A major portion of the last chapter in Inhuman Bondage was the actual civil war and how it was handled. The thing that the book speaks on, that is not surprising to me at all, is how a large number of African Americans took part in the fight for the Union side. Another unsurprising note added into the chapter is how they spoke on the African American reactions. Inhuman Bondage talks about how people kneeled at Abraham Lincoln’s feet and he had to tell them “don’t kneel to me. This is not right. You must kneel to God only, and thank Him for the liberty you will enjoy hereafter.” (298)
A major part that I had never realized until I read this chapter was the monetary importance that slavery carried. Slavery would have been worth almost 80% of the Gross National Product at that time. The slaves worth was more than the national railroads and business investments. To put that much money into the institution of slavery is seemingly impossible, but it also clears the reason that the South was so big on fighting for slavery. With this much invested into an idea that took a major part in funding the economy, it makes sense that the south was willing to go to complete separation and war with the north to continue with their ways.
Another portion of this chapter that I feel should be emphasized is how they describe the actual war. As always, the book speaks on how the Civil war was the deadliest war for Americans, but it also points out the new tactics that were the cause of such violence. The Civil war was the first time we saw trench warfare, booby traps, rapid-firing Gatling guns, and self-igniting shells. (301) The Union completely destroyed confederate lands in order to win the war and devastate those from the south. I feel it is this warfare that leads to the vocabulary spoken about in SaFunderburgs post from this week.
In this week the main topic was Irish immigrants and their involvement in the civil war. It is very questionable to why the Irish chose to join the confederates in their fight for slavery, and the reading throws out numerous reason why this choice made sense although most “were not slave holders but young, impoverished, unskilled workers.” (Joyce 185) The overall reason behind the Irish choice was their knowledge on the need to be included in a group. In their homeland, they were excluded by the English and terribly mistreated as laws prohibited them from “property ownership, jury trial, the vote, and even a Catholic education.” (Joyce 186) Being the lowest of the low before, the Irish knew that they needed to be accepted socially in America in order to not be put in the same position as they were in their homeland. I feel this aligns to what my classmate AlKarout said in her post as she spoke on how the Irish played on slavery to create their identity in the south.
To go along with their mistreatment, the nativists of the north attacked the Irish immigrants; On the contrary, the southern Catholics accepted them. The Nativist attacks brought the thoughts “that social inclusion mattered as much in America as it had in the land they left behind.”(Joyce 193) On the other hand, the churches of the south offered “social services” to the impoverished Irish in times of need like the epidemic of 1852, and these essential moments were essential to gaining the support of these immigrants. (Joyce 190) Without these churches the Irish would have lacked things like hospital care, money for burials, orphanages, and, most important, a sense of belonging to some group.
A final reason pointed out in the reading was the economic competition between the free blacks and the working Irish. They struggled to battle for the same jobs until the Irish pushed to eliminate free black competition from “exclusively white realm of free labour.” (Joyce 188) With these groups battling for jobs, it makes sense that the Irish would support slavery. Without slavery it multiplies the number of people they have to compete with for the few occupations that the impoverished had the chance of getting.
The reading for this week was for the most part focused on the idea of Manifest Destiny and how the United States began to annex other lands into their country. Starting with the death of President Harrison (which is the most absurd thing I have ever heard of) the United States mission to move in on other lands became what seemed like the most important thing to the presidents. After Texas expressed their want to become a part of the United States, along with the fact that the British stood a chance to take control of the Republic, new President John Tyler jumped on the chance to annex, which he just barely got done before Polk was sworn into the Presidency.
