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An outstanding book review! The best source of which I know, (no strong recommendation), regarding the problems of slavery in the USA is Half Slave and Half Free the roots of Civil War by Bruce Levine. He portrays the same situation as Goodwin but makes the point that the chief sources of animosity by Northeners over slavery derived from two factors: first were laws making all US citizens responsible for assisting slave owners in the capture and return of fugitive slaves, which made it impossible for them to just ignore the unpleasant reality of the South's "peculiar institution"; second was the resentment of northern small tradesmen and journeyman workers at having to compete with slave labor.

Another factor he brings out is the extent to which so many Southerners also thought that slavery would die out prior to the rise of King Cotton. Cotton culture gave new life to the institution of slavery and attitudes in the South changed by 1830 or so. And then there was the deep fear amongst the slave holders of a slave revolt of which Haiti was the chief example.

That fear gave context to the extreme brutality with which slaves were treated and the reason they were denied literacy. Levine cites slave owner's manuals, which were popular in the South and uses excerpts to illustrate just how brutal those conditions were. One example was how to deal with an uppity female slave who was in an advanced stage of pregnancy. The owner naturally did not want to endanger the foetus, so the solution was to dig a hole in the ground large enough to accommodate the baby bulge and then have the typical four other slaves each hold a limb while she was beaten bloody.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jan 19th, 2014 at 11:50:08 AM EST

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