Nikole Hannah – Jones – Slavery and American Democracy

     In the reading from the 1619 project, America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black People Made it One written by Nikole Hannah – Jones highlights key ideas significant to American history. These key ideas being: white leaders created a nation of inequality where colored individuals were inferior and slavery was the causation(build-up) of democracy. Written in a previous blog post focused on capitalism, slaves were used for the benefits of expanding land, picking cotton and more. Colored people were exploited as slaves helped America expand and grow to become the place it is today. While slaves were used for the idea of capitalism, they were also the reason America became a democracy. As mentioned, white leaders created a nation of inequality which contradicts what the rights promised were. Jones pushes this claim in the reading by arguing that colored individuals didn’t have these rights, also being the reason more and more people fought against it over history. This was what led to democracy, a nation where the people get to decide. After slaves were freed, their rights were still limited, meaning what was promised wasn’t granted. Freed slaves weren’t allowed to vote, own property, get married and more. The fight continued through history until their rights were granted, leading to a democratic land. 

     From this reading, I grasped a better understanding of the time period of slavery and how it led to a democratic nation. I also notice not much of a change in present day America because as of recently, there has been a movement for BLM (Black Lives Matter) meaning there is still inequality upon us today. There’s also statuses to climb in America or any nation to differentiate the leaders at the top and the poor. The fact that America claimed its independence from the British due to the Declaration of Independence but still chose to maintain the rights to own slaves makes me question if the founding fathers saw a correlation to their actions with slaves. As slaves were still humans but the founding fathers allowed Americans to use them as properties, not completely alike but the British were holding America as land. 


Blog Post #2


  • How does this reading add to your knowledge of the subject, or challenge or contradict what you previously thought about this aspect of American or global history?

Black women under the context of racism and misogyny have and continue to experience discrimination and violence at the hands of both men and women, who, in society’s’ standards, prove to be superior to them whether it be in terms of race or gender. White women, being that they are one of the main enforcers of such an issue encountered by Black women, although are faced with inarguable challenges due to the fact that they are women existing in a patriarchal society, are otherwise liberated in the fact that they are White. In this way can, White women enable acts of aggression or discrimination amongst individuals of varying races, and so they have. In fact, as of, in our modern world,  in many pre-dominantly White feminist spaces where the seemingly harmless and rather empowering notion of “women needing to stick together” or “women supporting women” is routinely brought up in a performative manner, conversations surrounding the struggles of Women of Color or Black women are also constantly being deliberately distorted or outright silenced by such self-proclaimed White feminists, who in their radical beliefs concerning women’s rights, in most cases, also, fail to consider equality amongst women of color and Black women.Therefore, historically speaking, it comes as no shock to me, as indicated and supported in “Out of the House of Bondage, Ch. 1, The Gender of Violence” by Thavolia Glymph, that my knowledge that White women have hid behind, weaponized and profited off of their idealized sense of womanhood (being that they are seen as soft, delicate, caring and harmless etc.) while simultaneously partaking in the violent reinforcement of the institution of slavery and white supremacy against their Black women counterparts during the Antebellum era of the American South stands correct. An example of this can be seen in the upholding ideology or rather mythos that the ladies and/or mistresses of such a slaveholding society as ours in the 17th to 19th century, were deemed graceful, “…a positive influence on the slave system,…[and] the best friends slaves could hope to have.” (Glymph 23-24), when,  it has been noted in slave testimonials, mainly brought up by formerly enslaved Black women, that “…slave mistresses had in fact slapped, hit, and even brutally whipped their slaves – particularly slave women or children,…” (Glymph, 26). This example, adds onto my previously stated knowledge on the dynamics between White women and racism as it demonstrates the contradicting perspectives surrounding their involvement in and maintenance of  the institution of slavery during the Antebellum era of the American South, which on one hand wrongfully depicts White women as compassionate and harmless, while rightfully, on the other, as calculating, spiteful and possibly worse than their, slave-master husbands, in regards to their treatment of their enslaved Black men and specifically women subjects.

Nikole Hannah Jones

Nikole Hannah Jones depicts how America did not become a democracy until black people made it so. Jones explores how the founding fathers persuade people to believe that the Declaration of Independence was only possible because of them. In this passage, Jones illustrates how slaves enhanced production and provided their masters with a higher income in their lands. This reading shows the reality of how America became what it is today and how slaves were primordial to the growth of America. 

Jones established the belief that it is because of black people that America’s democracy is as effective as it is. “America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black People Made It One,” she argues, exemplifying this. (See page 1) In this comment, she expresses her conviction that America would not have achieved any of its current achievements if it were not for the work and growth of black people. Jones also demonstrates how slaves were seen as property rather than people. She explores how slaves were left out of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, even though he stated that “all men are created equal,” despite the fact that he was a slave owner who did not feel that black people should have the same rights as white people. The author Jones also considers how the founding fathers depended on the Declaration of Independence to gain independence from Great Britain while keeping slavery secure.

