Fred Law Olmsted thought on slavery.

Discussion in 'Politics and Politicians of the Antebellum period' started by 5fish, Dec 2, 2019.

  1. 5fish

    5fish Well-Known Member

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    Here is Fred Law Olmsted thought on slavery... from wiki...

    A one-volume abridgment, Journeys and Explorations in the Cotton Kingdom (1861), was published during the first six months of the American Civil War at the suggestion of Olmsted's English publisher.[10] To this he wrote a new introduction (on "The Present Crisis") in which he stated explicitly his views on the effect of slavery on the economy and social conditions of the southern states.

    My own observation of the real condition of the people of our Slave States, gave me ... an impression that the cotton monopoly in some way did them more harm than good; and although the written narration of what I saw was not intended to set this forth, upon reviewing it for the present publication, I find the impression has become a conviction.
    He argued that slavery had made the slave states inefficient (a set amount of work took 4 times as long in Virginia as in the North) and backward both economically and socially. The profits of slavery fell to no more than 8,000 owners of large plantations; a somewhat larger group had about the standard of living of a New York City policeman, but the proportion of the free white men who were as well-off as a Northern working man was small. Slavery meant that 'the proportion of men improving their condition was much less than in any Northern community; and that the natural resources of the land were strangely unused, or were used with poor economy.'

    Southern civilization was restricted to the wealthy plantation owners; the poverty of the rest of the Southern white population prevented the development of civil amenities taken for granted in the North, he said.


    The citizens of the cotton States, as a whole, are poor. They work little, and that little, badly; they earn little, they sell little; they buy little, and they have little – very little – of the common comforts and consolations of civilized life. Their destitution is not material only; it is intellectual and it is moral ... They were neither generous nor hospitable and their talk was not that of evenly courageous men.[11]
     
  2. Wehrkraftzersetzer

    Wehrkraftzersetzer Hüter des Reinheitsgebotes

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    so all is normal. The nobility who decides doesn't care a bit about the freeman, the only thing they want to do is make all freemen "leibeigen" (= some sort of slavery)

    They are the masters and they decide what's best (for them)
     
  3. 5fish

    5fish Well-Known Member

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    As historians look back, the free poor white men had a tough life on the south...
     
  4. 5fish

    5fish Well-Known Member

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    Quote: With regard to the moral and religious condition of the slaves, I cannot, either from what I observe, or from what is told me, consider it in any way gratifying. Frederick Law Olmsted

    Quote: This is just what I have thought when I have seen slaves at work - they seem to go through the motions of labor without putting strength into them. They keep their powers in reserve for their own use at night, perhaps. Frederick Law Olmsted

    Quote: The possession of arbitrary power has always, the world over, tended irresistibly to destroy humane sensibility, magnanimity, and truth. Frederick Law Olmsted

    Fred Olmsted ... and his war effort...

    LinkS: https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/09/olmsteds-southern-landscapes/

    By the time “The Cotton Kingdom” appeared at year’s end, Olmsted took a leave from his responsibility overseeing Central Park for the position of general secretary of the United States Sanitary Commission. Established by Congressional legislation on June 18, 1861, the Sanitary Commission sought to organize support for soldiers in the field by furnishing medical care and supplies and supervising volunteer efforts. The Unitarian minister Henry Ward Bellows served as president, and the New York lawyer George Templeton Strong as treasurer.

    From a base in Washington, Olmsted worked indefatigably to provide relief for the soldiers. It was a daunting task, creating hospitals, finding supplies, coordinating philanthropic efforts. He won few political friends with a report, issued after the battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861, in which he claimed the soldiers suffered from a lack of food and water, exhaustion and various states of dissipation. A year later Strong noted in his diary that “when Olmsted is blue, the logic of his despondency is crushing and terrible,” but he also believed that “Olmsted’s sense, energy, and organizing faculty, earnestness, and honesty would give new life to the administration were he in it.”

    His achievements were remarkable. Thanks to Olmsted, wounded soldiers after the battle of Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862, received supplies two days before the Army was able to get materials to the front. And after the battle of Fredericksburg, in December 1862, he established a relief depot at Aquia Landing to which wounded soldiers could be evacuated. One thankful soldier wrote, “What could we do here without the Sanitary Commission. Many of our medicines, our stimulants, blankets, bedding, etc., for the field hospital come from the S.C. I would rather have Mr. Olmsted’s fame than that of any General in this war since the beginning.”


    Yet the more Olmsted did, the less he felt he had accomplished. Part of the problem was his need to maintain control over all aspects of the commission’s work. He refused to delegate and he had an appetite for authority and power. Strong worried that a “crushing rupture” with the board was inevitable. In January 1863, he confided that “Olmsted is in an unhappy, sick, sore mental state. . . . He works like a dog all day and sits up nearly all night. . . works with steady, feverish intensity till four in the morning, sleeps on a sofa in his clothes, and breakfasts on strong coffee and pickles!!!

    Exhausted, ill and having lost the support of the men who put him in charge, Olmsted resigned on Sept. 1, 1863.





     
    jgoodguy and Matt McKeon like this.
  5. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Webmaster Staff Member Administrator

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    Pickles and coffee just jolted me awake.

    His 2 points on the efficiency of slave labor are interesting.
     
  6. 5fish

    5fish Well-Known Member

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    His one of his books: https://www.bartleby.com/library/readersdigest/482.html

    Cotton Kingdom, The, by Frederick Law Olmsted. These two volumes of “a traveler’s observations on cotton and slavery” were published in 1861, being compiled from three previous works on the same subject, which had originally appeared as letters to the New York Times, between 1856 and 1860. The book, written with especial reference to English readers, was dedicated to John Stuart Mill.

    Not only was this book of value at the time of its publication, but it is useful at the present day. It explains how the curse of slavery retarded the industrial development of the South; and by showing the condition of master and negro before the emancipation, it affords a better comprehension of the grave problems that confront America to-day.


    Here is his general observation of the south backwards comes to mind...

    Though the author began his observations in a fair and judicial spirit, he was everywhere impressed with the disadvantages of slavery. Even in States like Virginia, where slaves were generally well treated, the economic evils were great, while farther south things were much worse. The slaveholding proprietors experienced so much difficulty in managing their estates that they had no energy for public affairs. There were no good roads, and no community life existed. Though the railroad and steamboat had been introduced, they were operated in a primitive and desultory fashion, mails were irregular, and intercommunication was uncertain and precarious. Slave labor, of course, made free labor unremunerative and despised, and the poor white lived from hand to mouth on the brink of pauperism. In the cotton States the large plantations were worked with profit, but the small ones frequently failed to pay expenses. In every instance the cost of maintaining and managing the negroes was so great, and their labor so forced and reluctant, that much better results could have been obtained from free labor. In fact, had there been no other question involved, its monstrous wastefulness would have condemned slavery. But the moral evils were incalculably great. The slave was reduced, virtually, to the level of the brute, and all efforts to raise him morally and intellectually were regarded as unsafe and revolutionary. He lost the good qualities of barbarism, and gained the vices of civilization, and was deliberately made as helpless as possible. The degradation of the master was even more deplorable. His sensibilities were blunted by the daily spectacle of brutality, his moral fibre was loosened, and there was no incentive to self-control, since he was subject to no law save his own capricious will.

     

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