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What Textbooks Won’t Tell You About the Atlantic Slave Trade

Hunter S. Thompson said, “History is hard to know because of all the hired bullshit.”

He’s right, of course. History is hard to know, especially if you just take what is spoon-fed to you in high school and college. But true history really isn’t that hard to become acquainted with if you’re willing to put in a little extra time and effort.

There’s so much about American history that’s covered up in a mash-up of platitudes and anti-American slurs. Consider the average Confederate soldier for example, “Johnny Rebel.” The vast majority of these guys did not fight because they wanted to protect slavery. Many of them didn’t even want to fight. More than not only wanted to protect their communities from what they were told by slave-owning elites was an invading army.

For a deeper dive into the time period, consider the fact that the majority of slaves held in the states were in the North were white people working through sentences of indentured servitude because they could not afford to pay for the trip to the continent in any other way.

For an even deeper dive, consider the fact that African slaves were rounded up for white slavers by enemy African tribes. Slavery was ubiquitous all over the Atlantic coasts. England ended the practice, and America was among the first to follow suit. What’s more — far more whites died to end slavery than practiced it.

So, it’s much more likely that your ancestors were liberators, rather than slavers. That’s something to be proud of.

Here’s TED-Ed, with a few more eye-openers.


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