1. Indigo Abbie

    Indigo Abbie Member

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    Opinions on My Colonial American Town?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Indigo Abbie, Apr 23, 2018.

    As far as the characters are concerned, their small town is the whole world. I could gloss over the details about how the town functions, but I feel like it's my responsibility not to do that. I could use help.

    The Colonial town is cut off from the rest of humanity so they do not have the benefit of trade. It is a few decades old and was founded by a handful of people who split from a flourishing colony after deciding their ways to be unholy. These people are not tribal by any means; they retain much technological knowledge of the time period. The town is home to less than a thousand souls and all the things they use are made, woven, or grown by them.

    For the following example I'll use a typical household in which neither parent has a profession and they have adolescent children- a son and a daughter. The father would primarily farm crops, chop lumber, aid neighbors, and occasionally hunt. The mother would tend the house and children, spin thread, and cook. The son would assist the father and the daughter would assist the mother.

    However, it's not exactly like the usual Colonial idea of farming. They do not raise their own livestock for instance. The town has no currency system, so a professional weaver would receive homespun material and turn it into fabric sheets. Two or three livestock farms exist on the edges of town and the produce is rationed to families based off stock and household size. If the father wanted to put the son to work elsewhere, one of these livestock farms would be a good place.

    Professionals that own shops such as a blacksmith, tailor, weaver, printer, cooper, etc. are exempt from the rule of required household farming unless they choose to. They are expected to either raise their children to do their profession, turn them to other professions, or send them to labor for other houses.

    Another thing is that I need to decide upon is slavery. Several slaves accompanied the founding group so all present slaves are their descendents. (Yes, they managed to justify slavery, but not all the townsfolk believe in it.) How would slavery work in a system without currency?

    I've ruled that... once a slave is not owned, they are held for one week. In those seven days any household that would claim them applies. On the seventh day, the leader of each household to apply must publically declare why they believe they should have them. The household that proved they need the slave the most receives them. As far as work goes, the gender of a slave does not decide the labor they perform.

    Another problem is farm plot dimensions. Families do not live on family farms, the houses are located close together and all farmland lies outside of housing area. No one owns land, but every "average" household is required to work their fair amount. This amount changes every planting season based off the number of males per household. (A survey is performed and age records are stored.)

    I did research into how many acres a single person could work using their hands and simple tools, the answer I found was one acre. So my example household would be responsible for one and a half acres; one for the adult male and one-half for his adolescent son. (It does not matter who does what work. The father could tend all one and a half acres; as long as it gets done. Adolescence is about 13 to 18.)

    Finally, because fines would be useless in a system without currency, an offender could be made to labor for a household frequently incapable of doing their share. (A small offender that values their time may choose faster, physical punishment. Though the choice is not always their own.)

    I have scenes that could get across how certain systems work in the town without any direct statement so I'm by no means planning to dump information. A lot of this is purely for my use, because if I do not understand my own setup I assume no one will.

    What I'm after right now are any comments, questions, or suggestions. Is this logical and realistic? Have I been unclear about any relevant information? Is it too bland? Is it an interesting concept? Should I gloss over most of these factors or weave them carefully into the story as applicable? Would any of this information actually be important to a reader? Have I put too much thought into this?

    If you took the time to read all of this, I thank you! You’re probably more patient than I am. :)
     
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  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I don't understand the reason for this. You seem to be eliminating many traditional conveniences, without explaining the reason.

    For example, in a world without refrigeration, moving all of the sources of milk, meat, and eggs away from homes, when they have traditionally been near homes, should have a reason. There will be a lot more spoilage and a lot more loss. (And a lot more sickness.) There will be a lot of extra labor, collecting food scraps and farm scraps and trundling them across town and out of town to feed to the pigs and chickens.

    Similarly, forcing farmers to essentially commute to their farms, so that they can't just step out the back door and get a task done, will add a lot of extra effort and labor. It will also be a lot harder to protect the crops from vegetable-eating pests and the livestock from meat-eating pests.

    Also, where's the water? That should heavily determine where things are, but it appears that philosophy, not efficiency, makes those determinations in this culture. So I suspect that there will be a lot of effort taken in trundling water around.

    The system will be much less efficient. What's the payback for that loss of efficiency?
     
