In 1851 the prominent American physician Samuel Adolphus Cartwright observed black slaves that fled captivity, and saw an illness. “Drapetomania, or the disease causing Negroes to flee” was the title to his paper explaining that black slaves didn’t want freedom, if they escaped they were ill. The cause was masters who treated slaves as something close to human beings, and slaves who considered themselves to be individuals of worth. Freedom was an illness, and Cartwright had the cure.
If a slave becomes “sulky and dissatisfied without reason,” then they may have drapetomania and be about to flee. Cartwright recommended “whipping the devil out of them” until they became submissive again, the state to which they belonged. An alternative remedy was to make running away impossible by having the big toe from both feet severed. Hence curing the disease.
Looking at it from what is technically “the future” we can easily see that something strange is afoot here. Instead of treating black slaves a people, Cartwright assumed that the place of a slave, was to remain a slave. He used the bible as evidence, taking sections talking about the faithfulness of a servant to master to justify his assertions that slaves should be treated as little more than children. Children to be whipped that is. This viewpoint led him to make some suspect, pseudoscientific contributions to the body of scientific racism. He even believed that lazy saves weren’t upset, they too were ill.