by Jonas E. Alexis, VT Editor

The issue of slavery, without a doubt, has continued to play an important role in the historical discussion. It is also one of those issues that has carried a lot of emotional baggage.

Yet in any historical and rational discussion, it is important to make truth our guide rather than ideology or personal bias.

Henry Louis Gates of Harvard finally came out and declared that some blacks did own slaves in the seventeenth century in America. Gates writes that they “did so at least since 1654, continuing to do so right through the Civil War.”[1]

Building on the work of Carter G. Woodson, Gates continued to say that in 1830, “about 13.7 percent (319,599) of the black population was free. Of these, 3,776 free Negroes owned 12,907 slaves, out of a total of 2,009,043 slaves owned in the entire United States, so the numbers of slaves owned by black people overall were quite small by comparison with the number owned by white people.”[2]

This is not a recent discovery, but it took Gates years to come out and say it. Now, go to any high school in America, and start interviewing some of the brightest and finest students. Will they actually know that some blacks did own slaves? Will Gates himself fight for this historical fact to be shown in every high school in the country?

So, it is meaningless for popular historians such as John Hope Franklin to talk about slavery on a wide scale while denying that slavery was also “institutionalized” in some instances by blacks.

With all our modern emphasis on the historical slavery of Africans by Europeans, it never occurs to some that Africans might be just as involved in the slave trade. Moreover, historical studies show that African slavery of Europeans was much bigger in scope than previously taught.[3]

For example, between 1500 and 1800, pirates from North Africa’s Barbary Coast captured and sold more European slaves than there were African slaves being transported to the American colonies. Even after the United States abolished slavery, some Muslim countries were still in the business of buying European slaves.[4]

More importantly, the abolition of slavery was exclusively a European enterprise.[5] In fact, anti-slavery sentiment has been in existence in Christian circles since the infancy of Christianity, particularly after the decline of the Roman Empire.[6]

And it was European Christians who established schools for former slaves after the abolition of slavery in America, reasoning that in the Christian scheme of things, blacks had as much redemptive purpose as they themselves did.
By contrast, many African countries did not want to end the slave trade because it brought immense monetary gain.

Historian John Thornton of Boston University notes that “slavery was widespread in Atlantic Africa because slaves were the only form of private, revenue-producing property recognized in African law. By contrast, in European legal systems, land was the primary form of revenue-producing property, and slavery was relatively minor.”[7] Thornton, who also held academic positions in African institutions like the University of Zambia, presents a bevy of historical records in his work Africa and Africans, which is published by Cambridge University Press.

Abolishing slavery in Africa was in a sense a declaration of war, for it would force Africa to come up with a wholly different revenue-producing property. Let me just summarize the main points here, as the issue of slavery intersects with the issue of truth.

Once Europe adopted the essentially moral idea that all men are created in God’s image and saw that slavery was incompatible with the ways things really are, then slavery had to go, no matter the cost.

In their quest to end slavery, the British went so far as to use military force in order to stop slave ships from continuing to traffic souls, even entering Brazilian waters to destroy Brazilian slave ships and threatening the Ottoman Empire with war if they did not boycott the African slave trade.

Yet, although the abolition of slavery was an exclusively Western development, spearheaded primarily by Christians—and although African nations had been deeply involved in the slave trade centuries before it reached Europe and America—somehow slavery in modern times has become an evil peculiar to Western civilization![8] This shows yet another kind of willful blindness.

In order to justify bias against Western civilization, some historians transfer the lion’s share of the guilt for worldwide historical slavery to the very people who fought to put an end to it!

Yet their argument falls apart the moment we look with any depth at the international record of slavery. The fact is that slavery not only existed for centuries in lands such as Southeast Asia and Africa and the Middle East but was far more prevalent in other countries than is commonly believed.[9] Slavery was even widespread among the Northwestern Coastal Indians.[10]

In general, “institutionalized” slavery was practiced in virtually every continent and in every era; it is a human failing, not a Western one. Throughout history:

  • Africans enslaved other Africans
    • Europeans enslaved other Europeans [11]
    • Africans enslaved Europeans
    • Europeans enslaved Africans[12]
    • Vikings enslaved Europeans
    • Mongolians enslaved Europeans
    • Egyptians and Turks enslaved Greeks and Romans
    • Greeks and Romans enslaved Germanic peoples
    • Asians enslaved other Asians
    • American Indians enslaved other Indians
    • Europeans enslaved Christians[13]
    • Muslims enslaved Christians[14]
    • and on and on it goes.

