The 2100 B.C. Project

by | Feb 11, 2023

[M]ore importantly to force us to grapple with what it means that slavery is one of the oldest institutions in our
country that few things outdate African slavery and yet we’ve treated this as a marginal story so at its heart the 1619 project is the story of America told through the lens of slavery.
The goal of the 1619 Project is to create the narrative that America is founded on slavery therefore the capitalist system that America (partially) practices should be abandoned.
It turns out, slavery is the least unique thing about America.
Here is a translation of four laws from The Code of Ur-Nammu (Mesopotamia, 2100 B.C. – 2050 B.C.), the oldest legal code known to the human race:
4. If a slave marries a slave, and that slave is set free, he does not leave the household.

5. If a slave marries a native [i.e. free] person, he/she is to hand the firstborn son over to his owner.

8. If a man proceeded by force, and deflowered the virgin female slave of another man, that man must pay five shekels of silver.

17. If a slave escapes from the city limits, and someone returns him, the owner shall pay two shekels to the one who returned him.

24. [text destroyed] If he does not have a slave, he is to pay 10 shekels of silver. If he does not have silver, he is to give another thing that belongs to him.

25. If a man’s slave-woman, comparing herself to her mistress, speaks insolently to her, her mouth shall be scoured with 1 quart of salt.

26. If a slave woman strikes someone acting with the authority of her mistress, [text destroyed]

 

Dr. Thomas Sowell refuting the 1619 thesis a decade ago:

 

     For centuries before, Europeans had enslaved other Europeans, Asians had enslaved other Asians and Africans had enslaved other Africans. Only in the modern era was there both the wealth and the technology to organize the mass transportation of people across an ocean, either as slaves or as free immigrants. Nor were Europeans the only ones to transport masses of enslaved human beings from one continent to another. North Africa’s Barbary Coast pirates alone captured and enslaved at least a million Europeans from 1500 to 1800, carrying more Europeans into bondage in North Africa than there were Africans brought in bondage to the United States and to the American colonies from which it was formed. Moreover, Europeans were still being bought and sold in the slave markets of the Islamic world, decades after blacks were freed in the United States.

 

Slavery was a virtually universal institution in countries around the world and for thousands of years of recorded history. Indeed, archaeological evidence suggests that human beings learned to enslave other human beings before they learned to write. One of the many fallacies about slavery— that it was based on race— is sustained by the simple but pervasive practice of focussing exclusively on the enslavement of Africans by Europeans, as if this were something unique, rather than part of a much larger worldwide human tragedy. Racism grew out of African slavery, especially in the United States, but slavery preceded racism by thousands of years. Europeans enslaved other Europeans for centuries before the first African was brought in bondage to the Western Hemisphere.

– Thomas Sowell, Economic Facts and Fallacies, p. 180

About Keith Knight

Keith Knight is Managing Editor at the Libertarian Institute, host of the Don't Tread on Anyone podcast and editor of The Voluntaryist Handbook: A Collection of Essays, Excerpts, and Quotes.

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