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A Comparative Analysis of Slavery

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A Comparative Analysis of Slavery
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Abstract
Stanley Elkins’ and James McPherson are Authors who have contributed to writing facts about slavery in the civil war era. In their books, Stanley Elkins’ Slavery and James McPherson interpretation in Ordeal by Fire they have agreed that the real picture of the plight of slaves in Northern America was inhuman. However, they disagreed on many issues.
Keywords: slavery and civil war
A Comparative Analysis of Slavery
The civil war of 1850 was recorded as the most momentous episode in America history. At that time, the co-existence of the United States as one nation was under threat. The war played a role in ensuring that the nation`s ability to bring to terms the ideals of equality, justice, liberty and human dignity was achieved both locally and global.
Different scholars such as Stanley Elkins’ and James McPherson have given a vivid picture of how slavery was during the civil war era. In detail, this analysis will be aimed at comparing different views of these authors. For example, we will focus on Stanley Elkins’ Slavery with James McPherson interpretation in Ordeal by Fire. Both of these authors agree that the real picture of the plight of slaves in Northern America was inhuman. African slaves and Native American were entirely different in terms of language, physical body, birth or culture. Contrary, the only thing they had in common is misfortunes caused by slavery. English cultural and traditions state that they are required to enslave any non -Christian or war captives.

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Therefore, Native Americans and Africans fitted this description.
Contrary, in James McPherson interpretation in Ordeal by Fire he seems to echo the ideology of Franklin Pierce. Franklin was a pro-Southern Democrat replaced Fillmore after defeating free-spoilers and Whigs in an election. His main agenda was to acquire more slave territories. It was a battle between the southern and northern leaders louder and harder over the future of slave trade. The northern movement was fighting for the abolition of slavery. This decision provoked many southern communities who thought the idea would affect the country`s economy after gaining all the territories of the America. The slaveholders thought there were treated unequally because their human commodities were not taken in the market. Additionally, they knew that any movement that was started would grow and spread leading to the abolishment of slave globally. Therefore, from that perspective angle of viewing slavery, you can easily determine that James McPherson was against slavery institution. Stanley Elkins believed that slave institutions were dehumanising that the slave had to compose spiritual songs and hymns as a way of maintaining their humanity (Elkins, 1968). He also acknowledges the fact that Franklin Pierce agenda of ending slavery in the south because the slave institutions there were more inhumane, severe and rigid due to uncontrolled capitalism. He agrees that the Sambo model created by Ulrich Philip was degrading the norms and cultures of slaves captured in these institutions (Elkins, 1968). Stanley Elkins compare slave’s institution to World War II Nazi death camps.
James McPherson points out that black people had a role to play in the civil war. For instance, men were involved in the fight, and many lost their lives. Women also participated in the freedom of the country. This is mainly because they acted as spies, nurses, abolitionists, soldiers, promoters of women`s suffrage and civil rights advocates Additionally, they provided the soldiers with clothing, food, money and medical supplies during the civil war (McPherson, 1982). Their ability to perform men`s job when the men left for battle clear shows that women are famous in the uplifting of the economy. Lastly, women are imperative in the society. Therefore, they deserve a chance to leading this nation. Elkins did not speak of this issue.
Conversely, the point of disagreements between Stanley Elkins’ and James McPherson ideology on the issue of slave institutions are also very vivid. For instance, Stanley Elkins` idea of slave institutions was not to close them down completely but he was advocating for change (Elkins, 1968). He was advocating that the institutions were to be improved to be more humane and less severe. He opposed the slave abolishment movements terming them as equally weak. On the other hand, James McPherson idea was based on completely abolishing slave institution. He was pushing for modernization. He pointed out that the North was more developed because of abolishing slavery early unlike the South region that embraced capitalism and slavery.
Far from that, the Catholic Church played a role in abolishing slavery. Stanley Elkins’ says that many slaves embraced Christianity at that time. Hence, all their suffering, grievances and complaints were directed to church leaders. Additionally, slaves were allowed to have their entire rite such as baptism and marriage inside the church (Elkins, 1968). Therefore, the Catholic Church campaigned on the base of ensuring that all rights and humanity of slaves are recognized. James McPherson suggests that the Catholic Church in the South region were the people who enrolled the black people in The Republican party; the blacks in the party were referred to as Yankees (McPherson, 1982).
Besides, Elkins’ and James McPherson agree that the masters in slave institutions had full control over the life of the slaves. For instance, the slaves were forced to work from morning to evening especially in the slaves working in the field. Additionally, children were forced to working in these fields. They were only allowed to do their personal things on Sunday. The food supplied by the masters was poor, and they were barely given fish or meat. Slaves lived in the pathetic house such as small stick house. Their clothing was of low-quality rags. Masters only gave the slaves the autonomy of creating a family. The master allowed this act because they knew married slaves will have children. In law, any children born from enslaved parents were also a slave. Slaves were not allowed to demonstrate against abuse or harsh treatments from their masters. More ever, before 1774 there was no clear law that termed killing a slave as a crime. But after 1774, when a white man killed a slave he or she faced 12-month incarceration sentence (McPherson, 1982). Slave cases were handled in slave court that was different from the normal court and slaves were not allowed to have representation in these courts.
Consequently, James McPherson elaborated that slave institutions in the Southern region were more inhumane, severe and rigid due to uncontrolled capitalism (McPherson, 1982). He pointed out that the North was more developed because of abolishing slavery earlier unlike the South region that embraced capitalism and slavery. Capitalism induces force labour, disregard of democracy and disregard of human right. Therefore, capitalism made the slave life more tiresome and severe. Elkins’ was not clear on issues related to capitalism and how it impacted slavery.
Simultaneously, Elkins’ and James McPherson have used different shreds of evidence to support their concepts. For instance, Elkins` used the direct comparison of slave institutions to that of the Nazi concentration camp. He compared the plight of slaves to that of the Jews during the World War II. This evidence is anecdotal in nature and can be unreliable in proving the main agenda of the author. Alternatively, James McPherson advocated for change in a modernization perspective (McPherson, 1982). He suggested that ending slavery will lead to development. This evidence is quantifiable in nature because there is prove that the North region that embraced abolishment of slaves was more developed than the South region that opposed it.
In my opinion, James McPherson was more accurately in explaining the antebellum of American slavery than Elkins’. This is because Stanley Elkins` idea of slave institutions was not to close them down completely, but he was advocating for change. He was advocating that the institutions were to be improved to be more humane and less severe. On the other hand, James McPherson idea was based on completely abolishing slave institution. He was pushing for modernization. Therefore, James McPherson was more genuine because slaves wanted equity and freedom not improved working conditions that Elkins is suggesting.
With reference to that, the world has changed from that civil war of 1850. It was a battle between the southern and northern leaders louder and harder over the future of slave trade. The northern movement was fighting for the abolition of slavery. This decision proved many southern communities who thought the idea would affect the country`s economy after gaining all the territories of the America. The effect of the war is that it led to the establishment of civil right movements worldwide. Today, there are civil right movements that are focused on ending any form of discrimination globally. These forms of discriminations are racism, tribalism, xenophobia, gender base discrimination and sex orientation discrimination. Both James McPherson’s interpretation in Ordeal by Fire and Stanley Elkins’ Slavery has proved this using different approach and principles.
Reference:
Elkins, S. M. (1968). Slavery: A problem in American institutional and intellectual life. Chicago, Ill: University of Chicago Press.
McPherson, J. M. (1982). Ordeal by fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction. New York: Knopf.

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