Florida Senate apologizes for slavery

03/26/08 Mitch E. Perry
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The Florida Senate has formally apologized for its long support of slavery in a resolution calling for reconciliation.

Senators this morning quickly approved the resolution after hearing some of the history detailing the savage treatment endured by slaves in the 19th century and the reluctance of politicians in the last century to recognize the intolerance and mistreatment of blacks.

Gov. Charlie Crist called it significant that the Senate formally apologized for its long support of slavery. Florida enacted its first slave laws in the 1820s as a territory, and early political leaders in the state were some of the most vigorous defenders of slavery.

In the 1850s, at a time when Florida's population was around 111,000, slaves made up 44 percent of the population. After the Civil War, Florida's Constitution of 1868 guaranteed blacks the right to vote and abolished slavery in the state, but inequities remained.

The vote was not without controversy.

On the St. Petersburg Times website this afternoon, a long threat of messages were posted regarding the Senate vote, with some questioning why the Legislature would take time from so many other pressing issues to vote on such an apology. Others expressed a more negative view, such as one poster who wrote, “It's no wonder the 'African Americans' have the attitudes they do. It's over and done with in the United States. We had nothing to do with it. Everyone who did is dead. LET IT FRICKIN GO!!! "

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