The "evils" of slavery
Dear Dr. Guelzo thinks that slavery is the worst possible fate for a human being. Certainly it CAN be, but is it always? He may be interested to know that in Virginia, at least, a black could voluntarily RETURN to slavery if so desired. There is a well sourced story of an old black man asking to become the slave of a Virginia professional man (not a planter) and the man accepting his request. In so doing, the black was assured of a home, food and care in return for light service to his owner. So obviously, as the ability to return to slavery was in the law, it must not have been all that unusual for especially older blacks and perhaps "emancipated" women with children who could find no means of subsistence to return to slavery. Of course, they could do what other slaves could not - choose their owners.
One has to wonder how many "wage slaves" in the North would have embraced a condition which provided for them and their families irrespective of age or condition? Remember, coal miners were in fact slaves insofar as they could do NOTHING without the company. They lived in company housing and could only purchase from the company store (remember Tennessee Ernie Ford's famous SIXTEEN TONS - "I owe my soul to the company store!"). Yes, they were "paid," but their pay was nothing more than a closed loop because the owners' money simply changed hands only to go back to the owners. Furthermore, if a worker in the North became sick, he was simply disposed of. He was an eminently "disposable" commodity because of the thousands of poor arriving daily at the docks of Northern cities! The treatment of the black slave was far more humane than that of the white "wage slave" despite the obvious problems with chattel slavery. Remember, even is Massa wasn't kindly, few people choose to abuse a valuable asset! Blacks were valuable in the South, poor whites were of no consequence in the North, a fact that certainly contributed to the so-called draft riots in New York in 1863!