- At one point, 1 in 7 Americans (14%) was a slave.
- 4 slaves out of 100 survived until age 60.
With the world in general and the US in particular going somewhat crazy (something that started gradually decades ago and is accelerating now), I was curious about Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was written during troubled and racist times like these…
The seeds for the novel were planted during the 1830s and 1840s when she heard tales about slavery, then blossomed after the fugitive slave acts were passed in 1850. She based the novel on tales and a few writings by runaway slaves, and sold it as a serialized novel for $600 (not a tiny sum in 1850). It was a success, and published as a novel that was also a phenomenal and immediate success – in the North, the average person could picture slavery beyond the speeches, and in the South Stowe was called slanderous and a liar, but both northerners and southerners read her book, and it was published in virtually every language across the world. Like Common Sense in 1776, Uncle Tom’s Cabin’s influence in the right time and right place is hard to overstate. Stowe became a celebrity, and moved after The Civil War to Florida, where in her old age she likely suffered from Alzheimer’s before dying in 1895(?).
I’m very interested in reading this book! I’ve reserved the audiobook from the library. There are several people who’ve reserved the book before me (i.e. there is a wait list), which is wonderful!
Before the increased use of slaves (beginning in 1617 and increasing after decreased slave rights in the 1640s), indentured servants provided cheap labor for land owner in the American colonies. The first recorded Indentured servant was in 1609 in Jamestown. Despite harsh treatment during their term (sometimes over 7 years), people enrolled to escape the poverty caused by The Thirty Years war.
Any man who is born a slave, learns to read (“illegally”), fights against his owners and will not let even the whip dampen his spirit, who flees then becomes a major voice in Abolition, is someone I admire very much. On this Martin Luther King Day, I am also thinking of Frederick Douglas, one of my great heroes of all time. Hopefully MLK does not mind my thinking of Douglas this day 🙂
Although I haven’t seen it in a year, I’ve watched the movie Biutiful twice – and loved it both times and am considering watching it again, since it is a dark and depressing day and it is almost Halloween and we don’t need ghosts to make life scary since life is plenty scary for many people all on its own… On the surface, it is a deeply depressing movie (Wife M hates it for that reason 🙂 ) about a two-bit criminal father with a conscience who is dying of cancer, and you get the feeling at the end that although he has tried to take care of the people he loves it is not going to turn out well for any of them (foreshadowed by the deportations/deaths of the alien workers he tried to “help” while exploiting at the same time). The story is real, raw, heartfelt and devastating, and I love that the father never stops trying. Like The Road (or Pursuit of Happiness), to me it is really about a father in difficult circumstances who is desperately doing the best he can for his kids. I find that part inspiring. Also, it is a seedy movie, and I love seedy movies – they show me a part of life I will never live (hopefully). And, finally, it makes me feel something. I love movies that make me feel something.
In many ways, the movie is not unlike Breaking Bad. Link: Biutiful
I am really enjoying the book Travels, by Michael Crichton. In fact, I read it all the way home on the bus last night. Some notes:
His first trip was to Hong Kong and Bangkok. He said there is nothing like flying into Hong Kong at night: with the sea, lit buildings and mountains it is like flying into a bright jewel. He comments that the Chinese love fresh food, to the point he saw a woman carrying a live fish home in a plastic bag so it was alive to the last possible moment. In Bangkok, he mentions several times how easygoing the people are (they are called the Danes of Asia), except they take their religion very seriously (you can be jailed for climbing religious statues in temples). He struggles a little bit with his height: people openly stare, plus it is a custom that no one should be higher than a buddhist statue so often he has to duck to avoid that. He makes the mistake of smoking too much Thai grass and goes temporarily blind. He also is taken to a massage parlor where a soaped up woman massages the client with her body, and to a brothel of underage children, and he finds both disturbing (he does not stay in the children’s brothel). When he flies home, he mentions the trip was almost traumatic for him, and he realizes how sheltered (my word, not his) he is despite having traveled to nearly every US state and several times to Europe. A personal note, he mentions the humidity (“steamy”) twice, and for some reason that sounds pleasant to me, the heat and humidity and fresh air. I am also craving a Thai coffee, which I don’t normally do 🙂
I INTERRUPT THIS WITH COMMENTARY: He was troubled by the brothel and left his friend who took them there, as did another friend. I find it shocking that we — including myself — allow children’s sex places to exist. We proudly storm into Nazi territory to liberate concentration camps, but we allow in this day and age brothels to exist where we know in fact there are sex slaves, including children sex slaves. OMG those poor things… America is funny: if you threaten our Corporate interests, we will invade you. But want to buy children and young women and use them as sex slaves? We turn a blind eye. Crazy.
I detest McDonalds and Walmart and ESPN and Boeing and the like. They exploit the masses for profit while poisoning us, which benefits the very top investors at the expense of everyone else. But in reading about the French Revolution, which probably ignited because the people were hungry and desperate, the very things that keep our people down are also the things that keep them from revolting. These companies keep people’s tummies filled with poisonous food, keep them clothed with sweatshop made clothes, keep their minds occupied with cheap entertainment and keep them working long hours at dirt poor wages. In essence, the masses are miserable with little hope of improving, but they are not desperate (hungry, bored, cold) enough. But if our homeless population keeps growing, that might change over time… Please note, I don’t want revolution (god no) but is a little social reform and more equitable distribution of wealth too much to ask? One thing I know for sure, if Trump or Clinton or Cruz and most of the incumbents in Congress are elected, things will get worse…