that they have left, for the purposes that they have in mind, right, the creation of the processing plant that will turn these green bananas into usable yellow bananas, the work kills the natives. And Delas Casas talks about that, and he links it to these organized butcheries, because he will basically say that after the men are all killed, the Spanish will take what's left and those are the people that get put to work, and Delas Casas says quote. After the fighting was over and all the men had been killed, the surviving natives, usually
Starting point is 01:02:42 that is, the young boys, women, and the children were shared out between the victors. One got 30, another 40, a third as many as a hundred, or even twice that number. Everything depended on how far one was in the good books of the despot who went by the title of governor. The pretext under which the victims were parceled out in this way was that their new masters would then be in a position to teach them the truths of the Christian faith, and thus it came about that a host of cruel, grasping, and wicked men, almost all of them, pig ignorant, were put in charge of these poor souls, and they discharged this duty by sending the men
Starting point is 01:03:23 down the mines, where working conditions were appalling, to dig for gold, and putting the women to labor in the fields, and on their masters' estates, to till the soil and raise the crops, properly a task only for the toughest and strongest of men. Both women and men were given only wild grasses to eat, and other unnutritious foodstuffs. The mother of young children promptly saw their milk dry up, and their babies die, and with the women and the men separated and never seeing each other, no new children were born. The men, he writes, died down in the mines from overwork and starvation, and the same was true of the women who perished out on the estates.
Starting point is 01:04:06 The islanders, previously so numerous, he writes, began to die out, as would any nation subjected to such appalling treatment." In his book, The Slave Trade, author Hugh Thomas calls what's happening in the Caribbean during this time period, a population collapse. And it warms the cockles of every humanist's heart to hear somebody screaming out about the injustice of it, right, into the pages of the history books, to at least represent that there were good people out there that weren't ready to stand for something like this in the defense of good people, by the way, according to De Los Casas himself, when
Starting point is 01:04:49 he got to Spain to inform the king of what was going on in the New World, he was talking to Spaniards on the street and people he knew, and nobody had a clue that this was going on. They were completely ignorant of it, reminds you of stories you hear today about products that you like that are being made by virtual slave labor in some poor country, and with us drowning in more media than you can shake a stick at, we don't hear the story. So not that hard to believe, it is worth pointing out that De Los Casas' views on all this stuff will continue to evolve throughout his entire life, and he'll start off as one person,
Starting point is 01:05:27 he'll evolve into a sort of a middle version of himself, and then by the end of his life he will renounce some of the things that he believed in the middle version of his life. He starts off as a guy who arrives in the New World. His father was there like right after Columbus, brought De Los Casas as a kid who goes to the New World perfectly seemingly ready to become one of those colonists, right? He's going to own slaves. I think he actually maybe did. He's going to live that lifestyle, and there's a couple of things that just change him.
Starting point is 01:05:55 One was he was an eyewitness to the conquest of the island of Cuba, which seems to have shaken him to his core. He said something like he saw things there that no one should ever see, and then he has a famous incident, and I don't know how true any of this stuff is, they all have a sort of a George Washington chopping down the cherry tree sort of ring to them. At the same time, it's often cited as the seminal moment in his life, like when the light bulb goes off over his head, and again, whether or not that's true is questionable, but I love it because it's another example of somebody even before De Los Casas speaking
Starting point is 01:06:30 out sort of to the gods of history and leaving some example of a light in the darkness back then of somebody complaining about the inhumanity and injustice of the way people were being treated. And it's recounted in the introduction to the Penguin version I have of De Los Casas, his short account of the destruction of the Indies, it's written by historian Anthony Pagdon, and he writes, quote, The story is now a famous one. That morning, a recent arrival on the island, the Dominican Antonio Montesinos delivered
Starting point is 01:07:04 a sermon in the Church of Santo Domingo. Taking his text from Saint John, he drew an analogy between the natural desert in which the evangelist had chosen to spend his life, and the human desert, which the Spaniards had made of the once fruitful, quote, end quote, paradisical island of Hispaniola. He then turned upon the colonists, now quoting the friar, quote, With what right he demanded of them, and with what justice do you keep these poor Indians in such cruel and horrible servitude? By what authority have you made such detestable wars against these people, who lived peacefully
Starting point is 01:07:45 and gently on their own lands? Are these not men? Do they not have rational souls? Are you not obliged to love them as yourselves? Pagdon then writes, quote, The last three questions were to become the reference of every subsequent struggle to defend the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. For Las Casas in particular, the third, are you not obliged to love them as yourselves,
Starting point is 01:08:14 was to guide his actions for the rest of his life, end quote. Now, as I said, Las Casas's views will continue to evolve for the rest of his life, and he won't believe at the end of his life what he believes in the middle of his life, just like he didn't believe in the middle of his life, what he believed earlier on. In the middle of his life, he thinks he has an answer to how to stop this population collapse and this injustice. His answer is to bring in other people to do the work that is killing the indigenous people and the other people he thinks should be brought in to do this are Africans from
Starting point is 01:08:53 sub-Saharan black Africa. A couple decades later in his life, he will decide that no one should be slaves, but during this time period, he thinks that this is the humanitarian answer. And what's so hard for us to get our minds around is that it actually probably is some sort of an advance, but it's a 16th century version of a moral humanitarian advance, which doesn't look like much of an advance to those of us in the 21st century. There's also an element here of throwing one group of human beings under a boss in order to improve the humanitarian circumstances of another group of people.
Starting point is 01:09:37 I read something recently, and I don't know if it was Fernando Cervantes's book on Conquistadors, a new book he has out, but it was talking about the extra responsibility that the Portuguese and the Spanish felt in this area because they were the ones who had to write the original laws as compared to something like in Africa where there was already an ongoing slave trade and they were just essentially customers. So compare it to a drug situation. It's one thing to be buying drugs from the manufacturer or from a middle person. It's another thing to be setting up your own meth labs.
Starting point is 01:10:11 And so some of this appears to be discussions over a different level of culpability here and a lack of laws on how you run things, right? It's not up to the Spanish or the Portuguese how the African rulers in Africa handle the beginnings of the slave trade, but here at Ground Zero in the Caribbean, it is, you have to organize it from the get go. So things are a little bit different. And you can, if you look for them, find clear evidence of trying to somehow be something like humanitarian.
Starting point is 01:10:42 A lot of the laws strike us as nibbling around the edges and get frustrating. And a lot of times these laws that look like they're done for the welfare of the natives are in fact a sound business decision. Sometimes those two things dovetail. For example, keeping the natives healthy works in favor of both the Dominican friars who are advocating for their welfare and the business people who would like to see their product show up to market in good shape, commanding the highest available price. So when in 1513, the Portuguese pass a rule saying that you can't have more than a certain
Starting point is 01:11:20 number of slaves on a slave ship, that is both a humanitarian benefit because if you're on the slave ship, you'll be glad you're not as packed tightly to your neighbor as you otherwise might be. But it's a good business practice too. I mean, if we were talking about tomatoes here, you'd rather have them show up to market unbrewed and in the best shape, right? So sometimes what might appear to be humanitarian in nature might just be a money question too, and it's not always easy to disentangle those things.
Starting point is 01:11:52 Now there is a huge move made by the rulers in Spain when they eliminate slavery in the New World, like a rule, no slavery. So the people on the ground just come up with ways around it, including the fact that there's exceptions to the rule. I think it was Queen Isabella that said something like, okay, no slaves unless they're cannibals. And so all of a sudden, all these slaves that are working on these plantations in the Caribbean just happen to be cannibals. See how that works?
Starting point is 01:12:22 But it's affecting the labor pool nonetheless, and people who are not humanitarians, people that are worried only about the bottom line, right? The figures, the profits, the accounting, those people notice right away too that we better be talking about replacement workers, and those replacement workers are probably going to have to come from Africa in his book, The Slave Trade, which is heavily geared toward the economics of it all. Hugh Thomas writes, quote. A Philip to the African slave trade was naturally given by the trend towards the outlawing of
Starting point is 01:12:57 Indian slavery in the Americas as a result of the agitation of Bartolomé de las Casas and other Dominicans. An indication of the mood in 1544 is shown by a letter of Cristobal de Benavente, public prosecutor of the Supreme Court in Mexico, to the king, now quoting the letter to the king, quote. Every day the gold mines are giving less profit because of the lack of Indian slaves. In the end, if your majesty abolishes local slavery, wrote Benavente, there will be no alternative to allowing blacks into the land, at least in the mines, end quote.
Starting point is 01:13:37 Now that's from Mexico where there was a ton of movable wealth when the Spanish conquered that area, but once you take away all the stuff that's there, I mean the gold that's sitting out in buildings and decorations, I mean the movable wealth, then it's all about, okay, how do we get the, you know, the wealth out of the land? How do we turn the green bananas into yellow bananas? And if there's not going to be native, somebody's got to do the work. And as we had said, it was only a generation before that the Europeans have tapped into this African slave trade.
Starting point is 01:14:06 And the Africans are an alternative for any number of reasons. The first one and the most obvious is they're there, right? There's a huge demand explosion during this period and there's labor there, so that might be the number one reason. But there's a bunch of other reasons and it contributes to some very uncomfortable realities, including once again, treating human beings as though they're non-human and having an exchange rate that reminds one of a currency exchange rate, right? How many dollars to the pound?
Starting point is 01:14:39 How many German marks to the Frank? How many yend the ruble? How many Indian slaves to the African slave? This is like a landmine and I feel like we're going to encounter these all throughout this discussion. And so I thought of how we should approach these cultural landmines, these issues that can explode in our faces because they're a combination of offensive, we're dealing with people with a completely different mindset.
Starting point is 01:15:03 There's a bunch of things that go into this and I thought we're going to deal with it together. We're going to go up to this landmine, we're going to look at it, we're going to look at it from all sides, we're going to unravel and try to untangle what's going on here. How do we untangle something like this? Famed historian of slavery, David Breon Davis in Human Bondage has this line and what this essentially is, is something that historians can see written down. This isn't anecdotal evidence.
Starting point is 01:15:29 This is the exchange rate, the human exchange rate from one type of human with one color skin and from one culture to another type of human with another color skin from another culture, Davis writes, quote, throughout the new world, colonists agree that the labor of one black was worth that of several Indians, end quote. Now when Davis says colonists, in this case he means early first contact colonists, the Spanish and the Caribbean, the Portuguese and Brazil and the going rate is multiple Indians for every African. Now in an earlier era, people like the Greeks and Aristotle and whatnot might consider that
Starting point is 01:16:15 a sign right there that you should be a slave. Obviously they're good at it, they make good slaves, that's a sign that they're in that class of people born to be slaves and if you go to like the antebellum south and maybe the 1820s, 1830s, 1840s, they'll make it a totally racial question, right? Well that's just how, that's the ethnicity, that's the genes and you can see it in the people and that's, they're just born that way. The concept of race as we understand it today develops during this era and if it's valuable to learn about this era, if for no other reason than that, considering the importance of the
Starting point is 01:16:52 concept of race in our modern world, before this time period it wasn't like people were all kumbaya and that they didn't notice, you know, the difference between us and them, the them group was just a lot bigger and your skin color was only one of many things that played into it. For an ancient Greek, someone who was black from Africa, they would call them Ethiopians probably that was in the ancient world, the Greeks sort of maybe thought of them as Ethiopians. Sure they might have had some issues with them but just like they had issues with the Skithians and the Thracians and the Epirates and the Persians, I mean this difference in
Starting point is 01:17:24 color that separates people of every nationality into groups of people that are only designated by their skin tone, that comes from this era. Modern historians have done a wonderful job though, if we can deactivate this landmine in front of us, explaining why you might pay more if you were a slave owner or might have to pay more for an African, a Sub-Saharan African slave than a Native American slave and it has to do with completely logical and understandable reasons that we would understand today in the free labor market, simply based on the value to the employer. That's what we'd say in the free labor market, simply based on the value to the slaveholder,
Starting point is 01:18:12 that's what we'd say in the unfree market, I mean consider this for example. Notice the fact that the labor is there, which is huge. Africans come from the Old World, which means that a lot of the things that people take for granted amongst people of the Old World includes the Africans, I mean they understand things that just come with the territory, that everyone would be expected to know and if you didn't know them, it would impede your ability to be a functional worker or slave, I mean how about horses? You go to the New World and remember they don't know about horses, they don't know
Starting point is 01:18:51 about cattle, these are both things that are a very big deal, I mean horses are cars and trucks and planes and railroads all rolled into one in this period. If you had a worker or a slave who couldn't ride a horse, couldn't care for a horse, was scared of horses, I mean that would make them a lot less valuable right there than someone from the Old World and there were several African tribes, Sub-Saharan African tribes that were famous for dealing with horses. Well right there you'd pay more for someone who could deal with horses in the free market, if you're running a ranch, than someone who can't.
Starting point is 01:19:24 What about agriculture? Large scale agribusiness, in the New World they of course planted things and did farming, but there was a lot of hunting and gathering going on, it was a much less rigorous agribusiness kind of style and the people there didn't know what they were doing when you started to put them into giant teams of workers under overseers, but in Africa they had large scale agribusiness and they grew all kinds of stuff, in fact they grew things in Africa that the Europeans wanted to grow in the New World but didn't know how to grow very well in the New World so the Africans showed them how rice was a perfect example.
Starting point is 01:20:04 So once again if we're talking about free labor here and you're trying to hire someone for your rice growing business, do you hire someone who doesn't know how to grow rice, has never worked in agribusiness, or do you hire someone who's worked on many farms, knows how to grow rice, and knows how to grow rice so well, they're going to show you how to grow it. All of a sudden it's not too hard to see why one African slave might be worth more than multiple Indian slaves. There was another reason that was brought up to me that I hadn't thought about that was
Starting point is 01:20:36 very interesting and I forgot, I apologize, I should have written down where I'd seen it, but someone had made the point that when you're talking about original slaves, we're not talking about second generation, third generation, you're talking about people who are captured in Africa and my thanks to Brenda E. Stevenson, a historian who wrote What is Slavery? Where she reminds us that the trauma that is slavery starts much earlier in the process than we think it does, the actual capture can be extremely traumatic and the time between capture and making it to the coast to get on the slave ship is often, well, more severe
Starting point is 01:21:11 and traumatic than what most of us ever deal with in our lives and that's before they even get on the slave ship, right, which as we know is awful in its own right, but the people that are being captured in Africa are often being captured in wars and the people you are getting are often warriors, these are soldiers and with that comes all kinds of things and as I was making a list of these things and as I was reading historians talking about them, you couldn't help but notice there's a lot of crossover in what would make a valuable soldier to a commander and what would make a valuable slave to a slave owner or a laborer to a free employer.
Starting point is 01:21:50 I mean, take for example, physical fitness. These are people that have taken care of their bodies, they've trained, they've worked out, they're in good shape, they're strong, right, they've probably done calisthenics and exercises and all kinds of things that puts them in good shape to begin with. Then you talk about things like discipline and the ability to, you know, follow commands, working group sufficiently, command others like an officer and the ability to be tough and resilient, I mean, these are all qualities that work in soldiering and in a labor force, free or slave.
Starting point is 01:22:32 And finally, the Africans from Sub-Saharan Africa have a superpower and there's no other way to put it, a superpower that has served them while for millennia and now in a terrible, nasty, ironic twist makes them a better laborer in the new world also. And I've always thought of it as sort of an invisible, pathogenic force field over their entire region of Africa and the diseases that this force field contains within it kills outsiders reliably. I mean, it keeps the riffraff out of central and southern Africa, if you're looking at it from a native who's had to live with these diseases from time immemorial, now that doesn't
Starting point is 01:23:23 mean central Africans, for example, don't get malaria, they do, they just don't suffer as badly due to the inherited long-term resistance that they've developed, right? This is standard medical stuff as we all know, but it means that the natives are less affected by it than outsiders. Go look at your classic history of the pith helmet wearing white explorers going into deepest, darkest Africa and how lethal that is for them during this time period, the Portuguese are going to start setting up forts slash trading posts slash holding areas for slaves all up and down the African coast right off the mainland and the people that are stationed
Starting point is 01:24:07 there are going to die in droves also. I actually remember an ongoing discussion back in college with the other history majors, the history geekerati over whether or not Alexander the Great could have conquered central and southern Africa. I was on the side of the people who said that he could not because his whole army would have died from the disease was my argument. Forget the Sahara, I'm enough of an Alexander fan to think he could have handled the logistical nightmare that that would have been, but there is no logistical defense against malaria
Starting point is 01:24:48 or you know, I mean, I mean, the truth of the matter is if Alexander's army and Alexander had died from disease in Africa, Alexander probably would have ended up dying then from the same thing that actually killed him in Babylon, which nobody knows what that is. Some people, you know, think it's poisonous and nefarious, but if it wasn't, it was probably one of those diseases like malaria that would have destroyed a Macedonian Macedonian army had it ever made it to Sub-Saharan Africa. But the point being that when the Africans are taken to the Americas, to the New World, they don't die anywhere near as quickly as the Native American, the indigenous peoples
Starting point is 01:25:26 do, and they don't even die as quickly as the Europeans do. This is a super valuable commodity, obviously, if you own people because you'd rather have one that lived longer than one or two or three that didn't. Now, is this going to work in the favor of the African slave? Heck no. It's going to be something that actually prolonged the agony of slavery, meant they got to live longer before they expired on the job. In some of these places, they were able to rationalize not even taking, you know, the
Starting point is 01:26:02 investment money that would be used to make life a little easier on their slaves because since they were going to die anyway, the investment wasn't even worth it, just work them to death. And they did. So that's the very long-winded and multifaceted examination of how the heck Africans got stuck into this logistical supply line that was developing now between these two worlds that, you know, up until recently had not been connected or even known of each other's existences. Now, just because you have African labor in the Americas starting doesn't mean Native American slavery died out.
Starting point is 01:26:45 In fact, there's going to be quite a bit of it. They may not work well in the mines or the agribusiness area, but there's plenty. If you're an enslaver, I read that word in one of the new histories and it's being used in place of slave owner, enslaver. It's a lot harsher, but probably should be, right? So, if you're an enslaver, there's plenty of jobs on your farm or in your household or in your kitchen or who knows, I mean, we forget the element that the sort of the hidden between the lines element of sex slavery and the whole slavery question, but it's enormous.
Starting point is 01:27:20 So lots of things that one would find the Native population valuable for even if they couldn't do the sort of jobs that they're bringing in old world people to do. And I think it's worth for a second examining the numbers a bit in what we're talking about here. Time to zoom out. Now that we've laid the foundation for how it got this way to what it is and how it develops. Historian Brenda A. Stevenson from UCLA, whom we quoted earlier in her book, What is Slavery? Goes over the numbers a little bit.
Starting point is 01:27:53 And these are all difficult to figure out occasionally because sometimes the records are great and sometimes they're not. And she says that most of the historians dealing with this subject now agree that some 28 million Africans were enslaved and sold between the 15th and 19th century. So that's the 1400s and the 1800s. And she says, quote, approximately 12.5 million left for the Americas and the Caribbean. About 16 million purportedly were traded not across the Atlantic, but rather to North Africa, on the coast of the Indian Ocean and throughout the Middle East.
