Daily Archives: November 28, 2011

Nineteenth-century paternalism redux

If you haven’t already read it, let me direct your attention to a post over at Dr. Brooks Simpson’s blog, in which he highlights a few recent examples of heritage-driven kookery at its finest.  My favorite: “… what past sins of slavery are you referring to? Slaves had free housing, free food, free clothing, free medical care, free child care, free old age care, and free job training. All they had to do in return was work 9 hours a day with Sundays off to attend church.”

Faced with criticism, a commenter offered up this interpretive gem: “There were isolated incidentces of rape and abuse by employers in Northern cities. The difference was, they received unfair and low wages while living in unhealthy conditions with the rats and sewers. Now regarding, the Slavee [sic] and servant help, they, in many ways were treated with much better living and working conditions……one of the draw backs, they could never leave the plantation……”

Sound familiar?  It should, because just a few days ago we noted an 1863 textbook from North Carolina which justified chattel slavery in exactly the same terms.  The more things change…

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