The Myth Surrounding Slavery

One of the common myths surround slavery is that the institution, historically, was well received. With the exception of a few people slavery is reviled today (unless it’s state slavery, of course). What’s interesting is that many people that revile slavery believe that the institution was almost unanimously supported until the 1800’s rolled around.

This belief often manifests itself when one criticizes the Founding Fathers of the United States for owning slaves. Oftentimes that criticism is swept under the table by those who revere the Founders as demigods of freedom and liberty. They claim that it’s not fair to raise such criticisms because, even though slavery isn’t popularly supported today, it was during their time and we must look at their actions through the lens of that time. That claim is crap.

Slavery has always been fiercely opposed by great swaths of people. Even one of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, tried to include strong anti-slavery language in the Declaration of Independence. But, more to the point, the opposition to slavery primarily came from, as you can guess, the slaves.

How many people would support a system that forces them to perform hard labor for no pay? How many people would support a system where armed thugs would collect them if they left a specific plot of land? How many people would support having their children taken to be auctioned off to another slave owner? I can’t think of a single person who would support such a system and I’m guessing you can’t either.

The only people who supported slavery were those who directly profited from the institution. Slave owners, slave hunters, and politicians whose pockets were lined by pro-slavery lobbyists were the primary supporters of slavery. Slaves and the abolitionist movement strongly opposed slavery and remainder of the population likely didn’t give two shits either way.

Whenever somebody claims that the institution of slavery received popular support historically you need to realize that they’re, in all likelihood unknowingly, omitting the opinion of the slaves.