Nikole Hannah-Jones/Gordon Wood on how Slavery Impacted the American Revolution

In Nikole Hannah-Jones’s essay from the 1619 project “America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black People Made it One,” Jones claims that “one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery,” and in defending that claim she brought up how there were “growing calls” in London for the abolishment of slavery which. If that was true that would have been very detrimental to the economy of the colonies, but Gordon Wood rejects this claim. He does not necessarily claim that there is anything wrong with the factual claims that were presented like the ideas of the United States being founded on a “slavocracy” rather than a democracy, but he does disprove one of her main points on the basis of how the American Revolution had started. He disproves her point by one talking about the chronological order in which the American Revolution had started. Of course the Declaration of Independence is usually looked at as the “start” of the war, but there was talks about independence much before starting with the Stamp Act in 1765. The Dunmore proclamation may have been a tipping point for the war, but in fact the idea of war had already partaken.

It was not of Wood’s intent to disprove the entire essay as seen by his introduction where he wants to help the authors because with false information being provided it might unintentionally bring more damage than harm. This is very true especially today because acts of changing how history is interpreted, it must be entirely factual. In order to teach how slavery had an impact especially before the American Revolution, one must provide information that is not often looked at in todays schools. The 1619 Project continues to be a very large stepping stone for how America looks at race at a historical level. I thought it was very interesting on how Wood provided the information because of this point. He did not want to invalidate the entirety of the 1619 project rather he wanted it to be historically correct in order for it to have maximum impact.

Fulcher’s “Capitalism a Very Short Introduction”

In James Fultcher’s “Capitalism a Very Short Introduction,” the text illuminates the fact that capitalism was part of the founding ideas that ended up being one of the founding principles that the Americas were built on. No matter the ethics of the situation capitalism will always end up working against the means of the worker instead of for the worker. By definition capitalism is “essentially the investment of money in expectation of making a profit.” In the case of Fulcher’s writing this is exactly how the colonization and capitalistic ideals were spread through the United States. Both capitalism and imperialism can be compared based on the rising ideals of the companies and countries in order to make large profits. As in the case of The East India Company it was evident that the traveling was based entirely on the confidence of the investors that they were going to be able to make the voyage and make it back. First, nobody really cared about the working conditions of these people because in the investors mind their only problem was growing their money. Secondly, disregarding the ethics of the situation and only looking at the financial risks, this expedition was very risky for the investors. Even if they sent out multiple ships in order to minimize the risk of losing one of them it still was an increasing amount of risk. 

Touching on the situation of labour in the New World it shows how unethical the process of Capitalism was during this era. Between slavery, indentured servants, and child labour, companies were for anyway to produce “cotton” because it was such a profitable process they were looking passed the ethics in order to produce the money possible. Again if the head man is making money, ethics are often looked over. Kids “as young as 7… worked from 6:00 in the morning until 7:30 at night” and even though there are now new regulations it shows how unethical capitalism can be. Still today there are arguments about “keeping the wage bill down” in order to expose the worker and increase profits. In my mind it is amazing how people can still consider the ethics of the situation where people are working for under a reasonable living wage and disregarding it. While capitalism obviously does have its benefits like the creation of leisure, there obviously are relationships to 1600/1700’s capitalism to today’s capitalism like the exploitation of the worker, but the ethics of it has began to increase with the gradual elimination of slavery and child labor.