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  3. Indigo Abbie

    Indigo Abbie Member

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    The premise of livestock farms as opposed to regular farm households raising livestock was to reduce the amount of space needed. The town is surrounded by dense woods on three sides and a turbulent river on another, so their space is limited. I failed to explain the town layout. It's built around a center and most all buildings near it belong to professional families, so ones that would not work farmland. The main character, the only character from a non-professional family, is located at the edge of town so he really can walk out of his house and into the field. It seems I've left the other farm households hanging a bit since I don't spend time on their troubles.

    I failed to really consider some things. Now that I think back a few months, the livestock farm placement was an excuse to have a house set out of usual limits. That was my fault and a bad idea in hindsight. So I'm going to transition those to be much closer. Honestly I have no idea how Colonial irrigation functioned besides digging canals. The only search results I found involved modern companies, so if anyone has some knowledge on that... please share.

    Perhaps it would be better if farmland and farm laborer housing was divided into three or four self-sufficient districts? Do you have suggestions? I actually modeled the town on a game and have several images available for my own reference. Perhaps I should recreate from the story less and model some new layout ideas to integrate.
     
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  4. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Before I get detailed, can you explain why you object to normal traditional farms? I'm not quite seeing it, from your post.
     
  5. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Another quick thought: A question related to "how much land can one person work with hand tools?" is "how much land is required to feed one person?" Unfortunately, the answers tend to be the same--one acre.

    So if farming is done with hand tools only, there is likely to be no food for farmer's families or for those professionals. I think you'll need to accept things like horse-drawn plows.
     
  6. Indigo Abbie

    Indigo Abbie Member

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    I suppose I don't. It depends if you mean... object to the layout or the idea of. As I said it's a non-currency based town because the tyrant of a leader wanted to pass it off as a way to prevent greed when in reality it was a method for control. They depend on one another so no one would have the means to leave no matter how bad it became. As you said, “it appears that philosophy, not efficiency, makes those determinations in this culture,” honestly that describes the thought process of the founder and his present successor. Basically, as long as it's not them struggling.

    You post made me think that it would be a better idea to situate the farming households traditionally so their house is amid their land. I think I attempted to create an extra sense of community and by attempting to set up and ideal plan I made it dysfunctional. Now I see the benefit of traditional method. Instead of my silly division method, perhaps all the farming households would have an equal amount. It would be more efficient for work. My fear was an overpopulation of farming households as children grew up, but now I see that… if a set amount of land needs tended then children would probably stay to help their families longer or marry into struggling families.

    Your help is appreciated, a lot of messed up stuff happens to these people, now I feel bad that they’re also subject to the bollocks town planning of a seventeen year old. :D
     
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  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    You could research the phenomenon of common grazing land for sheep/cattle--I believe that does happen often enough that it might make sense, and it could give the leader a resource that cements his power. This assumes that there is enough land to raise sheep and cattle; that may not be plausible, and you may have to just have cows and enough steers to keep producing cows. (One site refers to a farmer raising "up to 40 cows a year on 50 acres"--and that's apparently a pretty major accomplishment, requiring some pretty serious pasture management.)

    I also suspect that it won't be possible for them to be totally self-sufficient without ever, ever buying anything outside. And that could be another way that the leader keeps power--if he has to approve and personally buy every new plow blade, every dose of medicine, every grain of certain seeds, every needle, every spool of thread, etc., that would keep people motivated to stay in his good graces.
     
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  8. Indigo Abbie

    Indigo Abbie Member

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    Oooh that would be interesting. I had a floating idea in which the existence of an outside world is sheltered. It's horribly frowned upon and in some cases punishable to mention it. If they must discuss it at all... stories are made up about how evil the colonies became, etc.

    In the present time, the town is 54 years old. Most people that followed the founder, the first Reverend, into the wilderness so long ago are now deceased. Only three people that came to the land as adults are still alive aside from the founder, but he's bedridden and delusional. His son leads in the present day under the same title. Several older people remember pieces of their past, but they had been children back then.

    Maybe I could incorporate your idea? Every year or couple of years, the Reverend could send lower church officials off to trade. If anyone was ever to escape or follow them, the church could lie and say that they died out in the wilderness or would be overcome by evils should they ever contact the outside. Unlike the church officials, who are protected due to their righteousness. For their loyalty, the officials would receive luxuries that normal people are not privy to as incentive to return. Outside of the small town they would feel like nobodies, but certainly they'd have power once they returned bearing goods. A situation in which the Reverend and certain lesser church leaders would retain currency for trading, but the people cannot engage in material wealth.
     
