I believe that slave-owners and those who enacted in the slave trade in the United States were not as evil or wicked as we often portray them to be. I believe slavery itself was horrible, but the people involved in the process were not so bad. It’s easy for people today to criticize the past for horrible actions, but when slavery was thriving most people in the South never really understood the problems of slavery. Back then slaves were considered property and were treated as such. It was socially acceptable to do this, and in many cases it would be inappropriate to treat slaves as normal human beings down in the South. While everything about slavery is wrong and always has been, back when it was functioning it was just normal to participate in the slave trade.
Slavery in the South was a major part of the culture at the time. Not only was it economically beneficial to have slaves but it was accepted too. The slave owners were simply products of their culture just as we are products of our own. Many people today criticize us for using fossil fuels so much but until recently no one has really done anything to change the problem. We ignore our own wrongdoings because it is socially acceptable just as slave owners did in the antebellum South.
Although not all slave-holders should be considered evil for practicing slavery there are still some owners that really were bad men. The owners who truly hated the slaves and beat them or hurt them without reason could not use the excuse that it was culturally acceptable. Most owners were more reasonable and even the pain they intentionally inflicted on slaves was more a way of controlling their property. It sounds awful now but back then it wasn’t as bad just as today no one will really criticize you for driving your gas-fueled car but perhaps in the future we will be criticized much more.
In no way can the concept of enslaving another human being be considered just or humane. The treatment of the slaves in America was awful. It is doubtful however that all slave owners were evil men during the time. The culture at the time accepted slavery as a normal business practice and it’s hard to determine if I had would have been able to go against the lifestyle if I had lived during that time. With no direct pressure coming from the South itself it was smart to have slaves at the time. Even the harsh treatment of slaves was considered normal. African Americans weren’t considered human and therefore weren’t treated as humans. I completely believe slavery is wrong, but I also believe that all slave-holders were not as evil as we make them out to be and I often question whether or not I would have acted the same.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.