Tom Cotton Calls Slavery A “Necessary Evil”

Screengrab / @samstein / Twitter

Artivia Tahir

Senator Tom Cotton claims that the early leaders of the U.S. saw slavery as a "necessary evil"

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) claims that the enslavement of African-Americans in the United States was a “necessary evil,” according to BBC News.

  • In a statement to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Cotton rejected the notion that the U.S. has been systemically racist since its inception and said:

"We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can't understand our country. As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as [Abraham] Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction."

  • Cotton’s claims about the nation’s early leaders seeing slavery as a “necessary evil” is a highly contentious statement that has a tenuous grasp of history. Some founders saw slavery as necessary while others saw it as evil, and there was little overlap between the two camps, BBC noted.
  • Cotton introduced the Saving American History Act on Thursday. The act is aimed at ending funding for 1619, a project that bases US history teaching around the first arrival of slave ships in America in that year.
  • Many conservatives have criticized the project, and Cotton has called it “left-wing propaganda, saying:

"The entire premise of the New York Times' factually, historically flawed 1619 Project… is that America is at root, a systemically racist country to the core and irredeemable. I reject that root and branch. America is a great and noble country founded on the proposition that all mankind is created equal. We have always struggled to live up to that promise, but no country has ever done more to achieve it."

  • The project’s founder, New York Times journalist Nicole Hannah-Jones, responded to Cotton’s proposed legislation by tweeting:

“If chattel slavery — heritable, generational, permanent, race-based slavery where it was legal to rape, torture, and sell human beings for profit — were a “necessary evil” as @TomCottonAR says, it’s hard to imagine what cannot be justified if it is a means to an end.”

Read the full report.

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