“The United States government's support of slavery was based on an overpowering practicality. In 1790, a thousand tons of cotton were being produced every year in the South. By 1860, it was a million tons. In the same period, 500,000 slaves grew to 4 million.”

These pages of reading are reminding me that we must be careful not to confuse the preservation of Industry and Commerce with "practicality", for shouldn’t humanity, humility, community and sustainability be the driving forces behind decisions made in the name of practicality? 

An entrepreneur is well advised to consider the feasibility of her proposed venture before launching into it. She must analyze whether or not the business would endure. The fundamental way to discern this is to understand the industry and the environmental climate that she is stepping into. She must identify the driving forces inside of the industry and the market.... What are the driving forces of Industry as a whole?... What were they in the time of the slavery and cotton industries? What are they now? What is important to preserve? And what happens if we shift our view of “being practical” into one that means, definitively, that humanity, humility, community and sustainability must be our guides in discerning whether or not we are indeed “being practical”? What if we go even further beyond the idea that in order to "be practical" we must preserve "jobs", and we decide that their intrinsic value to the human being(s) working them and to the larger whole which they should be intended to serve is what matters most? What kind of jobs should we preserve? What kind of life? Why would we hold "practicality" as though it is a trump card to reasoning and decision making which is guided by humaneness?

“...can statistics record what it meant for families to be torn apart, when a master, for profit, sold a husband or a wife, a son or a daughter?” [humanity]

“One overseer told a visitor to his plantation that "some negroes are determined never to let a white man whip them and will resist you, when you attempt it; of course you must kill them in that case."” [preservation of industry]

“Harriet Tubman, born into slavery, her head injured by an overseer when she was fifteen, made her way to freedom alone as a young woman, then became the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad. She made nineteen dangerous trips back and forth, often disguised, escorting more than three hundred slaves to freedom, always carrying a pistol, telling the fugitives, "You'll be free or die." She expressed her philosophy: "There was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other; for no man should take me alive...."”[humanity]

“It would take either a full-scale slave rebellion or a full-scale war to end such a deeply entrenched system. If a rebellion, it might get out of hand, and turn its ferocity beyond slavery to the most successful system of capitalist enrichment in the world. [preservation of industry]

"Rebellion, though rare, was a constant fear among slaveowners....Henry Tragic (The Southampton Slave Revolt of 1831), says:
“In 1831, Virginia was an armed and garrisoned state... . With a total population of 1,211,405, the State of Virginia was able to field a militia force of 101,488 men, including cavalry, artillery, grenadiers, riflemen, and light infantry! It is true that this was a "paper army" in some ways, in that the county regiments were not fully armed and equipped, but it is still an astonishing commentary on the state of the public mind of the time. During a period when neither the State nor the nation faced any sort of exterior threat, we find that Virginia felt the need to maintain a security force roughly ten percent of the total number of its inhabitants: black and white, male and female, slave and free!”” [preservation of industry]

Probably the largest slave revolt in the United States took place near New Orleans in 1811. Four to five hundred slaves gathered after a rising at the plantation of a Major Andry. Armed with cane knives, axes, and clubs, they wounded Andry, killed his son, and began marching from plantation to plantation, their numbers growing. They were attacked by U.S. army and militia forces; sixty-six were killed on the spot, and sixteen were tried and shot by a firing squad. [preservation of industry, practicality?]




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