With another new president the United States was told that there were four major goals to be completed: “the settlement of the Oregon question, the reduction of the protectionist tariff of 1842, reestablishment of the independent treasury, and the acquisition of California.” (306) It only makes sense that half of our countries goals were to gain more land since it was our destiny to expand. Polk sent in men to go to the Mexican border, basically in an attempt to start war and take over California. Although it may not have been constitutional, Polk started the war and then got approval from the congress. His rival, Calhoun, did not take kindly to this abuse of power as he was an opponent of the war and said the Polk “had unconstitutionally engineered the country into war.” (310)
As any other story of pre-civil war America, slavery had to find its way into this situation. The idea of whether the newly admitted lands would be slave or free territories started dividing the Whig party as sectionalism became more important that ideology. I think this is similar to what my classmate SpEdwards was saying in the beginning of his post as he spoke on how Polk thought the new lands would unify the country, but instead it gave the North and South more reason to divide. As we bring up often in class, I feel that the Wilmot Proviso was one of the early precursors of the Civil war that we had coming. The parties split and Calhoun “saw the proviso as a golden opportunity to unite southerners across party lines” (319) and it didn’t take the north long to align the same way. Hence the divide that we later see fighting against one another in the civil war over the same issue, abolition.
The reading for tomorrows class was interesting view of how Jackson destroyed the National Bank and Abolitionism. I personally thought it was crazy how Jackson appointed his secretary of the Treasury and quickly dismissed him from the position because he was unwilling to “remove the deposits without the assent of Congress” (208). I also think its an interesting point that the book brings up the “eighty thousand dollars” the bank spent against Jackson in the 1832 election (208). After reading this, I instantly wondered if that was the main reason Jackson had a problem with the Bank and wanted it removed at all. It was in fact in his favor to not be around because it was money that couldn’t be used to oppose him. I also thought it was interesting how Biddle tried to keep the fight going for supporters of the bank, and Jackson used the people to shift the blame to him. This gained support for Jackson as he made the businessmen think that the bank was their problem and Jackson was all in support of the people, and it made those who supported the bank look as if they don’t care about the people and they sacrificed the businesses that went under to keep their bank.
Another piece of the reading I found interesting was how it spoke on abolitionists. I feel like my classmates made a lot of good points when talking about abolitionists, but one that I felt was really well stated was how they talked about the divide in the movement itself and how that weakened the movement as a whole (http://sites.davidson.edu/his141/abolition-the-bank-and-jackson/). I also thought it was crazy how the movement spread across the country. Of course it was not well liked in a lot of places because it took money out of the people’s pockets, but it still started more groups and gained people’s support on the fact that enslavement of other humans was wrong. I feel like this section leading into labor unions and strikes was perfect because in my mind the abolitionists were basically a large labor union that had an effect in more places across the country.
A reoccurring theme in American history is the poor treatment of the natives. I found this last chapter of American Colonies to be really interesting because I had never known of the Russian involvement in the continent or the Spanish taking of California. However, the Indians were cruelly treated and forced out of the land that was rightfully theirs, just as the Spanish and English had done on the east coast.
To begin Taylor goes into the Russians and their takeover in Siberia and Alaska. The Russians may have been the most ruthless of all ethnic groups as they forced the natives to provide them with furs in order to make a profit. The Russians didn’t use trade as they easily could have. Instead they chose the route of holding woman and children at gunpoint and coercing the Aleut men to bring furs back as ransom (451). Obviously, this aggravated the Aleuts and they rebelled, and the Russians quickly countered by burning villages and murdering the natives by the hundreds (452)
The Spanish were very similar with their treatment of the Indians in California. The Spanish showed no equality to the natives as they came in and just took land that they wanted with no remorse. Their move caused Russians to prepare defense in case of a Spanish attack on their new claimed lands, but Taylor states that the Spanish was “preoccupied with trying to control the immense native population” and they did so through “plundering, beating, and raping Indians.” (458) I noticed that my classmate Jake Newton spoke on how the Spanish was going to colonize in the west because of the other countries involvement in the west (http://sites.davidson.edu/his141/spanish-brutality-in-the-west/). I definitely agree with that reason, but I also feel that a big influence on the Spanish colonization in California was the need to protect their settlements in Mexico (454).
One thing I disagree with from Taylors writings is the way he makes the levels or harshness vary from ethnic groups. Although there does have to be some group that it the worst in their actions towards the natives, Taylor makes it seem like the French were good guys, English were bad at times and good at times, and the Spanish and Russians just ran over natives at all times. In reality all of these groups used natives to their own advantage and none are innocent when the history is actually analyzed.
