Complicity, How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery, by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank of The Hartford Courant – A Comprehensive Review by Gene Kizer, Jr., Part Two, Introduction; Chapter One: Cotton Comes North, Part One

A Comprehensive Review of
How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery
by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank
of The Hartford Courant
Part Two
Chapter One: Cotton Comes North,
Part One
by Gene Kizer, Jr.
From Page 7 of Complicity.
From Page 7 of Complicity.

At the end of this article beneath the notes I have cited, is "Actual Citation from Book," Complicity's notes from the Introduction, and Chapter One.

THE INTRODUCTION TO COMPLICITY makes it clear that the North got rich and powerful because of its enthusiastic relationship with slavery yet it has hidden its history well. Few people, as the authors of Complicity found out, know about the North's enormous involvement with slavery.

Northerners were slave traders, the flesh peddlers, who, along with the Brits before them, made huge fortunes buying and selling Africans into slavery. They built much, perhaps most, of the infrastructure of the Old North with profits from the slave trade.

Northerners created a powerful manufacturing industry thanks in large part to a huge, wealthy, captive market in the South, and they built a shipping industry that shipped mostly slave-picked cotton all over the world.

While Southern history has been falsified to the point where esteemed historian Eugene Genovese called it a "cultural and political atrocity," Northern history has been whitewashed making it a lie:

[T]he North's story is thought to be heroic, filled with  ardent abolitionists running that train to freedom, the Underground Railroad. The few slaves who may have lived in the North, it has been believed, were treated like members of the family. And, of course, Northerners were the good guys in the Civil War. They freed the slaves.1

The statement above is about as far from the truth as you can get.

Northerners chained hundreds of Africans at a time, side by side, to the decks of their slave ships. Slaves were so crammed in they could barely move.

They had to lay in vomit, feces and urine for months, the stench made worse by the stifling heat below deck where there was no ventilation during the Middle Passage. Many died and lay there among the living for days. It was said you could smell a slave ship five miles away.

Those poor Africans had been sold into slavery by other Africans, the result of tribal warfare. They were held in slave forts called barracoons in places like Bunce Island off the coast of modern Sierra Leone where they waited on Yankee and British slave ships and their passage through hell.

Even beyond slave trading, the Yankee record is not good.

When a Northern state ended slavery, always through a plan of gradual, compensated emancipation that would free the slave on, say, his 21st birthday, the poor slave would never see a day of freedom. Thrifty Yankees sold him South just prior to the date he was to be free. This is well documented by books such as Edgar J. McManus's Black Bondage in the North (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1973).

Northerners were slave traders until the last major slave country on earth, Brazil, abolished it around 1888. During the War Between the States, 53 years after the slave trade was outlawed by the U.S. Constitution, Boston, New York and Portland were the largest slave trading cities on the planet as W. E. B Du Bois noted in his book, The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade to the United States of America, 1638 to 1870.

The American experience with slavery "was defined by commerce and violence, in the North as well as the South." New York City was a prime player, which is why Mayor Fernando Wood "declared that his city should secede from the Union along with the Southern states, in large part because of New York's economic dependence on the cotton trade."2

Northern merchants, shippers, and financial institutions, many based in New York City, were crucial players in every phase of the national and international cotton trade. Meanwhile, the rivers and streams  of the North, particularly in New England, were crowded with hundreds of textile mills. Well before the Civil War, the economy of the entire North relied heavily on cotton grown by millions of slaves---in the South.3

Boston manufacturers, before 1860,

were desperately currying favor with the Southern politicians and planters whose millions of slaves delivered the product necessary to their wealth and financial survival. These business men were, after all, in textiles, and what would they do without cotton?4

After the Revolutionary War "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."5

Around the same time:

Rhode Island was America's leader in the transatlantic trade, launching nearly 1,000 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.6

In the 1800s before the war:

New York City's bustling seaport became the hub of an enormously lucrative illegal slave trade. Manhattan shipyards built ships to carry captive Africans, the vessels often outfitted with crates of shackles and with the huge water tanks needed for their human cargo. A conservative estimate is that during the illegal trade's peak years, 1859 and 1860, at least two slave ships---each built to hold between 600 and 1,000 slaves---left lower Manhattan every month.7

The first Americans came here looking for religious freedom and found "a wild and hostile continent." They were anxious to conquer it so they could compete with Europe. They needed labor:

How could they not have been in a hurry to settle this wilderness, put together a workable way to govern themselves, and, both as a nation and as individuals, earn a living?8

The Introduction ends with:

Slavery has long been identified in the national consciousness as a Southern institution. The time to bury that myth is overdue. Slavery is a story about America, all of America. The nation's wealth, from the very beginning, depended upon the exploitation of black people on three continents. Together, over the lives of millions of enslaved men and women, Northerners and Southerners shook hands and made a country.9

Chapter One
Cotton Comes North
Part One

THE EPIGRAPH of Chapter One is the answer given by a "prominent Southern editor" when asked by The Times of London, "What would New York be without slavery?"

