“Complicity—How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery”

By Al Benson Jr.
Recently a friend in Athens, Louisiana lent me a book with the same title as this article. It was written by three writers who worked for a newspaper, the Hartford Courant, in Hartford, Connecticut. I mention that lest anyone accuse me of quoting some “bigoted” Southern source.

From what I can tell the three authors of this book are all quite a bit more liberal than I am and so I am sure there is much we would not agree on. But whatever else they might be, the three authors were honest enough to admit that slavery in this country was never only a “Southern” problem as we have, for so long, been led to believe.

I grew up in New England, went to school in New England, and I have to admit, I never read any of the material they present in any of the so-called “history” books I came across, either in school or anywhere else. We were always taught that all the slaves lived “down South” and that the virtuous New Englanders, among others, had fought to end that evil institution down here.

These folks did a lot of research to put their material together, so the research material is available. It just gets ignored. It’s the identical situation Donnie Kennedy and I found when we wrote Lincoln’s Marxists. The vast majority of the material about socialist and Communist penetration of both the Union armies and the early Republican Party by those people is just never mentioned. It doesn’t fit the current agenda and so it just gets omitted. It’s the same situation with Complicity. The truth about slavery in the North just doesn’t fit the agenda and so it mostly gets left out.

But there is lots of commentary about Northern slavery out there and the three authors of Complicity came up with lots of it. In the introduction it is noted: “Before the Civil War the North grew rich beyond measure by agreeing to live, however uneasily at times, with slavery. Perhaps as a consequence of striking that bargain, Northerners have pushed much of their early history into the deepest shadows of repression.—In the eighteenth century, even after America won its freedom from Great Britain, even after the writing of the Declaration of Independence, tens of thousands of black people were living as slaves in the North. Earlier in that century, enslaved blacks made up nearly one-fifth of the population of New York City.”

And then there was this, which although I lived and worked in Rhode Island, I never heard: “In the century before Congress finally banned the importation of slaves, Rhode Island was America’s leader in the transatlantic trade, launching nearly 1000 voyages to Africa and carrying at least 100,000 captives back across the Atlantic. The captains and crews of these ships were often the veteran seamen of America: New Englanders.” More information that somehow doesn’t make the cut when it comes to our “history” books! The authors note that, in 1760, there were around 41,000 blacks enslaved in the Northern states, which included New England and all the other states down to Delaware.

The authors also observed: “Slaves in the North, like those in the South, served at the whim of their owners and could be sold or traded. They were housed in unheated attics and basements, in outbuildings and barns. They often slept on the floor, wrapped in coarse blankets. They lived under a harsh system of ‘black codes’ that controlled their movements, prohibited their education, and limited their social contacts.” It actually sounds like, in many instances, slaves in the South were better off than those in the North. And “black codes” in the North? All we are ever told about is black codes in the South. They are never mentioned in relation to the North. You can tell that the winners write the history books and don’t hesitate to make themselves look good. The authors made an interesting comment about a man named John Adams, described as “…one of the Founding Fathers who refused to own black people…he paid handsomely for his principles because captive labor (in New England) was widespread, very skilled, and cheap.”

On page 80, in relation to New York City, the authors tell us that “Slavery was the bedrock of the city’s developing economy” in the early 1700s. Census figures showed a population, at one point, of about 4,000 whites and 600 blacks and most of the blacks were slaves.

On pages 97-99 the authors deal in some detail with Newport, Rhode Island and inform us that it was dominant in the state’s first and longest period in the slave trade. The Newport slave traders were mostly involved with the “upper” end of the trade. They owned or bankrolled the slave ships. And they observed that, in the days before the War for Independence the city of Newport was responsible for 70% of all American slave ships. Rev. Samuel Hopkins was one of the few theologians that even dared to preach against the slave trade. Hopkins indicted his own state when he said “The inhabitants of Rhode Island, especially those of Newport, have had by far the greater share of this traffic, of all these United States.”

Hopefully this brief article will give readers some idea of the large part the Northeastern part of the country played in the slave trade, and this went on, to some degree, literally up to the eve of the War of Northern Aggression.
I have seen articles over the years that totally blamed the South for the slave trade and some have even commented that Southerners invented this pernicious trade just so they could keep blacks under their heel. The book these three writers from Connecticut who are, as I said, much more liberal than I, have produced gives the lie to that baseless accusation.