In the reading this week I found multiple points of interest. The growth of religion in the colonies through a change in the way people preached the word of Christ is amazing to see. I’m shocked that the emotion added into preaching, through those like George Whitefield, was such a successful way of pulling in as many new followers as it did. I found it ironic that the emotion also produced a negative effect though. The fact that the revivals lead to multiple suicides from those who “sought immediately to face God” (346) doesn’t make sense to me because instead of trying to give their lives over to God or even continue living life without religion as they had before, they chose to see what their afterlife would be while thinking it was negative to start.
I also enjoyed analyzing how the new style of preaching had impact over different areas. To begin, this new style stretched all the way to England, as Whitefield began preaching in his new found voice to those on the streets and became a celebrity because of it. This man even traveled to the colonies where he was viewed as an even bigger celebrity and spread the word from Maine to Georgia changing lives all over the area. The change in style was very beneficial in the northern colonies where it pulled in many different new members and brought people towards the idea of changing their ways to give their life to God. Unfortunately the same was not accomplished in the South as it was more spread, had less places to print newspapers, and had less places to worship in comparison to the number of people. (348) The south didn’t even take Whitefield in as the other colonies when he came. The new religion even went to change people along gender lines. Many women began to view Christianity differently as they began to speak out, which was forbidden by Paul, using God’s words. (351) Some women even went as far as to ride out and spread the word of Christ which would have never happened before.
The Carolinas were granted to eight politicians who had been favorites of the King of England. The colony quickly became a plantation colony, but they chose to leave the declining profits of tobacco and look at other crops to grow. They looked into raising livestock, which was relatively different from the past colonies, and they cultivated rice at “over 60% of the total exports from Carolina as measured by value.” They also took a major part in the slave trade as they took in so many slaves that the colonist felt threatened by the chance of a slave revolt. This was helpful as they looked to stay away from the Chesapeake’s problem of too much work for few people.
The Carolina colonists were also smart about how they took care of any types of attacks on their people. They had a regular pattern of using other bodies before taking the risks of hurting themselves. The chapter speaks of how slaves were used to kill the Spanish when the colony had problems with attackers from Florida and slaves were rewarded if they killed some of the adversaries. They also used the Indians with the “gun trade.” In this trade the Carolina colonists used the Indian’s numbers and knowledge of the land to find other natives and bring them to back as slaves. Taylor even adds that “colonists paid far more for a slave than for deerskins” which influenced the natives to take the weapons they were provided with and bring back their own kind in order to please the colonists.
The chapter also briefly goes into Georgia and how the Carolinas used that area to their advantage also. As stated in a classmates post (http://sites.davidson.edu/his141/the-carolinas-and-the-purpose-of-georgia/) Georgia was mainly a border state to keep distance from the Spanish. Georgia also made it less likely for runaway slaves to make it to the Spaniards, who took runaway slaves in, before being caught by the colonists. Georgia denied the slave system itself but took no part in keeping others from slavery.
An important part of this week’s reading in Inhuman Bondage for me was how Davis describes the slave trade and in a way lists on the reason behind the Europeans purchasing other human beings as free labor. Davis persuades the reader that the slave trade was an essential part of the American economy, which makes it almost seem as if the enslavement of other people is fine because they were the cheapest alternative and they brought so much revenue back to the country. Along with the thoughts of the efficiency in terms of finances, Davis also brings up how the difference in religion rationalizes enslaving Africans to the Europeans. The Europeans looked down on the African race because they were not white Christians as they were and this difference made them inferior. He goes further to justify the horrors of slavery by making it seem like enslaving these people was going to make them better. He makes it seem as if enslaving Africans will make them want to become more like their owners, meaning they will choose to convert to Christianity, and this will make them more educated or civilized as a race. I think this is absurd because being enslaved, in my opinion, would not make you want to join those who took brought your life for work, but rather make you turn against and rebel against everything that you see them do. I find it ironic that the United States of America that we live in today is all about freedom and providing people with a chance at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but our countries began with slavery being an integral part, and slavery lasted for a long time afterwards.