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The issue of reparations and other compensation has been much in the news of late, most particularly in relationship to possible payments to descendants of slaves in the United States to compensate them for their disadvantages brought about by what is claimed to be a persisting racist culture in the country. There is, of course, considerable resistance on the part of millions of non-black citizens who will have to foot the enormous bill even though they were not involved in slavery in any way, having arrived in the U.S. long after 1865, when involuntary servitude was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
Reparations have been around for a long time, normally being exacted by the winners in a war against the losers, who automatically are blamed as the aggressors and therefore liable for the damages. Often the compensation comes in the form of territory, witness for example the German acquisition of Alsace-Lorraine from the French after the Franco-Prussian war followed by its return to France after the First World War. The Germans also were made to endure considerable cash and in-kind payments, primarily to France, after losing the First World War. The terms of the Treaty of