  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    One more thought: I'm not sure if slaves are plausible. Keeping a group of presumably disloyal, rebellious people under control would probably not be worth the risk to your leader. Your townspeople are kept from fleeing en masse because they presumably have a half-decent life. But slaves would likely have every motivation to escape, and if the town has essentially no interaction with the outside world, then law enforcement wouldn't be available to hunt them down. To keep them totally imprisoned and under control would likely require some powerful and weaponed members of the town, and I'm not sure if the leader would want too many of those around--and those he does want around, he probably wants busy maintaining his control over the townsfolk.
     
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  10. TheRealStegblob

    TheRealStegblob Kill All Mages Contributor

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    So your little society sounds like it's basically hyper-communist. While it doesn't have an actual currency, it probably does at least have some unofficial social castes and people hold reputations. Perhaps a particular person is well-liked based on some reason (their merit at working or some other more vapid reason, like they come from "a good family", etc) and these people get slightly preferential treatment in the community. Maybe unskilled labor is looked down upon by others who are blacksmiths/carpenters/skilled laborers. Women would likely be treated as second to men.

    So yeah, slaves make sense. They'd just be worked harder, treated worse (in both direct and indirect ways) and be looked at as second class people by some or most of the society. The idea of slaves existing in such an isolated place is very interesting, I'd imagine how different members of the society might act towards the existence and use of slaves. After a few generations, slaves would probably be growing more and more ingrained into the society (especially via inbreeding and creating mixed citizens, as I assume these slaves are black) which means there'd probably be a large group of people in the society who are staunchly against the integration of slaves, while some others in the society are entirely open to- or even outright proponents of- it. Very interesting concept, to say the least.

    Well what exists outside of the town? Is it hundreds of miles of wilderness? How do you think real slavery worked?

    A slave revolt in such a hypothetical community is pretty plausible, but so are slaves who are obedient and keep to themselves/do their work. Especially if they're the product of multiple generations of slave families. There's a saying that I feel is very true that goes "People aren't likely to revolt when they feel life is bad, they're likely to revolt when they no longer get something they were expecting to receive". Slaves who aren't expecting or never really consider being free don't tend to have strong community concepts of freedom or having any other kind of life. This is why when one type of people keep another type as slaves, they suppress learning and community as ways of keeping slaves ignorant and in line, since it's the smart and capable ones that will become a problem when they inspire and teach their peers. I'd imagine that in a community like this, most slaves would be quietly 'content' with their life and wouldn't raise much of a fuss. At least not until a socially-forward individual(s) inspired them to see a better life.

    As for fleeing slaves, it's likely several individuals might flee into the woods (and perhaps in this story there's been tales of slaves escaping), but life as a slave is better than life in the wilderness (which for most people in that time probably meant slow death). Most people will probably take the roof over their heads and the food over a dangerous escape attempt.
     
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  11. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm not sure. It appears that pretty much the whole community here is, in essence, an imprisoned population, but they're imprisoned based on a very delicate balance of power and the illusion that they're free people. Does that work in concert with actual slaves? Maybe it does, but my brain rejects the level of complexity there.
     
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  12. TheRealStegblob

    TheRealStegblob Kill All Mages Contributor

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    Well, sure. Most of the time in human history slave populations could outnumber their masters as many as 2:1. In parts of colonial america, slaves even made up around half of the population. Despite their numbers, slaves remained enthralled because that's just what they expected and most of them didn't really try to escape until education became more available to them (usually because an unwitting slave master taught his slaves skills that made them more outwardly considerate of the world) and they started to expect better treatment. I mean shit, the largest revolts in colonial america were primarily lead by slaves that had been educated for use in war (and thus had combat training, such as in Stono rebellion, the single largest slave rebellion where ex-soldier slaves trained in use of firearms and combat tactics roused up their peers and lead a revolt).

    These revolts may not have ever even happened if the rhetoric of slave masters wasn't literally "black ppls r fuking dumb lol" (no seriously, an entire generation of Harvard graduates in the early 1700's would write extensively about how blacks were naturally docile/lazy/stupid/only obeyed the whip/etc) and as such they didn't understand the 'danger' of teaching their slaves things, especially letting them see the outside world. Some slave masters and white people had such little respect for blacks that they underestimated them to the point of undermining their own slavery social ladder because they had no fear of teaching them things that made them too smart to keep respecting their place.