This reading is a demonstration of how the other version of the story of America was founded and how it became what it is right now. It shows how even though they had the choice to finish slavery they still chose to maintain it. They treated black people inequitable and they exploited them for their own benefit. We still see this in the present day by how higher classes exploit lower classes physically and mentally. This article makes me wonder why the white population never thought about getting united with black people instead of exploiting them?

Gordon wood

Gordon Wood begins by responding to the 1619 project, in which he rectifies the project for making a false allegation against the colonist. Gordon Wood acknowledges the objectives of the 1619 project, however he does not agree with the statement that the colonists declared independence because they did not want to lose their slaves. Gordon Wood, on the other hand, acknowledged that slavery played an important role in our history.

Gordon Woods claims that he had never heard anyone argue that the colonists wanted independence so that they might keep their slaves. Gordon then explains that the reason why the colonies declared independence was because of the stamp act of 1765. The Stamp Act, which required colonists to pay taxes on imported goods, was passed by the British parliament on March 22, 1765.One of the reasons the colonies decided to seek independence was the frustration with being taxed without representation. Gordon Wood further explained  there wasn’t any evidence that Britain would remove the slaves and  in Virginia they were even thinking about stopping the slave trade on their own.  They understood that they had more than enough slaves already  and didn’t need anymore. Woods latter explains that why would Virginia even argue about stopping the slave trade if John Adams didn’t believe in slavery and didn’t have any slaves.Therefore making the statement made by the 1619 project false. 


The question I had was where did the assumption that the colonies decided to declare independence on the British parliament due to them not wanting to lose the slaves come from? If this was something that wasn’t even spoken about if there was no proof of their even been a plan or conversation made by the British then why did they assume that this was the reason? It was very clear the reasons why the colonies wanted to separate themselves from the British parliament but it didn’t have anything to do with the slaves.

Blog Post #2

In the reading, Out of the House of Bondage, Ch. 1, The Gender of Violence, Thavolia Glymph argues against the false phenomenon that is the Sothern White mistress. White women in the slave-holding south were thought to be ladies of delicacy. They are portrayed in film and other popular media as managers of the household who bore the inexhaustible task of overseeing slaves. The plantation mistress has been depicted by feminist historians to have been subjected to a patriarchal authority that forced their hand in the slave system. They have obtained a characterization of those who testified for the better treatment of slaves.

These portrayals significantly contrast the accounts of slaves who endured extreme violence at the hand of southern mistresses. “As Norrece T. Jones writes, slaveholding women were ‘depicted frequently [by slaves and ex-slaves] as the most stringent and sadistic of the manor born.’ He describes the plantation household as a ‘war zone’ where ‘spilling milk, breaking dishes, and a variety of other kitchen peccadilloes could and often did trigger barbaric responses from slaveholders throughout South Carolina’” (Glymph 25).

However, the acts of violence displayed by white women are not evaluated the same as those of white male plantation owners. Mistress’ acts of violence are often excused as nonsystemic and hysterical. Violence delt by the hands of white women is not attributed with the same kind of authority as white men. The narrative of the mistresses’ role in the slave system being attributed to their entrapment in a patriarchal society reduces the responsibility for their active participation.

Blog Post Assignment #2 (The Gender Of Violence)

In the past few weeks we have read various passages about different events and also learned about them during lectures in class. However, there is a specific passage that has helped me further my understanding on a topic I didn’t really know much about which in short involves how patriarchy has been an issue since the beginning of time. The book Out Of The House Of Bondage by Thavolia Glymph, first chapter “The Gender of Violence” gives a great understanding and interpretation of how life for women got harder when the patriarchy and slavery issues combined. “If anything, the joining of patriarchy and slavery made the lives of mistresses harsher and more difficult overall, (Glymh, 21). I found this very intriguing to start off because in the past I thought of slavery as obviously a very broad topic but here specifically shows that there is a-lot of things to slavery that I will continue to learn about. Previously I connected slavery with capitalism which for me was already a great “discovery” and here learning that patriarchy is another thing that plays its role in slavery. Women are usually taking on their role of being the housewife in the past as well, “..the mistress emerges from slave testimony as the plantation authority figure who pled for better treatment of slaves, ‘as a white woman who tried to to live up to the responsibilities of her position,” (Glymph,23). Although women of plantations were “taking up their responsibilities,” they were still in a way enslaved themselves. In a way their “master” was their husband, once again supporting this idea that patriarchy and slavery are interconnected and women being seen as objects. As the passage goes very in depth about this topic there was a specific question at the end that intrigued me the most, “ If rich white women in the Cotton Kingdom had gained equal rights with their men, how likely is it that they would have agitated for their slaves’ emancipation?,”(Glymph, 31). I started asking myself this question because the truth is we don’t know. Every human is different but given  the time racism was a huge thing so, would color have impacted their decision on whether to fight for their slaves, or not? Or were the rich white women only pleasant because how (some may say) they were in similar positions as the slaves themselves? This passage bought not only a deeper understanding on how slavery was and how patriarchy had a role in it but also raised a bigger question to think about. What if things happened differently and the women were in charge instead of the men?

