The United States is a Puritan country...on the surface at least.
Not included in the history books is the ongoing impact that the so called riff-raff have had on the country's popular culture and even its freedoms.
(And let's face it, without jazz and the blues and rock and roll providing a cover, the US would be perceived more like the Fourth Reich it is than the "Land of the Free.")
Russell's thesis: "Drunks, prostitutes, lazy workers and slaves are your cultural ancestor."
He makes an excellent case for this in his book "A Renegade History of the United States"
His section on slavery in the US may be offensive to some. After all, political correctness must rule at all times.
The fact is as bad as slavery was in the US - and it was nothing short of an abomination - blacks were not the only workers who suffered massively in the US and not the only people who worked in slave conditions in the "modern" Western world.
Here's what Booker T. Washington had to say about the rural workers and miners after a trip to Sicily:
"The Negro is not the man farthest down. The condition of the colored farmer in the most backed ward parts of the Southern States in America, even where he has the least education and the least encouragement, is incomparably better than the condition and opportunities of the agricultural population in Sicily."
Starving rural Sicilian families routinely mortgaged their young sons to work in sulphur mines as late as the early 20th century. Rarely were these families ever able to buy their children back and it was not unusual for them to be worked to death by the age of 12 or earlier.
In a perverse way, because a huge portion of the South's economy was based on slaves (slaves were, in fact, the primary thing that banks would accept as collateral for the credit hungry region), one of the largely unacknowledged realities of Southern life was that slaves were in the main treated better than "free" immigrants from places like Ireland.
All you had to do was pay an Irishman and if he died or was crippled on the job, it was easy to find another one.
Slaves, on the other hand, were purchased at great expense, fed and housed, and as I mentioned could be used to secure bank loans. There was also the "bonus" of children being born to slave families. There was no such bonus when dealing with "free" people.
Irish were used for the most brutal Delta work like clearing swamps for farm land and running boiler rooms on primitive steamboats, jobs that often resulted in death, because slaves were too valuable for such work:
“Every time a boiler bursts [on a ship], they would lose so many dollars worth of slaves, whereas by getting an Irishman at a dollar a day they pay for the [labor] as they get it, and if it is blown up, they get another [Irish worker].”