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Posted June 23, 2011

Book: From Slave to Untouchable: Lincoln’s Solution
Author: Paul Kalra
Antenna Publishing Co. Pleasant Hill, CA. 2011. Pp. 275

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

A century an a half ago the first shots fired at Fort Sumter began the Civil War that claimed 620,000 American lives — more than all other wars the country waged. In From Slave to Untouchable: Lincoln’s Solution, Paul Kalra challenges the assumption that the Civil War was fought to end black slavery in the United States.

He meticulously traces the evolution of slavery in the U.S. to the Protestant slave code adopted by Southern slaveholders. It was primarily slaveholders — the wealthiest, most powerful class in pre-Civil War America — who framed the undemocratic Constitution that essentially divided the populace into slaveholders and non-slaveholders. Slaves were declared less than human; a commodity to be bought, used, and sold to further their masters’ economic advantage; and not entitled to citizenship or civil rights.

Even the Northerners, who had abolished slavery to attract European wage workers rather than on moral grounds, accepted it as long as blacks remained in the South. As immigrants flooding the slave-free North diminished the South’s political advantage, and the slaveholders’ unfair Constitution threatened the nation’s economic balance, it became clear taht the lies written into the Constitution were not sustainable. The tipping point was the election of Lincoln, whose opposition to expanding slave territories translated to the inevitability of Civil War.

Lalra contends that Civil War bloodshed could have been avoided had early Americans adopted the Catholic slave code — which recognized the humanity of slaves — rather than the Protestant code. His well-crafted argument weaves in an impressive array of perspectives, often in the words of the players — Northerners and Southerners, slaveholders and slaves, distinguished and obscure voices of the times. Finally, he maintains that the legacy of the slaveholders’ self-serving Constitution persists today, rendering blacks in America an essentially “untouchable” class, still viewed by whites as second-class citizens.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Religion as a Control Weapon

Religion was another instrument used to control slaves for maximal productivity. It provided black slaves with hope for the next world. Slaveowners were initially opposed to converting slaves to Christianity lest baptism gave blacks a claim to future freedom. This was resolved by a directive from the Bishop in London and an Act from the colonial legislature stating that conversion or baptism to Christianity would have no affect on blacks’ status as slaves. Thereafter most masters encouraged the preaching of Christianity among black slaves, and prior to the Civil War virtually all slaves had become Christians.

Slaves learned through religious instruction that slavery had divine sanction and that an insolent act against the master was equivalent to an insolent act against God. They received the biblical command that servants should obey their masters and were made aware that punishments for disobedience awaited them in the hereafter. Eternal salvation would be their reward for faithful service and, on the day of judgment, “God would deal imparitally with the poor and rich, the black man and the white man.”

Fanny Kemble noted that white preachers jumped the present life and furnished black slaves with all the requisite conveniences for the next. Frederick Douglass explained the slaveholders’ rationale as follows: “I was told by some one very early that ‘God up in the sky’ had made all things, and had made black people to be slaves and white people to be masters. I was told too that God was good and that he knew what was best for everybody.”

Table of Contents:

1. The moral setting

2. The economic class system

3. Law and order

4. Family values

5. Human rights

6. Civil rights

7. Educational opportunity

8. The reckoning

9. Lincoln’s solution

10. Lessons of the Civil War

11. Obama trumps the Constitution