    When there are a lot of slaves, slavery becomes more of a social construct than a physical one. Even in an isolated community there's going to be some form of social caste system and considering this hypothetical community copies directly from the typical system of the already established towns, only living in self-imposed isolation, there'd probably be a strong understanding of master-to-slave social positions from both the free men and the enslaved. Slaves were entirely second class citizens (where they were even counted as citizens at all) and that probably wouldn't change very much in an isolated town. Look at how absolutely fucked up Amish communities are, and they aren't even entirely self-isolated.

    Anyways I'm rambling a bit but I guess my main point is that I could entirely see slavery existing in an isolated community. I appreciate what you mean by "the entire population is imprisoned in a way", but the big difference likely is that the free folk are allowed to leave if they really wanted where as the slaves are slaves. A free man could send his son to learn blacksmithing. A slave just does what they're told and has no prospects of climbing whatever social ladder exists in the community. I'm assuming there's also some type of democratic government or voting system in this community? Slaves can't vote on anything. There's clearly a church and religious system. Slaves aren't allowed to worship in the same nice church as the whites.

    Even if everyone is imprisoned, only one part of the population is literally imprisoned as opposed to figuratively. Like I said before, though, it's probably likely that slavery would exist only temporarily. In such a tightly knit community it'd likely be that such intimate proximity naturally lead to slaves becoming fully integrated into the population, assuming the community survived long enough.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2018
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  13. Indigo Abbie

    Indigo Abbie Member

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    Hyper-communist is a good way to describe the rule. You nailed a lot of deeper cultural aspects as well. People like the Reverend and lower church members as well as the sheriff and church enforcers, they are all practically untouchable. A person's reputation is precious. Someone that often lived in low standings or died amidst a "scandal" is buried without honor. Basically they're tossed in or near the river without a headstone or memorial. Mandated attendance sermons can turn into a drawn out shaming that focuses on one member or a whole group or family thus changing the way others perceive and assist them.

    The treatment of slaves vary as much as the opinions about it. The plot of the story is about a group that rises up against the church leadership because of conflicted beliefs. This includes the belief that slavery is hypocritical. For instance, the main protagonist convinces his best friend's father to apply for a slave woman. He hates the practice, but agrees after a persuasive argument. The reason is more in depth, but basically her former abusive master had his right to own stripped after a scandal over a mixed-race infant. Although she aids in domestic duties, she is not treated as typical slaves and her child is raised alongside the others in the house. She becomes a spy of sorts and a valuable member of this diverse group of rebels. The passive nature in which she accepted her enslavement because of her faith earns much admiration from the devout protagonist although he does his best to convince her that she should never have been subject to the rule of other humans and likewise he earns her admiration.

    It is basically wilderness, yes. No one left has any clue how long it goes on for and fear tactics are used to dissuade curiosity.

    I will say that not all slaves are mistreated physically. People are usually aware of which owner households do mistreat their slaves though and unfortunately little is done about it unless it ends in murder. Very demented logic that the leadership has found a way to justify. Using a real historical tactic believes to decrease slave rebellion, the slaves are made to attend mandatory Sunday sermons. It is the one place they are allowed to talk. However, it is very limited, monitored, and primarily how slavery justification using Scripture is ingrained into them.

    This is the main reason why I do not wish to add trading into the mix. The idea is that the wilderness equals death for absolutely anyone. Seeing tradesmen go out and return time and time again would diminish that fear. Even regular town members are afraid of the wilderness. Banishment is used both as a high form of shunning and as a slow, painful death sentence.

    Yes and no. The town was founded by a religious leader that was basically forced out because of his insane ideals, imagine that. The religious system is the democracy in a way, though "impartial" councilors do exist and the people are allowed to vote for lower church leaders whom the Reverend approves of. However, the Reverend cannot be removed from his position of leadership without force. Much like in dictatorships, a line of succession is planned if something should happen to him. In fact, he is the son of the founder.

    Indeed, the town has only been around for a little more than fifty years so the systems are in no way perfected or destined to last. Full integration would be probable a few decades down the line. Especially if calamity, such as a rapid illness that decimated the population, stuck. They would resort to really anything to maintain their numbers, perhaps even polygamy.