Yet Western civilization has taken an unfortunate hit by intellectuals and popular historians of various stripes who not only focus solely on the slavery perpetuated by Western civilization but who argue that the abolition of slavery, which makes the West unique and essential in proclaiming freedom, was motivated purely by economic interests.[14]

John Adams once proclaimed, “Facts are stubborn things, and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”[15]

If our wishes cannot alter the state of facts, then we would be better off allying ourselves with truth, rather than relying on imaginary evidence dressed up in academic terminology, which in the end will evaporate, leaving us nothing on which to stand.

We all know that truth is not always a pleasant thing, and on many occasions, it has the potential to create conflict, since not everyone likes the truth.

But if the truth is divisive for a good cause—to help sift fact from fiction—so be it. Honest men and people of reason will ally themselves with the truth. But no matter where the truth may take a person—and although it may be offensive or politically incorrect—nothing else will make him free.

The sad part is that many in our own day deliberately love to attack the truth. If a statement does not line up with their preconceived notions or the politically correct opinions of the day, then they loudly reject it as false, accompanied in some cases by legal suits, media castigation (name-calling, after all, being one of the best ways to silence an opponent), or career-ending repercussions.

It does not matter if the statement is historically accurate; if it does not correspond to the prevailing wisdom, then it must be rejected out of hand, without rationale, logical consideration.

The offense has become the catchphrase of the era, and more pains are taken to avoid offending people than are taken researching the truth. Sincere people will surely admit that at first the truth does not make them comfortable, but in the long run it makes them truly free.

Part of this article was originally published in 2013.


  • [1] Henry Louis Gates, “Did Black People Own Slaves?,” The Root, March 4, 2013.
  • [2] Ibid.
  • [3]  See for example John Thornton, Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
  • [4] See for example Thomas Sowell, Economic Facts and Fallacies (New York: Basic Books, 2008), 160-162; Thomas Sowell, Black Rednecks and White Liberals (New York: Encounter Books, 2005), chapter 3.
  • [5] See for example Rodney Stark, For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), chapter 4.
  • [6] Ibid.
  • [7] Thornton, Africa and Africans, 74.
  • [8] For a comprehensive study, see Thomas Sowell, Race and Culture: A Worldview (New York: Basic Books, 1994), 149-150, and chapter 7; Stark, For the Glory of God, 291-292.
  • [9] Sowell, Race and Culture, 149-150, 186.
  • [10] See for example Rodney Stark, For the Glory of God, chapter four.
  • [11] See for example Don Jordan and Michael Walsh, White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain’s White Slaves in America (New York: New York University Press, 2007).
  • [12] See for example Paul Baepler, ed., White Slaves, African Masters: An Anthology of American Barbary Captivity Narratives (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1999).
  • [13] Sowell, Race and Culture, 186-187.
  • [14] See Robert C. Davis, Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500-1800 (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2003).
  • [15] Sowell, Race and Culture, 150; Stark, For the Glory of God, 292.
  • [16] Quoted in Thomas Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy (New York: Basic Books, 1995), 64.

Biography
Jonas E. Alexis has degrees in mathematics and philosophy. He studied education at the graduate level. His main interests include U.S. foreign policy, history of Israel/Palestine conflict, and the history of ideas. He is the author of the new book Zionism vs. the West: How Talmudic Ideology is Undermining Western Culture. He is currently working on a book tentatively titled, Kevin MacDonald’s Abject Failure: A Philosophical and Moral Critique of Evolutionary Psychology, Sociobiology, and White Identity. He teaches mathematics in South Korea.
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15 COMMENTS

  1. Odd, no one touches on Jewish Slave ship ownership, or their control of the brokerage and auction houses. Elizabeth Donnan, four volumes, “Documents illustrative of the history of the Slavetrade to America” Washington D.C. 1930, 1935. Carnegie institute of technology, Pittsburgh, PA. Seems as if it was run in closed shop Hollywood fashion…Owners names read like a Bar-Mitzvah guest list…..Too taboo the truth to be told….The outrage would be well beyond civil war statues….

    BDS 2021

    • IAN, now you’ve really gone and blown a hermetically sealed lid sky high.
      If that doesn’t wake ’em up, nothing will.

