This 1970s high school history book taught the most insane things about slavery

Yesterday, flagpole-climbing hero Bree Newsome posted a series of frustrated tweets about education in the United States, and specifically how people can have such extremely varying opinions on the U.S. Civil War.

Her final tweet received a reply from C.L. Smith, a Hunstville, AL man who linked to images of his 9th grade history book. He uploaded several passages from the textbook on Flickr. It is…pretty stunning.

Looking inside the book, it becomes clear that this is a time that it is OK to judge a book by its cover.

There are passages that go out of their way to show how slavery wasn’t so bad.

textbook1Clyde L. Smith/Flickr

“Slavery was the earliest form of Social Security in the United States.”

It reveals the beneficial sides of the institution:


“The slave received the best medical care which the times could offer…by the same plantation doctor who tended the master.”

Why did the war start, history book?


“The abolition crusade with its consequences was the number one cause for Alabama’s getting into the war…the South felt its rights in the Union were threatened.”

What did the warmongerers do after the dust settled?


“Most white and Negro Republican voters in Alabama received little from carpetbaggers and scalawags except empty promises. An example of such unfulfilled promises was the saying that each former slave would get from the government 40 acres and a mule, but this promise was, of course, impossible to carry out.”

How does this type of propaganda get into a state-run curriculum? Well, when George “Segregation Forever” Wallace is your governor, this sort of thing happens.

The history books in Alabama’s public schools have since been changed. Still, Bree Newsome is on to something: Until public education in the U.S. is fundamentally reformed, these type of history lessons will continue.


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