An antidote to Lincoln (the movie)
CNN on the upcooming PBS special, "The Abolitionists." Good summary, and this caught my eye:
Want to know why slavery lasted so long? The simplistic answer: racism. Another huge factor: greed, according to "The Abolitionists."
But the spread of Christianity [in the Great Awakening] did little to stop the spread of slavery because too many Americans made money off slavery, the documentary shows. The wealth produced by slavery transformed the United States from an economic backwater into an economic and military dynamo, says Gilpin, also author of "John Brown Still Lives!: America's Long Reckoning With Violence, Equality, and Change."
"All the combined economic value of industry, land and banking did not equal the value of humans held as property in the South," Gilpin says.
Many Americans hated abolitionists because they saw them as a threat to prosperity, says David Blight, a Yale University historian featured in "The Abolitionists."
"They wondered if you really did destroy slavery, where would all of these black people go, and whose jobs would they take," says Blight.
The South wasn't the only region that profited off the slave trade. Abolitionists faced some of their most vicious opposition in the North. New York City, for example, was a pro-slavery town because it was filled with bankers and cotton merchants who benefited from slavery, Blight says.
"Jim Crow laws did not originate in the South; they originated in the North," Blight says.
The lesson: Don't reduce the issue of slavery to racism. Follow the money.
Yep. And the Abolitionists weren't cartoon figures either, no more than Lincoln. No doubt there's an even more bracing view of this history to be had than PBS's, but this seems not so bad.
Shorter: Speilberg sucks, except as a hagiographer, where he is excellent.