Zinn’s thesis in this article is “It would take either a full-scale slave rebellion or a full-scale war to end such a deeply entrenched system. If a rebellion, it might get out of hand, and turn its ferocity beyond slavery to the most successful system of capitalist enrichment in the world. If a war, those who made the war would organize its consequences” (p.129). This statement means that in order for society to completely change its way into becoming a country without slavery, something extreme had to occur, and either way it would not be a smooth process.
Zinn’s article talks about the slow and tedious events in history that had to deal with the emancipation of slavery in the United States. Around the early 1800s, slave rebellions started happening more often than before, and the slaves were slowly becoming more educated. The slave owners were silently becoming terrified of these rebellions, and tried to keep as much control over the slaves as possible to make sure they would not run away or try to revolt. Most of this occurred in the south, where slavery was still very common. In the north, African Americans were able to live free and go to school and have jobs as writers, store owners, and other occupations. It is because of the free blacks in the north that the inspiration to become free people in the south became more popular, and leads to the increase of rebellions and runaways. For example, David Walker was a son of a slave, but born free in North Carolina, who sold clothes in Boston. He wrote and printed a pamphlet entitled Walker’s Appeal, which became very popular. This pamphlet spoke about who blacks must fight for their freedom (p.134). This infuriated the southern slaveholders, and “Georgia offered a reward of $10,000 to anyone who would deliver Walker alive, and $1,000 to anyone who would kill him” (p.134). Then over the summer in 1830, David Walker was found dead near the doorway of his shop in Boston (p.134). Throughout the 1800s the government started getting involved with the emancipation of slavery, or so they lead the public to believe. There were new laws in place that stated the slave era was over, and that slavery has become illegal. But the rights that the African Americans had in comparison to whites were quite unfair, especially because those in the south wished to still hold on to their white supremacy. White supreme groups like the Klu Klux Clan came to be, who went around basically hunting African American men, women, and children, and lynched and murdered them. The government did very little to try and control the situation, and various amendments kept switching back and forth between having African Americans as equals, then having unfair treatment between the two races still occur. The emancipation of slavery was a long and drawn out battle, and it was very difficult for the government to keep either side content. The sides of this inner war were the whites, African Americans, and the Northern and Southern states.
An argument Zinn proposes in this article is that the road to emancipation of the slaves would not be as easy as simply banning it by law. I agree with Zinn on this argument. As history shows as Zinn’s proof for this argument, even the government had a difficult time keeping the situation with slavery under control. Basically, no matter that the government did, the African Americans were still in a position that was inferior to the whites. The more “privileges” the African Americans gained, the angrier whites in the south would get. Then to try and keep the white supreme people happy, they set in a different set of laws that would again limit some of the supposed privileges the African Americans had, or find a way to keep them under control. Then the African Americans would start complaining, and the cycle would start all over again. The situation just got worse as time went on, which led to the civil war between the states.
Overall, I thought Zinn’s article was very informative about the struggle dealing with the emancipation of slavery during the 1800s. I learned a lot more about what happened during this time period through this read, and found some points of the article quite interesting. Though unfortunately I had a hard time trying to keep my attention towards the article, and sometimes found myself having to reread a couple sections because I just did not understand what was going on through some of the passages. Even though I believe this article has very strong points about the information along with having a lot of facts integrated, I just couldn’t keep my focus on the article throughout the read.