Starting point is 01:28:35 But the 11 million or so who arrived in the Americas did not account for the millions, some believe at least 4 million, who died as part of the slave raiding warfare during the forced marches to the slave trading coasts, or who perished in the middle passage, the ocean trip from Africa to America as a result of scurvy and other diseases, dehydration, starvation, harsh treatment, or suicide. Nor does it measure, she writes, the millions who lost their homes and families and who were physically displaced as a result of the trade, end quote. And you can trace the development of all of this so economically.
Starting point is 01:29:18 As I said, this is what makes the whole period seem like it's beyond itself by date. The mind sort of, you know, you have to shake your head out of the lethargy when you just assume we're talking about free labor here, but you're not. I mean, you can see how the slave numbers go into orbit in terms of a growth curve as soon as some of these early places in the new world start churning out the first really popular yellow bananas, right? The green bananas turn into the yellow bananas. And the yellow banana in this case is probably sugar.
Starting point is 01:29:55 It is hard to get your mind around what a big deal sugar could be. Not a big deal now. I mean, it's just in everything. It's ubiquitous. You don't even think about it. It's not that expensive. But what if it was? What if they only made it in a few places and what if there was no good alternatives?
Starting point is 01:30:15 Can you imagine the value of this? What would you pay, right? People would go to war over that. I mean, it's fascinating to think about something that it's like thinking about pepper in terms of value. It'd be just, it doesn't even compute. You have to think of oil. You have to think of something that's really big in our world.
Starting point is 01:30:34 Now, the point is, is all of a sudden there's a sugar boom when, you know, Europe and other places all of a sudden developed this huge appetite for something. They didn't have a huge appetite for before. They have to have it and it doesn't grow in a lot of places. Even before Columbus makes his trip to the Americas, the Spanish and the Portuguese have some islands from the earlier age of discovery stuff that leads step by step to Columbus. The ones that are out sort of off the African coast or out into the Atlantic a bit can grow sugar.
Starting point is 01:31:09 They can instantly start turning those places into, you know, little growth centers. But they're going to pale in comparison to what's going to happen in the Caribbean and in Brazil where these places turn into sugar factories run by human labor and churning out wealth of the sort that can keep whole countries afloat, but the demand for labor is never ending, whereas in the Americas you will have a very unique situation in North America during the famous American slave period where slaves are able to keep their population levels up through marriage and birth rate. That happens in very few other places.
Starting point is 01:31:55 Normally, this is a one-way trip and children are not part of the deal. And David Brion Davis put it this way, and this is his, by the way, it's a little bit of a long quote, but it's his way of describing the green banana, yellow banana thing, the coming in and taking the moveable wealth first and then figuring out, okay, what's the long term wealth in this place and how do we get to it? And he writes, quote, while Europeans settled each new world colony in a special and often fortuitous way, we can also see a more general pattern being repeated from Hispaniola and Brazil in the 16th century to Virginia and Carolina in the 17th.
Starting point is 01:32:37 First, he writes, we note a strongly human element of greed, a desire for instant wealth from gold and silver, whether stolen from Indians, seized from the Spaniards by Dutch, British or French pirate ships, or gained from forcing Indians to work in the mines for mineral wealth. He continues, though, and here's the green bananas, quote. In a second and usually later alternative, colonial leaders turned to cash crops, such as tobacco and especially sugar, produced by slaves imported from Africa after initial experiments with Indian labor.
Starting point is 01:33:15 For reasons we will later examine, the African workers could never come close to reproducing their numbers, except in the Chesapeake in the 1720s and in South Carolina a half century later. Hence, he writes, the need for a continuing and growing stream of labor from Africa to make up for the slave mortality and to clear new land and found new colonies for cultivation. Much of the new world, then, came to resemble the death furnace of the ancient god Moloch, consuming African slaves so increasing numbers of Europeans and later white Americans could consume sugar, coffee, rice and tobacco, end quote.
Starting point is 01:33:57 That might sound harsh to some people, but one could make the case that that still applies today. We just have, you know, slave labor or close to slave labor in some places producing supplies that not just Americans anymore, but everybody uses and consumes, we're still addicted to bondage. The terms may be a little different, though, and the benefits more spread out. And this is a good time now that we've sort of laid the foundation for how did this even come to be to take a more Blitz edition oriented approach here, because as I said, I'm not
Starting point is 01:34:39 qualified to give you the history of slavery, but we can talk about some of the really interesting aspects of it. And the first one here is this lack of an ability, and maybe it's just me, and maybe I lack the imagination, but I'm sharing with you the fact I'm having a hard time seeing really plausible counterfactuals in this situation, you know, other alternative things that might have taken place, as opposed to this nightmarish outcome, because there's counterfactuals that are really easy to imagine the classic one we always play within the United States. Maybe they do in Britain, too, is what if the British had won the Revolutionary War,
Starting point is 01:35:19 the American Revolutionary War, because that could easily have happened. It's not that hard to imagine. That's literally a sort of a turn of fortune kind of thing, whereas something like imagining a significantly different unfolding of the New World, you know, first century or two, I mean, that to me looks more like a mudslide, like a force of nature sort of deal, where the best intentions of the most humanitarian of people in any of these societies would be drowned out by the sheer crush of momentum of the time. I mean, you know, we didn't even talk about it, but it's only a little in a couple years,
Starting point is 01:36:01 I think, after Columbus finds the Caribbean, thinking he's found the Asia, as he would have called it, when somebody actually goes the other way, Vasco de Gama, around Africa into the Indian Ocean and does find Asia, in air quotes, precipitating what I think is probably, I mean, you have to adjust for inflation and all that sort of financial nonsense, but I think you can easily say, precipitating the greatest financial boom in the history of humankind, globalization 1.0, right, all of a sudden the whole world is connected with trade routes, with regular shipping, it had, I mean, the money that could be made, and you're already, as we said, transitioning from a period where things like your name
Starting point is 01:36:48 and your birth and your aristocracy and your blue blood and all that stuff really mattered as to whether or not you could participate in a lot of different things, and that was being blown open by all kinds of things, you know, professors will tie it into the plague and population, I mean, there's, there's bazillions of ways to try to untangle the rope that represents the zeitgeist in this era, but money is not a bad way to sort of frame it. I think where you can judge humanity is how quickly you bounce back, if this is like an inevitable mudslide that's going to bury this, a lot of people in this first contact sort of period, how long does it take you to morally in a humanitarian sort of collective sense
Starting point is 01:37:31 to dig your way out of the mudslide, right, how long, how long until you rebound from this tragedy that's a creation of forces that no one had ever seen before, infused with mentalities that are only very recently having the middle ages reflected back to them in their historical rearview mirror, but these kingdoms and empires and states are all in direct competition with each other in places like Europe. And when the Americas are discovered, the entire competition just seeps over the Atlantic Ocean into the New World, and if the Spanish and the Portuguese thought they were going to keep the New World all to themselves just because they got there first, they're crazy.
Starting point is 01:38:20 History geeks like yours truly always enjoy talking about the Treaty of Tordesillas, the one where the Pope broke this deal, where the Portuguese and the Spanish get to divide the undiscovered planet in two between them, thinking that they're going to actually make this deal stick with the rest of the countries of the world is nuts. It does have an effect, though. I mean, the reason the Portuguese kind of have a stranglehold on the African-Atlantic trade stuff is because they're the ones who get, according to that treaty, control of the West African coast, where they're building all those forts slash holding pens.
Starting point is 01:38:56 So it has an effect, but the English, who will become the British in the early 1700s, right, as part of this changing from kingdoms into states, they're not going to pay any attention to this. And once there's the religious gism between Catholicism and Protestantism, the people that leave Catholicism don't pay any attention to anything the Pope says anyway, so they don't care. We're not staying out of the Americas, right? All these other countries are going to crash the American private party.
Starting point is 01:39:21 They're just going to be a little behind places like Spain the whole time. I mean, Spain will be in like California and Texas in the not too distant future. Remember, it's going to take hundreds of years to explore all this new country, and the other European powers will be about 50, 75, 100 years behind them every step of the way. So the Spanish and the Portuguese get this head start. And then when the other countries arrive, they have all these ways to make up for the lost time, though, like stealing the Spanish stuff through piracy. This is the great age when all the pirates are around.
Starting point is 01:39:53 Really the period from about 1492 when Columbus stumbles on the Americas and about 1800 is the period in which you look at this area and you see the giant risk board new world version and all these islands change hands and warfare happens and other settlements and the French get involved, the British get involved, the Dutch get involved. You even see the Danish and the Norwegians get involved. The price for entry, right? In order to play this new world colonization game, you have to have a significant fleet, right?
Starting point is 01:40:27 You have to be a naval power. The countries that get locked out of this giant, you know, gold rush, right? The globalization 1.0, gold rush, fever time are places like central European landlocked countries. Now there is no Germany at this time, right? Germany is a bunch of different states. It won't coalesce for several hundred years. But what that means is there's no giant German state with a German fleet that can send the
Starting point is 01:40:52 German fleet out there to participate in all this. Why does this even matter? Well, because, you know, in the early 1900s, one of the complaints that led to the First World War was this idea that there were countries that had gotten there and the phrase was place in the sun and then there were these other countries that were left out when all that was taking place, right? The game of musical chairs started before they were even a country. Well, the period where the enemies of the Kaiser's Germany in the First World War were
Starting point is 01:41:21 getting their place in the sun is this period. And after the Spanish and the Portuguese take some of these places from the indigenous peoples, the people from the Old World come over and start taking it from the Spanish and the Portuguese. It's like the Cheetahs were the first arrivals and they started eating all the peaceful furry plovers in Hispaniola and then after a significant period of time, but not that long, the lions from the Old World arrive and start pushing the Cheetahs, you know, deeper into the interior. You'll see these islands change hands between the Spanish and the French and the French
Starting point is 01:41:56 and the British and it's a giant game of musical chairs for a couple centuries. You'll also see the beginnings of settlements into places where the Spanish didn't even go. The Spanish will be in places like Florida, for example, but they won't be in places like Massachusetts or Virginia or what's now part of Canada. But the French and the English will. The Dutch will too. I mean, they settled New York originally, right, New Amsterdam and all these different
Starting point is 01:42:24 peoples are going to bring the general way of doing things, the institutions and the culture from, you know, the European Old World. But because of the subtle differences between each of them, right, the English from the French, the French from the Spanish, the development in all these places will be a little bit different treatment of the slaves, for example, a little bit different to leave them be one or two communities that won't even allow slavery in them in North America. But by and large, you get the general consensus that labor is unbelievably necessary and in short supply.
Starting point is 01:42:58 And what's also interesting is if you buy into the premise from the primary sources and I mean from multiple different nations, cultures, eras, I mean, over hundreds of years, you can read plea after plea after plea from these people in the Americas, writing back to the old country saying if we don't have more slaves, then we can't settle this place at all. And it didn't necessarily have to be African slaves. I mean, this is also the period where the famous indentured servitude era really takes off big.
Starting point is 01:43:35 But it doesn't appear that many of these people are talking about free labor in any way, shape or form, it's either going to be slaves or indentured servants or something like that. And if you take their arguments at face value, and I can't figure out if this is somehow sort of a lack of imagination or the blinders that are put on because these people come from a different era and a different economic system. But if you take their arguments at face value, it says though they're saying that if the Americas had been found, you know, with the modern era's sort of values in mind, right, where we pay people for work, that it simply wouldn't be settled or that we'd still be
Starting point is 01:44:10 stuck hundreds of years later on the eastern seaboard, still trying to chop down the primeval forests in the east with paid labor. I mean, it's interesting to contemplate, right, the what ifs here and what we're dealing with. One thing you can say though is that the numbers are borderline shocking even for someone who should know better like yours truly in human bondage. David Brion Davis writes, gives you some statistics that show you the amount of people that are coming over from the old world to the new world.
Starting point is 01:44:41 And I all you can say is I should have known this, listen to these numbers and tell me if this doesn't shock you. Davis writes quote, in retrospect, it appears that the entire new world enterprise depended on the enormous and expandable flow of slave labor from Africa, though in 1495 Columbus transported some 500 Native American slaves to Seville and dreamed of a profitable slave trade of American quote, end quote, Indians to Iberia, Italy, Sicily and the Atlantic Islands. Some African slaves arrived in the Caribbean at least as early as 1501.
Starting point is 01:45:16 By 1820, nearly 8.7 million slaves had departed from Africa to the new world, as opposed to only 2.6 million whites. Many of them convicts or indentured servants who had left Europe. Thus, he writes, by 1820, African slaves constituted almost 77% of the enormous population that had sailed toward the Americas. And from 1760 to 1820, this emigrating flow included 5.6 African slaves for every European. From 1820 to 1880, the African slave trade, most of it now illegal, continued to ship off from Africa, nearly 2.3 million more slaves, mainly to Brazil and Cuba, end quote.
Starting point is 01:46:05 That's an astounding number. I mean, the majority of people who emigrated to the Americas until 1820 were black. And it wasn't because that's what everybody wanted in terms of a racial makeup in this new world, it's because of the labor shortage, and this was the way these people solved it. Now, I have no evidence to prove it handy, but I would assume this is probably the greatest labor shortage in global history, and you can see changes in the market to fill it over the centuries. I mean, as we said, the Portuguese dominate the slave trade early, build all kinds of
Starting point is 01:46:48 forts and castles off the coast of Africa, become the initial people running this thing, build the foundation, build the infrastructure, but then at some point, the Dutch will sort of supplant them, and then after that, the British will supplant the Dutch in terms of dominating the slave trade. And all these governments, we should point out, tax it, right? They tax the slave ships, they tax the transaction. So the government is making money directly off the slave trade, and then they pour that into, well, everything you can think of, including building the infrastructures of a lot of these
Starting point is 01:47:19 cities in Europe, right, and in the new world, too. But it gives them a vested interest in the slave trade, doesn't it? And over time, you can see that the people who are being made slaves will change, and the labor shortage will be handled by different groups. I mean, initially, as we said, around Columbus's time period and soon afterwards, the slave numbers are dominated by the natives, the indigenous peoples. And then by about the 1600s, you see sort of a rough parody, right? Native peoples forming maybe like a third, and I'm just, these are rough ballpark estimates,
Starting point is 01:47:54 but the natives forming like a third of the slave numbers, indentured servants from Europe, right, people who are essentially temporary slaves forming a third, and Africans forming about a third, Frederick Douglass, who I've always considered to be sort of the black founding father, he's one of the more impressive human beings in American history. If you've not read his autobiographies, he's got more than one. He's just wonderful, and he tells the story of encountering some Irish guys when Frederick Douglass is a slave, and he helps them with some laborers that they're doing, and after they're done moving some heavy stuff, you know, the Irish guys find out that Douglass
Starting point is 01:48:32 is a slave or they knew it before, but then they ask him a key question. They say, are you a slave for life? Meaning that the Irish people would probably have been familiar with the indentured servitude idea where you might be essentially a slave and you could be sold and all those kinds of things, but there's a time limit on it, and after that, you're free. Convicts I think was usually double the time limit before you're free as a sort of indentured servant, and convicts have formed large chunks of many societies, I mean, Australia had a lot of convicts, the United States had a lot of convicts, you know, as part of the early
Starting point is 01:49:10 gene pools, and Douglass had to tell these people, no, that he was a slave for life, and by that means, not only are you, is there no time limit on when you're automatically freed, but your progeny, your kids are slaves too, which the indentured servants, that's not a thing, but after about the 1600s, you can see the demographics change. There will be Native American slavery in some parts of the Americas, some people would argue you still have that, but that's never going away per se, but in the great cities of the American East that are starting to develop, you're not going to see tons of Native American slavery, even in the areas around the Caribbean, it's going to start to be dominated by about
Starting point is 01:49:53 the late 1600s, early 1700s, by the African slave trade, and the companies that developed to fill this labor need, I mean, we weren't just sort of making a fanciful comparison when we call this sort of early capitalism, a monarchal capitalism, it's been described before. I mean, the company that's in Britain that handles the majority of the slave trade is called the Royal African Company, so I mean, these are slave trading companies, and it's big business, because the slaves are doing every kind of job you can think of, in what is slavery, historian Brenda E. Stevenson says, quote, by the beginning of the 1600s,
Starting point is 01:50:35 the increase in the trade in slaves to accommodate sugar and tobacco production, as well as gold and silver mining, also meant an increase in the numbers of persons in Africa, Europe and the Americas involved in the trade, and the numbers of new world locales, where African workers arrived, sugar alone, she writes, accounted for the labor of 70% of the African imported slave labor in the new world over the centuries, end quote. These islands have certainly gone from having the green bananas of Columbus's day to the fully saleable and very valuable yellow bananas in this era, and Stevenson writes, quote. The expansion of sugar cultivation beyond Brazil in the mid 17th century, particularly
Starting point is 01:51:22 to British and French islands in the Caribbean, was especially important in the development of this crop's dominance, and the corresponding growth in the numbers of Africans imported to cultivate it. These locales, she writes, included Jamaica and Saint-Domingue, with planters who dominated the world market, along with the British islands of Barbados, St. Kitts and Antigua, and the French colonies of Martinique and Guadeloupe, other crops, especially cacao in Brazil and tobacco in Barbados, also fed this early agricultural boom. By the 18th century, coffee in Indigo were also important slave produced exports, end
Starting point is 01:52:05 quote. She then goes on to show some of the other jobs being done in places like Brazil, but you could say the same thing about North America, we think of these large plantations and agricultural work, but these people are doing everything, Stevenson says quote. While agricultural work was what occupied most enslaved people, they also worked in other sectors of the early colonial economies. Those in the first centuries of the Atlantic trade, who came to reside in Brazil, for example, were also miners, herders, domestic servants, carpenters, wheelwrights, fishermen, and lumbermen,
Starting point is 01:52:42 or performed other skilled or day labor work. In Spanish-speaking colonial America, particularly Mexico, enslaved 16th century Africans, many like the Akan, I think it's Akan, who were from the gold mining regions of Ghana, worked in gold and silver mines, end quote. Now, Stevenson's talking about Brazil there, but you can say the same thing about North America before the American Revolution, because the Northern Territories had slaves back in those days too, and they did all kinds of jobs. And the funny thing about it is that what that does is preclude you from having some
Starting point is 01:53:20 sort of example that applies to slavery in general, because there is no, I mean, we used to think of it as a classically agricultural thing, right, picking cotton or harvesting sugar or God forbid it for everybody, I mean, the mines were the worst, right? The Romans in the ancient world, if they sentenced the slaves to the mines, I mean, it was almost a death sentence. But Frederick Douglass in his autobiography talks about the first time he ever saw a slave in the big city, you know, which for him was Baltimore. He was from a rural plantation, and he says, when he got to Baltimore and saw what slaves
Starting point is 01:53:53 were like there, he thought they were practically freemen as far as he was concerned, right? No overseer with a whip watching everything they did. And he blamed it on peer pressure, the reason he said that slaves were treated better. He says, because none of the masters wanted to look like they mistreated their slaves in front of everyone else, you think about it more like a possession, right? If you have a fancy car, you don't want it to get all run down and look shabby, right? It reflects badly on you. And he was saying, for example, because he was always hungry, it seemed like when I was
Starting point is 01:54:25 reading his writings back at home on the plantation, and he said that no one would want to be accused in Baltimore of starving their slaves. And he thought that this peer pressure meant that the average slave had a better life than it had, you know, back on the plantation where no one can see what you're doing to your slaves. Which brings me to, you know, a part of the story that I keep, I keep wanting to inject in here, so I remember it myself if that makes sense. But it's a kind of a hidden part, but you can deduce it so easily, right? It's like when they find planets without actually seeing the planet, but they can see that there
Starting point is 01:55:04 must be a planet out there based on what's going on with the other ones. I read an article and it was a writer. I don't remember if she was writing for the New York Times or the Atlantic or something like that, but she'd made a comment about how every time she looked in the mirror, she was reminded of a rape in her ancestral tree somewhere, right? Her very skin color was a lasting legacy to slavery, and it's the sexual assault question that we forget. And that's not an African Atlantic slave trade issue.
