'Glenn Beck': From Servitude to Slavery

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," August 19, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: Tonight is an episode that you want to DVR and you want to watch with your kids. I'll explain in a bit.

Tonight, it's America's civil rights history.

You know about the great heroes like MLK. You know about Rosa Parks. You know everything you probably need to know or want to know about the true evils of slavery. You know that it's one of the worst scars on our republic and you know it still tears us apart. You know all of those things are true and you know they're right.

In essence, when it comes to civil rights, you know that it is a cake. You know this is a cake. No one is trying to convince you that it's anything other than a cake.

But tonight, I want to try to add to your understanding of what this cake tastes like, what made it up, what the layers are of this cake so you can truly understand.

Our great country is in trouble. And you have to understand how the cake is made. Our country has done some absolutely horrific things. But just like this cake, it's yummy.

And since it's made by the "Cake Boss," yes — it's great living by New York, you can call the "Cake Boss" and get a good cake — you know then that this cake is pretty much perfect.

But is that true? What's true?

You have to cut the cake — if I can — and take it out and look at it. You have to see — could I have a plate? You have to see all the layers — all the layers of this particular cake, so you can see the layers of the past. How was this made up? What — what layer is good and what layer is bad, and what are the ingredients, so we'll know in the future so things won't happen like that again.

But I warn you, some of the images that you're going to see tonight and tomorrow — especially I think tomorrow — will be disturbing. If you have young children, DVR the show, watch it and then watch it again later with them. But watch it first yourself.

We have 400 years to cover. So, this is by no means a complete history. It's to get you into it.

Four hundred years to cover — so, let's get started.


BECK: OK. Hello, America.

In case I haven't been clear already, I want you to know this is not the end-all and be-all on civil rights and what happened in America. We have two hours and 400 years. We have tonight and tomorrow.

The goal is just to open your eyes and show you history like you've never heard or seen it before. Then, you have to do your own research.

You know, I am not a history teacher, but a good history teacher, I've always felt, will just get you excited about history, get you into the stories and then make you want to read yourself.

Exercise the American knowledge muscle that I told you about yesterday. Thomas Jefferson said and this is important, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."

You cannot take my word for these things tonight. You can't listen to The Huffington Post or anything else. You can't take the words of textbooks. You must do your own homework.

This is your country. This is your history. Read — and read people who disagree with each other. Listen to me, read the things I tell you and then go check out on your own. Go read somebody who vehemently disagrees. You find the truth. It's imperative for the republic.

Yesterday, I talked to you a little bit about Manifest Destiny and how Manifest Destiny is a perversion of Divine Providence and how the four major forces — these: commerce, religion, government and science, they're all good, but when they collude, there is trouble. All of these forces turned against the Native Americans as we showed you last night.

After initially recognizing their sovereignty, our Founders liked the Native Americans. But then, we needed land. Government needed to expand. We needed to make money on it.

Religion was telling people, well, they're savages, they're savages. They're not quite as whole. They're sons of Noah.

Same thing with science — they colluded, all for the goal of making money or the best for the collective.

Well, tonight, I want to take you over here. Let me bring over here on three, I want to bring you over here. I want to bring you into the 17th Century. We're going to talk a little bit about slavery.

We all learned about slavery in school. We all know the horrors of it. I mean, I remember watches "Roots" as a kid and thinking, oh, my gosh!

The fact that whites enslaved blacks in this country built on the idea of all men being created equal is beyond hypocritical. We know that. So, how did it happen? We know that it's a national tragedy. We also know the treasure that is Abraham Lincoln. We know how it ended with the Civil War.

But I asked the other day when we were in these meetings, does anybody know how slavery started? We know the ending, how did it start? I mean, nobody came in and said, hey, everybody, let's have slaves! That doesn't sound like that could happen.

The real insidiousness lies in the fact that it all started small and advanced into one of the worst scars in American history and global history. I mean, it's a human atrocity and it's happened time and time again.

At first, slavery wasn't full blown slavery. In fact, in the early colonial America, it wasn't slavery. It was indentured servitude.

Now, what is indentured servitude? Well, indentured servitude is not the same as slavery. I mean, there are some important differences here.

