To the editor:
A brief response to the letter in the August 29-30 edition of The Messenger by Mr. Franklin Stevenson.
He denies the history of Colonial America practicing systemic racism and refers to founding documents pursuing a “more perfect union.”
I would remind him that more than one half of the colonists who came to the country in the Colonial period came as servants.
Abbott Smith said: “Colonial society was not democratic and certainly not equalitarianism; it was dominated by men who had money enough to make others work for them.”
The others, more often than not, were indentured servants or slaves.
By 1880, 10 to 15 million blacks had been brought as slaves to America. Africa lost 50 million human beings to death (two of every five blacks died in forced marches or on the ships bringing them to our shores) and slavery in the centuries we consider the beginnings of Western Civilization.
In Virginia by 1700, there were only 50 wealthy families who lived off black slave labor and white indentured servants. For anyone who thinks the indentured servants were well treated, it was well documented that for the most part they most certainly were not.
The black slave labor was treated much worse, which has also been thoroughly documented for anyone wishing to research. By 1763, there were 170,000 slaves in Virginia — roughly half of the state’s population.
This early country was not “born free,” pursuing a more perfect Union but a country born slave and free — servant and master — poor and rich. The language of the time referencing liberty and equality was used to pit poor whites (servants) against England. Today, the language pits poor and inadequately informed middle class against the black race. The upper class politicians are still using fear for their own purpose, maintaining the status quo; “us vs. them.”
Unfortunately, most of us don’t know our own history, and by being uninformed are thus easily manipulated — as is happening today.