  2. Sowell does a marvelous 2.15 hour bit on this on YOUTUBE. Also worth noting for the strength of the narrative and gifted use of language. Easy to find.

  3. No propaganda, Probably narrow focused, but:
    And how can you not quote the words of the famous Mark Twain …
    “I don’t know if it’s for better or for worse, but we continue to teach Europe. We have been doing this for over one hundred and twenty years! “Nobody invited us as mentors, we imposed ourselves. After all, we are Anglo-Saxons! ”…
    Last winter, at a banquet at a club called Far Ends of the Earth, the presiding officer proclaimed in a loud voice and with great enthusiasm: “We are Anglo-Saxons! And when the Anglo-Saxon needs something, he goes and takes it ”. The chairman’s statement drew a storm of applause. And it took, perhaps, about two minutes before everyone quieted their enthusiasm for this excellent declaration. But if you translate it into simple human language, it will sound something like this: “We, the British and Americans, are thieves, robbers and pirates, which we are proud of!”
    After these words, the conscientious writer bitterly concludes:
    “Of all the British and Americans present at the banquet, there was not one who had the civil courage to stand up and say that he was ashamed that he was Anglo-Saxon. I am ashamed of a civilized society, since it tolerates the Anglo-Saxons in its ranks – this shame of the human race ”.

    • Andrew, it sounds, and seems to me the biggest fault of some so-called Anglo Saxons, is their willingness to loudly vocalize and proudly proclaim for themselves a description which in reality fits all peoples.

    • Some of those very same Anglo-Saxons have a fleet just off Crimea. The Brits have always been crazy about Crimea. It is after all part of their old Khazar stomping ground, the birthplace of Zionism. Remember Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade back in the 19th Century, Andy?

      Theirs not to reason why,
      Theirs but to do and die.
      Into the valley of Death
      Rode the six hundred.

  4. British begins to stop slave ships and threatening the Ottoman Empire if they did not boycott the African slave trade not because good will, but because slavery meant cheap labour and that was unfair competition against british companies that they had to pay their workers.

  5. I have fond memories of hosting (as co-chair of the PR committee), Henry Louis Gates at a Sons of Confederate Veterans reunion in North Carolina years ago, where to his suprise one of the main events was the marching in from Maryland, of the descendents of a CSA black soldier. But for the NC historical dept head telling the story, and his being black, Gates probably would never have believed it. When that event was over the NC guy went down into the audience to meet Gates and I moved in close enough to get the audio, and the first question Gates asked was, “How many were there?”, to which the answer came, “thousands”. Gate’s jaw was in his lap. When about to step into his limo when leaving that day, he was big enough to turn and say to everyone, “Fellas, I was lied to…I’m sorry.” One had to give him credit for that.

  6. True! The first Slaves on the Island of Barbados were the Irish, who were placed into Slavery by the Dutch Sephardim Jews! Barbados (Dutch West Indies), with the Sugar Plantations became the wealthiest place in the 17th century, in the Americas. But the Jewish Slave Owners had a lot of problems with the Irish Slaves, they were hard to control, they rebelled, therefore by the late 17th century the Jewish Slave Owners turned to purchase African Slaves, they were more docile and also cheaper and more PROFITABLE!

  7. Journalist John O’Sullivan wrote in 1845 that it was “our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us.” Manifest Destiny, just like Zionism, is the racist notion that Europeans were chosen by God to displace the indigenous, steal their land and resources, and engage in all manner of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Slavery is the least of it, Jonas. If you don’t understand this, just ask any Native American or any Palestinian to explain it to you.

    • Tommy Apeiron,

      Why don’t you focus what was clearly and plainly said in the article in respond to it logically as opposed to summoning ad hominem attack?

    • True enough, Jonas. What you said in this particular article only relates to the issue of slavery. No one disputes what you say about the cross-cultural nature of chattel slavery. Jim Coyle is right, though, chattel slavery has evolved into wage-slavery and usury, especially in the USA where libertarianism and me-firstism prevail. As always, the Golden rule applies, those who have the gold make the rules.

  8. I bought a $12,000 home in 1970 similar to my parents 1954 $10,000 home.
    My son just bought a similar $400,000 home.
    Slavery has been evolved by usury.
    We citizens need to own the currency.

Comments are closed.