What did the former slaves and the former slaveholders want after emancipation? Were these desires realistic? How did former slaves and former slaveholders disagree after the end of slavery?
No one argues that slavery is one of the most sensitive matters that have ever existed in the history of the human civilization. People have always enthralled each other, and forced labor was one of the main sources of both individual and state enrichment. A great variety of scholars have written tons of books and dissertation about the origins, geographical and temporal peculiarities of slavery but what happened, after slavery was abolished, remains still an undiscovered area. This essay is focused on the relationships between the slaves and the slaveholder, after the slavery was abolished. In particular, it focuses on the interests’ satisfaction of them after the cancellation of slavery.
First and foremost, after the slavery was terminated forcibly in the majority of the civilized countries, the former slaves wanted to possess land and money to start normal human existence, while their masters wanted to retain the tools for enrichment. Let us refer to the abolishment of the slavery in the United States in 1863 and to the termination of serfdom in the Russian Empire in 1861. After the emancipation was proclaimed, the claims of the Negroes in the newly born United States of America and long lasting Russian Empire were identical.
The first group of interests was of economic nature. The former slaves needed the land and tools to work on this land in order to feed themselves and their families. The ruling law of that time provided a fact that all the acres belonged to their masters. Therefore, the interests of the both parties should have been reconciled somehow. The authorities of both countries realized, that it was practically impossible to solve this task without government support and organization. Perhaps, the most realistic approach was launched in Russia. While the slaves were granted with the plots, which were sufficient to feed them and their families, the former slave owners were indemnified by the state. The state was indemnified, in its turn, by the former slave, and the payment was divided into twenty five equal annual installments. Evidently, if the land was forcibly sequestered and then shared between the newly emancipated men and women, the revolution might easily have taken place, because the support of the monarchy directly depended on the royal support of the private initiatives of the royal subjects. Assuming that the slaveholders were not indemnified of the slave in full measure, the sequestered plot, the dissatisfaction with the policy of the state, and the so-called ‘betrayal’ of the ‘loyal citizens’ may have easily led to revolution and civil war. The most exemplary situation is Civil War in the United States of America, where slavery was a keystone of the conflict between the North and the South. Moreover, recruited Negroes played a crucial role in the war and eventually their battalions led the troops of George Washington to the victory.
Apart from satisfying the economic interests of both groups, the cultural interests of the slaves might have been satisfied. When the land is distributed, the most promising and ambitious former slaves demonstrated the deep desire to study and improve their social and economic position. The best way to serve their interests was to set up the state educational programs and to institute the system of public schools.
Overall, it can be inferred, that although the claims of the both parties of the conflict were very contradictory in their essence, if specific government concessions were made and several policies were initiated, the interests of both communities might have been successfully satisfied.