Say What? James McCune Smith on Labor, Capital, and Slavery

L: ‘Dr. James McCune Smith.’ Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts Archives & Rare Books Div., NYPL Digital Collection, 1891. R: US Capitol Building under repair, 2016 Amy Cools

‘The main support of slavery before the war, a support which will be strengthened rather than weakened at the end of the war, is that it is a condition of society in which “capital owns labor.” The thousands of colossal fortunes which this war has already created will find no better investment than buying up the lands of the rebel States. And, owning the land, the ownership of labor will speedily accrue to them. What defense can the landless, penniless, outlawed emancipado make against the land-monopolizing, monied, law-making capitalist – who says to him, work for this pittance or get you gone and starve! In free society, there is a perpetual conflict between labor and capital; the more nearly they are balanced, the more free the state of society, but when either gets the upper hand there is more or less of a slave society introduced. Generally, capital is predominant, because capital can wait, while labor cannot.

…How …easily could [capital] subsidize any of the one-horse legislatures of a reconstructed rebel State, so as to make things right about the freedmen. The word slavery will, of course, be wiped from the statute book …but the “ancient relation” can be just as well maintained by cunningly devised laws.’

James McCune Smith, ‘Letter to Robert Hamilton’ (August 1864)

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3 thoughts on “Say What? James McCune Smith on Labor, Capital, and Slavery

  1. Hello Amy, Learning a lot from the variety in your posts, Thanks. Bit of trivia, J.S.Mill had mastered both Greek and Latin by the age of four years!

    If you get a moment tell about how your program is progressing. Cheers, Charles

    On Sat, May 25, 2019, 5:30 AM Ordinary Philosophy wrote:

    > Ordinary Philosophy posted: ” ‘The main support of slavery before the war, > a support which will be strengthened rather than weakened at the end of the > war, is that it is a condition of society in which “capital owns labor.” > The thousands of colossal fortunes which this war has alr” >

    Like

  2. How is it that you have enough time to send the blog almost daily, such that I cannot keep up merely reading them??   You ARE Wonder Woman! EE5/27/19

    Like

    • Thank you for trying to keep up! Most of the posts are written or edited when I have time, then scheduled to publish over a few days or weeks. This one was a quote that struck me as I was working on a chapter of my dissertation.

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