Famous Quotes & Sayings

David Brion Davis Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 20 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by David Brion Davis.

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David Brion Davis Quotes 1928715

Some Southerners effectively applied slave labor to the cultivation of corn, grain, and hemp (for making rope and twine), to mining and lumbering, to building canals and railroads, and even to the manufacture of textiles, iron, and other industrial products. Nevertheless, no other American region contained so many white farmers who merely subsisted on their own produce. The "typical" white Southerner was not a slaveholding planter but a small farmer who tried, often without success, to achieve both relative self-sufficiency and a steady income from marketable cash crops. — David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis Quotes 307643

The subject of British abolitionism has long been controversial, complex, and even baffling. It also raises the issue of moral progress in history - whether groups of reformers and even nations can succeed in eliminating deeply entrenched forms of human oppression, and if so, by what methods, misconceptions, and under what conditions? — David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis Quotes 1705162

Humans are no less eager than in the past to dominate, degrade, humiliate, and control - often in order to confirm their own sense of pride and superiority. (Adam Smith wrote in 1776 that this was the main motive for slavery.) But — David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis Quotes 2100209

Despite widespread attemps to equate human captives with domestic animals and even to market them and price them the same way < ... > slaves were fortunately never held long enough in a distinctive group to undergo genetic neoteny < ... >. Yet a kind of neoteny was clearly the goal of many slaveholders, even if they lacked a scientific understanding of how domestication changed the nature and behavior of animals. Aristotle's ideal of the "natural slave" was very close to what a human being would be like if subjected to a genetic change similar to that of domesticated plants and animals. — David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis Quotes 290848

HIt is surely certain - as certain as one can be about any historical events - that the fall of New World slavery could not have occurred if there had been no abolitionist movements. We can thus end on a positive note of willed achievement, a century's moral achievement that may have no parallel. It is an achievement, despite its many limitations, that should help inspire some confidence in other movements for social change, for not being condemned to fully accept the world into which we are born. — David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis Quotes 456404

< ... > many national leaders including Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, John Adams, John Jay, Gouverneur Morris, and Rufus King saw American slavery as an immense problem, a curse, a blight, or a national disease. If the degree of their revulsion varied, they agreed that the nation would be much safer, purer, happier, and better off without the racial slavery that they had inherited from previous generations and, some of them would emphasize, from England. Most of them also believed that America would be an infinitely better and less complicated place without the African American population, which most white leaders associated with all the defects, mistakes, sins, shortcomings, and animality of an otherwise almost perfect nation. — David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis Quotes 766728

< ... > tyranny is a central theme of American history, that racial exploitation and racial conflict have been part of the DNA of American culture. — David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis Quotes 833265

Although the Civil War was an apocalyptic success in the sense that it brought an end to nearly a century of struggle and broken hopes regarding the ultimate extinction of African American slavery, it also combined new freedoms, as in other major revolutions, with shock, breakdown, trauma, and tragedy. Neither desired nor accurately anticipated by leaders in the North and South, the war dramatized the failure of the whole American system of political negotiation and compromise that had never weakened the institution of slavery but had supported democratic government for whites for over eighty years. < ... > Moreover, the long-term outcome of this revolutionary decision would be determined within a context of sectional hate and bitterness, political revenge, and competing presssures for reconciliation, reunion, and forgiveness. — David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis Quotes 1076412

< ... > this Revolutionary ideology, epitomized by the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence, showed that the very idea of slavery is a fiction or fraud, since liberty and equality are fundamental rights that no one can legitimately lose. — David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis Quotes 1105526

What matters is that Southern slaves, at least on the larger plantations, created their own African
American culture, which helped to preserve some of the more crucial areas of life and thought from white control or domination without significantly
reducing the productivity and profitability of slave labor. Living within this African American culture, sustained by strong community ties, many slaves were able to maintain a certain sense of apartness, of pride, and of independent identity. — David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis Quotes 1269109

Thus the word "inhuman", in this book's title, refers to the unconscionable and unsuccessful goal of bestializing (in the form of pets as well as beasts of burden) a class of human beings. — David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis Quotes 1446952

We must face the ultimate contradiction that our free and democratic society was made possible by massive slave labor. — David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis Quotes 1735413

A final word should be said concerning the status of free blacks. Before the American Revolution this status had been ambiguous, and the number of free blacks was insignificant. < ... > A rash of new laws, similar to the later Black Codes of Reconstruction, reduced free blacks almost to the status of slaves without masters. The new laws regulated their freedom of movement, forbade them to associate with slaves, subjected them to surveillance and discipline by whites, denied them the legal right to testify in court against whites, required them to work at approved jobs, and threatened them with penal labor if not actual reenslavement. — David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis Quotes 1737371

< ... > black slavery was basic and integral to the entire phenomenon we call "America." This often hidden or disguised truth ultimately involves the profound contradiction of a free society that was made possible by black slave labor. — David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis Quotes 1788349

Several travelers noted that American masters wanted above all to be "popular" with their slaves - a characteristically American need that was probably rare in Brazil or the Caribbean. — David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis Quotes 1807906

For Southerners, a white skin was the distinguishing badge of mind and intellect. Black skin was the sign that a given people had been providentially designed to serve as menial laborers, as what Hammond called the "mudsill" class necessary to support every society. — David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis Quotes 1860495

Much as slavery in the United States was part of a larger Atlantic Slave System, so America's War of Independence was an outgrowth of Europe's Seven Years' War - from 1756 to 1763 - and also a precursor or harbinger of the French and Haitian revolutions and of the subsequent Latin American wars for independence from Spain. — David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis Quotes 1902820

It was the mission of the Confederacy, ordinary whites were told, to carry out God's design for an inferior and dependent race. Slaveholders claimed that owning slaves always entailed a duty and a burden - a duty and burden that defined the moral superiority of the South. And this duty and burden was respected by millions of nonslaveholding whites, who were prepared to defend it with their lives. That, perhaps, was the ultimate meaning of a slave society. — David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis Quotes 1936893

It is of inestimable importance that the classical and biblical traditions linked slavery with original sin, punishment < ... >, the later abolition of slavery became tied with personal and collective freedom, with the redemption from sin, with the romanticizing of many form of labor, and with the ultimate salvation of humankind. — David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis Quotes 2206305

Sad to say, in a present-day world that seems to be governed by clashing self
interests and material forces, where we have learned that idealistic rhetoric usually cloaks nationalistic purposes or even far more diabolical schemes, it has become increasingly difficult to explain collective actions that profess to be driven by virtuous ideals or a desire to make the world a better place. During the past century, various national leaders have ordered the slaughter of tens of millions of people as the supposedly necessary means to perfect the world. Today we are far more cynical, I fear, than the generations at the beginning of the past genocidal century, before the First World War and the Russian Revolution. — David Brion Davis