Starting point is 01:55:39 That's a slavery issue going back to the beginning of recorded history, right? This is, I mean, they buy slaves specifically for the concubine aspect of it in some places, but even if that's not what you have them for, the lack of legal protections and oversight and all that kind of stuff means you're going to get that anyway. And what I mean by that is if you're one of those slaves in Baltimore that looks like you're practically a free person to Frederick Douglass, that doesn't protect you, right? If you're some lady who works in the house where the enslaver lives and you cook for their family and you're practically a member of the household and you celebrate holidays
Starting point is 01:56:23 with them and you're up in the privileged realms of the slave society as other slaves would view it, that doesn't mean that when the lights go out at night, you're not subjected to sexual assault all the time. In other words, without the legal protections, just because your outward situation seems so much more enviable, no one knows what's really going on here, except as that one woman had said, you can tell by the color of her skin. And the many writings that are made about the fact that everyone knew that the masters are sleeping with the slaves and everyone knew whose mixed race child belonged to whom,
Starting point is 01:57:03 but everybody kind of discreetly kept their mouth shut about it. Well, if they were talking to someone who might be the child's stepmother anyway. But needless to say, you didn't have a lot of people writing accounts of this for the history books. That's a problem with a lot of human suffering, right? If you want to have firsthand accounts of what it was like on the slave ship crossing the Atlantic, those are not easy to come by. Those people didn't publish a lot of books.
Starting point is 01:57:33 There are some. There's a book I picked up because Brenda Stevenson was quoting from it called Pioneers of the Black Atlantic, which is several different slave narratives. But they're not always easily quotable kinds of things. What they do show you, though, is where you can't generalize about the slave experience of slaves in the Americas. You can make a distinction between those who were born in Africa as free people and had to make the trip over and those who were born in the Americas, like Frederick Douglass is
Starting point is 01:58:07 born in the Americas. He never was a free person before becoming a slave. He never had to do that terrible ship travel across the Atlantic. So there's certain things he can't relate to and that other American born slaves wouldn't have had to go through that would have been a shared experience that everyone who came from Africa would have been able to relate to. Sometimes you have to be reminded about things that after you hear about them seem obvious, but you hadn't thought about them.
Starting point is 01:58:41 So Brenda Stevenson brings it up and then after she says it, I'm noticing it everywhere, and it was about what these enslaved people go through before they even arrive at the ships to take them across the Atlantic to the Americas. Because in your mind's eye, you think, oh, well, it starts off, they become slaves and then they get on the ships and that's horrible. And then the whole thing starts. No, it starts long before then. And what most of these people will experience between their capturing and the arrival at
Starting point is 01:59:08 the coast to get on these ships, any one of their experiences would be the worst experience most of us have ever had. Simply the branding alone would be something that would be in the forefront of your mind today had anybody ever taken a glowing hot piece of metal and stuck it on your skin for a significant period of time, right? And that's just one of the things they get to go through. So Stevenson talks about it though. She talks about the different ways these people could become enslaved and there's all sorts
Starting point is 01:59:38 of different ways as I think we alluded to earlier. And before we consider ourselves so morally advanced, let's understand that if I couch it in the right framework, many of you will agree that you'd support a kind of slavery under the right conditions and it's conditions that the Africans enslaved people under too. If I said that somebody had committed some heinous crime and that for the rest of their life they were going to have to be involved in hard labor in order to pay society back. A lot of people think that that was a just sentence and that was a kind of sentence that could get people put into slavery in Africa.
Starting point is 02:00:14 There were a bunch of other ones of course, simply owing money could get you in trouble. Being a captive in war was a classic and my central African history is not good. But I was reading that there was a series of rather large wars between African rulers in the 17th and 18th centuries, the byproduct of which is a lot of slaves to sell afterwards. And so this was working out for everyone, right? We have ground zero production for this logistical supply chain that provides labor for the new world and as fate would have it, we have a lot of wars creating a lot of product. So get them while they're hot, right?
Starting point is 02:00:53 All the African slaves you can transport. And so Stevenson talks about the trip from initially becoming a slave to simply making it to the coast to get on the slave ships, which is normally where we think the bad part starts, well, that would be wrong, Stevenson writes quote. Enslaved Africans, therefore, entered the Atlantic trade through numerous avenues as sold war captives, kidnapped victims, social outcasts, criminals as tribute payment or drawn from a pool of bonded laborers traditionally found in many Western and Central African societies.
Starting point is 02:01:33 Some were sold from one locale in Africa to another and then eventually sold to Europeans bound for the market in the Americas. The trips they took from their earlier places of residence or servitude to the coast for embarkment to the Caribbean or beyond could be hundreds of miles. Often, she writes, they were sold and resold along the way to the coast. They marched in single or double file, chained to each other with only the clothing they had on when taken, eating and drinking only what their captors provided, exhausted under nourished, physically, psychologically and sexually abused and often dehydrated as well.
Starting point is 02:02:14 Some became ill, others perished and route. It was only the beginning of their travails and their travels, end quote. She says then they get put in these giant sort of prison type facilities awaiting transport after they're sold. And then the transport thing, this also blew me away and I didn't think about this either because it's not something that occurs to you. So James Wolven in Freedom points out that the key ingredient in terms of how nasty the transport was on these wooden ships from Africa to the New World had to do with how long you
Starting point is 02:02:51 had to be on the ships, right? The longer you were on it, the worse it was because if you're being tortured, the longer you're being tortured, the worse it is, right? But then he says something that I didn't realize, which is that these ships picked up cargo a little like the airport transport bus often does, where instead of just picking you up and taking you to the airport, it stops at many different stops until it has a full bus and then it leaves for the airport. So these ships are staying offshore in Africa off the coast near the equator, right?
Starting point is 02:03:24 So it's hot as hell with people below decks until they get enough people to leave for the New World. And Wolven gives you a sense of how long it might take before the ship is filled up enough to leave with people below decks in chains in a coffin size amount of personal space. And Wolven writes, quote, Africans often spent longer on board a slave ship anchored off the coast of Africa than in crossing the Atlantic. The ships accumulated their human cargoes slowly from place to place, where there were no facilities for holding Africans on shore.
Starting point is 02:04:05 The ship acted as a floating prison until the master decided that he had had enough enslaved people to set out across the Atlantic. Some ships, little more than hulks, acted as permanent offshore prisons, passing on their captives to other ships ready to sail. In the 17th century, he writes, Dutch ships spend an average of 120 days on the coast. British ships, 94, a century later, the Dutch spend an average of 200 days on the coast. French ships, 143. In the mid to late 18th century, British ships spent 173 days on the African coast.
Starting point is 02:04:46 End quote. He says that one fact that stands out from the wealth of information is that millions of Africans spent months at sea before they even left for the Americas. And if the amount of time you're on board the ship is the key question in terms of whether you live or die or how long the torture continues, you can see that the situation is worse than most of us originally thought. The part of the story I'm a little more familiar with as most of us are is the horrors of the crossing itself because it is so infamous.
Starting point is 02:05:23 It's a little like the trips in the closed rail cars to the concentration camps in the Holocaust where the suffering that goes on while in transit is so famous because it's so terrible. People sort of marked by the experience. Walden talks about how the slave ships were known to just smell terrible like cesspits and cesspools and you could smell them miles away downwind, but to imagine what it must have been like to be chained into a space about the size of a coffin while everyone else is around you doing what everyone else does while just living and surviving for months.
Starting point is 02:06:12 The nightmarish side of this is hard to get your mind around. Walden points out something once again that I didn't even think of. If you want to take the Rashomon approach to all this and see it from every different side, he was pointing out that the people who are the ones who run the slave ship itself, they're often terrified too. You might have 400 slaves on a ship with 17 crew members and the 17 crew members can be terrified also. You're stuck there on board with a lot of desperate people.
Starting point is 02:06:40 If you actually look at slave revolts as a thing, which we'll do in a little while, the vast majority of them happen on board ships within sight of the African coast because it's sort of the last chance for these people to get away before they're severed from their homeland and they understand once they're out of sight of land how much their chances drop of ever getting back home again. But the accounts are legendary of what it's like in the holds of these ships. I picked one out here from someone who went through it. This isn't an author.
Starting point is 02:07:15 It's an eyewitness. When he describes what he calls the necessary tubs, the necessary tubs are what passes for latrines in these shipboard situations. Another thing Walden points out that it's worth remembering is that to travel by ship during most of this time period is harrowing for people who pay for the privilege, much less what it's like for slaves. In the book, Pioneers of the Black Atlantic, which is a compilation of several different slave stories, a slave, and I hope I pronounced his name correctly, Aladue Equiano points
Starting point is 02:07:52 out what it was like below decks for him when he makes this famous middle passage crossing. And he says, quote, the stench of the hold while we were on the coast was so intolerably loathsome that it was dangerous to remain there for any time. And some of us had been permitted to stay on the deck for the fresh air. But now that the whole ship's cargo were confined together, it became absolutely pestilential. The closeness of the place and the heat of the climate added to the number in the ship, which was so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself almost suffocated us. This produced copious perspirations so that the air soon became unfit for respiration
Starting point is 02:08:35 from a variety of loathsome smells and brought on a sickness among the slaves, of which many died, thus falling victims to the improvident avarice, as I may call it, of their purchasers. This wretched situation, he says, was again aggravated by the galling of the chains, now become insupportable, and the filth of the necessary tubs into which the children often fell and were almost suffocated. The shrieks of the women and the groans of the dying rendered the whole a scene of horror almost inconceivable, end quote. And it goes on for months, slaves jump overboard to get away from it, committing suicide, some
Starting point is 02:09:23 believing that they'll go back to Africa after they die, some refuse to eat, and as a response are brutally flogged, the person, the slave, I just quoted said that he saw a white sailor flogged so horribly that he died and that they threw him overboard, basically pointing out that the people that were doing this to the slaves in his mind had no human feeling at all and would do this to each other, which scared him even more. And once again, we have the hidden part of this story, which is the rape and the many insinuations of girls and female children and young male children being raped by the crew continuously across the whole journey, so you have these people who are almost dying,
Starting point is 02:10:13 whose only time to get out of the hold and out of the chains is to be part of a sexual assault. These stories are about trauma inflicted upon trauma in a way that one has a logical question that one can ask of something like this. How long would it take a family to have the pain and effects of trauma at this sort of a level melt away? I mean, would your children be able to pick out things in their life that are the result of the trauma that you went through in a situation like this?
Starting point is 02:10:50 What about your grandchildren? In other words, how long until this sort of pain and suffering, how long till the ripples caused by it die out? And that's assuming, of course, that these people live very long, tons of them die on the journey. And it's this real catch 22 if you're looking at this from a business sense, because you have a vested interest in packing the ship as closely as you can to get as many pieces of cargo on there as you can, because of course that means more to sell.
Starting point is 02:11:21 But there becomes a point where you're hurting your own cargo and they start dying at greater rates if you pack them too much like sardines. So perhaps there's a, you know, it's funny when you start saying that the only protection these people have in terms of better living conditions is because of their worth as a commodity doesn't stop them from being thrown overboard in droves. Sometimes, sometimes to collect the insurance money. There's a reason that this middle passage has been so mythologized in the history of slavery, because in terms of horrible experiences that people go through, it is right up there
Starting point is 02:12:03 near the top of the list, able to hold its own with many of the worst things that you can think of throughout history. And we should point out once again that this is something that happens to people who are on their way to becoming slaves. This is sort of the welcoming experience to their new life. One of the things that they do to you in debate class, and I know a lot of you've gone through this too, is to give you a side in a debate that you don't agree with and then force you to defend it.
Starting point is 02:12:50 And I imagine if we were in some cosmic court of law and you said that I had to be the attorney representing the past on this slavery question, you know, against the attorney representing the present. I think I'd point out that there's all sorts of laws that I can name from multiple countries over multiple eras that are designed to make this situation better for the enslaved people. And we'd mentioned one of them earlier with the problems Columbus ran into trying to enslave the indigenous peoples of the Americas when the Queen of Castile, who also happened to be the one funding his mission in that little piece of Monarchal capitalism, said, who was
Starting point is 02:13:34 this, why is my admiral enslaving my subjects, right? Well, France had something called the Code Noir in the 1600s. Britain had rules on slave ships and how many slaves you could put on the ship. I mean, the attorney for the past defending history would say, hey, listen, I can cite all kinds of laws, measures, debates and things that were done to address this very issue. It's not our fault it didn't come far enough to meet your modern standards. We didn't even know what those were and you wouldn't have gotten anywhere near them if we hadn't taken the early steps like Code Noir and the Queen of Castile and limitations
Starting point is 02:14:13 on the number of slaves you can have on ships and eventually things like going after the slave trade. It's hard though because the world is a, what's the line from Trixie, from Gollum in the Lord of the Rings? It's Trixie and you don't know exactly what the motivations are and you have to be careful. I mean, is a limit on the size of slave ship capacity, something done for the benefit of the human beings that are the cargo or are you doing it to protect product? You got to be careful, right, where human beings, we're a little Trixie.
Starting point is 02:14:53 But I think the attorney representing the interests and conduct of the past would say that there are things that they can point to the show that they were trying. If you wanted to critique that from the other side, the lawyer representing modern times would say, well, your enforcement was terrible. When did this ever work out in the favor of the people that the law was supposed to protect? When did anybody ever have to pay any penalties? When was anybody ever discovered, investigated or taken to task? When did any slave owners go to jail or pay a fine for the treatment of the people they
Starting point is 02:15:30 owned? You see what I'm saying is that you can have all the laws on the books. That doesn't mean anything actually happens, but a lawyer representing the past would have some ammunition in saying that they did not totally ignore this issue. But when you see what one of these slave markets are like when these people arrive on these ships to the Americas, it's impossible not to be critical on how anyone could look at this and think it was okay. I was reading one account on it, and it was Abraham Lincoln, who's an interesting figure
Starting point is 02:16:04 when it comes to slavery too. The Abraham Lincoln account that was written by someone who was with him once, and this is in the 1850s, so it's quite a bit of time before he becomes president, and they said that they were walking through the city street somewhere. I'm going from memory here, but that they had chanced upon a slave market where a sale was taking place. I think it was a woman that was being sold, and Lincoln's friend said his fists would just completely clench and unclench, and his jaw would get tight.
Starting point is 02:16:28 He was saying something to the effect that this was just so wrong on so many levels. It makes one wonder how many people have to have a softening of the heart or a change in outlook before that manifests in a change in society, because you can blame anyone from the past you want for the conditions that existed then. The defense could easily be, I'm just one person. What do you think I can do all by myself? The same defense you would probably use if somebody 500 years from now were critical of something in our era.
Starting point is 02:17:02 How could you people drive cars as long as you did? I'm just one person. What am I going to shut down the car industry? That's how people in the past might have responded to you saying, how could you put up with these slave markets? Look at what this is. These people are like pieces of meat, and if it doesn't make you as mad as it made Abraham Lincoln, what's wrong with you?
Starting point is 02:17:20 I mean, listen to these sorts of eyewitness accounts of what the slave market was like. It is fascinating. They often began at the sound of either a gun going off or a drum being sounded. People were sometimes nuts. It reminds you, I mean, if you pardon me, reducing this to Christmas shopping, but like the craziness you see on television sometimes when people will wait outside a facility until midnight and then everybody goes in and they're ripping product from one person to another. It's sort of a crazed kind of thing, right?
Starting point is 02:17:52 Get the best before someone else does. When you let everybody in at once like that, it's a free for all. This is a free for all of people buying people. In his book, Slavery of World History, Milton Meltzer describes a sort of a typical slave market sale and says that sometimes the affairs were done privately with an advanced sale that had been arranged ahead of time, but normally it was the sort of doors open at noon at the sound of a gun, grab whatever you can kind of deal. He says the official name for it, among some, was the scramble and he writes, quote.
Starting point is 02:18:35 After the walking skeletons had been disposed of, he means they're really sick. They were sold sort of in bulk right away. Get them out of the way. Less than a dollar a slave, obviously, because they often died and then you bring out the good product. He said, after the walking skeletons had been disposed of, the healthy slaves came next. Sometimes they would be marched through the town behind bagpipes and drawn up for inspection by planters or their overseers in the public square.
Starting point is 02:19:01 If a West Indian factor handled retail sales, he took 15% of the gross and another 5% of the net returns. The quote end quote scramble, however, was the customary way of handling a sale. By agreement with the buyers, a fixed price was set for the four categories of slaves, man, woman, boy, and girl. A day for the sale was advertised. When the hour came, a gun was fired, the door to the slave yard was flung open, and a horde of purchasers rushed in, quote, with all the ferocity of brutes, end quote, set a man
Starting point is 02:19:39 named Falcon Bridge, a slave ship surgeon who witnessed several scrambles. Each buyer, Meltzer writes, bent on getting his pick of the pack, tried to encircle the largest number of choice slaves by means of a rope. The slaves, helpless, bewildered, terrified, were yanked about savagely, torn by one buyer from another. Some were so panicked by one such scramble on the island of Grenada that they hurled themselves over the wall and ran madly through the town. Once Falcon Bridge saw a scramble aboard a ship in Kingston Harbor when the buyers swooped
Starting point is 02:20:15 in to seize their prey, about 30 of the slaves leaped into the sea, but all of them were soon fished out, end quote. He then points out that when the slaves were bought a second time, the first time they're bought is on the coast of Africa, and they're branded then, and he says, now when they're bought again, they're branded again. The experience of being sold for the Africans arriving from Africa is a little bit different than the experience of being sold for slaves who have already been in the Americas. The difference is usually one of close family relationships.
Starting point is 02:20:53 It was rare for the slaves from Africa to be taken with family members and have their company and companionship the whole time. They weren't as often separated from close family members during the scramble kind of slave sale, but once you get to where you have an internal slave trade, where slaves who are born in the Americas are being sold from one owner to another, well, now you have something that's part of this human disaster here that is the breakup of families, which is part of this huge, huge lingering trauma from slavery. As we said, how long does it take for a family to have the ripples of pain go away?