    Much respect and appreciation for all the time you put in to provide helpful feedback and to read what may come off as worldbuilding-paranoid ramblings! :)
     
  14. TheRealStegblob

    TheRealStegblob Kill All Mages Contributor

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    This stuff is pretty interesting to me because slavery is a special hobby interest of mine (I even tried keeping some slaves of my own but they kept running away for some reason?) and I've become a somewhat amateur slavery historian, kind of. The social construction of an enthralled slave caste has always been of particular interest, too. If any slave would revolt in a setting such as your own, they'd probably be someone who has been given legitimate tastes of freedom some how. If it's not too late to change things around in your synopsis, perhaps one of the rebel slaves has been used for hunting/general wilderness tracking expeditions, giving them experience with weaponry and also survival and resourcefulness (you mentioned the men would occasionally hunt for food). Maybe it's even part of this female slave's history, because what crazy 1700 religious man living in an isolated church community would ever expect a black woman to actually utilize skills with a weapon once she's given experience as a rifle handler for a group of huntsmen? I'm just spitballing.

    One helpful thing to really keep into account is that people at the time held serious and pseudo-logical beliefs that black people were somehow completely inferior mentally to white people (to the point they'd outright underestimate their own slaves), this would be most prominently believed and preached by more intelligent/educated types. This can be useful for world building and for putting into your story.
     
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  15. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    [QUOTE="Indigo Abbie, post: 1658621, member: 86055" Perhaps it would be better if farmland and farm laborer housing was divided into three or four self-sufficient districts? Do you have suggestions? I actually modeled the town on a game and have several images available for my own reference. Perhaps I should recreate from the story less and model some new layout ideas to integrate.[/QUOTE]

    As an avid gamer, games are terrible when it comes to accurate town planning because everything there is for the convenience of the player, not the inhabitants. Firstly, farmers will live on their farms, because that's the easiest for them. Then, you'd likely have a cluster or two that serve as service hubs, where you meet the merchants to sell on your produce, meet the blacksmith to talk about getting your hoe fixed, and trade with other farmers for animals, food, and livestock. These places were often near or by water, due people building around these anyway, and you'd probably have a church here as well.
     
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  16. hvysmker

    hvysmker Member

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    As an avid gamer, games are terrible when it comes to accurate town planning because everything there is for the convenience of the player, not the inhabitants. Firstly, farmers will live on their farms, because that's the easiest for them. Then, you'd likely have a cluster or two that serve as service hubs, where you meet the merchants to sell on your produce, meet the blacksmith to talk about getting your hoe fixed, and trade with other farmers for animals, food, and livestock. These places were often near or by water, due people building around these anyway, and you'd probably have a church here as well.[/QUOTE]
     
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  17. hvysmker

    hvysmker Member

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    I'll try to give you a little advice, possibly way off base.

    You seem to have a lot of background information needed by the reader. That can be carefully worked in during a story or, preferably a novel. Or it can be given as a separate "background" file to a series of short stories based on that background. I've done that as well as followed another author's background. With the latter, a writer would first read the background than write his/her story to fit it. Much like a fanstory.

    The first method would risk a data dump but would work by assuming the reader is intelligent enough to fill in the blanks.

    One thing you have to do, period is like you said by making certain YOU know every aspect of that society, bar none.

    Since it is so complex, I'd make my protagonist a leader of the community, and write from His/her point of view. I'd start with a small emergency to show his authority and dump a bit of information amid a hectic recovery. That would serve to define some or all of the chief characters and their authority. It would also help to define a little about how the community functions as well as dangers.

    Another issue I've seen in these answers is that of slavery. Be aware that there are a good many types of slavery. Even in the pre-Civil War period in the American south, the idea of working slaves to death was recent and unusual. The majority of slaves were treated fairly, their status realized as valuable. The major problem was the absence of civil rights, such as the right to make their own decisions or leaving their employer at will. Most were willing to work, treated fairly and not rebellous.

    Step back and think logically. If you owned a farm or small factory back then, at least partially worked by slaves, wouldn't they be treated as an expensive asset? You'd train them according to your own needs, increasing their value. If They were impertenant, rebellious, or troublesome you'd sell them off quickly and buy others. Every whip mark or bruise would decrease their sales value.

