“Slavery discourages arts & manufactures. The poor despise labor when performed by slaves.”This is true in a number of ways. In the antebellum South most skilled labor was done by slaves. Blacksmiths, carpenters, coopers, you name it, slaves were trained to do the work. The stereotype of the ignorant field hand was not universal. If they had a “good” master they were allowed to keep a small part of the proceeds. This is how many slaves bought their freedom. That was good for them but it made it impossible for free skilled labor to move to the area and compete. Thus the economy of the South was locked into the large plantation life style.
Even more damaging was the attitude that slavery encouraged in the workers. It became the mark of a slave to sweat for your living. Perspiration meant you were of an inferior class. This has been observed in other cultures. It is not unique to America. We see similar attitudes in the gentry of England. This social class was not allowed to do any kind of work that was considered demeaning. Thus the gentry could be a lawyer but not a shop keeper. They could be a soldier but not a manufacturer. They could be a total loser but still shown respect.
I have run into this in modern black Americans. At our school one of the disciplines instituted for bad behavior was picking up trash. Some boys refused and got in even more trouble. I was shocked when an otherwise rational teacher told me that she would support her sons if they refused to pick up trash. I ask the reasoning. She said, “Because it is slave labor.” In her mind free people did not do menial work.
Slavery destroys productivity and the work ethic.
To be continued...
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