Gainful Pillage and the Greatness of America

In my bibliography of the Underground Railroad in the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, I omitted Robert H. Romer’s book Slavery in the Connecticut Valley of Massachusetts. Thankfully, in the electronic age, this omission is easily remedied.

While it is set about 100 years before the period I’m more interested in, the 1850s, it is a work that is vtal to our true understanding of  slavery and American history.

As soon as I began reading it, I knew it was the work of an historical soulmate:  “I am convinced,” he writes, “that knowledge of our history, of the importance of slavery and its importance in the history of our nation, can help us come to terms with the legacy of this dreadful institution.”

Was I right? Yes I was. Robert H. Romer and I have the same perspective on the greatness of America.

Many of you, I’m sure, were inspired by Ronald Reagan’s allusion to John Winthrop’s vision of  ” A City on a Hill.” It’s part of our vision of America’s greatness.

Romer presents this beautiful, even lyrical, letter from Winthrop’s brother-in-law, Emmanuel Downing, just before the Massachusetts warlords unleashed a savage war  involving massacres by both sides all over New England:

“A war with the Narragansett is very considerable to this plantation… If upon a just war the Lord should deliver them unto our hands we might easily have enough men and women and children to exchange for Moors (black people), which will be more gainful pillage for us than we conceive, for I do not see how we can thrive until we get into a stock of slaves sufficient to do all our business…”

“And I suppose you know very well how we shall maintain 20 Moors cheaper than one English servant.”

That’s American ingenuity. Unleash a savage war and profit from it.

Thank you Robert H. Romer.