Control of Labor and Fetuses

A Dirty Little Secret of the Uncivil War for Freedom of Labor –

by Jack D. Forbes

The “Uncivil War” (U.S. Civil War) was not a romantic defense of southern freedom, nor was it a protest against a power-hungry federal government. It was in the main a struggle over the status of women and labor and specifically the control over unborn fetuses. Women who were held to be slaves (captives or private prisoners, in fact) were not only workers without pay; they were also the source of future unpaid workers, workers already in their wombs as well as workers not yet conceived.
You see, the slave owners were getting rich or were hoping to get rich because they controlled labor that received no wages, only subsistence. The slave system was part of a conquest system which allowed primarily white persons the right to become rich by (1) taking land from Native Americans, (2) transferring the land at cheap prices to those ready to pay for it, (3) using unpaid labor to try to generate profits to purchase still more land and more captive labor.

Part of this process was the invention of the extra-legal idea that captivity and punishment by perpetual labor could be assigned to babies in their mother’s womb. This was a direct result of the total legislative power being in the hands of white males and especially of rich white males who stood to personally gain.
White and other women who were ‘free’ but who had a child out of wedlock also could be assigned to a captive status for a period of time. However, the fruit of their womb was not assigned to perpetual captivity as was the case with captive women of African or Native American ancestry.

The male rulers of the white colonies decided that the captive status of the mother determined the status of her babies. Thus, a slave mother always carried slave fetuses. Only her “master” could free her babies from perpetual labor and some states even restricted her “owner’s” ability to do that.

The ownership of unborn babies was not only a crucial part of the slave system; it was in fact the decisive element since without a guarantee of ownership of the next generation there could be no slavery at all.

Thus each unborn baby had to be viewed as a guilty criminal subject to punishment for a lifetime, punished by giving unwaged labor to an undeserving “owner” who was recognized as such by powerful men; in short, by a criminal cabal, mostly of rich men, who in turn controlled what passed for government, an organized system of legal chicanery.

Of course, an effort was made to obscure the obscene nature of the enslavement of fetuses by pretending that the wealthy controllers were actually living off of the sale of crops, such as cotton or tobacco, rather than the reproduction of babies.

But it was only the conception and birth of new slave babies, which made the system possible and continuous.  Otherwise, the system of slavery would have ended with the first generation and labor would have become free. Such a situation would have required the importation of temporarily unfree or contract labor, such as the “coolie” labor which replaced newly freed slaves in the Caribbean region after emancipation there.

The wealthy must, in short, always have labor since capital (and land) is useless without labor.

Tragically, several of the southern tribes began to add Africans to their population, in addition to Native American captives from other tribes. At first, all such captives who were not sold to the whites were gradually assimilated and eventually became semi-free or free, according to Native American traditional common law. But unfortunately certain tribal individuals, usually the children or descendants of white traders and of mixed blood, acquired the desire to imitate wealthy white planters by purchasing more Africans or part-Africans.

Eventually, the bicultural elites used their influence to alter tribal laws so as to allow for the enslavement of fetuses, that is, allowing for the status of captive to be extended to the next generation and beyond, forever. Every fetus would be saleable unfree property, unless carried in the womb of a “free” woman.

The introduction of this vicious system of fetus ownership led to the participation of many “civilized” Indians in the uncivil war, with incredibly vicious attacks upon slaves (now freedmen, freed women, and freed fetuses) and most full-bloods (traditional non-slaving Indians) who were often merely fleeing to Kansas as a refuge from assault.       

After the war four of the tribes institutionalizing slavery agreed in treaties with the Federal government to admit their former captives into full citizenship including those born from enslaved fetuses. The power and influence of the former owners of captives as well as the anti-African prejudices prominent in post-1907 Oklahoma led, however, to a denial of citizenship to those who were enrolled as Freedmen under the Federal Dawes Act.

Labor was not to be rewarded with citizenship, but at least in Indian Territory each freed person received some acres of tribal land.

The freed persons elsewhere in the USA received only the chance to sell their labor. No land did they receive from their former captors, although a few were able to obtain Federal (stolen Indian) land in the West.

That’s what the uncivil war was all about folks! It was about the control of a mother’s womb and the unrestrained use of someone else’s labor; and it was about the demand of controllers of captive labor to take their captives and unborn captives to “free” states and territories without the victims of their avarice becoming protected by “habeas corpus” and the rest of the Bill of Rights. All the rest is rhetoric.

[All rights reserved, copyright © 2010, by Jack D. Forbes, author of Columbus And Other Cannibals]


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. biddlin

    An interesting, if too narrow view the the late unpleasantness. The reasons for secession by the confederacy and war by the union are, of course, far more complex. The failure of southerners to develop manufacturing capabilities to exploit their abundance of natural resources and the behind the scene encouragement of the British to secede from the north were important factors as was the demand for raw materials by northern industry. The exploitation of one group of humans by another is, sadly, a major part of the story of civilization and continues today, even in our own country, both in the form of indentured servitude and the exploitation, primarily of women and children, who are debt slaves working in the garment industry.

  2. joe grey

    This history is so horrible to contenplate, and is so contradictory of the central narrative of the USA as a “born free” country, and a “nation of immigrants” that we utilize “opportunistic ignorance” as Gunnar Myrdal called it, or at the very least deflect it by reference to the history of mankind, etc. This avoids any moral obligation or discomfort with our legacy of contradictions between — wealth and poverty, haves and have-nots and between freedom and oppression. But all of these legacies are part of our bequest from “the founders.”

  3. BrianEls

    Jack, After you alerted me today at Cloud Forest about this article, I read it this evening. It is a piercing look through an awful lot of vague abstraction and empty hifalutin rhetoric that has been generated by the boxcar load since the end of that stupid war. A lot of nefarious individuals got rich off it. Rockefellar, who paid a poor chap to go fight in his place and then made a mint, for one. This legalistic racket you describe takes the cake, though. The arrogance of the patriarchy knows no sane bounds, it would seem. This labeling of fetuses as slaves before they were even born helped perpetuate the “breeding plantations” that were set up in Virginia am sure. An “industry” as lowdown as it gets.
    The breeding plantations are detailed in The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square by Ned Sublette
    PS: In the fourth paragraph from the bottom you made a small typo, methinks: “After the war four of the tribes institutionalizing slavery agreed in treaties with the Federal government to admit their former captives into full citizenship including those born from enslaved fetuses.”
    Born from enslaved mothers?
    Thanks, Brian

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