A Comprehensive Review of
It Wasn't About Slavery, Exposing the Great Lie of the Civil War by Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr.
Part Two of Five, a close look at
Slavery and the Yankee Flesh Peddler
by Gene Kizer, Jr.
In doing this comprehensive review of Dr. Mitcham's It Wasn't About Slavery, my motives are selfish because I wanted to learn his facts and argument thoroughly and the best way to learn anything is write about it.
Everything I have cited in this review shows where it is located in Mitcham's book. Of course, the book itself cites Mitcham's original sources. At the end of this article, beneath the notes I have cited, is "Actual Citation from Book," four pages of Mitcham's actual endnotes for Chapters I and II. Many are explanatory with good additional information.
Chapter I, Slavery and the Yankee Flesh Peddler, is one of the best short histories of slavery I have ever read. As I said before, Dr. Mitcham has a knack for cutting to the chase.
He talks about the word "slave" being mentioned in the Bible in Genesis and slavery today:
According to the International Labor Office, a United Nations-affiliated organization, there were an estimated 40,300,000 slaves in the world in 2017. This means that, in terms of raw numbers, there are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in history. There is, however, no great outcry about this fact, nor any large-scale movements to rid the world of it. After all, there is no money in that.1
He points out how slavery was not racial in ancient times but "based primarily on military conquest or bad luck."2
Arab Muslims started racial slavery by enslaving black Africans and starting the Trans-Sahara trade routes that "took more than 10,000,000 Africans to North Africa and the Arabian peninsula." Many were enslaved by military conquest but others "were sold into slavery by fellow Africans." This era lasted until the 1800s though many African societies had converted to Islam and had slavery before the Muslims arrived. Many became slave traders. 3
Portugal "established trading posts along the West African coast" and began the second wave of race-based slavery.
Spaniards soon introduced race-based slavery into the New World in 1503 followed by the Brits in 1562. The British found the slave trade "so lucrative that they soon wanted to dominate it" but were not successful until 1713 when the "Treaty of Asiento with Spain gave Great Britain the bigger share of the slave trade."4
American Yankees started small in 1638 (18 years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Harbor, Mass.) by importing a few slaves for personal use because "the slave trade was a Crown monopoly until 1749" when it was opened to all Englishmen. New Englanders wasted no time getting into it.5
Mitcham provides a number of fascinating primary source narratives about the inner workings of the slave trade such as "Captain Canot or Twenty Years of an African Slaver" from 1854. Canot netted, what would be today almost a million dollars, on one ship with 220 slaves amongst other cargo. The profits were astronomical.6
Mitcham writes that:
In 1836, English Captain Isaacs visited the slave trading port of Lamu on the island of Zanzibar. It was overrun with Northern fresh peddlers. 'There were so many Yankee slavers and traders active in Zanzibar that the local population thought that Great Britain was a subdivision of Massachusetts,' Isaacs recalled.7
The year 1836 was 25 years before the War Between the States. This was the same period when abolitionists were hated in the North and often beaten or murdered like Elijah Lovejoy, murdered by a mob in 1837 in Alton, Illinois at age 34.
All U. S. slave ships were built in the North; none were constructed in the South. Their crews were mostly Northern men, and Northerners prospered by the trade. New England also prospered indirectly because their capitalists bought Southern goods that were mostly produced by slaves. The Yankees then sold them overseas, usually at a handsome profit. The centers of the slave fleets were not New Orleans, Charleston or Savannah. They docked at Boston, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island, later joined by New York City, which was also the financial center of the slave business. New York bankers loaned money to slave buyers and Southern plantation owners to expand their cotton acreage. They often accepted slaves as collateral.8
When some journalist with the Hartford Courant in Hartford, Connecticut were researching slavery and to their shock found that Aetna Insurance Company of Connecticut had insured slaves, they looked further into it and the result was an outstanding book, Complicity, How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery, by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank: (New York, Ballantine Books, 2005).
They are to be commended as outstanding journalists for their work though most journalists are still ignorant and disgraceful when it comes to Southern history. Esteemed historian Eugene Genovese (Roll, Jordan Roll, The World the Slaves Made, et al.) called their treatment of Southern history, along with academia's, a "cultural and political atrocity."
So many "journalists" and "historians" today accept the fraudulent 1619 Project, which is the worst scholarship in American history. It is based on a complete lie, that the American Revolution was fought because the Brits were about to abolish slavery. That is the main theme of the 1619 Project yet there is no evidence whatsoever for it: not a single letter, speech, editorial or anything else. It is a total fraud, an invention by a white-hating racist, Nikole Hannah-Jones,9 published in the race-obsessed New York Times, which pushed the Russia Hoax, that Trump colluded with Russia to win the election in 2016. Of course Mueller proved that was a fraud but it didn't stop the New York Times from pushing it as hard as they could for a year and winning a Pulitzer Prize for their fraud. Shows Pulitzers mean nothing today because Hannah-Jones won one too.
