Mar. 12, 2019
Slavery Did Not Die Easily In The United States "Effects of Black Reconstruction"
The Blackman Who Reads Aloud
Tuesday's Part Two The Atlantic Magazine
Looking Back and Thinking Ahead Black Reconstruction After The Civil War
"Slavery Did Not Die Honestly"
A century and a half after the Civil War, the process of Reconstruction remains contested—and incomplete.
“But slavery is not honestly dead ... it did not die honestly,” he said. Frederick Douglass’s words apply to the current racial and constitutional condition. “Had [slavery’s] death come of moral conviction instead of political and military necessity; had it come in obedience to the enlightenment of the American people; had it come at the call of the humanity ... of the slaveholder, as well as the rest of our fellow citizens, slavery might be looked upon as honestly dead.” The former slave was reminding his country that slavery died in an all-out war, crushed by military might and the changed minds of some, but not of many others. It had died only against tremendous, bloody resistance. But this warning delivered at the peak of Reconstruction’s triumph fits as well our current historical moment. Racism—like the constitutional persuasions sometimes practiced, wittingly or not, to defend it—never dies honestly.