In fact, I think it shares many of the same things — where are we? Over here? — it shares many of the same things that we have in common with today's illegal immigration. I believe that illegal immigration is modern-day slavery — I've said that on the program before. But that's not quite right. Illegal immigration, the way it's happening now, is more like indentured servitude.

For instance, if you're an illegal and you're working here in New York, you're barely getting paid enough to rent a bed — not a room — a bed for eight hours. Somebody else is going to rent that same bed for the next eight hours. You have enough time to go sleep in it and then you got to go back to being at the mercy of your employer.

You don't have any real rights. The government is not going to help you. Nobody is going to help you because you don't exist. You're not in the records.

In theory, indentured servitude is like that, but indentured servitude promised a light at the end of the tunnel, because after your contract with the master was up, you got what were called at the time, "freedom dues." That was usually a little bit of land and a gun.

The most important part of freedom dues was freedom.

Indentured servitude was a common can practice throughout the globe at the time. The English, the Spanish, the Portuguese — everybody was using this indentured servitude. It was like slavery — like slavery — but not quite. And it's not an American problem — it's a human problem that happened all over the world.

Now, there were criteria in which people were used as early indentured servants. But here's what's not taught. If I said to you, who — was it a white man or a black man that was the master and indentured servant? You would say, it was like this. But the criteria at the beginning was not based on color. It was based on creed. It was non-Christians that were used as servants.

Colonists didn't identify themselves as white. They identified themselves as Englishmen or Christians. Whites, blacks, you name it — they were all used for this earliest form of slavery. In fact, if an indentured servant broke a contract, they got the same punishment regardless of color. I mean, if this guy was the owner, this guy ran away, same thing, as if this guy ran away.

It was Christianity. And that's how it was. And if you were Christian, you were a Christian, and you just said, "I accept Jesus," you could get out. I — I honestly don't know why more people didn't say, "I accept Jesus." I mean you really didn't want to do it.

Now, this is bad. But this isn't slavery. How did it happen? Nudge, a shift, slight shift, bit by bit. We shifted, we nudged, we moved just little bit from servitude to slavery — but how?

Well, here's Massachusetts, the first colony to legalize and recognize slavery. Other states soon followed. Why? Because it was profitable — like Virginia.

Now, do you know who owned the first state-sponsored slave in America? Who owned? Who was it? Who was this guy that put a slave?

You know who it was? His name was Anthony Johnson. Except, he wasn't a — he wasn't a black — he wasn't a white man. He, believe it or not, wasn't a white man. You ever heard that?

How did a black man own a black man? Well, let's start with him. Before he was an owner, what was he? He was an indentured servant. He was a black indentured servant. Not a slave.

He worked in Virginia, 1621. It's recorded in the Census. His name was Antonio. He just recorded his first name and his race.

Well, he wasn't considered a slave. He was an indentured servant. He worked in Virginia on a tobacco farm.

And his master allowed him to use his own plot of land. So, he perfected his skills on that plot of land for 15 years on that plantation. And during that time, he married. He had four children.

After all — after all of those years, Antonio finally negotiated and bought his own freedom. So, he gave money to this man and he bought his own freedom.

And that's when he decided that he was going to become an owner. He changed his name to Anthony Johnson. In 1640, Anthony and his wife bought a plot of land and hired not slaves, because there weren't slaves yet. He hired indentured servants. Got it?

Now, that same year, same year, in another place, there was another guy. Anthony was — while Anthony was doing all these things, there was a court case involving three indentured servants who had escaped. There were three. And here, there are two white guys and a black guy. Got it? This is different than Anthony, who is over here.

Now, these guys ran away. They escaped. They were caught.

Well, two of them had their servitude extended by four years and the third one had it extended for life. Can you guess which one got life? Which means you no longer can buy your freedom, so you in effect become a slave. This one.

Are you asking the same question I asked? Why did these guys only get four years and this guy got life? Oldest story of time, this was the beginning of slavery. He was black. This is the beginning of the real, real nightmare that took a long time to get out.

Now, back here, these guys. Over here, here's Anthony again. He's got his indentured servants.

Well, Anthony's slave was John Caster. John Caster, who is also black, complained to a court that Anthony had unfairly extended his terms of servitude. The court emancipated Caster and said, "You're a free man. You can go."

