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Exploring the Depths of ‘White Slavery’

In conversations about slavery in the United States, the question of “white slavery” is often raised. It is reasoned that if whites could also be slaves, then slavery wasn’t necessarily based upon race, but upon social status or some other factor. This understanding problematic as it attempts to redefine chattel slavery as it was understood in pre-Civil War America.

Maybe it’s a good idea to take a deeper look at what hereditary slavery was and whether white people were actually subject to such an institution.

‘Thrown into the House as a Firebrand’ – Failed Efforts in Washington to Re-Open the Slave Trade

In the years leading up to the Civil War, there was a small but vocal set of Southern Senators who desperately wanted to re-open the Atlantic Slave Trade. Though they were unsuccessful, this radical position allowed the political central to shift more toward the extreme, paving the way for secession.

‘Every White Man Might Have a Chance’ – South Carolina’s Arguments to Re-Open the Slave Trade

By the mid-1850s, South Carolina led the call for both secession and re-opening the Atlantic Slave Trade. This article takes a look at Governor Adams’ message, as well as the state Congress’ reports upon that message. The majority of South Carolina congressmen agreed with the governor, stating that they regarded the African slave trade “as essential to the development of Southern resources, enterprise and power” as well as “a timely and propitious expansion of Southern civilization.” They concluded that “the undivided opinion of South Carolina is, that the importation of negroes from Africa, and their being made to cultivate our soil, under the equitable laws which control and protect our common interests, would violate no law of God nor any principle of justice.”

Abraham Lincoln and the Thirteenth Amendment that Wasn’t

A proposed Thirteenth Amendment would have denied the power of the Federal government “to abolish or interfere” with the institution of slavery. So why then did Lincoln and many other anti-slavery Republicans support it? And why didn’t this stop secession?

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