    That's where the big plantations would come in, to buy slaves as cheaply as possible. Then they WOULD work them to death as well as employ armed guards to make certain they worked. Most slaves did not fit that image. Imagine yourself a mildly successful farmer. You and you wife are getting old and tired. You can, maybe by borrowing, buy a new mule and maybe a slave to help work your fields along with your two sons. Maybe you can even buy one to help your wife with her work? How would you treat them? Probably as valuable assets and to show off to your niegbors. Beat them? You must be kidding. They might easily become friends as well as employees that MUST follow orders. Probably live in your house and eat with your family as near-family. Treating them well would be to your advantage and popular convention would keep them from causing problems or running off. Even at the worst, if they took ill you'd treat them at least as well as a good mule.

    The same thing would apply if you ran a small factory. If a slave was loyal and a good worker you'd treat them well. After all, they were a valuable investment and took a long time to train. If initially a goofoff, you'd sell them off quickly.

    And, as a final opinion, the idea of slavery was rapidly changing. The US was the last major power to condone slavery and it would eventually have ended on its own. The chief cause against slavery was the steam engine and the industrial revolution. Slavery was simply becoming inefficient. It was cheaper to pay a worker wages for a day's work than to be responsible for them 24/7. A slaveowner has to pay for all of his worker's medical needs, housing, and welfare. For a wage earner, such needs dropped down to eight to twelve hours a day. If he only needed a worker for, say, planting and harvest he only hired them for those periods. If a factory owner needed various amounts of skilled or unskilled workers during the year he need no pay for them year around. No, slavery had become inefficient.

    Now, as to that information dump. Much would be unnecessary, the rest gradually worked into the story inbetween and during action scenes.

    Study the Amish. They keep separate from the rest of the US, yet do interact when it's in their best interests. Special envoys help a lot in that interaction. They barter among themselves buy do value cash.

    Now one thing you could do is bring the idea of money back to its basics, such as bartering for work hours. A character could give a written note to a store or individual promising to work for a certain time period in exchange for a product or service. Maybe promise a dentist one hundred hours of service next winter after harvest for pulling a tooth. The dentist could maybe use that work promise to help build a shed in his back yard, or even trade it to a merchant for dental supplies.

    Charlie - hvysmker
     
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  18. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I think that you mean "human rights", not "civil rights".

    And I really think that you need a word other than "fairly". "Fair" does not apply to any form of slavery whatsoever.
     
  19. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, no. Most of this was retroactively made up by groups such as The Daughters of The Confederacy after the civil war in an attempt to make the south seem less like the evil hole that it was. Read anything written by slaves from the time, such as The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, written by himself, and it shows the actual systems of someone who went through it.
     
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  20. hvysmker

    hvysmker Member

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    Now I'm not in any position and have no inclination to defend the practice of slavery. I'm more of a student of human nature. I have been in a war and realize the horrors humans can perpetrate on each other. On the other hand, I'm aware of the basic needs of humanity, such as trying for a comfortable life, a feeling of safety, respect among their peers, the security of keeping what they've managed to acquire and competing with each other for those basic needs.

    First of all, I’ll stand by the use of Civil Rights because I think of Human Rights as being a modern issue and that morality has little or nothing to do with slavery in the Old South.

    For another matter, growing and processing cotton used to be a very labor intensive process, hardly much of a moneymaker unless done on a large scale with little profit per acre. It wasn’t until the invention of the cotton gin around 1830 that it became profitable. Even then, it took a little while to take hold, mostly because of communication back then and that farmers were slow to take to new inventions, especially expensive changes.

    That is a prime example of the industrial revolution changing the face of slavery. If a plantation used a cotton gin, it needed far fewer slaves. And the sort of rebellious slaves they were stuck with were a hard sell to others. A glut on the market. With them on the market, though, the price of slaves went down.

    Another problem was that before the war and an important issue in causing it were laws in force restricting slaves to only those living here at the time the laws were passed. In other words, no new slaves were to be allowed.

    Another issue seldom brought up was that a few slaves WERE enlisted in the southern army during that war. I don’t believe any were trusted with ammunition, and probably not very many working muskets, but they were used for official functions such as raising money for the cause.

    Speaking of slavery, what about all the indentured white people? They were treated much like slaves, only for a specified period, though.

    How do you think those original and new slaves originated? Most of them were sold along the African coast by other blacks. The majority had been captured in warfare. Now, give that matter a little thought. That would mean that some, not many, would have been educated, which would add immensely to their value as slaves. That would mean that there WERE slaves that could read and write, knew math and other subjects. After all, they would no doubt try to pass their knowledge on to others. Imagine the value of an educated slave to owners of small businesses.

    To make matters more complex, there were many free blacks who, themselves, owned slaves. Many of them were wealthy in their own right and employed whites.

