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Part 1, response this paragraph:

One idea that stood out to me upon reading the Butler Island article and the information on Pierce Butler and Fanny Kemble is state of denial some individuals had regarding the inhumane treatment of slaves. Kemble was told by her husband Butler that the slaves were well-treated, content and never sold. Yet, when her husband actually allowed her the chance to visit Butler and St. Simon Island she saw filthily, wretched living conditions, lashing of mothers and pregnant women, and the acceptable practice of white men raping female salves to increase the salve population (mulatto slaves).
When Kemble questioned her husband or she tried to speak on behalf of the salves, he claimed they were liars. What a state of denial, as Kemble saw firsthand this poor treatment and the author didn’t mention in the article that Butler was blind, so I ascertain he must have been in complete denial. So, I have to ask myself the question, why would any human male or female blatantly watch and allow inhumane treatment of this nature to continue? The only thing that came to my mind is the state of denial Butler himself must have been in as I am certain that he would not have wanted to of been treated so poorly as a human, himself.
Overall, the things I read in these articles changed my view of slavery in the sense that although I knew slaves often lived in poor living conditions, I never comprehended the extent to which these conditions were so inhumane and the ability of certain individuals to deny such a state.

Part 2, response this paragraph:

I like to consider myself as fairly neutral when I read history. I try to read it for what it is and extrapolate information that improves my understanding of the past and how it is important for the present and the future. This is one of those times were neutrality has been thrown out the window after spending time with the information Erik provided for this DB Forum. The item that impacts me most is the section on “The Weeping Time.” I found myself feeling great sadness and even greater anger. The mental picture painted by this information made me cry, especially the description of the rain that March 1857 day as, “It was almost as though the heavens were crying.” It is almost impossible to read this information and not consider it in the context of, “What if it was my family?” The image of those 436 human beings being paraded around like cattle is devastating. I certainly have knowledge about large sales of slaves, but this one is just so reprehensible because the outcome was that Pierce Butler, with over $700,000 of debt, was able to take a vacation to Europe because of the “success” of this slavery auction. All I can think is this, “OK, need to maintain my social status. Got some bills. Really want to take a vacation. Hey! I’ve got it! Time to sell my sons.” Really…no, really, this is the way people thought in antebellum America. Got a bill…sell a human being.

I think one of the things that never ceases to amaze me is the emotional impact I experience whenever I spend time reading about slavery. No matter how much I know (or how much I think I know), even reading something on the subject I have read before, I still feel this emotional explosion. I think that is a good thing. I think it is important that all humans never forget what slavery really was in this country, especially as we look to other nations who rain state sanctioned repression on any segment of their citizens. It makes me think of the Kurds in Iraq. I believe that as Iraq “moves forward” it will be the Kurdis people who will suffer in a country that, despite everything it has gone through in the past 10-20 years, still maintains a “tribal” mentality. As long as that exists in any community there will always be a risk of human trafficking. It makes me sad and angry. Actually, as long as slavery, human trafficking and human oppression and repression exists, I hope it always makes me sad and angry because if it makes me sad and angry, then I remain assured of the existence of deep empathy within me. While none of us can change the past, we must never forget, never stop learning about the past and work toward never repeating such reprehensible actions as those that took place in March 1857 on a rain-drenched racetrack in Savannah, Georgia.

 

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