Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Documentary Review: Slave Catchers and Slave Resisters

This is a presentation from The History Channel which gives a history of the means used by slave honors to keep their "property" and maintain the institution of slavery.  It points out that the reason for slavery is that it made some man very wealth even though their was the immorality of it, and even though their were slave escapes, and always the fear of slave uprising.  There was some reason for white people to be weary of this possibility.  The Stono rebellion of a group of slaves trying to make it to Florida and freedom (as offered by the Spanish who were at war with England) resulted in the execution of white people.  The revolt started with 20 men but swelled to about 100.  They were led by Jemmy.  Eventually the militia was called out and the revolt was crushed, many Blacks being killed, some gaining freedom and other executed.
Over time, the tactics used to recapture slaves changed, but finally landed on the slave catchers to pursue and bring back runaways.  All whites could be pushed into being slave catchers, but those most successful were those who did it professionally for the chance of reward. 
This movie also talks about the revolt of Nat Turner, and those who followed him.  Turner was a preacher and felt he had been called to avenge the slaves.  His was a very bloody rebellion.  They killed any white people they saw.  Eventually the rebellion was crushed, but Turner was at large for some time.  During this time of heightened alarm, many black people were executed as being complicit, or just because.  In this case the federal government and local militia were both called in.  Slavery was codified in our constitution, and the South had a great deal of political power. 
The fugitive slave act of 1850 in essence made every citizen a slave catcher.  This did not set well with abolitionist.  Although it did work to have slaves returned, it also galvanized the country.  This contributed to the final test with regards to slavery, that of the Civil War.
The Civil War was not the final say on race relations.  After the war the Klu Klux Klan sprang up which kept the struggle for white domination of blacks alive. 
Link on slave uprisings
This movie has its strengths.  I generally do not like historical reenactment as a documentary method.  However in this case it is well done and appropriate to the story.  There is also sufficient interviews and other information to make it OK.  

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