    The treatment of slaves was even different, state by state. In some northern locales, they did have certain rights, such as modern pet laws. Slavery was a complex issue, and still is. I spent a lot of time in the US Army, where I was treated much like a slave, a clear but legal violation of my civil rights.

    As I said, I’m not about to be involved in an argument on the subject. I don’t pretend to be an expert. This missive explains my views which you don’t have to share. I should give a darn?

    By the way, I am NOT new on this and other writing sites. I’ve simply been off them for a few years with personal problems … mainly the big ‘C’.

    Charlie, hvysmker.
     
  21. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." The second paragraph of the US constitution. Sounds like human rights to be. Admittedly woman are lacking, but that was corrected later on down the line.
    "Whitney's gin used a combination of a wire screen and small wire hooks to pull the cotton through, while brushes continuously removed the loose cotton lint to prevent jams. It revolutionized the cotton industry in the United States, but also led to the growth of slavery in the American South as the demand for cotton workers rapidly increased." Basic wikipedia search there and basic logic. The gin reduced the number of people needed producing, not growing and picking. This actually resulted in an increase in slavery due to the increased production speed.

    The reason they were signed up was because they were promised freedom if they served once the war was over. Second part is a "whatboutism", and is irrelevant to the discussion. And I still think it's unethical.

    They were able to write in a language which their owners couldn't understand, and they weren't hired for complex labour. Slaves being educated was directly against what slave holders wanted, because the majority of them weren't used in small businesses. Slaveowners beat their slaves for even trying to learn to read and write on their own, or educate each other.

    No, it doesn't make matters more complex, because slavery is still evil. The free black people that owned slaves took part in an evil practice. This is not a narrative of "white bad, black good", this is "slavery bad".

    No, no it's not. You were paid, and decided to do it.

    1. You posted multiple paragraphs stating evidence. You started this argument.

    2.No, you're not an expert. I'm heading into my third year of university with a focus on black writing, specifically in the US, and a large part of what they teach us is the context. I am not an expert either, I'd have to do a history degree for that, but I know more than you.

    3. You posted multiple paragraphs and attempt to garner sympathy by referencing cancer. You clearly do give a darn.

    And finally, you didn't reference any original points I made. The only evidence you have to back up your claims is either wrong or based on not knowing the full story.

    The truth is I know that you won't change your mind when told this, because, as you said, you weren't looking for an argument, you were looking to present your views as right and not have them challenged, or have to think about them.
     
    ChickenFreak likes this.
  22. hvysmker

    hvysmker Member

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    First of all, hallisme, I didn’t start an argument here. Other mentions of slavery remind me of brainwashing in public schools when I was a kid. Our subject back in the fifties was Russian Communism. Oh, but how teachers and textbooks pounded in supposed facts about those nasty Communists. It wasn’t until the Internet and fall of the USSR that the truth filtered in about them. Right now my best Internet friend is a product for Russian Communism and misses in in many respects. Hell, I’ve even broke bread with them in both Germany and Vietnam and, guess what, they didn’t seem so imposing when passing the fried chicken (actually dog in the Nam.)

    You must have heard the old adage that history is written by the winners.

    No, I don’t condone slavery, but I prefer forming my own opinion – right or wrong – over simply emulating that of contemporary sources. Human nature, for instance, tells me that the average poor southerner, when in perpetual close contact with slaves would soon accept them as human. Of course, there would be plenty of bullies that would never change their opinion. I still think that the majority of slaves were treated kindly, though not respected as fully human.

    As for that preamble to the US Constitution, I’m not impressed. Looked at closely, it appears to me to be nothing much but flowery humanistic nonsense. We are not all created equal and the rights we have are only those afforded us by our masters, politicians. They can be taken away rather easily.

    As a kid back in the forties and fifties we heard constantly of the evils perpetrated by the Russians, Nazis, and the Chinese against their own people. Have you looked around lately? Right now our government is using those same old tactics against us. All in the name of safety from terrorists.

    Another piece of nonsense was President Kennedy’s comment, “ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." Now, I ask you, have you ever heard such a Communistic statement? I can well imagine it coming from Joseph Stalin, himself.

    Back to the subject, he-he. I admit I was shortsighted about less workers needed with the use of the cotton gin. You’re right in that more had to be hired.

    As for blacks in the Southern army, some were enlisted by their owners, some were free blacks enlisting for patriotic reasons or the pay.

