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Book Review: From Slave to Separate but Equal: The Constitution, Slave Capitalism, Human Rights & Civil War Reckoning by Paul Kalra

Trading and slavery of black people and slaves from African subcontinent was a common and prevalent system among white people from Western Countries. Among all ‘North America’ holds the most unwanted and ugly and merciless history against slavery of blacks.

Paul Kalra’ s new book is about all types of slaves in the USA, it optimally sheds light on their basic day-to-day plight, moral dilemma in revolution and civil war, existential crises with reference to protestant slavery code, and their fight for a share in civil and human rights, and so on. The book is though a compilation of accounts, bibliographical references and journals, yet it qualifies as a historical non-fiction fit.

Stretched up to 10 lengthy chapters, the book takes you through the early years of slavery boasting to last vestiges of slavery as why it was rejected due to the white immigrants from Europe to presidential election of 1860s right up to the end of civil war in 1865, and that 1760s American Revolution.

The coverage of the book is extensively impressive. It’s a mammoth, sort of encyclopedia on slavery. Indeed a highly praised, well-placed book by a non-native US citizen. Paul’s depiction on several topics is holistic, that will make you feel embarrassed and uncomfortable. With blacks, in the USA, the humanity recorded its lowest.

The first chapter is built around Lincoln’s speeches and ideologies. In one of his speeches, he referred slavery as immoral. He longed to finish it forever, and wanted to give blacks their right by making the USA their country and colony of natives. Slaveholders were against him but not the ‘worst sufferer’ non-slaveholders. Be it the American revolt against the British or the Civil War, it was mainly between slaveholders and non-slaveholders. Free blacks, mullattoos, Yankees, Yeomen, white slaves that was increasing due to the Industrial revolution was sandwiched between their interest of reaping benefits from economy and harvesting benefits from power. 

‘The slaveholders were a minority who benefited from slavery because they initiated and controlled the institution. The slaves, victims of the institution, had to be a minority, lest they seize any opportunity to overpower the slave holders and free themselves. In the majority were non-slaveholders, who did not benefit from slavery but whose cooperation was essential in controlling the economy and protecting slaveholders from the slaves.

Slavery also divided the country into two sections, the North and the South, based not only on geography but also on the proportion of blacks in the population. The Southern economy was based on black slave labour and whites had to live with them. The North, with a tiny black population of around two percent was not economically dependent on black labour and was largely indifferent to what Southerners did with their blacks so long as they kept them in the South.’

The early society of the USA that witnessed slavery first hand was basically divided into three segments: slaveholders, the slaves, non-slaveholders. Slaveholders were powerful folks. They grew cotton in the Southern States, and controlled the government in the centre. However, with the advent of white immigrant influx from European countries, and Catholic rules, Lincoln’s rising as a powerful leader to unify South and North, displaced them.

The non-slaveholders were also Americans but they were poor. They had small lands for sustenance. It was evident that black slaves were their direct competitors. Non-slaveholders were tied to legislature, Catholic Church Rules, even Protestant Slavery codes considered them natives. But they were at loss and remained poor. Main reason was that blacks were considered free labour…their women were subjected to rape, they had no permission for family planning and marriage. Even their born and unborn children were the property of slaveholders.

To study more closely and carefully the author had put special emphasis on Protestant Slavery code, which was nothing but a hell regime for blacks. It didn’t consider religion or bible or humanity, it was directed by the king of England. The Protestant Slavery code didn’t consider blacks as humans, they were only seen as bonded labours for profit seeking. Thus, states where cotton and other plantation was a profit making business, they welcomed and followed the Protestant Slavery code and rejected Catholic Slavery code, which was lenient and raised voice for the rights of blacks.  The Southern States were heavily depended on black, they could not think of abolishing them. It could be said that the USA was once united to exploit black slaves like resources, however, with time and white immigration the rift surfaced. It grew so wide that a civil war was imminent. As many said that to free some blacks many white were dead. It is true but every history has two sides…isn’t it?

The condition of blacks was pathetic, as they were living in hell. The book makes efforts to shed light on those dark times of slavery. Paul gathered a lot of commentary and references to present one as a book. The book assesses the situational life of blacks and anything that is pertaining to slavery. It’s not an easy book, if you have the habit of delving deep to find out the root cause, this makes an exemplary read.

Buy from Amazon.


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