Starting point is 02:21:31 Well, if your skin color is indicative of some of that pain, that makes it very difficult. If you've had people in your family trees severed from their family, that lasts a long time too. I think Douglass talks about one of these sales where he was on a plantation that had been in someone's hands for a while, and then all of a sudden that person had to sell, or they died, I think, and then you have this valuation, how much of the slaves worth as part of the overall estate, and then you liquidate the assets, and he says, quote, after the valuation, then came the division.
Starting point is 02:22:06 I have no language to express the high excitement and deep anxiety which were felt amongst us poor slaves during this time. Our fate for life was now to be decided. We had no more voice in that decision than the brutes amongst whom we were ranked. A single word from the white men was enough, against all our wishes, prayers, and entreaties, to sunder forever the dearest friends, dearest kindred, and strongest ties known to human beings. In addition to the pain of separation, there was the horrid dread of falling into the hands
Starting point is 02:22:41 of Master Andrew. He was known to us all as being a most cruel wretch, a common drunkard who had by his reckless mismanagement and profligate dissipation already wasted a large portion of his father's property. We all felt that we might as well be sold at once to the Georgia traders as to pass into his hands, for we knew that that would be our inevitable condition, a condition held by us all in the utmost horror and dread. I suffered more anxiety." One of the things that I noticed while reading a bunch of different slave accounts is you
Starting point is 02:23:22 tended, there were certainly people that met every sort of condition you can imagine, but it seemed to me there was a big division between the slaves that were rarely or never sold. Their whole lives is in one circumstance. The slaves that were sold over and over and over again, Douglas is one of those people where every time you're sold, it's like a new chapter in the book that is your life. It's like rolling the dice, am I going to go to a sadistic sociopath now or am I going to go to somebody who, graded on the slavery curve, isn't so bad? As Frederick Douglas had said, that he always measured the kindness of his master by the
Starting point is 02:24:02 standards of the kindness set up amongst slaveholders around them. Always graded on a curve, you take slavery as the condition that you have no control over and then you judge how well you're doing based on that compared to people in the similar situation. The point of what Douglas was saying though, that perhaps the Africans, see the Africans had been severed from their families back in Africa. It's not that they don't have this pain is that it happened pre-voyage over, but the slaves who get to see their children sold away from them or their spouse or their parents,
Starting point is 02:24:40 well, for some people, you'd rather be dead, wouldn't you? When we talk about the extremes of the human experience, these are the kind of things that all by themselves would be on the nasty list, but when you realize that this Atlantic slave trade combines numerous things that by themselves would be on your top 10 horrible list, it's a cornucopia of atrocities. And there was nothing we should point out to prevent this incident, this type of incident from happening over and over again during the course of a slave's lifetime, right? I mean, you can have kids after your, you know, your parents were sold off and they can be
Starting point is 02:25:24 sold off too, or you could be sold. I mean, when you think of the power that this gives a slaveholder over a slave, it's an immense amount of leverage, isn't it? And it may help explain that most hard to get your mind around phenomenon that you will run into with the primary sources of slavery, which is what do you make of these slaves? And you'll see it, for example, in the primary sources in the United States later. What do you make of the slaves? And it's a, we should point out definitely a minority, but who loved their masters or
Starting point is 02:26:00 professed that they did. Is this the Stockholm syndrome at work? Is this romanticizing the past when they were interviewed later? Is this more like what Frederick Douglass was saying, where you're grading this on sort of a slavery curve? And if you had a master that would take into account your feelings about perhaps holding a sale where your children might be sold off and separated from you for life and an owner who wouldn't give a hoot about that, well, you might develop some sort of weird affection
Starting point is 02:26:33 for your owner too, I guess, somebody who at least gave you the time of day in terms of humanitarian concerns. But it is weird. There's many aspects of slavery that are weird. One thing, though, that we do need to sort of mentally understand, and it's tough because, you know, when you're doing what I'm doing here, and this is always been the problem with history since Herodotus on is, how do you pick examples and things to emphasize? And how do you avoid cherry picking or making something look potentially worse or better
Starting point is 02:27:04 than it really was? Because, you know, I can pick nasty, horrific slavery story after nasty, horrific slavery story, and I'm not sure a chronicle of the bad things done to slaves over the eras illuminates us much more above the idea that we can really be awful to each other and the slavery is one of those things that's horrifying. So what do you get beyond that, though? Well, there's some interesting questions. As I always say, I'm not qualified to give answers, but, you know, anyone can ask questions.
Starting point is 02:27:32 And a lot of my questions revolve around this idea of a society that figures out a way to transform a significant number of people into slaves and keep them in that condition. Because remember, this is not, one might compare this to business as we've been doing and entrepreneurship and trade and all these kinds of things, but at ground zero, once slaves become slaves and end up where they're supposed to be, you know, in terms of final sale and you're working here and I own you, how does this all keep people working? In a free labor system, you have carrots that you hold out to employees, and if they don't do what you want, you reduce or eliminate them, right?
Starting point is 02:28:19 You don't do the kind of job I want, I'm going to lower your pay. You don't do the kind of job I want over a long enough period of time, I'm going to fire you. But what if you're dealing with labor that doesn't want the job in the first place and isn't paid anything? How do you get those people to work? Well, that's where you move from carrots to sticks, literally in some cases. In the world that fear made, historian Jason T. Sharples describes this system that's based
Starting point is 02:28:53 on force and that is in a very real, non-exaggerated sense, a system of violence, one that makes sure that slaves end up where they're supposed to go, do the job that they're supposed to do when they get there, if they dare to run away or escape, that will find them, return them to their place of origin in terms of ownership and then punish them and then an entire system devoted to preventing any sort of insurrection rebellion rising up or resistance. It's a system, right? We Americans like to poke fun, when I was growing up, we always used to use a fake German accent and poke fun at the Gestapo question where they would ask a person in Germany, let me
Starting point is 02:29:40 see your papers because in the United States, of course, being free people who could go wherever you wanted to, that was something we made fun of, except it didn't acknowledge the fact that there were lots of people that had to show their papers or not get in terrible trouble or be beaten or worse and they were slaves in the South when they were out at night, part of the system of violence here and the controlling of forced labor required an entire edifice to be developed about this sort of things. The slaves in the United States, when you read the accounts, they had a phrase that I kept running into and I didn't understand what it meant for the longest time and the
Starting point is 02:30:16 phrase was sometimes they said patty rollers and sometimes they said patty rollers and it didn't make any sense to me until I finally saw it again in context and it dawned on me. They're saying patrollers. Now, they didn't know what the term meant, so they heard it and it became sort of a bastardized version of patroller, patty roller, patty roller, but the patty rollers were these people that were part of a system where in some of these places, it was like jury duty every now and then you were required to serve as a person who went around checking slave passes, hunting for runaway slaves, all that kind of stuff.
Starting point is 02:30:49 It's a societal piece of the framework and structure that keeps a slave society running and it's all based on fear and violence. And by the way, Sharples first quotes slavery apologist is what he calls him, Brian Edwards and who said that force and violence was the only and the phrase he used was impulse to action in which a slave person can respond, right? Like I said, you can't cut their wages, you can't fire them and Sharples writes that the violence at ground zero, the bottom line when you're a slave on the plantation or wherever you are is the whip, the lash and he writes quote, individual enslavers wielded the lash.
Starting point is 02:31:37 The most obvious instrument of attempted terror, not too mechanically prod enslaved people, so much as to inflict freshly stinging examples of what could befall them if they displeased an enslaver. The historian Edward Baptiste has aptly characterized this as a system of torture for compelling labor and outward obedience from enslaved people. And a 17th century traveler also described this as a system of torments and excessive tortures, those are quotes, enslavers throughout the colonies, Sharples writes, terrorized enslaved women and men with rape and its lingering trauma and they threaten them with the possibility
Starting point is 02:32:20 of physical pain, humiliation, confinement or reassignment to difficult labor. They also use the chattel principle to threaten to separate families through sale and they could send an individual to a new enslaver who was more sadistic or whose position in the economy involved a more grueling labor regime. In wielding these instruments of fear, Sharples writes, enslavers deliberately exploited people's human instinct to avoid doing whatever might lead to pain or loss. Coercion in slavery, he says, depended on fear of violence, end quote. Frederick Douglass explained it in an interesting sense where he said he was kind of a troublesome
Starting point is 02:33:04 slave and after he'd gone to Baltimore and then returned to the plantation, his master felt he'd sort of gotten unruly and some negative ideas and he wasn't anywhere near as valuable to him anymore, so he was going to send him to a slave breaker to be broken. Douglass describes this as a man who didn't even have much money but he was lucky, lucky, because he was known as a person who could break slaves and because of that people with troublesome slaves would lend this man their slaves for a year, so he got the free labor while he broke them, so he benefited and then he would return the slaves back to the slave owners like a trained animal, a broken dog.
Starting point is 02:33:49 By the time he was done with this breaker of people, Douglass says he'd finally been turned into a slave, transformed into a brute, he said, and it's a very famous passage and he writes quote, if at any one time of my life more than another I was made to drink the bitterest dregs of slavery, that time was during the first six months of my stay with Mr. Covey, he's the slave breaker. We were worked in all weathers. It was never too hot or too cold, it could never rain, blow, hail, or snow too hard for us to work in the field.
Starting point is 02:34:25 Work, work, work was scarcely more the order of the day than of the night. The longest days were too short for him and the shortest nights too long for him. I was somewhat unmanageable when I first went there, but a few months of this discipline tamed me. Mr. Covey succeeded in breaking me. I was broken in body, soul, and spirit. My natural elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed, and the cheerful spark that lingered about my eye died.
Starting point is 02:34:58 The dark night of slavery closed in upon me, and behold a man transformed into a brute. Sunday was my only leisure time, he wrote. I spent this in a sort of a beast-like stupor between sleep and wake under some large tree. At times I would rise up, a flash of energetic freedom would dart through my soul, accompanied with a faint beam of hope that flickered for a moment, and then vanished. I sank down again, mourning over my wretched condition. I was sometimes prompted to take my life and that of Covey, but was prevented by a combination of hope and fear.
Starting point is 02:35:37 My sufferings on this plantation seem now like a dream rather than a stern reality. I quote, in slavery world history, Milton Meltzer has a firsthand account of an eyewitness observer that was in Haiti in the period, I'm sure it was a little before this period that Frederick Douglass' quote I just did was taken, and they describe what the slavery is like in Haiti, on these back-breaking sugar plantations, and Swiss traveler GĂ©rard Chantrand, I believe it's pronounced, described the slaves at work that he saw who went to the fields at daybreak and sometimes quit only at ten at night, and he said, quote, they were about a hundred men and women of different ages, all occupied in digging ditches in a cane
Starting point is 02:36:33 field, the majority of them naked or covered with rags, the sun shone down with full force on their heads, sweat rolled from all parts of their bodies, their limbs weighed down by the heat, fatigued with the weight of their picks by the resistance of the clay-y soil, baked hard enough to break their implements, strained themselves to overcome every obstacle, a mournful silence reigned, exhaustion was stamped on every face, but the hour of rest had not yet come. The pitiless eye of the manager patrolled the gang, and several foremen armed with long whips moved periodically between them, giving stinging blows to all who, worn out by fatigue,
Starting point is 02:37:17 were compelled to take a rest, men or women, young or old, end quote. Now as we said earlier, if you study history, and I know many of you do, there's nothing shocking about this, the condition of these people, the circumstances or anything like that. The part that begins to feel so wrong is the era that we're in where this is still happening. As I said earlier, this seems like an ancient institution that is out of place here, and to have all of the modern techniques of commerce and business and logistics and supply and supply, you know, all these kinds of things applied to such a seemingly outdated sort of
Starting point is 02:38:03 entity, it's somewhat jarring. This is the strangest part to me of modern day slavery, because you see the same sorts of stories in the past, but they seem to belong in the distant past. And you can see the effect it's having on some of the people who can be pretty introspective during this time period, let's say late 1700s, early 1800s. I was reading a book called How the Word is Past by Clint Smith, and it's about sort of the legacies of American slavery that he can see when he travels around. And he goes to Thomas Jefferson's home and engages with some tourists who are there going
Starting point is 02:38:41 through a tour afterwards, who were surprised to find out about Jefferson's slave past and all that. So, Smith has a very interesting line, because all of us who are Thomas Jefferson fans, and if you like the idea that all men are created equal, you know, the Declaration of Independence stuff, I mean, all of that is Jefferson and Jeffersonian. And yet, the guy is almost like a metaphor for the country as a whole, and the weird sort of dichotomy that the United States is, because he is at once this great proponent of liberty and freedom and all men are created equal, who is also a slave owner and who is
Starting point is 02:39:23 an intelligent enough and self-aware enough individual to realize that this is a contradiction. And Smith writes, quote, what's fascinating about Jefferson is that this is a flaw of which he was wholly cognizant. In notes on the state of Virginia, he wrote, quote, these are Jefferson's words, there must doubtless be an unhappy influence on the manners of our people produced by the existence of slavery among us. The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part and degrading submission on
Starting point is 02:40:03 the other. Our children see this, he writes, and learn to imitate it, for man is an imitative animal. The parent storms, the child looks on, catches the liniments of wrath, puts on the same heirs in the circle of smaller slaves, gives a loose to his worst of passions, and thus nursed, educated, and daily exercised in tyranny cannot but be stamped by it with odious peculiarities. The man must be a prodigy, he writes, who can retain his manners and morals undepraved by such circumstances. End quote.
Starting point is 02:40:41 It's an interesting question to ponder, isn't it, the effect of slavery upon the slave-owning group of people in a society. Jefferson saw the future, too. He's a very interesting figure. He had a line in that same document, notes on the state of Virginia, written 1781, 1785, between that area, that points out that he sees the iniquities involved in slavery, and he sees the end of it in the distance, and he wrote quote. For in a warm climate, no man will labor for himself who can make another labor for him.
Starting point is 02:41:24 This is so true that of the proprietors of slaves, a very small proportion indeed are even seen to labor, and can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God, that they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever, that considering numbers, nature, and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events, that it may become probable by supernatural interference, exclamation point.
Starting point is 02:42:11 The Almighty has no attribute which can take sides with us in such a contest. I think a change already perceptible, since the origin of the present revolution, the spirit of the master is abating, that of the slave rising from the dust, his condition mollifying, the way I hope preparing, under the auspices of heaven, for a total emancipation, and that this is disposed, in the order of events, to be with the consent of the masters, rather than by their extirpation, end quote. Jefferson was a man of science, and he understood the basic ideas of someone like an Isaac Newton, and one of Newton's laws is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Starting point is 02:43:04 And that most basic of human emotions, revenge, would seem to be rather Newtonian also, wouldn't it? And if you saw what were being done to these people all the time around you, wouldn't you maybe tremble for your country when you realize that God is just? And wouldn't you worry that if the masters don't end this slavery thing, that the slaves may turn around and make them? What if slavery in the United States did not end the way it did, although it ended with the Civil War, so maybe that's Jefferson's worst case scenario, but what if instead of
Starting point is 02:43:51 the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery the way it did, what if that never happened? We can presume, as Jefferson does there, that at some point it goes away, but how does that happen without the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation? I mean, does it go out with a whimper, or does it go out with a bang? And if you see something like that in the future, the same way Jefferson says he did right there, what would you do to ward it off? There's a very interesting debate that happens in the United States Senate in the year 1800,
Starting point is 02:44:27 and many of the people in, it's actually the Congress, not the Senate, but many of the people in Congress at that time period, these are original representatives because the Constitution only becomes the law of the land in 1787, and they're having a debate over one of the many slave laws that was around, and one of the representatives, a guy named George Thatcher who's from Maine, but at the time he's representing Massachusetts, he gets up there, and you can go read this in the Congressional Record, and he talks about essentially disarming this hand grenade that the country was born with, right? Slavery is a preexisting condition in the United States, right?
Starting point is 02:45:09 Even here for hundreds of years by the time the United States is formed. And as part of the deal for all these states to join together, right, because it was a kind of a deal, there were a lot of slavery-dependent states that made this a condition for entry. So if you're going to talk about getting rid of slavery, we're not even going to be involved. In fact, we don't even consider that to be something the federal government has a role in talking about, and this debate in 1800 was a little over that where the guys like George Thatcher who was sort of an early abolitionist saying, yes, the federal government does have a role in this slavery question, because it's a political evil, and they were debating
Starting point is 02:45:43 over things like, is it a political evil, is it a moral evil? And I went out and got ahold of a book written in the South, right, the University of North Carolina in 1935. So I wanted to get away, remember I was going to be very careful about sources, I wanted to be very careful about getting things that seemed acceptable to everyone, and it's written by a professor at North Carolina, I believe he was, William Sumner Jenkins, and the book is called Pro-Slavery Thought in the Old South, and he talks about this sort of back and forth between a very early sort of American abolitionist representative and someone from Georgia named
Starting point is 02:46:20 James Jones. And basically what's being argued about here is George Thatcher is saying, either we get a handle on this hand grenade, or it's going to explode and blow us all up. And Jones from Georgia, James Jones, he doesn't disagree with him, but he disagrees with the whole premise of everything else. And William Sumner Jenkins writes, quote, at the turn of the century, from 1799 to 1800, sparring again took place in Congress on the slavery issue. Thatcher of Massachusetts asserted that Congress had the power to legislate on the subject
Starting point is 02:46:54 because slavery was a political evil, end quote. Now using a term that the Romans also use, that slaves were enemies, right, they were enemies within, Jenkins continues, quote, he, meaning Thatcher, declared the 700,000 slaves were public enemies, and now quoting Thatcher, quote, a greater evil than the very principle could not exist. It was a cancer of immense magnitude that would sometime destroy the body politic, except a proper legislation should prevent the evil, end quote. And he's saying that we write the right laws to have a soft landing from this, disarm this
Starting point is 02:47:35 hand grenade, or it blows up and kills everybody. And the representative from Georgia disagrees with him that slavery is even a bad thing, and then says, if these people are public enemies, why on earth would you let them go? James Jones of Georgia replies to Thatcher of Massachusetts by saying, quote, the gentleman farther says that 700,000 men are in bondage. I ask him how he would remedy this evil as he calls it, but I do not think it is an evil. Would he have these people turned out in the United States to ravage, murder, and commit every species of crimes?
