“Are the conditions of slavery as important as the existence of slavery?”

– “Liberal historians saw slavery as perhaps the Negro’s ‘necessary transition to civilizations.”‘

– “Economist or cliometricians have tried to assess slavery by estimating how much money was spent on slaves for food and medical care. But can this describe the reality of slavery as it was to a human being who lived inside it? Are the conditions of slavery as importent as the existence of slavery?”

Many historians over the years have stated that slavery not including the whipping and back breaking work, was not as horrible as they are thought to be. They attempted to prove that by providing evidence that it was either necessary or that slaves didn’t have it that bad. They show how slaveowners spent money on food, clothes, medical supplies for slaves, even how some built them dance halls and gave them holiday celebrations. But that does not remedy over the harsh treatment that was given to slaves over the other hundreds of years. The public hangings, whippings and other physical abuses can not be over looked. Howard Zinn includes a paragraph written by a former slave, John Little, which states “They say slaves are happy, because they laugh, and are merry. I myself and three or four others, have received two hundred lashes in a day, and had our feet in fetters; yet, at night, we would sing and dance, and make others laugh at the rattling of our chains….We did it to keep down trouble, and to keep our hearts from being completely broken.” Those who justify slavery and say it was a necessity would never have that opinion if they were the one enslaved.