Greco-Roman History Essay, Research Paper
The extent to which the debate over slavery was not really about black people but about whites can be seen politically, socially, religiously and economically.
Slavery affecting politics is demonstrated politically in the Lincoln-Douglas debates. The real arguments were over which side, the north or the south, would gain more power from slavery by making it either a slave state or a free state. Douglas argued that slaves were not equal to whites in any fashion and they should not be free, which would give them a chance to be equal. Douglas states,” I believe this government was made on the white basis.” He further states,” I believe it was made by white men, for the benefit of white men and their prosperity for ever, and I am in favor for continuing citizenship to white men, men out of European birth and decent, instead of conferring it upon Negro’s, Indians and other inferior races.” He attempts to degrade the blacks by deciphering the constitution in his own opinion. He feels the signers of the declaration of independents never dreamed of the Negro when they were writing that document. (1). He goes on to say,” Do you believe that everyone who signed the declaration of independents declared the Negro his equal and then was hypocrite enough to hold him as a slave, in violation of what he believed to be the divine law?” Lincoln agreed that blacks were inferior yet insisted that this in no way should stand in the way of their natural rights (2). He does not feel that they are worthy of being coworkers with whites but feels they should not be slaves. Lincoln states,” I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negro’s, nor of qualifying them to hold office, not to intermarry with white people, and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forbid the two races living together on terms of social and politically equality.” These augments over slavery were really arguments for power of states being either a slave state or a free state. Slavery became another issue in which the republicans and democrats took opposing sides on. Their whole purpose of arguing their side on the topic of slavery is to gain votes for their respective party. The debates over slavery were not over the well being of the slaves but rather for increased power of the two parties.
The issue over slavery argued economically stating that slaves kept the southern agricultural nation, which meant they were dependent on the north for industrial goods. Even though there were people in the south that worked with manufacturing industrial goods, there was no demand for it, even from the southerners. Helper states,” Owing to the absence of a proper system of business amongst us, the north becomes, in one way or another, the proprietor and dispenser of our floating wealth, and that we are dependent on northern capitalists for the means necessary to build our rail roads, canals and other public improvements.” Only a small minority benefited financially from having slavery and a much larger ignorant population of slave owners live in poverty and forced to flee from their homes (3). Helper blames their economic inferiority on the slaves. He is not against the use of slavery or how its morally wrong but more concerned with the balanced wealth of southern white folk. Helper is against slavery because it hinders the white southerners economic growth.
Socially, slavery is wanted because white people do not want to hang out with black people. They feel blacks are inferior in everyway and would bring down the high social class of whites. Douglas states,” Do you desire to turn this beautiful state into a free Negro colony?” This is a question that intends to scare white people opposed of slavery and make them realize what the consequences of their actions would be. No one wanted the slaves or free blacks to have any of the rights white people did and this was one of the main points people for slavery were trying to make.
Slavery became an issue through religion by questioning religious beliefs when it comes to slavery. White people think they can better the religious up bringing by helping the black people learn more about christiananity. Some think it is their obligation to educate the black people even though they are an outcast race because their religion demands it. These people do not feel that blacks are equal to whites but rather they should go back to Africa, but not before white people educate them. Stowe said,” If this persecuted race, with every discouragement and disadvantage have done this much, how much more might they do if the Christian church would act towards them in the spirit of the lord.” Stowe is trying to convince people that blacks are able to do some intelligent work and for this they should let them if they want to be on good terms with the church and go to heaven after they die.