But Anthony went back and tried to convince a court that Caster belonged to him and should be his for life. He won the court case, believe it or not. He won the court case. And he became a slave. Do we have it? He became a slave, the first one.

I tell you this story to show you that it's a human problem. It doesn't matter — it's not a white condition or a black condition. It's a human condition. Man will enslave any man when he can.

This is a warning sign. It has happened throughout history. It's one of the layers of cake.

Wait a minute, wait a minute. Everyone can do it.

Do you know where the word "slave" came from? It actually came from the word "Slav." Slav — the Slavic people in Central Europe. They were enslaved during the Middle Ages. Every time they'd lose a war, everybody would round them up and enslave them. Slav — slavery — it didn't become race until much, much later.

Now, this is horrible. But it's about to really go off the tracks. How did we go even more wrong than we already are?

You always have to come back to the formula. Watch for this formula. When they collude, you're in trouble. Commerce, religion, government and science — got to go to tobacco.

Tobacco worth a lot of money. It was a skill set that the English were familiar with but they weren't good at it at all. The people who were good at it were the indentured servants. They spent their whole time doing it and they had a chance to buy their way out if they could do it well.

Yet, the colonies depended on this, depended on it. Just like they tell us now we're dependent on illegal immigrants. I mean, if they can make your tobacco cheaper, or your salad cheaper, believe me, there will always be somebody that will take advantage of it.

So, at the time, the colonies were struggling economically, so the pressure started to mount. Produce more tobacco, more tobacco, more tobacco. There is a crisis. Sound familiar?

At the same time, the colonies argued that freeing the indentured servants was causing a problem. It was a threat to property owners. They said that it was too costly. They couldn't — they couldn't keep up.

These guys would leave and then commerce would be hurt because there was too much turnover and they had to spend too much money which made tobacco more expensive, which hurt the economy.

So, restrictions started being placed. Because commerce was hurt, government stepped in, put more — put more restrictions on. They placed restrictions on owning land.

Well, that caused the indentured servants to become upset because, wait a minute, that's our way out. Well, these guys started taking to the street and setting fires. Of course, instead of this moving the colonies to reject the horrific nature of servitude and move towards freedom, because people's dollars were at stake, they went the other way.

You know what's strange here is I think this is actually our first Tea Party. The master was taking too much from the everyday people. It's the first time we saw the attitude of Manifest Destiny as well, that they could do anything. They could take the land from the servants.

In 1662, Virginia took one of the last steps on the road to true evil. They enacted a law that said all children born in the colony to a slave mother would be enslaved. So, now, not only were you a slave for the rest of your life, but now, that slave passed it on from generation to generation, all based on color.

By the way, let's go back here to Anthony Johnson. How did it end for Anthony Johnson? The freed — not slave, but the freed indentured servant who then was an owner of another black man.

He died in 1670. This is the record it. This is about what happened to his land. What happened to his land? Jury had to decide.

The land Johnson left behind, they decided, could be seized by the government, could be seized by the government. Because he was, quote, "by consequence an alien."

That's why all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Because this guy used the government to give him the right to own another person. Why? Because it was good for the government, they needed money. It was good for commerce. They needed money.

So, the government granted him a right because it was good for the collective. The government can give and the government can take away.

The first servitude, then an extended punishment, then a crisis, then people born in slavery — bit-by-bit, law-by-law, we progressed from horrible system of indentured servitude based on religion to an even worse one based solely on color. A little tweak here, a little tweak there, a nudge here, a nudge there, during a crisis, each time the nudge takes us down a little farther down the road.

That's why you must stop and ask yourself, not just what kind of change are we talking about, but what lies at the end of the road? If we just keep being nudged, where does it lead us?

All of this evolved into the monstrous system of slavery that we're familiar with from our history books — an entire race of people brutally enslaved by slave owners, empowered by the government. It is today, this nation's deepest scar. A lot of our problems started here. It's our most grotesque national tragedy.

But, again, this is just scratching the surface. Do your own to digging. Get the full history.

You need to find out what you truly believe in, what this country is about. Are we just about slavery? Is this the scar? The commerce, the government, the science, the crisis of tobacco dragged us deeper and deeper into slavery.

But here's the part you also have to learn: What began to drag us out?

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