Slavery isn’t gone, don’t memorialize it yet

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 27, 2007

Slavery was, without question, a mistake. It is something that I am not proud of, but I understand that it was the way of life at that time. Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, felt remorse over it, and wrote, “But as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.”

Black African tribes had for millennia captured their enemies and brought them back to their villages and kept them there as slaves. In the 1400s, there came a world-wide market for slaves. Warriors began to sell their POWs to Arab Slave Traders for shiny baubles and beads. The slave traders marched them unmercifully across Africa to be loaded like sardines onto English slave ships. I can only imagine the atrocities that occurred during this process. To finally step down still alive from this reeking hell-hole onto our magnificent shore, must have seemed like God’s greatest blessing!

The first African slaves came to the New World in the early 1500s to refine gold for Christopher Columbus in Hispaniola. They first came to America via Savannah, Ga., to work the rice fields located in the “low country” there. After it was discovered that Egyptian cotton would flourish in our climate of the southeastern United States, the cotton trade rapidly developed. Sugar cane production was also a very lucrative market. These operations were very work intensive and to be profitable, it was necessary to accomplish them with cheap labor and trade their goods with Europe.

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Slavery is not over — it still goes on today. The difference is that today there is a new master. I see from time-to-time that a “sweat shop” using adolescent and small children is broken up. I see where young girls are kidnapped and used as sex slaves. Some business establishments (foreign and domestic) are selling their products cheaply by employing underpaid and mistreated workers. In our county, there are many who will sell their souls with lies and fraud to hold on to their government entitlements and are by all definitions the slaves of Uncle Sam.

Let’s don’t build a monument to slavery until all slavery is abolished. Building it sooner would only sanctify the slaves and vilify the slave tenders.

People who are alive today had no more to do with slavery than they did in selecting the color of the room in which they were born. I never owned a slave, please don’t hate me or cause others to do so.

Ed Field