I have to say the recent Republican antagonism against African-Americans is astonishing and surprising. Whether it’s skipping debates before black and brown audiences, Bill “O’Racist” O’Reilly’s shock that African-American New Yorkers are capable of fine dining and business management, John DePetro saying that White people only go to Harlem for drugs or hookers and now Michael Medved’s passionate plea that that the liberal, politically correct notions that Americans should feel somehow bad about the U.S. role in killing, enslaving and oppressing millions of people, it’s almost like a campaign of some sort.

Here’s where Medved’s Six Inconvenient Truths About the U.S. and Slavery is just flat out wrong. The facts are that, at the founding of our nation, at the writing of the Constitution in 1787, slavery was on the decline both in America and worldwide. Here’s a quick timeline:

1772 – Great Britain (14,000 slaves freed on the mainland)
1777 – Vermont (gradual)
1784 – All the New England states (gradual)

In fact, apparently slavery was a matter of strenuous debate at this time among the founding fathers. Thomas Jefferson, slaveowner and longtime rapist of one of his slaves Sally Hemings (if someone owns you, it’s not consensual sex), said:

“There is nothing I would not sacrifice to a practicable plan of abolishing every vestige of this moral and political depravity.”
(Letter to Thomas Cooper, September 10, 1814)

The signers of the Constitution knew exactly what they were doing. They knew full well the moral implications given the struggle in England and New England for abolition. They’d heard all the arguments and proof points against slavery. Why did they do it? So that a handful of self-interested wealthy men such as Jefferson could grow their wealth on the backs of others. Cheap labor.

In fact, the U.S. dragged its feet behind many other nations in the abolition of slavery and resorted to a level of internal strife and bloodshed not seen since before simply doing what was right and what others had already managed to do with a lot less violence. Here’s a more in-depth timeline post-ratification of the U.S. Constitution in which those of African descent were not allowed to vote but for electoral vote representational purposes counted each as 3/5ths of a person.

Not to bore you, but seriously, the fondness of some (white) people for a revisionist, selectively inaccurate, rose-colored look at slavery’s history makes me sick. Note the mounting international pressure on stopping slavery which the U.S. resisted with the heinous Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.

# 1793 Upper Canada, by Act Against Slavery
# 1799 New York State introduces gradual emancipation
# 1802 Danish abolish slave trade in Danish colonies
# 1802 Slavery re-introduced in France[1]
# 1803 Lower Canada abolishes slavery
# 1804 Haiti abolishes slavery[2]
# 1807 Abolition of the Slave Trade Act: slave trading abolished in British Empire. Captains fined £100 per slave transported.
# 1807 British begin patrols of African coast to arrest slaving vessels. British West Africa Squadron (Royal Navy) established to suppress slave trading; by 1865, nearly 150,000 people freed by anti-slavery operations
# 1807 Abolition in Prussia, Germany The Stein-Hardenberg Reforms.
# 1808 U.S. abolishes transatlantic slave trade
# 1811 Slave trading made a felony in the British Empire punishable by transportation for British subjects and Foreigners.
# 1811 Spain abolishes slavery at home and in all colonies except Cuba,[1] Puerto Rico, and Santo Domingo
# 1814 Dutch outlaw slave trade
# 1815 British pay Portuguese £750,000 (several hundred million dollars in current values) to cease their trade[3]
# 1817 Spain paid £400,000 by British to cease trade to Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Santo Domingo[3]
# 1815 Congress of Vienna. 8 Victorious powers declared their opposition to slavery
# 1818 Treaty between Britain and Spain to abolish slave trade [4]
# 1818 Treaty between Britain and Portugal to abolish slave trade [4]
# 1818 France and Holland abolish slave trading
# 1819 Treaty between Britain and Netherlands to abolish slave trade [4]
# 1821 Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela abolish slavery
# 1821 Liberia founded by USA as state for emancipated slaves.
# 1823 Chile abolishes slavery[2]
# 1827 Treaty between Britain and Sweden to abolish slave trade [4]
# 1829 Mexico abolishes slavery[2]
# 1831 Bolivia abolishes slavery[2]
# 1835 Treaty between Britain and France to abolish slave trade [4]
# 1835 Treaty between Britain and French and Danish to abolish slave trade [4]
# 1836 Portugal abolishes transatlantic slave trade
# 1838 Slavery abolished throughout the British empire, excluding India, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Gambia, Aden, Burma and Hong Kong.[5]
# 1839 British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society founded, now called Anti-Slavery International
# 1839 Indian indenture system made illegal
# 1840 Treaty between Britain and Venezuela to abolish slave trade [4]
# 1841 Quintuple Treaty is signed; England, France, Russia, Prussia, and Austria agree to suppress slave trade[2]
# 1842 Webster-Ashburton Treaty between Britain and US
# 1842 Uruguay abolishes slavery[2]
# 1843 Treaty between Britain and Uruguay to suppress slave trade [4]
# 1843 Treaty between Britain and Mexico to suppress slave trade [4]
# 1843 Treaty between Britain and Chile to suppress slave trade [4]
# 1843 Argentina abolishes slavery[1]
# 1843 Treaty between Britain and Bolivia to abolish slave trade [4]
# 1845 36 British Navy ships are assigned to the Anti-Slavery Squadron, making it one of the largest fleets in the world.
# 1847 Sweden abolishes slavery[6]
# 1848 Denmark abolishes slavery[6]
# 1848 Slavery abolished in all French and Danish colonies[2]
# 1848 France founds Gabon for settlement of emancipated slaves.
# 1848 Treaty between Britain and Muscat to suppress slave trade [4]
# 1849 Treaty between Britain and Persian Gulf states to suppress slave trade [4]
# 1850 USA: Fugitive Slave Law of 1850
# 1851 Brazil ends slave trade[2]
# 1854 Peru abolishes slavery[2]
# 1854 Venezuela abolishes slavery[2]
# 1860 Slavery abolished in British occupied India.
# 1861 Russia frees its population in the Emancipation reform of 1861.[1]
# 1862 Treaty between USA and Great Britain for the suppression of the slave trade (African Slave Trade Treaty Act)[4].
# 1862 Cuba abolishes slave trade[2]
# 1863 Slavery abolished in Dutch colonies[2]
# 1863 U.S. frees southern slaves through the Emancipation Proclamation
# 1865 U.S. abolishes slavery (The Thirteenth Amendment)[2]

It would seem that the British have a better claim to be “proud” according to Medved’s standards than Americans.

Retaining slavery and the later construct of Jim Crow set the South’s economic development back 100 years. The peculiar institution set up the concepts, still with us today, that pits poorer whites against blacks (and now Asian and Hispanic immigrants) against their own socioeconomic interests. What was the Civil War except the ultimate fruition of “states’ rights”, a concept still with us today and usually used to justify the continuance or codification of some gross injustice.


Thanks Trey Ellis at Huffington Post for the strong and factual pushback on Medved’s pile of crap and plantation romanticism. This brother is a soldier. I’ll be watching Mr. Medved from now on. I know plenty of non-racist Republican colleagues and friends — the tolerance for racism in their party is something that I for one cannot understand nor tolerate.

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