The news media and academia have outsmarted themselves because most people think much of academia is a joke, which it is, and they despise the news media, which is responsible for so much racist hate and division in our country today with Critical Race Theory. CRT started in academia and is pushed by the Associated Press and rest of the fraud-news media.
Mitcham goes on to discuss the Triangle Trade and he points out that only "six percent of the slaves exported from Africa to the New World were destined for the thirteen American colonies. The bulk of them went to the Caribbean, West Indies, Brazil, or the sugar plantations of South America or the islands such as Trinidad and Tobago."10
The slave trade was so entrenched in New England, when the Brits proposed a tax on molasses, a component of the Triangle Trade, Massachusetts merchants "Protested that the tax would ruin the slave trade and cause more than 700 ships to be docked for lack of work."11
African slavery would have been impossible without the help of other Africans in Africa who sold their own people into slavery as a result of mostly tribal warfare. Mitcham writes:
The Northern flesh peddlers obtained their black chattels primarily from other Africans. Historians Linda Heywood and John Thornton of Boston University estimated that 90% of the slaves shipped to the New World were first enslaved by Africans and only later sold to Europeans and American. Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., of Harvard University writes: 'The sad truth is that without complex business partnerships between African elites and European traders and commercial agents, the slave trade to the New World would have been impossible, at least on the scale it occurred.'12
Esteemed black anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston documents this too with such works as Barracoon, which was a slave fort where captured Africans were held by other Africans awaiting the European or New England slave ships that would take them on the horrendous Middle Passage.
Slavery was so entrenched in African culture that Mitcham quotes an African chief, Gezo, who told Britain's Sir Richard Francis Burton:
'The slave trade is the ruling principle of my people. It is the source of their wealth . . . the mother lulls the child to sleep with notes of triumph over an enemy reduced to slavery.'13
Mitcham's sources, quotations and analysis that I have put in this review are the tip of the iceberg you will find in his book.
Mitcham goes into detail on how widespread slavery was in New England in the eighteenth century. He says in Connecticut half of all "ministers, lawyers, and public officials owned slaves, and one-third of all doctors had them as well."14
There were strong laws regulating the behavior of free blacks, Indians and mulattos with serious punishments such as 40 lashes at one point for "even speaking against a white person."15
Mitcham concludes the chapter stating that 24 to 25 million blacks were transported "from Africa to the New World" and between "4 and 5 million of them died en route(the so-called "Middle Passage"), primarily because of the brutality of the slavers."16
As the Age of Enlightenment began, the British turned against the slave trade and promoted the idea of compensated emancipation, but Mitcham writes:
Even so, the North remained linked to slavery. Much of the capital that propelled the Industrial Revolution came from the slave trade. The North continued to profit from and, in one form or another, promote slavery until 1861. It also reaped massive financial benefits from federal tariffs on imports. (A tariff is a tax or duty placed on imports and/or exports.) Slavery and the commodities it produced for export, in fact, funded most of the federal government as late as 1860.17
Mitcham lists five groups involved in slavery in the era of European and American slave traders:18
2) Arab-Muslim slave traders;
3) Northern flesh peddlers and other Yankees;
4) Latin American plantation owners;
He notes that "far too many people 'give a pass' to everyone except the Southerner---often without realizing it. He goes on:
This trend is a grievous injustice. The morally superior, sanctimonious attitude some people adopt when lecturing others concerning the sins of their ancestors isn't factual. When it comes to America's "peculiar institution," there is plenty of guilt---if that is the objective---to spread around.19
By 1750, Mitcham writes, "there were three times as many slaves in Connecticut as there were in Georgia. Massachusetts had four times as many as the Peach State."20
"Northerners never particularly liked black people prior to the Civil War" Mitcham writes.21
That would explain the many Northern and Western states that had laws forbidding black people from even visiting, much less living there, unless they wanted to end up in jail or whipped. Lincoln's Illinois was one of them. Of course, there were the New York City Draft Riots during the War Between the States when scores of blacks were lynched.
Mitcham recounts a fascinating story that says a lot about eighteenth century New York:
In 1741, several fires broke out in the city, including one in the lieutenant governor's house. Further investigation into the fires uncovered the "Conspiracy of 1741," also known as the Negro Plot of 1741 or the Slave Insurrection of 1741. Those believed guilty were quickly arrested. More than two hundred people, including twenty poor whites, were jailed while more than a hundred were hanged, exiled, or burned at the stake. The two black leaders were gibbetted (i.e., hung in chains in a public display and left to die of exposure, thirst, and starvation). At least thirty-eight slaves faced execution along with several whites. Fourteen blacks were burned at the stake.22
During the antebellum era, slavery began to end in the North when massive white immigration made it cheaper to hire a white man, whom one could fire at will, than buy a black and have to take care of him from birth to death.