    When it comes to indentured workers, I’m reminded that the practice still goes on in some places. For instance, when in Japan I knew some bargirls that were there as a result of contracts signed by their parents when they were young girls around ten to thirteen years old. Their parents need loans and the kids were used as collateral, under control of the lender or holder of their contract until it was paid off. If they ran away the police would bring them back. All perfectly legal. Those girls were also greatly encouraged to work as prostitutes. At that time and place prostitution was NOT illegal. It was simply a slightly undesirable job for a girl.

    We differ when it comes to whether slave owners wanted intelligent slaves that could read, write, and do math. I believe they would be in demand in certain quarters, probably bringing a premium price. My reasoning is simply human nature. If you were a dealer in new slaves and a shipment came in from Africa, you’d try to weed them out from the, excuse me, herd for extra treatment. They might be kept and sold separately for a higher rate (sort’a under the table?), even if illegal.

    Even if black and enslaved in Africa, some of those slaves might have been educated at Harvard. Don’t tell me they would have ended up picking cotton – unless runners.

    Finally, I in no way tried subterfuge to defend slavery, only trying to remind readers that it IS a complex subject where one size does not fit all. Slavery is a term that can be, and is, defined in various ways. It is only one subject that can end up politically correct in order to sell and get good rating for the author. My most experience was in Communism, now we’re being taught, in a more refined manner, to dislike Muslims and especially Iranians. Later, if it ever comes to war, we can expect training to hate them. The careful manipulation of masses has become a science. I wonder how many Americans still think Saddam was trying for an atom bomb? For that manner, how many think Iran IS trying to build one, something to laugh at, really. If they wanted one, why not simply buy an old one from China or Pakistan? No need to sneak around to build their own.

    Sorry, I like to ramble. And this is all, period, that I intend to write on this subject. I have a rodent companion named Oscar Rat that I can send over some night to bite your toes. One time, and only one time, he showed me his human toe collection. Gross!

    Charlie - hvysmker
     
  23. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    I am just going to focus on this point. I am not meaning to be combative, but I referenced a group called the Daughter's of The Confederacy earlier. This was a group of women who, after the civil war, dedicated their efforts to ensure that "southern" textbooks, told the "southern story", which was where a lot of the ideas of "noble slavery" came from. They campaigned for monuments for Confederate generals to be put up, and helped ensure the Jim Crow laws. They also set up a group called the "children of the Confederacy" which was specifically aimed at reinforcing this doctrine within southern children. This is not a case of the winners writing history. This is a case of the losers rewriting their own history to be the victim.
     
  24. hvysmker

    hvysmker Member

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    I come from Northern Ohio. When a child, around 1925-1935, my father said his family belonged to the local KKK. Yes, there was a KKK in Ohio. That it and the VFW were the only two social groups in my small town. He was a bigot and I sometimes wonder about their influence on him.

    When we both lived in Chicago I didn’t own a car and used his occasionally. I’d be embarrassed when he’d stop at a particular diner for coffee on the way to work. I’d use his car an pick him up at quiting time. Anyway, he’d sit at a table of cronies where they’d run down every race and religion except their own. I’d sit and read the morning paper, trying to ignore the talk against Wops, Jews, Kikes, Polocks, Ragheads, etc. They’d, for example talk against blacks … until a black friend came in. Then they’d look around before switching to how Canucks from Canada were getting their jobs.

    I remember a black friend when stationed in France. He married a white French girl and was afraid to return to the states. That was about 1966. He was afraid that his folks would kill her.

    On one tour in Germany I shared an apartment with a black sergeant and his German wife. Me being white, we went through many difficult situations. Some of my friends didn’t like him, some of his didn’t like me, and her relatives didn’t like any Americans. I thought it funny that he preferred soft big band music when alone, as did me and his wife. But let one or two of his friends visit and on came black jazz. When we, all three, went out together we’d have to watch where we drank and socialized to avoid trouble. Oh, and back to France. There was a lot of prejudice there back in the 1960s. It was against all American Gis only. They loved tourists but hated the American military being stationed there. TV, radio, and newspapers all preached against us. Often we weren’t served in native bars or shops. Finally, my unit was one of the first kicked out of France. So I have seen some prejudice.

    Charlie – hvysmker.
     
  25. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Making guesses about human nature can work for fictional world-building. It’s not very effective for history.
     

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