Discussion of the buying, selling and breeding of human beings as a form of capital and wealth bring up many uncomfortable feelings. However, as the documentary reveals, Kentucky played an important role in the sale of slaves to more southern states. Kentucky also positioned itself as an important exporter of goods and materials to the north, particularly of hemp and tobacco, with jobs for both free blacks and slaves hired out by their masters. Though the resulting split in markets was one reason Kentucky chose not to join the Confederacy and secede from the Union, slavery apparently was widely accepted as being good for the economy of the state. Additionally, auctions of slaves were considered entertainment, as well as business opportunities.
Even Cassius Clay, regarded as one of the most outspoken anti-slavery voices in Kentucky, operated in conflict with his views as he continued to hold slaves. The documentary brings this dichotomy into closer focus and provides a good background for discussion about economics and cultural values.
Discuss the need for social and ethical constraints on a free enterprise system.
Connections to Kentucky's Core Content for Assessment for Economics