Starting point is 02:48:12 I believe it might have been happy for the United States if these people had never been introduced amongst us. But I do believe they've immensely benefited by coming amongst us, end quote. So he's basically saying this was a pre-existing condition, might have been better had they never been here, but thanks to God on their part that they were, because they've benefited immensely. I mean, that's pretty cheeky, right? They're so lucky they ran into us so they could be our slaves and we could civilize
Starting point is 02:48:39 them, although humankind is a long history of that rationale being employed, doesn't it? But what both these men are seeing is a disaster in the future. They just have different sorts of attitudes about the best way to handle that. But knowing that for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction, would you be okay sleeping on a plantation with slave labor yourself? Would you feel safe doing that? There's a much used quote from a woman who's, she was anti-slavery, but I think she married
Starting point is 02:49:17 into a pro-slavery family or whatever. She was an actress named Fanny Kemble and in the 1800s she's had to sleep at this plantation in this town, it was Charleston, I believe, and she pointed out that the town itself, we had said that you have to have sort of a system of violence in place, a system to keep these public enemies, these enemies within under control and she talks about that and then talks about how weird it is to think that you have these enemies within, but they're within your house. She wrote in her diary, I believe it was, quote,
Starting point is 02:49:52 A most ominous tolling of bells and beating of drums, of the first evening of my arrival in Charleston, made me almost fancy myself in one of those old fortified frontier towns of the continent, meaning Europe, where the toxin is sounded and the evening drum beaten and the guards set as regularly every night as if invasion were expected. In Charleston, however, she writes, it is not the dread of foreign invasion, but of domestic insurrection which occasions these nightly precautions. Of course, she writes, it is very necessary where a large class of persons exists, in the very bosom of a community whose interests are known to be at variance and incompatible
Starting point is 02:50:32 with those of its other members, and no doubt these daily and nightly precautions are but trifling drawbacks upon the manifold blessings of slavery. Still, she writes, I should prefer going to sleep without the apprehension of my servants cutting my throat in my bed, even to having a guard provided to prevent their doing so, end quote. There's a primary source letter, I believe it was, that's recounted in Melcher's book, Slavery of World History, and it's from a French family that is living in Haiti, I believe it is, and it's just the family, right?
Starting point is 02:51:14 There's nobody else but the mom, the dad, the kids, and there's five of them. And they live with 200 slaves, Africans, or African descendants. Melcher says that the French colonists in Haiti, that they didn't like it, and expressing how they feel. And I just want to point out, if you're scared of your slaves, because you understand that things have been done to them that would give them grievances, how much more scared are you going to be with a ratio of 200 to 5? And by the way, note that this slave-holding family is asking for pity, because they're
Starting point is 02:51:55 stuck with all these slaves that they own, quote. Have pity for an existence which must be eked out far from the world of our own people. We hear number five whites, my father, my mother, my two brothers, and myself, surrounded by more than 200 slaves, the number of our Negroes who are domestics alone, coming almost to 30. From morning to night, wherever we turn, their faces meet our eyes. No matter how early we awaken, they are at our bedsides. And the custom which obtains here, not to make the least move without the help of one
Starting point is 02:52:30 of these Negro servants, brings it about not only that we live in their society the greater portion of the day, but also that they are involved in the least important events of our daily life. Should we go outside our house to the workshops, we are still subject to this strange propinquity. Add to this the fact that our conversation has almost entirely to do with the health of our slaves, their needs which must be cared for, the manner in which they are to be distributed about the estate, and their attempts to revolt, and you will come to understand that our entire life is so closely identified with that of these unfortunates that in the end it is the
Starting point is 02:53:10 same as theirs. And despite whatever pleasure may come from that almost complete dominance which is given us to exercise over them, what regrets do not assail us daily because of our inability to have contact and correspondence with others than these unfortunates so far removed from us in point of view, customs, and education." David Breone Davis has this great question. It's just the kind of questions that we would ask too where he asks and he says, no matter what your skill set or your training, he says, can you imagine trying to be the person whose
Starting point is 02:53:55 job it is to keep 150 or he says, even 50 slaves in line, make sure they work all the time at maximum speed, punish them for any getting out of line. He then goes on to tell a story about his own time many years ago in the Navy being intimidated by a bunch of African-American sailors that as an 18-year-old he'd been told to go order around, not so easy to do necessarily. And the job requires the sort of treatment of people that today we would think only some sort of sociopath would be willing to do and yet it was common. This does sort of harken back to the Thomas Jefferson idea that it somehow coarsens society
Starting point is 02:54:44 because it would be difficult for us to imagine a person that would be comfortable meeting out the sort of punishment that was absolutely common and ubiquitous in the slave societies. Could you beat a person with a whip? Could you do it for a half hour? Could you do it with them screaming the whole time? Could you do it to a, if you're a guy, could you do it to a female? If you're a female, could you do it to a child? I mean, you see what I'm saying here?
Starting point is 02:55:13 Frederick Douglass has one of those, you know, and he's a great eyewitness for some of these things because he's so good at telling you how it made him feel. And watching somebody, it could be, I mean, again, imagine watching this happen to a total stranger. Okay, could you go do that today? Watch somebody being beaten with a whip for a half hour? Could you watch that? Okay, now imagine it's not a total stranger, it's your daughter or your spouse or your
Starting point is 02:55:41 parent. You see what I'm saying here? Because that's what it was for Douglass and you had no choice. You got to watch this and stand there balling up your fists, clenching and unclenching, clenching your jaw, looking at everyone else as you all watch this scene together and letting the thoughts run through your head. I mean, what can you imagine? What would be running through your head?
Starting point is 02:56:04 If somebody's beating my spouse or daughter, I'm thinking that this is so intolerable. I'm just going to kill them now and live with the consequences. And I read story after story of how these overseers deal with those sorts of situations because these sorts of incidents where somebody's gotten pushed too far and most of the time it's not an attack, the establishment sort of thing, it's non-compliance. And the stories often had these overseers that they'll ask three times and then they just shoot you in front of everyone else and they have to to maintain control of everyone else.
Starting point is 02:56:41 Frederick Douglass was asked once in a crowd of fans of his who were white folks, but who didn't understand how these revolutions didn't happen. We wouldn't take them. Why didn't you just overthrow these people? You outnumbered them and Douglass was trying to find how he could explain to these people that did not grow up under slavery, how that sounds so easy to them, but they don't understand. I mean, imagine being in Douglass's situation when he sees his aunt whipped by the master. This isn't even the overseer because he was saying the overseer was an absolute sociopath,
Starting point is 02:57:17 but he says that the master was not particularly wonderful either, even if he wasn't a sociopath. And this is what makes me wonder about how many people could do this today. This guy was not unusual and this is what he did as Frederick Douglass and everyone else around him had to watch. Douglass writes quote, I have often been awakened at the dawn of day by the most heart-rending shrieks of an own aunt of mine, whom he, the master, used to tie up to a joist and whip upon her naked back till she was literally covered with blood. No words, no tears, no prayers from his gory victim seemed to move his iron heart from
Starting point is 02:58:02 its bloody purpose. The louder she screamed, the harder he whipped, and where the blood ran fastest, there he whipped longest. He would whip her to make her scream and whip her to make her hush, and not until overcome by fatigue would he cease to swing the blood-clotted cowskin. I remember, he says, the first time I ever witnessed this horrible exhibition. I was quite a child, but I well remember it. I shall never forget it, willst I remember anything.
Starting point is 02:58:34 It was the first of a long series of such outrages, of which I was doomed to be a witness and a participant. It struck me with awful force. It was the blood-stained gate, the entrance to the hell of slavery, through which I was about to pass. It was a most terrible spectacle. I wish I could commit to paper the feeling with which I beheld it. To quote, wanting to kill the person doing it is not an unusual feeling.
Starting point is 02:59:07 There was a wonderful book called Voices from Slavery, and it's one of several that's been produced with original primary source remembrances of slaves. During the Great Depression, some people would call it a make-work program, but it shows you how a make-work program during a terrible economic crisis can end up benefiting all of us because these people that were hired by the government went around and got all of the surviving slaves to tell some stories that they could put in the archives so they'd be available for all of us today. They come with all of the problems that firsthand accounts that are given decades after the
Starting point is 02:59:46 events always have, but they're still priceless. I was reading one where the slave that was being interviewed, he was 87 years old at the time, and this was the 1930s, I think, where he was being interviewed. He talked about watching a relative who was nine months pregnant being beaten by the overseer, and the overseer dug a special hole for her stomach to fit in so she could lay down and have a place for the stomach while he hit her with a whip for a half hour. She ended up giving birth during the process, and the ex-slave had said that he wanted to hunt the man down and kill him.
Starting point is 03:00:25 The overseer, just to show you how complicated these stories are in real life as opposed to the two-dimensional way we simplify them for history writing, the overseer who did this that the ex-slave wanted to kill was himself black. In our little mental experiment to try to view things from all sides, the Rashomon approach, hard enough to view it from the side of the overseer lashing the poor black slave to begin with, isn't it? Now, try the mind flip that it's going to be if you happen to be a black person and a slave, perhaps, too, beating another person of your own color and your own standing for
Starting point is 03:01:06 the person that owns you both. Wow, that is so wrong, and yet the question that is so intriguing in this story that actually pushed me over the edge this time to finally brave the enormity of the subject matter and dive in here is when we decided it was so wrong. Obviously, when these people are being whipped in these two eyewitness accounts that I mentioned, this is between the 1830s and the 1850s, it was okay because it happened, but if you'd had done it 40 or 50 years later, it wouldn't have been. So what's the difference?
Starting point is 03:01:50 And it brings me back to a phrase, and I don't remember where I first encountered it, but I ran into it about events during the same time period where things changed in the slave outlook, let's call it the attitudes, and it had to do with public executions, which had for several hundred years, one might say forever, but specifically for several hundred years previously been public spectacles of intentional torturing and suffering, people broken on the wheel, having hot irons stuck on them, I mean just public torturing, and for spectacle, sport, fun, entertainment, amusement, and you know, practical lessons, but in the same era, it was dying out and somebody had referred to it as part of a revolution
Starting point is 03:02:44 in sensibilities. We today might say something like humankind during the 1700s was developing more of a modern view of something like humanity and how one should treat one another, but you can see it across a wide range of things, and over and over in these stories, you will see these historians point out that we need to take into account when you hear how terribly these slaves were treated, that we shouldn't judge this on the modern scale, we should judge it on the scale of how poor people, criminals, all kinds of different people were being treated in these societies that had nothing to do with slaves or race, right?
Starting point is 03:03:23 So the benchmark of humane treatment was at a lower level anyway, and in the 1700s you can start to see some, as I said, changes in sensibilities, and slavery is one of the main issues that this becomes something that makes, I mean the voices that rise up by the late 1700s that are anti-slavery are for all intents and purposes missing 100 years before. And James Wolven in the very first paragraph of his book explains, let's use it again, the flipping of the zeitgeist, and how quickly not just attitudes, but the actual structure of the world that required those attitudes not to change were forced to change when the attitudes did, and Wolven writes, quote, on the eve of the French Revolution, all of
Starting point is 03:04:16 Europe's major maritime powers and a number of thriving colonies in the Americas were keen to have a share of the transatlantic business of slavery. Shipping Africans to the Americas and using them and their offspring to labor, mainly in agricultural work, was a lucrative concern which no one seemed able to resist. A century later, he writes, those same nations had banned the slave trade, had freed all their former slaves, and were now vehemently opposed to slavery. Not only was their antipathy expressed in the upper echelons of power in formal politics, government, and diplomacy, but it had also caught the imagination of millions of ordinary
Starting point is 03:04:59 people, people who were increasingly well informed via the explosion of literacy and the world of cheap print. To make the point more crudely, he writes, in the late 18th century, most Atlantic slave owners and slave traders felt confident that they could ride out any criticism of slavery. By the late 19th century, they had all vanished, and only an eccentric would have felt confident to defend slavery publicly in the West." I always have to hold back the reins a little bit when I find periods in history like this, because the danger is that you'll fall into wiggish history thinking, W-H-I-G.
Starting point is 03:05:43 The more modern academic term would be to say that you were thinking in a teleological sense, this idea that the best way to describe it is that great quote always attributed to Martin Luther King, but I don't think he was the first to say it, that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. That's sort of the wig view of history that we're making progress, and it may be two steps forward, one step back, bunny hop kind of progress, but it's moving in a direction that's getting more humane, better for everybody, more inclusive, whatever you want to say. These days, most historians don't think that way, and it might be a dangerous delusion
Starting point is 03:06:19 to think that way, because there might be a little complacency in this idea. There's, don't worry, it's all going to work out the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice unless it doesn't. Also let's not forget that one person's justice could be another person's Manson-like murderous atrocity. So you never know with that kind of thing. I think the one aspect of this, though, that makes me come away with a net positive is look at what was accomplished, look at what's possible.
Starting point is 03:06:49 That's what this history experience here teaches us, right? It doesn't teach lessons. It's an example. Look at how much change towards our modern point of view, would be a good way to put it, that you see in what amounts to one long human lifespan here. And you know, we're not talking about global public opinion deciding they want a different sweetener in their tea. As we've been saying, this is the legacy system of all legacy systems.
Starting point is 03:07:15 It's slavery, centuries old in the Atlantic slave trade form, millennia old, ancient in the institution form, wrapped up in the economies, the lifestyles, the downstream profits of everybody, I mean, woven into the fabric of society, entrenched. And if they can flip that iceberg, they prove it can be done, right, that icebergs can be flipped. And the reason we should take heart is we have a few icebergs in our future that may have to be flipped under similar sorts of constraints, financial, institutional, woven into the fabric of our society, money.
Starting point is 03:07:58 I read that at the start of the Civil War, the value of the American slaves in the South was estimated to be 48 times the annual spending of the American government. Obviously, the American government spent a lot less than, but nonetheless, that's a challenge right there. If everyone decided overnight that they had an epiphany and history and history had shown that slavery was wrong and we're going to get rid of it, you're still going to have these practical matters afterwards about who has to pay for this, you know, leveling up on the humanitarian scale, who gets left holding the bag, right, when property turns back
Starting point is 03:08:36 into people. Different countries will have different solutions for that particular problem when they freed their slaves. But the point is, is that they worked it out. Now, the pessimist on my shoulder wants to make sure I emphasize that this was no rainbows and unicorns kumbaya period in history, right, when humanity went from here to there on the slavery question. I mean, it's more like a birthing thing.
Starting point is 03:09:06 I mean, it's really bloody. It's transformative and history, when it is transformative, is often nightmarish. I mean, you're going to have multiple revolutions. You're going to have bloody slave revolts. You're going to have reins of terror, civil wars, global wars of conquest. But you know, the Whig historians amongst my listenership would say something like, well, you know, that's just the one step backwards on that bunny hop progress. That's just, you got to break a few eggs to make a historical omelet and just be, just
Starting point is 03:09:39 be glad you're not one of those eggs yet. All of those sorts of events, the civil wars, the slave revolts, the revolutions are going to have profound implications for the slavery question. And in yet another example of how the pen proves to be mightier than the sword, or at least deadlier in some cases, you can see that so much of what's going on in the 1760s, 70s, I mean, this is weaponized philosophy. This is the age of Enlightenment thinkers having their ideas made actionable. And you'll see this in other areas too.
Starting point is 03:10:20 I mean, what is Karl Marx, if not a weaponized philosophy or maybe weaponized economics. These are all thinkers, right, and lecturers and writers who have their classroom theories put into practice by people pointing guns at one another. The funny thing about it is that the ideas of things like the American revolution do not sound radical to people today. How could they? Those ideas and the ideas of the French revolution and those ideas from some of these guys and the Enlightenment form the basis for, you know, our concepts of things like human rights
Starting point is 03:10:58 and everything today. But when they first showed up, there are a lot of places where you start talking about that stuff openly and they will kill you, they'll execute you in a lot of these societies that have czars or holy Roman emperors or absolute rulers. Heck, there's a lot of places you'll get killed in the 21st century world spouting the ideas of Thomas Jefferson, for example. You can see movement on the attitudes toward the slavery question before the American revolution breaks out because you'll start to see the really tiny but just starting abolitionist
Starting point is 03:11:36 movement gain some traction. There's a famous 1772 decision in Britain over a slave who runs away from his master while they're in Britain and then gets recaptured and the court rules, hey, you know, we don't have to follow the law wherever you were made a slave, which I think was Boston. So you're free here and that had ramifications. But then when you get the American revolution, what you see is the great hypocrisy began and it's the kind of hypocrisy that just over the course of time is unsustainable. A chasm is created that can be widened by people on the anti-slavery side of things.
Starting point is 03:12:25 The hypocrisy is the lead in the Declaration of Independence and by that I mean in the journalistic sense, right, you're never supposed to bury the lead, put it right at the top. All men are created equal, right? What do you do with that in a slave society, right? The Declaration says we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What do you do if you live in a slave society, but you actively believe that?
Starting point is 03:13:07 David Brion Davis says this is the greatest weapon in the arsenal of American abolitionists, the ability to hold a mirror up to people and say, hey, your whole country is about this. How can you stand for this hypocrisy? He writes, quote, the strongest card in the hands of American abolitionists was their ability to indict the entire American nation for what appeared to be the most hypocritical contradiction in all human history. A nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal happened also to be the nation by the mid-19th century with the largest number of
Starting point is 03:13:50 slaves in the Western Hemisphere, end quote. To show that the slaves instantly picked up on this hypocrisy, there's a great story. I had never encountered it before, but I saw it in several sources when I was reading for this conversation and it involved one of these protests that happened in the early periods of sort of the bubbling of the cauldron of the American Revolution before the shooting war broke out. So 1765, I think it was, in South Carolina and a bunch of the colonists were going to the town square where everybody sort of was to protest.
Starting point is 03:14:28 I believe it was the Stamp Act, it was one of those. And they're yelling all of the rhetoric of the revolution, you know, liberty, liberty, we will not let King George enslave us, all these kinds of things. And I guess watching all this along with everyone else is a bunch of actual real black slaves in South Carolina. And the sources were not clear on whether or not this spontaneously happened right at that moment, which would have been cinematic, and that's how I hope it went down, or if it happened a couple of days later.
Starting point is 03:14:57 But apparently the slaves picked up on the hypocrisy and started shouting the same slogans in the town square, appalling the residents and basically giving them a clear idea that they faced what David Brion Davis referred to as a revolution within a revolution if they're not careful when they decide to break away from the king. Facts and enemies and adversaries of the United States also used this obvious contradiction between the marketing material and facts on the ground to ridicule the new country, British writer Samuel Johnson. And I'm going from memory here, but it's a famous quote, he said something like, you
Starting point is 03:15:41 know, how is it we hear the loudest yelps of liberty from the drivers of Negroes? And you almost get the feel when you read the founding documents that there was a bit of wincing on the part of some of the founders over the issue, I mean, perhaps that explains why you don't see the word slave openly very often. I'm trying to think of any times you see it. And of course, slavery is written into the Constitution, it's written into other documents, it's mentioned in the Declaration, but not by name. Is there a reason for that?
Starting point is 03:16:14 And if there is, what would it be, I'm going to say, some of these people might have noticed the contradiction. We already used the quote from Clint Smith's book where he points out, Jefferson was aware. So he has such a hand in this writing, maybe he just decides certain inconsistencies don't need to have attention drawn to them, I'm just guessing. The French, of course, will have a revolution right after the American one. There's a lot across pollination early on, people don't always know this, but the French helped the American Revolution a lot.
Starting point is 03:16:47 Guy named Lafayette was famously a Frenchman that we held close to our hearts. And then when the French Revolution started, 1789, which is the year the U.S. Constitution signed in 1787 goes into effect, so they're close behind Thomas Jefferson's in France helping Lafayette draft things like the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. I mean, these are to the French what these Declaration of Independence and Constitutions are to the United States. And guess what, Thomas Jefferson's got a hand in both of them. When you read them, this sounds like humanity taking a step forward.
