Defending Slavery

Topics: Black people, Slavery, Racism Pages: 6 (1983 words) Published: May 9, 2013
Critical Analysis on Defending Slavery, Finkelman Paul

Defending slavery demonstrate the opinions and knowledge that the Southerners held concerning blacks and slavery. Paul Finkelman talks about slave legitimacy in colonial America. He argues that the first defense of slavery became visible after the end of American Revolution; it attempted to justify continuous forced labor with the Declaration of Independence. This essay aims at critically analyzing ideologies and racial theories that Southerners promoted to defend slavery, which included racial, political, legal, economic, and religious ideologies. Most specifically, this essay will discuss the legitimacy of slavery, in the earlier days, and justify this idea by using the religion and racial defenses of slavery. Slavery Legitimacy

In the earlier days, masters in other areas rather than the South saw no reason to defend their acts of slavery. In a lot of cultures, the ruling classes treated other individuals in the society as inferiors, and or oppressed and enslaved them and this did not result in any dilemmas in their morality. For example, Romans felt no need to defend slavery as they did not think of slavery as a strange practice. For the Romans, nakedness of exploitation and expression facilitated ideological openness, and false consciousness became unnecessary. In the traditional world, the Islamic world, a lot of the Pre-Columbian America, Europe and much of Africa, agreed that slave legitimacy lied on the idea of warfare. The accepted laws of war stipulated that enemies captured in any war could be killed. As such, the lives of those spared became legally or socially dead and thus treated as slaves. In addition, civilians captured in towns especially those towns, which had refused to admit defeat, became slaves of the conquering army. Therefore, regardless of one’s social class, individuals became slaves if they lost in a battle. Another basis of slavery had to do with a legitimate punishment for individuals who committed different crimes. Such individuals became slaves on a permanent or temporal basis depending on the degree of the crime committed. In addition, an individual became a slave if s/he fell into a certain debt. Therefore, in order to repay the debt, the debtor sold himself to become a slave so as to unburden his family of that debt. As such, a number of rules governed the practice of slavery. Slavery and Racial Theory

In defending slavery, Finkelman made use of Samuel Cartwright ideas of the physical peculiarities and diseases that affected the Black (Negro) race. According to Cartwright, Blacks had a peculiar disease, which affected their sensibility and mind. The skin of blacks had a partial insensibility, and differed from every other category of mental disease since it was accompanied by lesions or physical signs of the body. This disease, according to Cartwright, affected mostly free Negroes as they did not have a White master that could take care of them. Therefore, Blacks became slaves due to their racial dispositions. Grayson’s poem about slavery also received a lot of public notice. Finkelman by using the works of Grayson defended slavery. According to Grayson, the institution of race slavery represented the vision of the white supremacist. Slavery established a permanent and kind relationship between labor and capital. As such, it fit well with the blacks as it offered them protection. In addition, the Africans, who appeared, in the continent of North America become destined to be an agricultural force of labor. Finkelman also incorporates the ideas of George Fitzhugh to defend slavery. According to Fitzhugh, the Negro is a grown up a child, who should be governed as a child, not a criminal or lunatic. As such, Athenian democracy cannot suit any Negro nation as the intellectual and moral capability of Negroes is lacking. Secondly, the Negro cannot provide for himself; therefore, he would become a burden to the society. As such,...
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