5 Myths About Slavery In America That Are Not True

We were all taught about slavery in our schools and colleges, but exactly how many of these facts were true? We’ve got some news and you’ll be surprised.

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Here are five myths about slavery in America that people still believe:

1. There was no such thing as Irish slaves

“There is unanimous agreement, based on overwhelming evidence, that the Irish were never subjected to perpetual, hereditary slavery in the colonies, based on notions of race,” historian Liam Hogan has written.

The reason the myth of Irish slavery has prevailed throughout history is because it has served the causes of Irish nationalist and supremacist groups who continue to perpetuate it in order to justify their agendas. The truth is that there were lots of Irish servants who came to the continent where they worked as cheap labor for merchants and plantation owners keen to exploit them. There were some Irish criminals who were sentenced to indentured servitude back in Ireland and forcibly taken to British colonies to carry out their sentence, and that’s where the myth essentially comes from.

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2. Slavery was the reason why The South withdrew from the Union

Some people claim that slavery wasn’t the fundamental reason for the American Civil War and it may come as a surprise to you, but that’s exactly what South Carolina said when they seceded from the Union in December of 1860. Their delegates said that “an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery” was the reason for their secession. They were also quite displeased with the decision of some Northern States to allow black men to vote.

“In fact, Confederates opposed states’ rights — that is, the right of Northern states not to support slavery,” James W. Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me, wrote in the Washington Post. This idea that the war wasn’t fundamentally about slavery was perpetuated by later generations who were keen to redefine their ancestors and the values they defended.

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3. Almost half of the Southerners had slaves

Another myth that’s constantly perpetuated is that only a small number of people in the south actually owned slaves. That’s almost entirely untrue, as more than 32% of families in the states that withdrew from the Union owned slaves. In some states the number was even as high as 46% (South Carolina) and 49% (Mississippi). Those numbers don’t tell the whole story, as the majority of the families actually aspired to own slaves, and the families that did not have slaves were those that couldn’t afford them.

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4. The Union did not go to war to end slavery

“If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that,” Abraham Lincoln wrote to The New York Tribune in August 1860. Their initial goal wasn’t to free the slaves, but rather hold the nation together. Lincoln was opposed to slaver, of that there’s no doubt, but his goal wasn’t to free the slaves.

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5. Black soldiers did not fight for the Confederacy

In fact, before March of 1865, black soldiers couldn’t even serve as soldiers. That was the official policy of the Confederate Army. Some generals wanted to utilize the African-American workforce in the army, but Jefferson Davis rejected the suggestion and prohibited any further discussion on the issue.