Blog post Assignment- 2

Nikole Hannah- Jones, in the 1619 project, emphasizes about the inheritance of slavery and the idea of democracy in the United States. Jones elucidates how the colonists of Jamestown forcefully bought the enslaved Africans after the pirates stole them out of a slave ship from Angola which marked the beginning of slavery in the United States.

They “grew and picked” cotton, and “transformed” the lands, which brought surplus profits through their “stolen  labour” leading to the arousal of capitalism and built successful colonies respectively.

Jones argues about the rights of equality, “Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” which were non-existent among the black Americans.  I do agree with Jones about American democracy, perhaps wouldn’t have been so democratic or it would’ve looked much unlike today’s if the black Americans did not contribute their “idealistic, strenuous and patriotic efforts.” and not because of the “founding fathers” who were violent and abusive. She also mentions about a black man, Crispus Attucks, who first served and contributed his life to the American Revolution after being killed” for a new nation in which his own people would not enjoy the liberties laid out in the Declaration for another century.”

Jones also brings up the inhumane restrictions in the society opposed on enslaved people, who could not legally marry, barred from educational activities, etc. and worked to death to provide profits to their white employers.

Slavery, racism still exists. According to Jones, whether an individual is enslaved or free they came from a “slave” race and in my opinion, it still remains unchanged and black Americans are less dominant compared to the white Americans.


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.


In the slavery era, American slaves were objects rather than human beings, they were been sell to the master, so slave men and women were not eligible to marry. Although black slaves are not allowed to marry, many slave owners still make the slave men and women in their hands from informal couples for self-interest. It will be beneficial to the mistress because slaves can give birth to children and children are the new slaves followed by their parents, when the slave’s children grow up they can work for the owner or the owner will sell them for money. This helps to increase the assets of slave owners. 

Author Thavolia Glymph’s chapter book, “Out of the House of Bondage, Ch. 1, The Gender of Violence” shows how slaves were treated badly, they were punished and bullied by the white. The author also talks about how the southern slaves experience under the white women. “ But since, “in fact,” mistresses “slapped, hit, and even brutally whipped their slaves,” it is plain that their power was neither invisible nor insignificant.” (Glymph pg26) This evidence evaluates how the mistress, the white woman who has the power of control over the slave, is treating the slave in a harmful way, they use physical violence against slaves, such as whipping, bracelet ankle chains, and more. “White women’s gender subordination merits attention in its own right and for its own sake; its overthrow is part of human emancipation.” (Glymph, pg31) Slaveholding women have some influence, and the influence of these women is seriously underestimated. This violation by the mistress shows how the gender of different types of women has different situations during the past. Glymph’s article is an academic article that is provided to historians and students or those who want to know more about that period. 

A historical figure, event, and detail that particularly stuck out was the story of Lulu Wilson, she was an old-time slavery woman who was been violent by Missus Hodges her former master, Wash Hodges’s wife, she was been special mean to Lulu which she used to tie her hands and make her lie on the floor and put snuff into her eyes, this was the reason of why she went blind. This was one of the ways that slaves will be violent by their owners, which was a normal phenomenon during the slavery period. 

Slavery in the United States has been abolished for more than 150 years today, but it still deeply affects American society. 


Blog Post# 2 Gordon Wood

In Gordon Wood letter to the editor of the New York Times. He wants to correct “factual errors’ ‘ in the 1619 Project and makes claims that there isn’t any evidence in some of the statements said in the project. Something that added to my knowledge was the Somerset decision in England. The decision made slavery unlawful in England. Basically freeing thousands of slaves in England. In my other history classes, I was never told that there was a law that freed slaves in England during the same time colonists started to rebel for their independence.

I have to agree with Gordon Wood. I have never heard that colonists wanted to break free from Britain because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery. He adds on that Britain did not want to abolish slavery in the colonies. Also that colonists did not know anything about the Somerset decision till later in the year when slaves were already free in England and colonists started to fight for their independence. When colonists started to “fight back” with their assemblies. These assemblies would have duties like taxing residents and managing the spending of the colony’s revenue. The royal governors wanted to limit their power but it only encouraged the assembly’s power to grow. It seems that Britain just wanted to control the colonies, exploit them and benefit from the taxes the colonists paid. Later we see that Britain’s Stamp Act affected people throughout the colonies. This act is another example of Britain wanting to exploit the colonies and the act is one of many reasons that the colonies wanted their independence. Britain tried to suppress them and exploit them.

A question I had while reading the article was why would ending the Atlantic slave trade have been welcomed by the Virginia planters? Would it not benefit the planters?