We’ve seen enough movies and documentaries and read enough literary pieces and biographies to know about the state of the United States before the Civil War. Back when slavery was legal, Africans and African Americans were mistreated, abused, and subjected to torture, physical punishment, and even sexual abuse that, today, would be considered a crime.
While we’re still far from totally moving on from the past and racial discrimination against the black Americans today is still evident, it’s definitely a whole lot better than the outcome that would have happened if the Confederate States in the South won.
Had they won, they might have either seceded from the United States or allowed slavery to continue throughout the country. And if the latter occurred, here’s what you can expect would change in our society today.
Barack Obama Would Never Have Been President
Before the Civil War, the 15th Amendment (stating that people regardless of race or the fact that they were slaves in the past could not be denied the right to vote) did not exist. And even after this was introduced, plenty of Southern states introduced the “grandfather clause,” which stated that people could not vote if their grandfather didn’t vote. This was meant to keep African Americans away from voting polls as each new generation didn’t have a grandfather who could do so.
So, if African Americans were denied the right to vote, they definitely would not be allowed to run for office. They weren’t allowed to practice any other occupation except as a farmer or servant to the person who bought them.
That meant that we would not have the landmark bills Obama placed into law. The Affordable Care Act would have not existed, giving people financial assistance to obtaining medicine or treatments they need compared to the affordable kinds in other countries.
Slave Auctions Would Be Common Online
When people found out that the slave trade was still ongoing in some areas in the Middle East and Africa, they were livid that something like that was still going on even in the present. But if slavery were still legal in the United States, it would just be another common buy & sell business. Now, imagine if online shops such as Amazon and EBay became a place where you can find slave traders casually placing their wares.
If slavery were to continue into the modern age, sellers would also adapt to the modern conveniences provided by technology today. Because slaves were seen as commodities that were bought and sold, it may have been common to see ads for slaves online. If location were a factor in online ads, it may only appear in Southern states, though.
Black Americans Would Be Illiterate
After getting the chance to be more than just a farmer or a servant to their masters, freed Black Americans have shown that they are capable of success just as much as any person can regardless of race. Today, no one is surprised that there are lawyers, doctors, politicians, scientists, and even the President of the United States that trace their roots back to Africa.
Under slavery laws, however, black Americans may not experience the same fate. Partially because they wouldn’t be allowed to pursue such careers, but also because it would be illegal for them to learn how to read. When more people were pushing to outlaw slavery and started the abolitionist movement, slave traders and slaveholders were afraid that their slaves would find out about the movement and either try to escape or start a rebellion.
As a result, Black Americans weren’t taught how to read and write. That way, their access to information and news was restricted and they wouldn’t be emboldened by the abolitionist movement to do anything about their slavery status. Promoting illiteracy among the African Americans also removed their ability to think for themselves and have dreams beyond what their masters order them to do.
All-Black Churches Would Be Illegal
Also because of the fear of rebellion, white people in the slave industry regulated the slaves’ right to practicing their religion. Fearful that slaves would communicate and band together to start a rebellion, it was near impossible for a large group of African Americans to group without at least one white person to watch.
In South Carolina, for example, it was not allowed for religious meetings to take place if at least 51 percent of participants were black. In other cases, masses must be presided by a white priest, or at least there should be one white person in attendance. Because of segregation laws, however, if there were white people involved, that would mean they get preferential treatment over black people.
Black Americans Would Be Seen As Property (And Cannot Own Property)
Slave Laws in most states treated slaves like property. And while there were no laws protecting them as people, there were laws protecting them as their masters’ property. For example, the master was allowed to sell or lend their slave to anyone they wanted. Slaves could not choose their masters or change masters even if they’re treated cruelly. Slaves, if injured by other people, their masters may sue for damages. And slavery is “hereditary and perpetual,” meaning even if a slave had a child that wasn’t part of what the master bought, that child would be the master’s property.
And because they’re seen as property, Black Americans wouldn’t be able to own property. They aren’t allowed to make contracts – their masters would do that for them. So, Black Americans today wouldn’t be able to own a house, a car, or even be able to buy their basic needs without their master providing it for them.
This may all just be hypothetical, but it’s terrifying to think that something like this may have been our future if the early abolitionists hadn’t moved towards racial equality for all. This not only highlights the cruelty, torture, and inferior treatment provided by the early African Americans displaced and forced to work in the United States. It also shows how awful it looks to treat Black Americans this way simply because of the skin they were born with.