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Rated: E · Assignment · History · #1787272
As bad as it was, there were reasons.
Torture and religion, poverty and exhaustion. These were all very prominent aspects of what one could say was the best or worst thing to come to America. How one thought about this wonderful or horrible thing mainly depended on where one lived back then. North or south, living in each area provided different perspectives on the idea of slavery. Living in different places also provided unique lifestyles. This is the case in The Thin Executioner. The main character, Jebel, had his thoughts changed about slavery due to the villages and the people he encountered in different parts of that world (Shan). Slavery was one of the most controversial topics during the early to mid-1800s, due to the mindset of the people, and the fact that there were costs and benefits to slavery.

To look at why slavery was so controversial, one must first look at the mindset of the Americans of that time. There were mainly three types of people back then; abolitionists, slave owners, and those who didn’t feel strongly about the topic but did support a certain side. Abolitionists were mainly freed slaves and those of the North against slavery. This group used a variety of methods to protest slavery, to try and free slaves. These methods were both subtle and distinctive, with using the press and violence as two main examples (I Will Be Heard). Slave owners were, in fact the same way, with two distinctive sides. Most owners were hateful toward slaves, providing horrible living conditions, and torture to the slaves if they were angered, annoyed, or just having a bad day. However, there were a few slave owners in both the North and the northern parts of the South that treated the slaves as employees or friends; with good housing, food, and respect. There were even those who taught their slaves how to read and write (Grooms). Finally, there were those who didn’t really care, but still supported one faction over another. Surprisingly enough, Abraham Lincoln was part of this group. In a letter to the New York Tribune, Lincoln indicated that while he preferred for the slaves to be freed, he was focused on saving the Union. He also indicated that everything else came second (Loewen). In The Thin Executioner; Jebel, the main character, was a part of all three of these groups. At first, Jebel was cruel toward slaves, and thought them less than him. But as he went on his journey, he transitioned into the no-strong-feeling group and finally into the abolitionist group (Shan). Although this story was fictional, it showed that no matter what one’s feeling are toward something, there is the possibility that one’s mind can be changed due to what happens around them.

Next, one must look to the costs of slavery. Once again, the costs seemed to relate to the mindsets of the people. Abolitionists, led by Evangelical Protestants, believed that slavery is a national sin (I Will Be Heard). So religion wise, owning slaves or even being part of a slavery owning country, sent one into the worst place you can go after you die. Going off of a morality standpoint, slavery was horrible as it increased dehumanization toward the African-Americans of the south. Allowing slaves made “the violations of generally accepted norms of behavior regarding one’s fellow man seem reasonable, or even necessary”. Once certain groups are shown as inferior or not fully human, as in the case of the slaves, mental restrains against aggression and violence begin to disappear (Maiese). This is the exact same thing that happened between the Nazis and the Jewish community, and one always can remember the consequences of that dehumanization. So morally, slavery was the worst thing to come to America.

Finally, one must look at, contrary to common beliefs, there were benefits to slavery. As there was no moral or mental benefit to slavery, this is strictly from an economical or business standpoint. In 1860, the South produced 75 percent of all U.S. exports, making slaves worth more than all of the manufacturing companies and railroads in the nation. This is because unpaid labor made for big profits, allowing slave owners to become even richer (Loewen). European “indentured servants” were becoming harder and harder to persuade to work in the fields. Add this to the fact that Africans were physically more used to such brutal weather conditions, more capable to laboring in them for longer periods than whites, and could not organize resistance due to such diverse customs and languages; and it was quickly proven that African slavery was a profitable labor system (Slavery).

In conclusion, one must see that slavery was the most controversial topic of the 1800’s, due to three main reasons: the mindsets of the nation, the costs of slavery, and the benefits. All of these reasons were prevalent in The Thin Executioner. The Um Wadi needed slaves to do their chores, but there were other races or cultures who objected to slavery. Plus, depending on where people lived in that world, slavery may or may not have been needed (Shan). The mindsets of the people was different on the topic of slavery, depending on where one where lived or their religious beliefs. The costs of slavery mainly focused on religious beliefs and the moral mindset of having slaves. Finally, the topic of slavery was controversial because opposite of common beliefs, there were benefits of slavery. However, all of these benefits related to economics and business. So slavery was a great thing if you were a cold-hearted businessperson, but it was also a horrible thing if you had a heart.

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