Considering that even antislavery whites were, by and large, still incredibly racist, and didn’t think that blacks could or should mingle with whites, and would never, ever, be equals with whites, I wonder if the cause of racial equality was actually helped by slavery.
No, now before you leap to your self-righteous exclamations, read what I’m thinking here.
I’m not saying slavery was a good thing. It was horrible. The idea that one person could own another person is abhorrent. I’m not even saying that the above thought is RIGHT. It was just one of the many bizarre “suppose that…” thoughts that kick around in my head on a daily basis.
Without slavery, would blacks have lived in America? Not many, anyway. Thus leaving whites to continue in their strong opinions that blacks are an inferior race.
What’s the best way to not have your preconceptions challenged? To never be in a situation that challenges them. What’s the best way to have your prejudices changed? To see that they’re wrong through your own personal experience.
Without ever coming into regular contact with blacks, I doubt that American whites would have ever really thought about them, and when they did think about them, it would have been easier to keep their prejudicial thoughts. But being in contact with blacks allowed them to start to realize that they were just people, just like the rest of us.
Now of course, this argument falls completely apart when you look at race relations in countries that never had slavery…. but it was an interesting idea to kick around in my head yesterday.
Another thought, and one shared by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, is that slavery would have come to a swifter and less bloody end if the North had just allowed the South to secede. Northern states would have been under no obligation to return runaway slaves to another country, the slave system would have been destabilized, and would have fallen apart on its own.
(In the end, I’m not a fan of Lincoln. I think his decision to invade the south and force them to remain in the Union was the beginning of our mess now – he completely trampled on the rights of states and waged an Unconstitutional war.)