New York passed a "progressive abolition law in 1799, with the goal of ending slavery by 1827. Rhode Island also passed a manumission law but it was very carefully written to protect the slave trade, which enriched the state. All the Northern states had enacted anti-slavery legislation by 1830. The Northern manumission and emancipation laws were designed so that the slaves' masters did not lose money."23
What usually happened by ever-thrifty Yankees, was, the slave would be sold South back into slavery just before his twenty-first birthday, which would have free him. As Mitcham writes, "There was no moral outrage against slavery in the North. Much of the impetus behind manumission was a desire to protect white labor from cheap black competition."24 Other books, such as Black Bondage in the North, by Edgar J. McManus, prove this too. Mitcham cites it.
Mitcham points out that the percentage of free blacks in the North declined too, in the antebellum period. Free blacks in the North had to worry about being kidnapped and sold into slavery. Between 1790 and 1830, free blacks declined in New York from 2.13 percent to .57 percent.25
There was roughly the same number of free blacks in the North as in the South at war time. There were around 250,000 free blacks in the North, and around 250,000 in the South.
Thousands of free blacks in the South fought for the South in the War Between the States. Some 3,000 to 4,000 were observed by chief inspector of the United States Sanitary Commission, Dr. Lewis Steiner, in Stonewall Jackson's army as he left Frederick, Maryland in 1862.
Frederick Douglas and others confirmed that many blacks were Confederate soldiers; and they were integrated in the Confederate Army alongside whites, "mixed up with all the rebel horde," as Dr. Lewis Steiner observed of Stonewall Jackson's army, not segregated as in the Union Army.
Mitcham writes about the fascinating story of Solomon Northup of Sarasota Springs, New York, who was a free black man, kidnapped, who spent twelve years as a slave then escaped and wrote about his ordeal in Twelve Years a Slave. It tells the truth about slavery because it is fact, unlike Uncle Tom's Cabin, which is fiction.
Slavery was dying out until 1793 when Eli Whitney invented his cotton gin for American cotton, which led to enormous demand for cotton and thus field hands: "Southern cotton production increased from 5 million pounds in 1793 to 500 million in 1835...".26
The slave trade was outlawed in the U.S. in 1808 but "Northern flesh peddlers continued to sail and rack up the profits with tacit support from the United States government." Great Britain and France wanted to board American vessels looking for illegal cargoes of slaves but the American government would not allow it "so the U.S. flag proved to be ample protection for the slave traders" who continued to operate during the War Between the States and on through to 1885, twenty years after Appomattox, when Brazil, the last nation allowing slavery, ended it.
The attitude of the flesh peddler was perhaps best expressed by the other John Brown, a rich slave peddler for whom Brown University in Rhode Island is named (not to be confused with the terrorist hanged in 1859). When he was criticized for traveling to Africa to bring back slaves, he replied that "there was no more crime in bringing off a cargo of slaves than in bringing off a cargo of jackasses."27
Mitcham quotes historian H. V. Traywick, Jr. who describes the horror in Africa of an attack on the Takkoi in West Africa by the Amazon women warriors of Dahomey. They "beheaded the old and sick and carried their heads off as trophies. The rest were marched in a slave column to barracoons (slave barracks) on the beach at Dymdah. The Dahomians stopped on the second day to smoke the heads of their decapitated victimes because they began to stink."28
Traywick's source was African American anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston who wrote about the last known African "illegally smuggled into the United States" before the war as written in Hurston's Dust Tracks on a Road, and also her later book, Barracoon. That African was Cudjo "Kossola" Lewis and the slave ship that brought him to America was the Clotilda out of Maine, which took Lewis to Mobile. He has descendants who still live in the area of Plateau, Alabama.
Mitcham ends the chapter with:
Zora Neale Hurston, a prominent African American writer and anthropologist, said that it "suck in my craw" that her own black people had sold her ancestors into slavery. She had been raised on stories that white people had gone to Africa and lured the Africans onto the slave ships by waving a red handkerchief. When they boarded the ship to investigate, it sailed away with them. But, no, she declared, her own people had "butchered and killed, exterminated whole nations and torn families apart, for a profit." She was sadly impressed with the "universal nature of greed and glory."29
A Comprehensive Review of
It Wasn't About Slavery, Exposing the Great Lie of the Civil War by Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr.
Part Three of Five
(Scroll down for: It Wasn't About Slavery, Actual Citation from Book)
1 Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr., It Wasn't About Slavery, Exposing the Great Lie of the Civil War (Washington, DC: Regnery History, 2020), 1.
2 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 2.
6 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 4.
8 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 5.
9 See "In Racist Screed, NYT's 1619 Project Founder Calls 'White Race' 'Barbaric Devils,' 'Bloodsuckers,' Columbus 'No Different Than Hitler'", June 25, 2020, The Federalist, https://thefederalist.com/2020/06/25/in-racist-screed-nyts-1619-project-founder-calls-white-race-barbaric-devils-bloodsuckers-no-different-than-hitler/, Accessed 11-2-21.
12 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 6.
14 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 7.
16 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 8.
18 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 9.
20 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 11.
23 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 12.
26 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 15.
27 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 16.
28 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 17.
It Wasn't About Slavery,
Actual Citation from Book
Yet another excellent, positive critique! The book should be required reading to replace CRT.