On July 2, 1777, Vermont was the first colony to abolish slavery in its constitution, as well as provide full voting rights for African American males. In 1777, Vermonters owned 25 slaves. In December of 1865, the United States Congress ratified the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery in the entire nation. On Nov. 8. 2022, Vermonters, by an overwhelming majority vote, recommitted themselves morally and spiritually to the proposition that slavery is abhorrent to the human condition by passing Proposition 2.
While we as modern day Vermonters enjoy all the benefits of living as free men and women in an affluent and liberated society, there are currently an estimated 40 million slaves in the world today. “This includes victims of forced labor, debt bondage, domestic servitude, human trafficking, child labor, forced marriage, and descent-based slavery,” stated Katrina Summer-Center for Global Justice. In 1860, the United States had an estimated 4 million slaves. Despite the legal abolitions, according to the global slavery index, there are 57,000 people enslaved today in the United States. See www.inverse.com/article/31386-countries-with-the-most-slaves.
Many of the comforts we enjoy as Vermonters and Americans come at the expense of our human brothers and sisters in far off places in the world. Our cell phones, solar energy, and electric car batteries are sourced from mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The DRC has 873,100 slaves. 40,000 of these slaves are children working in the cobalt battery mines. The DRC supplies 60% of the world’s cobalt. The nation is an ecological and human rights nightmare. Despite commitments from corporate electric car manufacturers, the huge increase in demand means these conditions will continue unabated.
The only way modern day slavery stops is a concerted effort to make the public aware of the external costs of our luxuries and for consumers to understand the consequences of their decisions in choosing how they spend their money.
There are many groups that are fiercely dedicated to ending slavery. Vermonters this holiday season, as well as every single day, have an opportunity to put into action the sentiment we expressed on Nov. 8. There are many organizations dedicated to ending slavery. A simple internet search will allow you to research which one is right for you. I happen to use www.freedomunited.org/donate// and Exodus Cry at www.exoduscry.com/donate/.