Starting point is 03:17:29 But Jefferson is all by himself, a perfect, as we've said, symbol of the hypocrisy. There's a man who's got a hand in writing two of the most influential bedrock foundational documents and statements and coming up with the language and the approach and everything for what modern human rights are all sort of based on and he owns hundreds of people. And yet he becomes a powerful voice in the early American Republic for curtailing and eliminating the slave trade. I mean, what do you make of a guy like this? There's a lot of historical figures like this, by the way, right?
Starting point is 03:18:09 These ones who maybe are responsible for things that we all consider to be good things today, but who when you examine their individual lives make them hard to root for a lot of heroes are that way. The whole process of heroization requires that we, you know, sand off those rough edges and squash them into the two dimensional convenience store cardboard cut out figures so that we can use them for a purpose, right, to celebrate a message or one of our finer stand up moments in history. Be like that person.
Starting point is 03:18:41 If you're going to say be like Thomas Jefferson, you don't want to talk about all the weird stuff and there's some other weird stuff, which is it's not just a Thomas Jefferson thing. It's a sign of their times thing and it's bizarre and there's a pathos there that must be connected certainly to the Atlantic black slavery thing, but maybe slavery forever, but it's above my pay grade to try to psychoanalyze what's going on here, but maybe you can. So I'll just explain it to you real quickly because it says something. I don't know what it says, but it says something.
Starting point is 03:19:10 So we all probably heard that Thomas Jefferson had a slave that he was sleeping with her name was Sally Hemmings. And for a long time there were Jefferson supporters who denied that he really did father six children with her, but recent DNA tests would seem to settle that matter. Now that's not the strange part as we've hinted at before. And you know, I didn't know how to even handle the slave rape thing. I mean, you could do a whole just nothing but story. I mean, you don't know where to draw the line and the horrificness of slavery, right?
Starting point is 03:19:44 It could just be example after example and the rape things a perfect example, but the Sally Hemmings thing is weirder, right? Cause I can, I can understand the sadistic lust filled slave owner scenario. Jefferson's is different, so let's start with the weirdness here. Jefferson's wife dies at 33 years old, leaving him, you know, grief stricken apparently because she didn't want her children to have a stepmother. She made him promise that he'd never marry again and he said he won't. So he ends up taking, I think she was 14 when they traveled to Paris together.
Starting point is 03:20:14 Who knows when anything was consummated. Young Sally Hemmings, young Sally Hemmings is a slave. She happens to be, there's no photos, but when you read description, she's described as someone, you know, in the parlance of the Southern slave holding language at the time. Who could pass for white, light skin, long chestnut hair, if I recall, well, it shouldn't surprise any, anybody about this because Sally Hemmings is only one quarter black. She's a, she's a three quarters white slave, but the rules of the time dictated that she was.
Starting point is 03:20:47 Now that's not even the really pathos oriented part. The fact that she's the half sister of Jefferson's now dead wife is because Jefferson's now dead wife's father had his wife die on him too, just like Thomas Jefferson. And he took a slave concubine just like Thomas Jefferson. It was Sally Hemmings, his mother, who was also biracial. I think she was half white. And so when they have children together, right, Jefferson's white wife's father and his slave, they are one quarter black and three quarter white.
Starting point is 03:21:23 Now this isn't even the part that blows my mind yet. Jefferson of course, and Sally Hemmings, I guess, have six children. What that means is that those six children are one eighth black and seven eighths white and yet due to the absolutely bizarre rules of the time period, they're slaves and they work on Jefferson's plantation for Jefferson, their father. I mean, the whole thing is bizarre and it involves these elements where you go, now wait a minute, you're still their dad, wouldn't you feel any family sort of connection? I don't even know how to begin to psychoanalyze that, but it is twisted and strange.
Starting point is 03:22:06 And you don't know how to measure that next to the obvious contributions the guy made to the cause of human freedom and the language that is so important. And the reason you know it's so important is even slaves will be using it. One of my favorite stories of a slave revolt in the early United States happens the same year that congressional conversation that we quoted earlier, right between Thatcher of Massachusetts and Jones of Georgia, that's 1800. And in 1800, there was a rebellion called Gabriel's Rebellion, I think it's known as. Now, like so many of the North American rebellions, it's nothing in terms of size.
Starting point is 03:22:48 I mean, these things rarely take off, they rarely involve a lot of people in North America and there's a lot of reasons for that. But when the slave revolt is crushed and they do the after action report, the interrogations right at like forest fires, you always want to find out now, how did this thing get started? The stories that come out of this, and this is sometimes, you know, let's be honest, I mean, these people are sometimes being tortured for information, they'll say whatever that torturers want to hear. So you have no way to know what's real and what's not, but it's interesting that one
Starting point is 03:23:16 of the slaves said that they were going to have a flag that they would carry from plantation to plantation as the rebellion was going to spread. And the flag was going to have the words death or liberty on it. This of course is just a variation of the Patrick Henry line, give me liberty or give me death, which these slaves all would have known. That's more when one of the slaves is captured and interrogated. He's supposed to have said to the interrogators, I have nothing more to tell you than what George Washington would tell his captors where he seized by the British.
Starting point is 03:23:49 That is the hypocrisy thrown right in your face, isn't it? By the time this Gabriel's rebellion is thwarted in 1800, or the Thatcher Jones debate is taking place in Congress. The interesting is happening in the history of slavery. It is both about to get much better and much worse, much better because the forces of anti-slavery thought are beginning to coalesce and become powerful besides public opinion that is spurred on by pamphlets and magazines and editorials and newspapers and all this kind of stuff that is the sort of public opinion shaping, they'd call it activist journalism maybe today.
Starting point is 03:24:39 All of that's having an impact. David Brion Davis gives some statistics and data points is a good way to look at it, but he says that the first national abolitionist petition campaign to end the slave trade in Britain kicked off in 1788. The year before in Liverpool, they'd asked people to sign a petition to end the slave trade. In this industrial working class, northern British city that was a shipping town that benefited directly from slavery, the first time they had a chance to do so, more than
Starting point is 03:25:17 10,000 people signed the petition. You think, okay, that's interesting, but it's trends we're looking for, right? The very next year, those 10,000 or so people had mushroomed to 100,000. Four years later, an estimated 400,000 in Britain signed the similar petition. So you see this growth rate where you're just wondering, what the heck's going on here, right? This is a swing in public opinion. Davis has a line in here where he points out that this swing in public opinion caught
Starting point is 03:25:56 the slave owners by surprise, and in Britain, their equivalent to the American South are what they sometimes call the West Indian interest. Those are the people in Jamaica and Barbados and those places, and Davis writes, quote, in 1792, the government, meaning the British government, received 519 anti-slave trade or anti-slavery petitions containing some 390,000 signatures. The West Indian interests were stunned as the press began promoting the cause, and a popular movement arose to boycott slave-grown sugar, much as the North American colonies had earlier boycotted British imports, end quote.
Starting point is 03:26:42 We keep saying that slavery seems like an ancient institution out of place in a world this modern, well, doesn't this sound like a very modern sort of response? So this is all stuff where you could say, hey, this is real progress. Things are changing, and they're changing fast. In what is slavery, Brenda E. Stephenson runs down the list of abolitionist and black assistance societies that crop up, and she announces one of the early ones in 1775 and then goes down this whole list through 1794, so just 19 years, and from basically little or nothing to they're coming out every year with a new one.
Starting point is 03:27:27 So you can clearly see that there's this demand and this fervor towards this, and religion is becoming a huge part of this. The Quakers are going to have it be an enduring part of their sort of identity now, and they started out with slaves too, and they had to figure out in a microchasm way what society will have to figure out later on is what do we do with the people who own slaves, how do we work this out? But once they did, they have a fervor, and they will communicate with their religious brethren on both sides of the Atlantic as will these abolition societies, and you begin
Starting point is 03:28:02 to see Britain leading the way, but the United States not far behind. But what this does is it begins to create a pushback, if you will, the places that are much more addicted to slavery begin to go from mildly sort of resigned and saying, yes, it's a terrible institution, but what are you going to do to actively becoming defensive about it, and in some cases touting the fact that the anti-slavery people have it all wrong. This is positively good for everyone, right? But that will create a divide between the places where public opinion is beginning to be changed and the places that dig in their heels and say, hell no, we won't go to your
Starting point is 03:28:47 anti-slavery world. And you have to look at the human element of this too. It's not just everyone leveling up in a humanitarian sense, but the economics of it all are changing. Free labor in the United States, especially in the North, is becoming much more important, and it cares about slavery for a lot of reasons, including the fact that even if they don't care anything, a wit about what's happening to the slaves, if it impacts the paycheck at the end of the week that they feed their family with, they may hate slavery just because it depresses wages or takes jobs.
Starting point is 03:29:21 You also have to note, because we would be fools not to, that this amazing turnaround on the slave trade, especially in North America, can stem from racism. A lot of people just not thinking that we need any more Africans in this, you know, wonderful God's country. It can stem from an overabundance of slaves. The Americas are going to have something happen. North America is going to have something happen that didn't happen in a lot of other places. The birth rate is going to increase.
Starting point is 03:29:50 So you don't need to continually refresh the supply line from Africa necessarily the way you do in places where they just work them to death and then bring in replacements. But we'd be fools not to notice that you're seeing sort of an alliance between black activists. And Frederick Douglass is a perfect example. He'll go speak to all these groups as a living example, you know, you want some empathy for these people who are so different from you and live in such strange conditions compared to you. Well, here's Frederick Douglass dressed in the suit and tie to speak to you about his
Starting point is 03:30:25 life and what he went through. And it just becomes a phenomenon. Revolutionary era blacks, slave and free, hardly relinquished the legal fight to end the trade or the institution of slavery to whites. As early as the first years of the 1770s, they began individually and in small groups to petition legislatures and sue in courts for their freedom. Most of their efforts were, however, undergirded by religious, philosophical, meaning the enlightenment, she says, and legal arguments that aligned with the ideals of the American Revolution.
Starting point is 03:31:06 Their efforts, therefore, were supported in part by nascent but growing anti-slavery sentiments held by whites. The lack of economic incentive for slaveholding in many of the northern states also contributed to these complementary efforts. The results of the combination of advocacy from blacks and whites were tremendous, leading to the gradual regional isolation of the institution, end quote. The gradual regional isolation of the institution was places where slavery was still unbelievably valuable.
Starting point is 03:31:42 So it's going to last in Brazil even longer than it does in the United States. In the United States, something happens in the 1790s that will completely change the equation. It's almost as if, right when it seems like it would probably be in everyone's best interest to sort of jump on this, we're phasing slavery out. It's soft landing from slavery. It's almost like the gods of history say, well, what if we throw a little bit more money on the other side of the scale?
Starting point is 03:32:14 It's almost like it's to tempt humanity, right? Oh, you think slavery is a bad thing now or what if I give you more money? In the middle 1790s, a guy named Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin and the economic situation in the American South explodes. And there's very little like it. Hugh Thomas in the slave trade writes quote. In 1790, slavery in North America, as opposed to North American participation in the slave trade to Cuba and elsewhere, seemed to be in decline.
Starting point is 03:32:51 But Eli Whitney's fateful invention of the cotton gin on Mrs. Nathaniel Green's plantation at Savannah, Georgia during the spring of 1793, and the realization that with the removal of this great hindrance hitherto to the large-scale cultivation of cotton, and he says that's the taking of the lint from the seeds that used to hold them back. He says he then quotes a contemporary source that says that one negro, their words, could produce 50 pounds of cleaned cotton a day. Then he gives statistics, and you know, you can see similar statistics in other books, but the like is hard to find elsewhere.
Starting point is 03:33:28 He says that the year before the invention of the cotton gin, that's 1792, a mere, well, that's basically 139,000 pounds of cotton, was exported by the United States, which is the same amount he says as Guyana in 1794. So that's two years later, right? He says the figure had leapt, now remember it was 139,000 pounds, to a million 600,000 pounds. In 1800, that's six years after that, she exported almost, I'm just rounding off here, 18 million pounds, and in 1820, cotton exports, he writes, reached 35 million pounds.
Starting point is 03:34:17 So let me do that again, 1792, it's 140,000 pounds, 1794, it's a million 600,000 pounds. In 1800, it's 18 million pounds, and in 1820, it's 35 million pounds. And it is the fiber of the industrial revolution, and the American South is supporting, you know, the industrial world. The money is incredible. James Wolven says that at the outbreak of the Civil War, cotton was worth more than all the other US exports put together. So the North is industrializing, and you'll often hear that before the Civil War, that
Starting point is 03:35:05 we have an industrialized North and an agricultural South, and it makes it sound like the South can't hold their own economically at all. Well, they don't have the diversity of products, and they don't have the industry that the North has, they don't have the manufacturing the North has, but they have the oil, the yellow bananas that is cotton, and there's nothing else like it now. It's the new sugar, right? And with this potential new gold rush comes a brand new, amazingly huge need for slaves. And you can chart the growth in the numbers of US slaves from the cotton jins invention
Starting point is 03:35:47 onward, and it's a straight up graph. This is where the US finally becomes a major slave player, because in 1800, as we'd said, there'd been about 700,000 slaves. That number is going to explode both from exports from other countries, Africa mainly, but also, internal slave trade and internal population growth, and Hugh Thomas writes quote. In 1790, there were only half a million well acclimatized slaves in the United States. Most of them of the second or third generation, he means out of Africa.
Starting point is 03:36:23 Between 1800 and 1810, slaves within the United States increased by a third, and there was an increase of nearly another third in the next 10 years to 1820. By 1825, he writes, the slaves in the United States numbered over a third of all slaves in the Americas. This trend would continue, end quote. So more slaves making more money right at the same time you have an unprecedented growing abolition movement that's fervent. These two things are on a collision course, aren't they?
Starting point is 03:37:01 And it doesn't look like it's going to end all that well. And of course, there is a third force involved here that kind of plays into the abolitionist argument a little bit, which is basically, let's just say, do the right thing, do the right thing because it's the right thing. And then there's this veiled sort of threat that if you don't do the right thing because it's the right thing, bad things will happen to you. It's almost karmic. Remember the carrot, right, encouraging us to rise to our better natures.
Starting point is 03:37:34 The stick is provided by the captive people themselves. What did we say earlier, the fuse on a bomb? Well, sometimes bombs have to go off for the potential of an explosion to be realized. Interestingly enough, though, when bombs do go off metaphorically speaking, the anti-slave crowd will say, see, this is what could happen. This is why you have to move on abolition and the pro-slavery people would say, see, this is what happens when abolitionists stir up trouble. Again, a recognizably modern dynamic there, right?
Starting point is 03:38:14 But it's not an idle thread on the part of the abolitionists to say, hey, let's level up in our humanitarian level or face the consequences because the consequences are well known to everyone. Whatever evolts don't happen as often as we might think they should in history given the circumstances and what we might think we would do in the same situation, but that's because all these societies are very aware of how precarious things could get, and it's not really paranoia if they are out to get you as the saying goes. And the slave-owning societies, especially on the ground in the places where slaves
Starting point is 03:38:49 are a big part of life, are well aware of the grievances that are building up on a people, right, that Newtonian revenge idea for every action. There's an equal and opposite reaction, and if you are the slave-owning society, you are going to try to protect yourself from the equal and opposite reaction. And in some of these places, if you have black skin, it might as well be the equivalent of a totalitarian mid-20th century state. Show me your papers. The point is, is that that often explains why you don't see this as much as, you know,
Starting point is 03:39:21 we would think it would happen every week, that in the fact that the penalties to those who are involved in these things, and sometimes everyone around them, including a nice swath of innocent people just to make sure you clear out the whole cancer, is unbelievably gruesome. The lynchings and hangings in the 19th century are probably the best things that could happen to you. It could get a lot worse, and it's intended to be as gruesome as possible. You know, cut the heads off these people, put them up on pikes in, you know, the streets where people can see them in the modern era, basically.
Starting point is 03:40:00 It's supposed to send a message, right? The more gruesome, the more the message is sent. I mean, take, for example, what's going on on a place like the island of Saint-Domingue, which is a French colony that will be known as Haiti later in history. The records were combed by a Marxist historian from Trinidad. His name was C. L. R. James, and he's quoted in Slavery of World History by Milton Meltzer, and James went through the official reports of what was being told to officials was going on, and C. L. R. James writes, quote,
Starting point is 03:40:39 There was no ingenuity that fear or a depraved imagination could devise, which was not employed to break their spirit, the slave spirit, and satisfy the lusts and resentment of their owners and guardians, irons on the hands and feet, blocks of wood that the slaves had to drag behind them wherever they went, the tin plate mask designed to prevent the slaves eating the sugarcane, the iron collar. Creeping was interrupted in order to pass a piece of hot wood on the buttocks of the victim. Salt, pepper, citron, cinders, aloes, and hot ashes were poured into the bleeding wounds.
Starting point is 03:41:20 Mutilations were common, limbs, ears, and sometimes the private parts to deprive them of the pleasures which they could indulge in without expense. They're masters, he writes, poured burning wax on their arms and hands and shoulders, emptied the boiling cane sugar over their heads, burned them alive, roasted them on slow fires, filled them with gunpowder and blew them up with a match, buried them up to the neck and smeared their heads with sugar that the flies might devour them, fastened them near to nests of ants or wasps, made them eat their excrement, drink their urine, and lick the saliva of other slaves.
Starting point is 03:42:02 And to quote, Meltzer says that these were not the mad acts of crazed colonists, but says that James asserts that these were the normal features of slave life. If those were the features of your life, what would you do about that? What lengths would you be willing to go to change that situation? And what would you do to the people that put and kept you there if you had a chance to get your hands on them? As they say in the television commercials, results may vary, but no one would be surprised if a bloodbath happened and there were people prophesizing it in 1770.
Starting point is 03:42:56 French Enlightenment writer Guillaume Rinal almost sounds like he's saying either you get your act together, European society, or you're going to get what's coming to you and no one will feel sorry. And if things happen badly, who are you going to blame? And he says that it's time to stop maybe appealing to the humanity of the slave owners and start appealing to their self-interest. And he wrote, quote, let the ineffectual calls of humanity be no longer pleaded with the people and their masters.
Starting point is 03:43:31 Perhaps they've never been attended to in any public transactions. If then, ye nations of Europe, interest alone can exert its influence over you, listen to me once more. Your slaves stand in no need either of your generosity or your counsels in order to break the sacrilegious yoke of their oppression. Nature speaks a more powerful language than philosophy or interests, end quote. He then points out that there are slave societies that have already lost a bunch of slaves to something known as maroonage, which means they run away and create their own societies
Starting point is 03:44:10 and start to create communities, and so he says that you've already got a couple of these. And then he says this is sort of these are the little indications of the Big Earthquake coming. He says, quote, these are so many indications of the impending storm and the Negroes only want a chief sufficiently courageous to lead them on to vengeance and slaughter. Where is this great man, he writes, whom nature owes to her afflicted oppressed and tormented children? Where is he?