When it came to slavery the North was every bit as guilty as was the South, in some cases even moreso. But then the professional “South-haters” who practice cultural genocide on Southerners and their culture do not want to hear this and so they will probably do their best to ignore this factual book just as they have studiously avoided admitting to much of what Donnie Kennedy and I have written about in Lincoln’s MarxistsComplicity is available at Amazon.com I would encourage folks who are serious about the truth to pick it up and read it. You won’t agree with everything in it. I didn’t. But it is still worth the read.

Slavery In Rhode Island–Who Woulda Thunk It?

by Al Benson Jr.

Awhile back now an honest writer named Jeff McDonough wrote an article that appeared in the Jamestown Press  in Jamestown, Rhode Island. It had to do with slavery in Rhode Island. I realize that our current crop of what passes for historians seldom wants to deal with slavery north of Mason-Dixon, the idea being that we are not supposed to even realize that it existed up there. And should it be admitted, which is rare, it will be downplayed almost to non-existence.

So Mr. McDonough’s article was quite revelatory, and you can bet no major media picked up on it. After all, they wouldn’t want to confuse their readers with the facts.

McDonough noted that: “Few people living today in Rhode Island realize that the slave trade was once a vital component of the Ocean State’s economy. ‘The numbers are astonishing’ says Ray Rickman, project director of an exhibit dealing with the slave trade in Rhode Island. In an 80-year period, people in Rhode Island got rich from the slave trade.”

According to Rickman slavery was pretty widespread in Rhode Island. “Slaves worked on South County farms and in the mansions of Newport. But it was the slave trade that was the number one financial activity for Rhode Island from 1720 to 1807.” McDonough noted that many Rhode Islanders were involved in the slave trade and Rickman noted that “Rhode Islanders are poorly educated in school about slavery.” Don’t you wonder why? In the War of Northern Aggression Rhode Island fought for the Union as part of “Massa Lincoln’s” massive army of emancipation (riddled with Marxists) and as the winners get to write the “history” books you can bet the farm that they wanted to portray themselves as looking good and the South as looking bad.

Some may claim the North got rid of its slaves decades before the South did. Donnie Kennedy’s book Myths Of American Slavery  gives the lie to much of that cultural fertilizer. But even so, slavery was still slavery, whether it took place in the North in 1760 or the South in 1860. If it was wrong for the South, then why was it not also wrong for the North? Why aren’t Northerners just as guilty as Southerners? The only difference involved is the time frame and that is not as far separated as we’ve been taught to believe it is.

And as far as guilt is concerned, there’s more than enough to go around and it hardly all belongs to the white Southerner. In his monumental work on the slave trade Hugh Thomas noted, on page 13, that: “If one is looking for villains in this matter, and some are, one should certainly indeed look at royal families more severely than at Jewish ones: I am partly thinking of the rulers of Benin; the kings of Ashanti, Congo and Dahomey; and the Vili rulers of Loango, who sold great numbers of slaves over many generations…” All of these above-mentioned rulers, starting with Benin, were black. That’s one more fact you seldom hear expounded–the fact that blacks captured and sold other blacks as slaves, to whites or whoever would pay for them.

More information is starting to seep out abut this now, thanks to the Internet that Obama would like to censor, but for years, this was a subject that was hardly mentioned. We were led to believe that white slavers just sailed over to Africa and kidnapped black Africans as they could find them. In reality, it seldom happened that way, but if you are a socialist historian with an agenda to press that’s going to be the line you push–true or not. Back in those days whites just didn’t wander around in Africa looking for slaves to kidnap. It was way too dangerous. They always did business with black slave dealers because it was much, much safer.

As time goes on and these little tidbits of information about the slave trade begin to slip out, more and more people are shocked to learn that they don’t really know as much about this subject as they think they do.

If they continue to rely on government school ‘history” books then they will continue in blissful ignorance, as the writers of those “history” books intended that they should.

Bibliography:

Myths Of American Slavery  by Walter D. Kennedy, Pelican Publishing Co.

The Slave Trade  by Hugh Thomas, a Touchstone book, published by Simon and Schuster.

The South Was Right   by James R. Kennedy and Walter D. Kennedy, Pelican Publishing Co.

Lincoln’s Marxists  by Al Benson Jr. and Walter D. Kennedy, Pelican Publishing Co.

The War Between the States–America’s Uncivil War  by John J. Dwyer, Bluebonnet Press.