Slaves “Did Not Work So Hard…Had Advantages” According to History Textbook

This 1957 history textbook titled Cavalier Commonwealth–History and Government of Virginia was commissioned in 1950 by the Virginia General Assembly and describes the circumstances of the American slave as follows: “.. his condition had its advantages . . . he enjoyed long holidays . . . he did not work so hard as the average free laborer, since he did, not have to worry about losing his job. In fact, the slave enjoyed what we might call comprehensive social security. Generally speaking, his food was plentiful, his clothing adequate, his cabin warm, his health protected and his leisure carefree.”

See additional photos of textbook below.

See also “Happy Slaves” Described In 7th Grade Virginia Textbook Used for 20 Yrs.



According to an article on, “Disputes over how to portray state history in Cavalier Commonwealth grew so heated that the textbook commission removed Longwood College professor Marvin W. Schlegel from his role as lead author. A Richmond Times-Dispatch article from the era said the commission felt that Schlegel, who was born in Pennsylvania, did not adequately reflect the Southern Viewpoint. Schlegel still retained an author credit, but he was replaced by W. Edwin Hemphill, a historian at the Virginia State Library. Hemphill ran into his own problems when he and co-author Sadie E. Engelberg, a Richmond history teacher, wanted to include an in-depth section on Massive Resistance–Virginia’s campaign, beginning in 1956, against federally required school desegregation.”