5 Biggest American Monuments Which Have Shameful Slavery Connections

People have been fighting racism since a long, long while – but only recently the fight has begun to speed up and grow in force. People toppled the statues of historical racists who are still held up and celebrated by the living racists of the age, and many protests brought some changes in the way common population looks at racism.

Institutionalized racism is still going on, police are still not being held accountable, and the racist laws are still functioning.

But, let’s take a look at history and find out how deep the racism really runs in America. These five greatest monuments of American civilization were built on the back of slavery:

#1. Wall Street

Image Credit: Wikimedia

Wall Street, the hub of American capitalists, was originally a slave market. In fact, it actually started as a slave market and thrived between 1711 to 1762.

In 2015, New York’s Mayor commemorated a marker to the black people who were enslaved in the past and had to build Wall Street from their labour.

“This place reminds of us of one of the worst chapters in our history. Three-hundred-four years ago, with the approval of the city government, this became a place for buying and selling and renting human beings.”

#2. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey

Image Credit: NYT

Jack Daniel’s first batches of whiskey were made by an enslaved person.

Even though Jack Daniel himself had never owned enslaved people, he started his whiskey venture in Tennessee by teaming up with a Lutheran minister who owned enslaved people. Daniel bought the business and then hired the enslaved person Nathan “Nearest” Green as his first head distiller.

Minnesota’s constitution still allows slavery as a punishment for crimes. Now lawmakers are trying to change that

#3. White House

Image Credit: Shenova

White House was built by enslaved people in 1793 – but when Michelle Obama pointed it out in 2016, a lot of white conservatives got offended.

Initially, it was planned that the White House would be constructed by European workers but since they didn’t arrive – the government turned to Black people and rented the enslaved people from their owners. This fact is important because it shows that slavery was not just shady backwaters practice but even the American government participated in slavery.

Even now the US Government participates in racism and neo-slavery via the means of biased incarceration against black people.

#4. George Washington

Image Credit: Blackpast

Although it is well known that George Washington had owned enslaved people while claiming that “all men are created equal” – he also passed the Fugitive Slave Act in 1793 which allowed human traffickers to arrest enslaved people if they escaped and then forced them back into their life as owned property.

#5. Yale University

Image Credit: Twitter

Yale University is named after Elihu Yale, who was human trafficker who abducted people from Africa and sold them in America.

Initially, #CancelYale hashtag originated on the racist website 4chan – they started it ironically in response to Black protestors dismantling the monuments of white supremacy and slavery. They thought they had a great point with this, asking people if they will cancel Yale University too.

It was then picked up by conservative commentator Jesse Kelly who tweeted:

“I call on @Yale to change it’s name immediately and strip the name of Yale from every building, piece of paper, and merchandise. Otherwise, they hate black people. #CancelYale.”

All of this was initially started by right wing trolls to mock leftists, but then the movement took speed and people started to ask that Yale University should be renamed and the name of the human trafficker and slave trader should be removed from every piece of document.

The University refused to do so, showing that they are not ready to make amends. Although they started a Slavery and Abolition Portal which would help researchers find primary sources related to slavery.

So far, Yale has changed only one building’s name which was named after John C Calhoun, a former US President who had said that slavery was a “positive good.” But they did so only after months of on-campus protests by Black students.

Many universities in the US had presidents who engaged in human trafficking and owned enslaved people.


Featured Image Courtesy: Getty Images