74, what I am objecting to is my boss’s daughter coming home from school a few years back upset because she was white. Seems all she was hearing in the classroom for history was all of the good things that non-white people did and all the bad things that white people did.
I don’t deny that slavery in the south added tremendously to the economy. It happened and the major part were African slaves. Before the African slaves were white slaves used most frequently as labor on tobacco plantations in Maryland and Virginia. This was tens of thousands of poverty stricken people who sold themselves for 4 to 7 years, more than 50,000 prisoners from England who were sold into indentured status for 7 to 14 years, and at least 5000 children who were abducted in England and sold into indentured status. Note that the 50,000 prisoners and 5,000 kids are the ones that have been documented by name and date so far, and usually who bought them. The numbers could be even higher. Comprehensive lists of so called voluntary indentures have not been compiled to date. I say so called because what those folks were told their working conditions would be was pretty far from the reality. Do kids in schools learn anything about the indentured whites that were sold on auction blocks? No. It doesn’t fit the agenda.
In the north the industrial might of the country was developed on the backs of poor immigrants primarily coming down from Quebec or over from Ireland. When the speeches are given about how much the country benefited from slave labor, do they ever mention the endless thousands of French and Irish immigrants who toiled for barely subsistence wages and in abominable conditions, without whom our industrialization couldn’t have occurred? No. Doesn’t fit the agenda.
Chinese laborers were brought over to help build the railroads. The Spanish/Mexicans got things started in the Southwest. Lots of groups can take pride in the part that their ancestors played a role in, and they should, and those contributions should be acknowledged. All I want is each piece to be told truthfully and in proportion. Down South the Civil War looms large, and understandably so. Up here it is the Revolutionary War that we look to with great pride, however usually giving little acknowledgement of the large number of Tories that there were, many of whom fled to the Canadian Maritimes, or suffered abuse if they remained in New England. They don’t fit the agenda though so we don’t talk much about them. That’s wrong, but so isn’t pretending that somehow the Revolution wasn’t fought almost exclusively by white Christian men. Yes, acknowledge others that participated but do so in proportion so that kids understand the real history. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution weren’t put together by a cross section of what constitutes modern day America either. Maybe they’d have been even better done if women and minorities were allowed to participate, but the imperfect world of the late 1700’s didn’t allow for that to happen. It is what it is. Let’s not teach the kids something different.
As a side note coming back to black slaves, my mother-in-law was from the south and her ancestors had slaves. I have copies of old Wills, census records and such and so there is no denying it. Not being able to deny it she clung to the very common distortion of “my family was good to it’s slaves”. She had absolutely no way of knowing that and it soothes the guilt I suppose, but it most likely is revisionist history nonetheless.