Starting point is 03:44:39 He will undoubtedly appear. He will show himself. He will lift up the sacred standard of liberty, end quote. This is weaponized philosophy, isn't it? And he's warning about what'll happen if you don't pay attention to it. And you can see how dangerous something like this would look to slaveholders. Because when Reynald's sacred standard of liberty is raised, all the downtrodden see their opportunity at the same time to throw off their yoke of slavery, right?
Starting point is 03:45:13 What screws up slave revolts most of the time is small little groups of people revolt and they're crushed. What if everybody did it at the same time under coordinated leadership? Reynald's basically saying you better find a soft lending from slavery before that happens or it's going to be a bloodbath. He says that the signal itself will precipitate a massive response, quote. This venerable signal will collect around him the companions of his misfortunes. They will rush on with more impetuosity than torrents.
Starting point is 03:45:46 They will leave behind them in all parts indelible traces of their just resentment. Spaniards, Portuguese, English, French, Dutch, all their tyrants will become the victims of fire and sword. The planes of America will suck up with transport the blood which they have so long expected and the bones of so many wretches heaped upon one another during the course of many centuries will be bound for joy. The old world will join its plaudits to those of the new. In all parts the name of the hero who shall have restored the rights of the human species
Starting point is 03:46:25 will be blessed. In all parts trophies will be erected to his glory, end quote. What Reno is saying here is that inevitably some great black leaders going to arise that can unite these people and coordinate their activities and then it's game over, especially in these places where the slaves outnumber the slaveholders eight, nine, ten to one. Now in fairness these may not be Reno's words. He had several contributors working on this work that I just quoted from and it may be one of the contributors' words but Reno is going to get the majority of the blame or
Starting point is 03:47:02 the credit depending on which way you view this. There's going to be in the writings to this real sense of once this happens it's going to be turn about his fair playtime and the writer, Reno I'm going to assume but not sure says that the black codes, these Gestapo like codes that black folks are living under in some of these places are going to be replaced by the white codes and the white codes if they're only as bad to white folks as the black codes were to black folks are going to be terrible. You didn't have to be an enlightenment genius to know that the slave revolts were coming.
Starting point is 03:47:44 He talked about some of these maroon societies but they've always been slave revolts. It comes with the territory, if you're going to have slaves they're either going to try to run away which is the number one way that they sort of revolt or they're going to band together and try to take their freedom. The vast vast majority of those who took this option died. The lucky ones quickly may be like a fighter in Spartacus's army that loses their life fighting against the Roman legions that would be a good death compared to what happens to slaves who fall back into the hands of their enslavers after revolt.
Starting point is 03:48:22 The punishments that those people get, I mean they're legendary and they're meant to be almost theatrical sometimes in terms of display because it's sending a message to the slaves that are still around, don't try this again. Look at what happened to these people who did try. So everyone's aware of the odds, right? The best case scenario is visible, you can see it in the Americas all during this period. It's connected to that word I used earlier, maroons or maroonage. Those are people who've created, who've run away from their enslavers on places like Jamaica
Starting point is 03:48:57 for example and they run off into what the Australians would call the bush and they meet up with other people who've run away. Oftentimes indigenous people in these places are also a part of the story and slowly but surely as their numbers grow they create communities that can start to defend themselves a little bit and most of all provide a place for the people who are still enslaved to figure out how to get to. I mean the number one question has to be when you run away is what's the first thing I do? Which direction do I go?
Starting point is 03:49:27 Well this provides an answer to that question. You go towards that direction and you try to find the maroon community and they're going to be looking for you and maybe they'll even be able to help ward off your pursuers if you can get to them. These things could get very big by the way and become very important. In the 1600s in Brazil enough of the slaves managed to run away for a big community to develop and this involved both the Dutch and the Portuguese and they'd be fighting with regular troops.
Starting point is 03:49:57 At one point a 5000 estimated 5000 person community was destroyed only to have another one arise I think that was between 15 and 20,000 people and the Portuguese had to attack it and when they eventually steam rolled it after a while the leaders of that maroon community I think committed suicide rather than subject themselves to what happens to people after slave revolts. But through the 1700s you'll see these maroon communities pop up so if the choices in the slave revolt are losing your life or becoming part of a maroon community it's a no brainer right?
Starting point is 03:50:36 It's a best case scenario but after the French Revolution a door opens to a potentially better case scenario if you're looking at this from a slave point of view if you're looking at it from a slave owner point of view it is the worst case scenario. What if the slaves won? What if instead of the choices being a loss or a stalemate in a maroon community what if the slaves were victorious? That's got to be the worst nightmare the worst case scenario for a slave owner and the best case scenario for a slave I would think but when has that ever happened?
Starting point is 03:51:20 I mean go look at your history books successful slave revolts especially large successful slave revolts are really few and far between. A slave in the Caribbean for example the Americas anywhere in the 1700s what do they have to look at that would give them any hope at all? Any long shot chance at all? I mean there are a couple of notable slave rebellions in the 1700s before the French Revolution there's one in Jamaica called Tacky's War and there's another in the Dutch colony of Burbese in 1763 I think and both of those involved I think it was hundreds in Jamaica
Starting point is 03:52:03 a few thousand in Burbese they were both crushed although they both had leaders which is an interesting little twist that's going to come back and surprise the colonizers who are pretty sure that these people that they've enslaved are in some cases incapable of producing intelligent leadership more on that in a second but when the Jamaican rebellion Tacky's War is crushed and when the rebellion in Burbese is crushed the British in Jamaica and the Dutch in Burbese are brutal I mean they'll burn to death a bunch of the people who were involved in the revolt there was a execution that I hadn't even heard of that the British are said to have used in Jamaica where they chain up a prisoner and starve them to death and it said
Starting point is 03:52:56 it took like a week to die which must mean that they don't give them any water either and I never even heard of that I don't think but it shows you no successful slave revolts for slaves to look at as inspiration consequences that are through the roof when the inevitable happens so these slave rebellions that have happened have happened where the people have no hope what on God's green earth will happen if you give them hope and of course as we've been talking about it's sort of ironic that the people that end up providing this outlet to hope might be a good way to put it are a bunch of mostly wealthy white males of property some of that property being slaves in North America in the 1770s right so tacky's worse
Starting point is 03:53:47 in 1760 the Burbese revolts 1763 so you miss that by like a decade or a dozen years and all of a sudden the rationales change and you have this hypocritical situation that can be exploited in the language and when the American Revolution happens the Pandora's box of intellectual contagions is opened the French Revolution a few years later manages to create even more virulent strains of this dangerous intellectual idea and spread it even farther and there's a lot of ambiguity in the language of both the American and French versions of these enlightenment documents I mean for example when the Declaration of Independence says all men are created equal what's the status of women in that line or
Starting point is 03:54:32 in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizens says all men are free and equal does that include slaves non-white folk it's well it's just begging for clarification isn't it and in 1790 some representatives from the French Caribbean where the French have lots of slaves come to Paris to talk about their status and how it relates to the language coming out of Paris you know all this highfalutin marketing material about equal rights and freedom and all that so these gentlemen show up in Paris and ask for theirs their equal rights these men are from the French colony of San Domingue we mentioned it earlier it's Haiti now it is the richest of all the French colonies and these men are
Starting point is 03:55:22 being discriminated against because of their African heritage and I say African heritage because you don't have to have very much African heritage at all in a place like San Domingue in the 1700s to be discriminated against and a term that we would use for these men today maybe you would say that they were biracial would be woefully inadequate as seen from the people of a place like San Domingue who would require much greater levels of specificity as to the percentages involved in the racial mix biracial wouldn't tell them enough about your background they're gonna want to use words and I had to look this one up I was so fascinated with the word I looked it up I hope it's not offensive but almost all of
Starting point is 03:56:12 them are going to be the word was quadrone and a quadrone is somebody who is a quarter black when you live in a society where it's important enough to have words to denote that level of ancestry you know you live in a race obsessed place and San Domingue is race obsessed historian Jeremy D. Popkin in his book facing racial revolution which is a book of primary sources so he's reading the mail of these people in San Domingue during this era that we're about to get into and he says the first thing that they mention about anybody that they talk about in the in the letters is their racial makeup so that this is the primary lens through which they view the world so we have to view it through that a little bit
Starting point is 03:56:57 ourselves there has always been bigotry there has always been prejudice there has always been ethnocentrism in human history that's just humanity go read your ancient Greek right how many of those authors divide the world into two kinds of people Greeks and barbarians that's not unusual at all how many indigenous peoples name for themselves are the people or just people what does that mean everybody else is so this is not abnormal at all but it's not the same thing as modern racism which you see really developing in forms that look familiar to us in the 1600s and 1700s so that's pretty recent in the old days everybody discriminated against everybody except for those wonderful societies that
Starting point is 03:57:41 mess up the curve couple of these Polynesian places some other societies where they're just you know like sickeningly welcoming and trustworthy but otherwise most humanity is um a little standoffish but that's not the same as racism where it's based on skin color it's supposedly connected to you know the ingrained biology of the people involved in one group is inherently inferior and that all dates from this era in fact I was reading Popkin's book that we just referenced and he was talking about the fact that the island colony where these people who come to Paris in October 1790 where they come from is is ground zero in like the birth of the pseudo scientific side of racism this is sort of
Starting point is 03:58:27 the darker side of the enlightenment we've been praising the liberty and equality and freedom side of thing but it also comes with this side which is really sort of the early building blocks of modern science so I suppose we don't get to where we are today without these people uh laying the brickwork for it but at the same time you get these outrageous sorts of seemingly you know scientifically proven ideas like you know some races are inferior and others are superior I mean Popkin writes quote revolutionary San Domingue was one of the birthplaces of modern pseudo scientific racism in 1790 the Baron de Beauvoir a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts in Cap Francais which is in San Domingue became
Starting point is 03:59:10 one of the first authors to assert unequivocally that blacks were an inherently inferior species of humanity quote now quoting the the Baron different from the white race physically and morally their faculties so to speak non-existent end quote then Popkin points out that none of the letter writers that he was looking you know who's male he was reading endorsed such a view he says although they all accepted the notion that whites represented a higher level of civilization than blacks in what is slavery historian Brenda E. Stephenson says the same thing about the American founding fathers that basically none of them considered blacks they're equal but what this tells you is how commonplace this view is at the time
Starting point is 03:59:58 and think about what a world view that is right if that's your reality and you judge everything through that prism think about how that changes your decision making the way you evaluate situations now going hand in hand with these kinds of scientific pronouncements and attitudes are changes in the law on the ground so the people that become troublesome for societies like San Domingue are not the slaves because they know their place because they're kept in their place through force and violence it's the people who have African blood in other words whose ancestors had been slaves who are now free and whose status in the society is sort of floating what happens if some of these people who have black ancestry
Starting point is 04:00:46 become very rich running plantations does that make them the you know the local superior in the hierarchy to poor white artisans and you're going to begin to see laws written to make sure that everyone keeps their place no matter how well they start to be doing in society and you'll see laws like this throughout the Americas in different slave states and it'll all be different as we've said before the experience is different in all these different slave societies based on you know who the mother country is what the dominant religion is the way slavery develops the crops involved so so there's no unanimity but this is a good example of the trend so San Domingue for example is one of these areas because it's a part
Starting point is 04:01:31 of France that covered by the Code Noir which was the 1600s era rules governing how slaves could be treated and why not so so setting maybe minimum standards you could say which was never well enforced and everything else so Laurent de Bois author of Avengers of the New World writes quote the code noir stipulations about emancipation however like those regarding the treatment of slaves were steadily undermined during the 18th century attempting to counter the increasing size and power of communities of free people of color colonial administrators required masters who freed their slaves to pay liberty taxes and they gradually made African ancestry a legal liability end quote in other words they were getting tired of
Starting point is 04:02:19 slaves being freed and turning into these kind of people so they were going to charge slave owners money if they wanted to free their slaves the liberty tax and then he references the seven years war which came not that long before the American Revolution it was between Britain and France and he writes quote in the wake of the seven years war scattered discriminatory legislation against free people of color was systematized and expanded a 1764 royal decree forbade people of African descent to practice medicine surgery or pharmacy the next year another decree excluded them from working in legal professions or in the offices of notaries a 1773 law made it illegal for them to take the names of their masters or white
Starting point is 04:03:05 relatives on the ground that such a practice destroyed the there are several quotes here from the original document the insurmountable barrier which public opinion had placed between the two communities which government had wisely preserved end quote there are more attempts to make sure that the lines between the various communities are more definitively drawn he says naming conventions were required so that you couldn't name your child a name that confused somebody as to maybe their their genetic heritage and then you couldn't start getting uppity he writes quote a 1779 regulation made it illegal for free people of color to quote affect the dress hairstyles style or bearing of whites end quote and some local ordinances Du Bois
Starting point is 04:03:57 said forbade them to ride in carriages or to own certain home furnishings by the time of the revolution free coloreds he writes were subjected to a variety of laws that discriminated against them solely on the basis of race end quote doesn't that remind you of like some shuary laws you saw this in Europe during the period where wealthy but non blue blooded merchants were starting to make more money than some of the blue blood nobility back when you know Europe was so class conscious based on birth and it was so upsetting to society they sometimes made these rules that just said it doesn't matter how much money these merchants have you're not allowed to wear this fabric that's just for people like us
Starting point is 04:04:37 so no matter what you do no matter how much money you have you're not going to be able to wear this kind of fur on your neck that kind of thing so what they're saying here is no matter how many plantations you may own no matter how much money you make no matter how many sugarcane fields you harvest and no matter how many slaves you own yes these free people of color own something like a hundred thousand of sand and ming slaves which is weird but the white colonists are saying you still won't be equal to a poor white artisan on this island and what all these laws on sand and ming and all the ones that are part of the same trend in the 1700s in other places in the america is what they're doing is creating
Starting point is 04:05:19 a permanent hereditary caste system based on well ethnicity racial origin background skin color all these sorts of things something by the way we still live with today when I was born the decade I was born this caste system was still legally maintained in many us states where an african-american could try to get into a hotel room and there might be a sign in the door that said whites only and that was legal so we're less than a generation away from that time period and that stuff begins during this era because before this era say several hundred years before in the Mediterranean for example you might have seen all this same sort of bigotry and prejudice and laws directed against certain kinds of
Starting point is 04:06:05 people but it likely would have been for different reasons wouldn't have surprised anybody for example in 1400 or 1500 in the Mediterranean to see this kind of stuff over one's religious affiliation right christians muslims jews all this kind of stuff this is the skin color aspect though in the 1700s that we live with today where this becomes an important issue when you have all these rationales and all of a sudden you have you know Aristotle's old slavery ideas dressed up in a powdered wig and and colored with early enlightenment science and poof you get this brand new era that these biracial gentlemen in Paris are protesting and who wouldn't I believe I said that they got there in 1790 but these people
Starting point is 04:06:49 got there at different times and it's the 1790 and 1791 national assemblies that they're that they're trying to get on their side and in fairness to the French national assembly during this time period of which I am nothing like an expert it's a turbulent time they're in the middle of the French Revolution so if the people from Sandeming who are complaining about the hypocrisy of these ideas and demanding redress of grievances don't get what they're after maybe it's just a sign of the times after all there are gonna be kings and beheadings and guillotines and reigns of terror in the not too distant future but a disaster in the not too distant future is exactly what these representatives these biracial representatives
Starting point is 04:07:32 from Sandeming are warning about in a speech in 1789 in Paris Vincent Auger who is a wealthy planter from Sandeming he's mixed race I believe he's a quadrant I'm not sure that would make him a quarter black but he owns a lot of slaves himself he's one of the wealthiest free people of color in the colony and he tells this Parisian audience that you better do something quickly and I have a proposal but if we don't do something disaster will strike and he said quote if the most prompt and effective measures are not taken if firmness courage and consistency do not animate us all if we do not quickly bundle together all our abilities our means and our effort if we sleep for an instant on the edge of the abyss let us tremble at
Starting point is 04:08:22 the moment of our waking blood will flow our property will be invaded the fruits of our labor destroyed and our homes burned our neighbors our friends our wives and children will be slaughtered and mutilated the slave will have raised the standard of revolt the islands will be no more than a vast and fateful inferno with commerce destroyed France will receive a mortal wound and a multitude of decent citizens will be impoverished ruined we will have lost everything but gentlemen he said there is still time to avert the disaster if the assembly wishes to admit me if it authorizes me to draw up and submit to it my plan I will do so with pleasure and even gratitude and perhaps I will be able to contribute to the warding
Starting point is 04:09:15 off the storm that rumbles above our heads and quote if you're at this speech by Vincent OJ and you're in the audience and there's a revolution going on and we should point out a lot of these revolutions can also be called civil wars because they're not all the people on one side so you might be a royalist and not be interested in this conversation all but assuming that you support the early revolution and the government and the national assembly you're listening to OJ say that this terrible disasters on the horizon if we don't give free people of color what all of our you know materials are saying our our our principles why wouldn't you just do it seems like a win-win doesn't it but that's because
Starting point is 04:10:00 you have to take into account the other interests that are always in play and in the past you know especially the distant past a lot of the little nuances involved in the yes we're going to say it again zeitgeist of any time period gets squashed and eliminated but look at your own life now and how many little influences and strands of reality are playing and pinging off one another it's like that in the past too and a lot of the strands are the same ones that we deal with today how about money Sandeming is worth so much money and there are people in Paris in 1789 going to similar groups that Vincent OJ and James Raymond are going to right with they're going with this brand new small fledgling abolitionist group
Starting point is 04:10:45 in France called the friend of the blacks and they're going around you know trying to make their case that this needs to be improved in Sandeming but you also have representatives of the very wealthy class and the people making tons of money on Sandeming doing the same thing imagine Washington DC today with all the lobbyists but Sandeming's worth so much money and there's so much cloud in that I mean let's start with the fact that it is the dream of every Columbus era explorer when they looked at this place and thought what it could be someday when the yellow bananas are ripe imagine what you can achieve here Sandeming is a colony that shares an island with another colony in the Spanish Santo Domingo as we said but
Starting point is 04:11:26 Sandeming itself is about the size of Vermont and it controls half the world's approximately half the world's coffee and half the world's sugar during this time period how much would a country be profiting today if they controlled half the world's supply of sugar and coffee and at this time period it was actually more valuable because with all the competition we have now it's not as it's not as a unique a commodity but at this time period Sandeming's control of those two commodities makes it one of the most profitable colonies in the world it is France's most profitable colony it represents 40% of France's foreign trade produces a ton of other things that don't dominate the world market to the 50% level
Starting point is 04:12:08 indigo tobacco cotton the port is thriving and bustling and busy all the time I read one author that said that the profitability of Sandeming during this time period is greater than Brazil and Mexico put together equal to the original US 13 colonies combined so you get an idea of this I mean it's a giant oil well on a little island and the planners are in France saying do you really want to tinker with this system that's producing this kind of wealth but here's the thing that system involves things that are that are direct contradictions to the declaration of the rights of man and citizen and stuff like that author James Wolven in freedom explains where all this wealth comes from quote the entire system