The editor answered:

The ships would rot at her docks; grass would grow in Wall Street and Broadway and the glory of New York, like that of Babylon and Rome, would be numbered with the things of the past.10

Complicity is a good book with respect to documenting the North's enormous participation in slavery.

It is, however, from the North's viewpoint, and written by Northerners. They do not know the broader American history, and they definitely do not know Southern history.

For example, Chapter One opens with: "The election of an antislavery president had finally forced the South to make good on years of threats, and the exodus of 11 states from the Union had begun."11

It does not mention the years of secession threats made by New England. There were at least five serious threats of New England secession such as in the War of 1812, with the Louisiana Purchase, the admission of Texas, anything that would dilute New England political power.

Complicity also talks about the first seven states to secede - the Cotton States, led by South Carolina - then it simply states that "by the end of May, the Confederacy was complete."

What completed the Confederacy was the secession of Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina in which 52.4% of white Southerners live. Those four states seceded over nothing to do with slavery. They seceded over their abhorrence at federal coercion and Lincoln's call for 75,000 volunteers to invade the Cotton States.

There was nothing in the Constitution in 1861 giving Lincoln the power to do that or requiring him to do it. The idea that the federal government had a legitimate power to invade a state, kill its citizens and destroy its property, is absurd.

As stated earlier, New York City's lifeblood was slave-picked cotton, the "root of New York's wealth."12 Cotton was the nation's number one export and in the four decades before the war:

New York had become a commercial and financial behemoth dwarfing any other U.S. city and most others in the world. Cotton was more than just a profitable crop. It was the national currency, the product most responsible for America's explosive growth in the decades before the Civil War.13

Cotton "created New York."

By the eve of the war, hundreds of businesses in New York, and countless more throughout the North, were connected to, and dependent upon, cotton. As New York became the fulcrum of the U.S. cotton trade, merchants, shippers, auctioneers, bankers, brokers, insurers, and thousands of others were drawn to the burgeoning urban center. They packed lower Manhattan, turning it into the nations's emporium, in which products from all over the world were traded.14

Complicity includes an egregious error when it calls Massachusetts the "birthplace of America." Massachusetts might be the birthplace of New England, "virtue signaling," and Puritan bigotry, but it is not the birthplace of America. Jamestown, Virginia is the birthplace of America. Settlers were there in 1607. They were not in Massachusetts until over a decade later, in 1620.

New England became dominated by textiles which means it was utterly dependent on slave-picked cotton:

By 1860, New England was home to 472 cotton mills, built on rivers and streams throughout the region. The town of Thomson, Connecticut, alone, for example, had seven mills within its nine-square-mile area. Hundreds of other textile mills were scattered in New York State, New Jersey, and elsewhere in the North. Just between 1830 and 1840, Northern mills consumed more than 100 million pounds of Southern cotton. With shipping and manufacturing included, the economy of much of New England was connected to textiles.15

Massachusetts industrialists made it clear they supported the South:

On the evening of October 11, 1858, a standing-room-only audience of politicians and businessmen honored a visitor at a rally at Faneuil Hall, long the center of Boston's public life. The wealthy and powerful of New England's preeminent city lauded the 'intellectual cultivation' and 'eloquence' of the senator from Mississippi, and when Jefferson Davis walked on thte stage, the Brahmins of Boston gave him a standing ovation.16

Faneuil Hall was given to Boston by slave trader Peter Faneuil.


Next Week:

A Comprehensive Review of

How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery

by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank
of The Hartford Courant

Part Three
Chapter One: Cotton Comes North,
Part Two


(Click Here to go to last week's blog article:

Complicity, How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery, by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank of The Hartford Courant - A Comprehensive Review by Gene Kizer, Jr., Part One, Foreword, Preface)


(Scroll down for:
Complicity, Actual Citation from Book)

1 Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank, Complicity, How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery (New York: Ballantine Books, Copyright 2005 by The Hartford Courant Company), xxv.

2 Farrow, Lang, Frank, Complicity, xxvii.

3 Farrow, Lang, Frank, Complicity, xxvi.

4 Farrow, Lang, Frank, Complicity, xxvii.

5 Ibid.

6 Farrow, Lang, Frank, Complicity, xxviii.

7 Ibid.

8 Farrow, Lang, Frank, Complicity, xxix.

9 Ibid.

10 Farrow, Lang, Frank, Complicity, 3.

11 Ibid.

12 Farrow, Lang, Frank, Complicity, 4.

13 Ibid.

14 Ibid.

15 Farrow, Lang, Frank, Complicity, 6.

16 Farrow, Lang, Frank, Complicity, 6-7.

Actual Citation from Book

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