Re: Slavery,who was responsible?

15 Feb 1995 15:14:18 GMT

In article <3hsrnf$>, turf@skinner (Brian McInturff) writes:
>Eric Steimle (CHE) ( wrote:
>: > "Eric Steimle (CHE)" <> wrote:
>: >
>: > > I'm curious who you believe was responsible for this uprooting and
>: > > enslavement. Was it the consumer, the middlemen , or the wholesellers?
>: >
>I once read an interesting essay that said that the institution
>of slavery is dependent on weapons technology of the era. The
>gist of it is as follows:
>When one culture encounters another, the dominant culture is the one
>in which weapons technology is the most advanced. Weapons include
>anything effective at killing people. An ancient culture which
>had good metalurgy skills could make lots of swords and armor, which were
>effective in subduing others that did not have this technology.
>Since the cost of most weapons was high in their initial stage of
>development, slaves (or poor people) could never garner enough
>resources to defend themselves. Kings preferred unarmed peasants.

Okay so far....

>As a weapons technology becomes more commonplace, the price drops.
>Some sympathetic soul can then afford to arm the slaves who
>can then fight for their freedom on more equal terms. Not that
>they necessarily did, but when the costs or risks of keeping someone
>in slavery exceeded the benefits that he produced, slavery
>petered out because of economic dictates.

Hurm... kinda. Serfdom started to collapse during the Middle Ages for
a variety of reasons, some of which were economic. Of course, there was
also the plague....

>In the case of the slave trade in which the US participated,
>it was during a time when personal firearms were being produced but
>they were still expensive, being made by hand one at a time. Most
>people could have afforded swords, or to arm slaves with swords,
>but it would not have done much good against their (fire)armed

Sorry, we just did this bit in colonial US history class. Slavery
started in the US because of labor problems. Originally, the great
labor force in the Chesapeake(sp?) area was from indentured servants.
But about 20-30 years after the first wave of indentured servants came
to America, things changed. One, more of the indentured servants were
surviving. Remember, the mortality rate was rather high then. Also,
speculators began grabbing up as much land as possible. So did the
ruling class in the Americas.

Now, as everyone had to be armed (because of attacks from Indians and
other countries' colonies) the tobacco plantation owners lived in a
constant state of worry. They needed a large labor force to produce
the tobacco crop, but the labor force was on the verge of turning on
them. So, they went to the cheapest and most-worry free method of
'recruiting' a labor force available to them. Slavery.

BTW, before this, Africans had been part of the labor force, but they
had been able to buy their freedom, and it was possible for them to
buy land, and acquire the rights of landowners.

>When guns started to become mass produced in the mid 1800s,
>the prices dropped. It became easier for a slave to obtain a
>gun since there were so many around. Slavery was about to
>become economically unfeasible anyway when Lincoln signed the
>Emancipation Proclamation.

Perhaps. Guns were being produced faster, but it was still near-
impossible for a slave in the South to get his hands on a gun.

>The essay went on to say that once cheap reliable firearms were
>available and it became more commonplace for a woman to carry
>one (especially in the west) it empowered women enough to
>garner the right to vote.

Note: Women carrying guns in the west was not unusual. As I stated
before, in the early part of Colonial US History, every adult carried
firearms. (Usually just one, mind you...)

>I thought that this argument was pretty compelling (well, it
>was compelling when I read it and I may not have related it
>that well.)

Doesn't sound too bad... Where was the article taken from?


"Cuius testiculos habes, habeas cardia et cerebellum."