"Complicity": Duped by the History Books: Northern Slavery in the New England States I taped Tony Brown's Journal a few years ago. His guest was Jennifer Frank, co-author of the book "Complicity" which gives new and startling facts about slavery that the history books either distort or just plain omit. Ran across it and although, unfortunately, not the entire interview, thought I'd share: On the sale of slaves: Jennifer: You could purchase a healthy black man in Africa for 150 barrels of rum, or about $50, and sell him in West Indies for $1000. The profits were just too huge for many people to resist. (NOTE: Multiply that $1000 by 4-5 million black captives and see just HOW irresistble slavery was to godless whites... and remember, she's talking BILLIONS in a time when $5/MONTH was **** good wages!). Impetus was profit: Tony: How did you deal in your book ("Complicity") with the undergirding of the slave trade? What propelled the countries, the companies, the individuals, what propelled them to participate morally? Jennifer: I think there was a huge divide between profits and morality. That there was just so much money to be had and when slavery was, at least as far as the North was concerned, largely "at a distance" -- there were the Africans across the ocean; there were slaves in the 18th century in the West Indies on the sugar plantations, and of course, there were the southern plantations. It was very easy for Northerners to NOT think about this, to be in denial and to focus instead on their own profits. Tony: The West Indies played a huge part. Were most slaves brought by ship directly to the U.S. or to the colonies, or were they first delivered in the West Indies and then there was a process and certain slaves were chosen to come to the colonies? Jennifer: Exactly. Captive Africans by and large were brought to the sugar plantations in the West Indies. The sugar plantations were almost like modern factories, that the sugar cane had to be processed really around the clock. It was killing labor. It ate through people just by the thousands. It was virtually a death sentence to work on the sugar plantations, so the need for slaves was constant. The slaves would be brought to the West Indies, and then some would be brought north after the invention of the cotton gin in the 1790s when King Cotton began its enormous spread across the South. (The West Indies became a door for most Africans to come to the new world). Tony: In the North, after 1808 when the slave trade became illegal, were whites who participated in the slave trade ostrasized for still participating, or were they encouraged by the white population to continue? Jennifer: I think there was a bit of a dance going on and it really depended on where you were. There were people who were the very cream, if you will, of northern society who participated in it. Toward the end the illegal slave trade (after 1808), as we were getting close to war, the Civil War, there were ships that were captured off the coast of Africa with very prominent sons of New York families who were crew members on them. It was something that was not talked about but was just accepted. To make this point, that the illegal slave trade in NYC was accepted, there notices in the New York Times from back then that would say such and such a ship bound for Africa, or such and such a ship going to Charleston where they were welcomed with open arms and then going to Africa. It was just the worst kept secret in America. (the North participating in and getting rich from the slave trade) Tony: What about the press in the North? What was the editorial or policy position of the northern press toward slavery? Jennifer: There were a very small handful of abolitionist newspapers of which the Abolitionist in Boston under William Lloyd Garrison is the most well know. You have to understand Tony, my co-authors and I came to understand quickly that slavery was like the air you breathe. It was everywhere. There was a movement toward gradual emancipation, but by and large, it was accepted. It was an institution, after all. Tony: It was just the way things are. Jennifer: Exactly. I recall reading an editorial (for her book "Complicity") from a precursor to our own newspapers where an editor writer was bemoaning "Is there nothing in life but African slavery? Let's move on. We're tired of talking about this." Tony: So it was everywhere.