Starting point is 04:12:59 depended of course on African slave labor by 1789 about 600,000 work work in the colony over the previous century some 800,000 Africans were landed there in recent years Africans had been arriving in huge numbers almost a quarter of a million in the six years between 1784 and 1790 sometimes 30,000 or 40,000 Africans disembarked in a single year large numbers of them were young men and many had been prisoners of war in Africa IE they had military experience slaves now greatly outnumbered the French troops based in the colony and it was the European military their offshore navies and their colonial garrisons that formed the ultimate guarantee of security against dangers posed by the enslaved end quote well it wasn't just
Starting point is 04:13:55 enslaved workers though hundreds of thousands of free workers in France depended on these sandaming exports for their livelihood and if you're a brand new fledgling unstable revolutionary government you sure as heck better care what hundreds of thousands of the people who support you are championing and hoping for and relying on you better hope they keep their jobs too but this kind of explains the other forces at work that might keep the reforms from happening that you know you need to do to keep this storm from breaking so it's too complicated and I don't understand at all for me to get into all the ins and outs of the affairs of sandaming and the revolutionary government and the things that it does or doesn't do
Starting point is 04:14:39 suffice it to say that a lot of times it tries to walk a tightrope and remember this is an unstable government there's going to be all kinds of things in the future here as we said that that threaten this government and make them keep their eyes right on what's in front of them as opposed to something going on in a faraway colony even one is valuable as sandaming but they have to pay attention when you know horrible affairs that look bad go down and one of those horrible affairs is going to happen in 1790 and 1791 when Vincent Auger upset with the sort of tightrope walking that the National Assembly is doing manages maybe to go to the United States and get a bunch of weapons then go back to sandaming
Starting point is 04:15:18 and launch an insurrection this is not an insurrection designed to get slavery overturned because after all OJ and others are slave owners it is an insurrection to demand an end to discrimination it will not be a particularly heavy duty insurrection and it will get crushed and OJ and the other leaders of the insurrection will take refuge on the other side of the island in Santo Domingo but the Spanish authorities will end up turning them over to the French colonial authorities who will kill them they'll hang I couldn't find the right number is something like 19 or 2021 of the top leaders but Vincent Auger and another man are going to get the sort of treatment that they're they don't do in France anymore and and that certainly
Starting point is 04:16:09 has passed itself by date in terms of what people are willing to put up with they're going to break Vincent Auger on a wheel those of you who know about the history of executions yes it's a very specialized field know that one of the things that they did in the French Revolution and this is again the humanitarian baseline is sometimes so low that what sounds like improvements are strange sometimes but the French Revolution's famous symbol that's often associated with it is the guillotine right the beheading machine the guillotine is designed to be a humanitarian improvement to what was commonly done before the guillotine what's going to happen to Vincent Auger in early 1791 as part of his punishment for leading
Starting point is 04:16:56 this insurrection is exactly what the guillotine was invented to be an improvement over the breaking on the wheel is horrific I have not found a firsthand account of Auger's particular version of it I did though in David Gagas's book the Haitian Revolution find the actual sentencing and the reason it's important is because to be broken on the wheel can happen in all sorts of different ways and the sentence determines the way it's done sometimes they can kill you first and then break your body after you're dead but that's pretty merciful normally that's not how it is and that's not how it apparently was in Auger's case but they take him to the town square and they do this in front of everyone the first part
Starting point is 04:17:39 of the sentencing statement lays out the charges and what they're accused of and found guilty of the next thing it says as part of making amends for that and this is this goes back to sort of Renaissance era executions they have to go carry a candle and ask amends and say they were wicked and that sort of thing so they they debase you and make you say that everything that all your friends died for and everything else was wrong and meaningless and then they kill you the sentence says after they have to do the carrying the candle around part quote thereafter they shall be led to the main square of this town where on the side opposite the one used for the execution of whites they shall have their arms shins
Starting point is 04:18:22 thighs and pelvis bone broken while alive on a scaffold erected for this purpose the high executioner should then place them on a cartwheel with their faces turned toward the heaven for however long it pleases God to maintain their lives thereafter their head shall be cut off and exposed on stakes and quote in 1791 when this is carried out this is a horrific barbaric deliberately spectacular sort of event it sends a message by saying we're going to do this to you did you notice also the part of what was supposed to make it so debasing is it is it sounds like they have dual execution sites and they even have a different one for blacks and whites to be killed on and you have to go to the one for
Starting point is 04:19:18 blacks I mean this whole thing is full of symbolism this is meant to intimidate it is meant to deter and it is meant to send a message but the question that's interesting in this whole San Domingue discussion is who is the target of this message and what is what is the message trying to convey other than the obvious right if you launch an insurrection this could happen to you but are they targeting the mixed race people maybe they're targeting everybody because what the French Revolution is doing to San Domingue soon to be Haiti is tearing it along it's already existing fracture lines and that's what makes what's going to happen so complicated author James Wolven described it as a witches brew anarchy
Starting point is 04:20:13 is sometimes thrown out there but I had been looking for a short pithy description of just how many sided and divided this place is and I didn't run across anything that was just right in any of the books that I read and I stumbled upon a quote online by French historian Paul Fragosi I did not read his book I'm sorry to say but the setting up of the situation is brilliant and gives you a real idea of what kind of fractures we're talking about Fragosi writes quote whites mulatto's and blacks load each other the poor whites couldn't stand the rich whites the rich whites despise the poor whites the middle class whites were jealous of the aristocratic whites the whites born in France look down upon the locally
Starting point is 04:21:05 born whites mulatto's envied the whites despise the blacks and were despised by the whites free Negroes brutalize those who were still slaves Haitian born blacks regarded those from Africa as savages everyone quite rightly lived in terror of everyone else Haiti was hell but Haiti was rich end quote so you get an idea here that what's about to happen is going to be a lot more complicated than just one group of people like the mixed race people fighting the white plantation owners it's going to be a seething cauldron of changing sides and alliances and I mean think about this one aspect alone if there's going to be something like a race war in San Domingue which side do the mixed race people join see
Starting point is 04:22:00 how complicated that might be and what if you had family on both sides we always like to say in the United States about the US Civil War that it was brother against brother and you can find examples where that's true but in Haiti the mixed race population there is dealing with it as often as not family on both sides right in that little colony which side do you join now this isn't an issue until August 1791 and remember OJ is executed in February of that same year because until then it's just a question between the whites on the island and the mixed race folks the slaves as one of my histories put it are on the sidelines watching until they're not and when you have 30 to 40,000 whites on the island and 30 to
Starting point is 04:22:47 40,000 free people of color on the island when the 400,000 to 600,000 enslaved people on the island decide that they're going to get involved they become the major player right away and leaders emerge which shock the the whites on the island many of whom refuse to believe that this isn't somehow white led abolitionists or priests or people dressed up with charcoal dark and skin leading and organizing everyone here because their racist worldviews will not allow them to imagine that they're and by the way this is not me saying this this is in the the writing write their letters home I mean they sound like conspiracy theories but they refuse to believe that the people that they knew as slaves are
Starting point is 04:23:34 capable of doing what they start doing on the 21st of August 1791 and one of the first early leaders to emerge isn't as a person known to history as Bookman sometimes called Duddy Bookman and Laurent Dubois in Avengers of the New World describes him this way saying the most visible leader during the first days of the insurrection was Bookman who had worked first as a driver and then as a coachman Bookman was it is believed a religious leader a role that would have earned him respect among many slaves and quote he then says that there's this religious ceremony that happens I've read other accounts and it sounds positively cinematic if it actually went down this way slaves are meeting at night in a sacred spot
Starting point is 04:24:22 with the thunder and the lightning going and the rain pouring down and that's supposedly seen as a as a good omen and Bookman is there Dubois says other accounts describe him officiating alongside an old African woman and he describes it from a primary source or a secondary source saying quote with strange eyes and bristling hair end quote or else he says a green eyed woman of African and Corsican descent named Cecile Fatiman and then he says quote at the ceremony Bookman apparently proclaimed now quoting Bookman the god of the white man calls him to commit crimes our god asks only good works of us but this god who is so good orders revenge he will direct our hands he will aid us throw away the image of the god of the whites who thirsts for our tears
Starting point is 04:25:20 and listen to the voice of liberty that speaks in the heart of all of us end quote Dubois continues quote those assembled took an oath of secrecy and revenge sealed by drinking the blood of a black pig sacrificed before them it was a form of pact he writes probably derived from the traditions of West Africa end quote we don't have accounts from the slaves who are part of the hit teams that then take off in search of plantation owners overseers anyone really that they run into as they go from plantation to plantation killing almost everybody they run into and destroying the abodes the refineries and then setting the sugarcane fields a light we do have accounts and you have to be careful because these are the accounts that are going to be used in the american south to
Starting point is 04:26:21 justify all sorts of restrictions on people of color to begin with but slaves also it's also going to be something that has and this happens in every heavy duty slave revolt one has a way because you're reading the accounts of the victims who were earlier the victimizers of having sympathy for the people who are on the unjust side of this you'll see this in the second world war all the time right where when atrocious things are done by the morally superior side seeking morally superior outcomes and yet innocents are caught up in the gears all the time and there are plenty of debates about how innocent women or children are in a slave society if they've been a part of it so these first-hand accounts are tough but if they're all you have sometimes
Starting point is 04:27:10 well abolitionists will use this kind of material to argue that this is exactly why we have to get rid of slavery asap and slave proponents will use these sorts of first-hand accounts or alleged first-hand accounts or rumors of first-hand accounts as ways to say are you kidding me this is exactly why we can't lighten up one bit and by the way all this happens because of you abolitionists stirring up trouble in the first place and you'll see a lot of blame for the rights of man and the citizen and all these kinds of enlightenment ideas philosophies they'll say with a sneer corrupting all these people in accounts of finding you know pamphlets with the declaration of rights of man and the citizen in the in the pockets of assassins on the island
Starting point is 04:27:52 there's an anonymous account of an author who was asleep uh in his abode on the night of the 22nd of august which is uh you know really when the the accounts are just getting going and this anonymous author uh said that he was awoken quote at the sound of a gunshot my dog who was laying in the gallery near my bedroom started to bark loud enough to wake me wrongly irritated by this continual barking i got up to quiet him down and then went back to sleep 15 minutes later the poor dog started up again even more insistently but alas it was too late to wonder what was happening the blacks had already taken over all the paths around the french word for the plantation owner's house hearing the noise they were making i jumped out of my bed and shouted who goes there a voice
Starting point is 04:28:43 like thunder answered me it is death at the same time i heard a considerable number of gunshots and the voice of a horde of blacks who filled the house with these terrible words kill kill seeing what was happening and having no way to escape i ran to get my pistols luckily for me they were not loaded i say luckily because if they had been i would have defended myself i would have killed some of these assailants and would not have been able to escape succumbing to their blows end quote the fact that that author survived and was able to give us an accounting of what he experienced is remarkable i got his account by the way out of jeremy d poppkins book facing racial revolution and when you read his account there are echoes and vibes
Starting point is 04:29:36 that sort of remind me of reading about the early you know weeks of the cambodian genocide the killing fields in the 1970s this feeling of complete unsafeness you know a lack of safety amongst the rank and file like any of these regular poor soldiers who were slaves five minutes ago they all want to see you dead they could kill you at any moment and sometimes the only thing keeping you alive is an officer that says don't kill him in this case the anonymous author of this account says that the person who told the underlings not to torture and kill him was bookman the very slave who allegedly conducted the ceremony in the thunder and the lightning and the rain and got this thing started saying according to the anonymous
Starting point is 04:30:26 author himself who knew bookman that he came in and said this is a good white man don't kill him bookman himself will not make it very far into this slave revolt before he becomes a casualty and they will parade his head cut off and attached to a pike the white colonists will thinking that surely this must crush the revolt of this one really unusual leaders done away with but the white colonists are going to be horrified to find out exactly how many good leaders the black slave class can produce and the mixed race people on sandamine can as well the revolt by the way starts off with um you know believe these numbers or not they're more indicative of trends probably than numbers but it's supposed to start off on the first 24 hours
Starting point is 04:31:18 with like 2000 slaves who will go from plantation to plantation to plantation picking up more slaves along the way and perhaps uh even forcing choices on the other slaves who might think okay i don't want to get broken on a wheel i'm just going to stay here with my family in some of these cases they may not be given those choices and that's very revolutionary like also right you're not allowed to be neutral pick a side and if it's not our side you die here and now so who knows but we go from 2000 in the first 24 hours to an estimated 10 000 in four or five days to 100 000 being the number you most often see i don't know if i believe that but let's say it's 70 i don't really believe the roman slave revolt numbers either because who believes any of that kind of stuff so you don't
Starting point is 04:32:04 know what the largest slave revolt is in history but i feel pretty comfortable saying that if this isn't the largest slave revolt ever it's top three and that's going to create an entirely different situation than the other slave revolts that have happened uh well since the roman era or maybe since that one in the 800s in the middle east i mean if you have a problem if tacky's war makes the history books with a with a few hundred or several hundred slaves in jamaica and the one in berbis with three or five thousand slaves is notable what happens when you have 100 000 and 100 000 that outnumber the white colonists it's it's going to be a bloodbath and it's going to be that sort of pressure that creates concessions that one could never have expected to have happened and that's what's
Starting point is 04:32:56 going to change the history of slavery if you're on the ground by the way though when this you know first couple of weeks of this thing starts what you're seeing is something that everyone fears in history and thinks about but it rarely happens it's a race war and i'm fascinated by the extremes of the human experience i think being a slave in sandeming is one of the extremes of the human experience but so is being a white colonist maybe you're a ten-year-old boy and you're in the north of sandeming when this whole thing breaks out that's terrifying right terrifying to be a slave before this revolt terrifying to be a white colonist afterwards and let's be honest when you read the accounts terrifying to be a slave insurgent terrifying to be a means i mean
Starting point is 04:33:40 there's going to be massacres committed in this next 12 or 14 year affair by all sides right whites mixed race and slave side and there's going to be victims on all those sides of massacres it's horrific there's an account that germy d popkin includes in his facing racial revolution called mon odyssey it's another one of these ones that's um ostensibly anonymous and this person talks about arriving in sandeming having a wonderful lunch and you can imagine that the white colonial uh clothes and and enjoying themselves you know while they're being served tea and what none then they this guy says who wrote this account that he gets a message that the slaves are in revolt up at the north where they have their plantation so they go rush up there and
Starting point is 04:34:24 you get a firsthand account of what's going on in the inferno this is disasterville and the account picks up with all the locals while the fires rage around them and the slaves are tearing stuff up and destroying things and hacking people to death they all join on on this family's plantation and he writes quote the frightened families among our neighbors met together at our plantation the men armed to face the storm the mother's wives sisters were lamenting and gathering in all haste a few precious effects desolation and fear were painted on all faces the sky seemed on fire guns could be heard from afar and the bells of the plantations were sounding the alarm the danger increased the flames at each moment were approaching and enclosing about us there was no time to lose
Starting point is 04:35:19 we fled he continues and this is probably both reality and yet also a trope this is what this revolution's gonna have to live down in terms of atrocities um this supposed eyewitness but trying to whip up you know hatred and loathing back in places like france for the slave class here writes quote the victims who escaped at swords point came to swell the number of fugitives and recounted to us the horrors which they had witnessed they had seen unbelievable tortures to which they testified many women young beautiful and virtuous perished beneath the infamous caresses of the brigands among the cadavers of their fathers and husbands bodies still palpitating were dragged through the roads with atrocious acclamations young children
Starting point is 04:36:15 transfixed upon the point of bayonets were the bleeding flags which followed the troop of cannibals these pictures were not exaggerated and i more than once saw the sorrowful spectacle end quote these images are going to be picked up by the mass media of the time they are going to horrify the societies of north america south america europe i mean this is going to be such a scandal that some of the abolitionists are even going to look at this and say well you know maybe you deserve to be in chains then if you can't separate the guilty and the innocent it's going to be held up as an example especially by the pro-slavery people of the savagery here look at these these are monsters that deserve slavery but it's never quite addressed that the very things or the
Starting point is 04:37:04 functional equivalent of the very things that these slave rioters are doing in hot blood during an insurrection with all the pent up revenge and everything else you know going on right a moment it's never quite pointed out that the functional equivalent of what they're doing here was done to them right before this revolution started i mean let's remember the list of things that the historian from trinidad clr james had said right being smeared with sugar and devoured by the ants being roasted on spits i mean there's a couple of stories that make the rounds here one of a carpenter being sawed in two with a saw another of some colonists being nailed or something to the door or of his barn and then having his limbs chopped off one by one with axes
Starting point is 04:37:55 by the slave rioters well my goodness it was just back in february which is only months ago that the legally you know entrusted authority of these colonies sentenced vincent oj and another guy to be broken on the wheel legally in public i mean it's the functional equivalent but the sympathy comes when these sorts of things are happening to people who look like the people that are reading the mass media about it very quickly the colonists are pulling out a cannon they are arming the citizens they are making rules that says every ship that is in the harbor has to stay there all the sailors have to take their arms and come on on land to defend the enclaves of white colonists and just in case save those ships in case we all need to evacuate the first
Starting point is 04:38:49 hand accounts talk about the entire area being cordoned off and anytime any black people fall into the hands of the white colonists during these early stages they are interrogated tortured sometimes a wheel is put up just for that purpose one of the people inside the white enclave says and then lined up against a wall and executed prisoners are not being taken very often and the side that takes the most of all believe it or not of the slaves because they'll be talk about trading white prisoners for concessions the situation though quickly becomes nasty in the extreme the black slaves go from using farm implements and things like machetes to using the weapons that they capture and then over time becoming very good with them
Starting point is 04:39:36 and they go from fighting as a rabble to fighting as organized troops in a sort of a skirmish ambush kind of formation and the sorts of scenes you begin to see are well what you might expect in a violent race war lorant de bois and avengers of the new world quotes some contemporary sources about you know what's going on he says that both sides were at a gory stalemate at a certain point now quoting sources from the scene quote the country is filled with dead bodies which lie unburied the negroes have left the whites with stakes driven through them into the ground and the white troops who now take no prisoners but kill everything black or yellow leave the negroes dead upon the field end quote du bois then quotes another contemporary source who says quote
Starting point is 04:40:35 the heads of white prisoners placed on stakes surrounded the camps of the blacks and the corpses of black prisoners were hung from the trees and bushes along the roads that led to the positions of the whites end quote this seems to me to be the very definition and the epitome of a race war and a huge component of this is revenge revenge to a degree which i can't imagine and you see it when you know the the Haitian revolt or the slave insurgency is going to go through multiple different stages for the next 12 to 14 years this first initial stage is where this rage is just exhibited to a degree it never goes away but you can see the enjoyment of having the tables turned jeremy d popkin relates a famous account one of the most famous first hand accounts of
Starting point is 04:41:35 the early parts of the slave revolt by a frenchman name i think the last name is pronounced gross and he falls into the hands of i guess you could call him sort of a mid-level commander he's the boss of a group of s