By RYAN QUINT
By the 1860 census, around four million people were held as slaves in the U.S. These four million people, for the most part, had been sold into slavery. The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade had been outlawed since the early 19th Century, meaning that, except for the elderly who had been born before the law, slaves were born on plantations and sold.
So why the history lesson? Because it has recently surfaced that in his 2009 book “Letters to the Editor: Confessions of a Frustrated Conservative,” Arkansas Republican Representative Jon Hubbard wrote, “…as hard as it may be to understand and appreciate, slavery just might have been a blessing in disguise,” (183).
Hubbard is up for re-election this November.
Does it matter what a Republican representative wrote in 2009, and, even if it does, why is it rippling the water in 2012?
I think it does matter, only because it shows Hubbard’s complete lack of understanding of American history and his disregard for those unlike himself. Especially ironic is the fact that the Republican Party was originally formed with the abolition of slavery as one of its main objectives in the late 1850s.
I find it unlikely that Hubbard knew this, but 2009 marked the 150th anniversary of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry; a raid that had the hopes of capturing thousands of weapons and distributing them to escaped slaves. The raid failed, Brown was hung and, a year and a half later, the Civil War began.
I wonder if Brown, or any of his followers, found slavery to be a blessing to the African-Americans?
So, does it matter in 2012 what Hubbard said in 2009? The answer is an unequivocal ‘yes.’ For starters, 2012 marks a giant leap in American racial relations with Barack Obama as the first African-American president.
2012 marks another 150th Anniversary: Lincoln’s issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. On Sept. 22, 1862 Lincoln declared that the Civil War would no longer be just about preserving the Union. It would become a struggle to free those enslaved peoples throughout the South.
With the Proclamation, some 180,000 African-Americans joined the Union army, many of them ex-slaves. Did they find their old lives perfectly suitable?
Hubbard’s words reveal an utter misunderstanding of American history, and also show how far this country has yet to go. For as long as even one person thinks that slavery was acceptable, the U.S. has not redeemed itself.