Slavery in British America

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During the sixteenth century the British wondering about how to best use the economic opportunities in the new world started to exploit and kidnap Africans and have them come here and work for free. Before Africans were brought to British north America, white indentured servants were used to cultivate the land and make profits for their masters. But as the need to enjoy the economic prosperity surpasses the amount of labor needed to sustain the growing profit, Africans were brought in to British north America to fill in for the declining number of white servants. Africans were also brought in Latin American to do the same work as their counterparts in British North America. In this essay we will compare and contrast slavery in British North America and Latin America.

British colonist at first practiced systems of both bonded labor and indigenous slavery. However, for a variety of reasons, Africans replaced American Indians as the main population of enslaved people in the Americas. In some cases, such as on some of the Caribbean Islands, warfare and disease eliminated the indigenous populations completely. The availability of enslaved Africans at affordable prices, resulted in a shift away from American Indian slavery. The resulting Atlantic slave trade was primarily shaped by the desire for cheap labor as the colonies attempted to produce raw goods for European consumption.

Many American crops such as cotton, sugar, and rice were not grown in Europe, and importing crops and goods from the New World was more profitable than producing them on the European mainland. However, a vast amount of labor was needed to create and sustain plantations that would be economically profitable. Western Africa (and later, Central Africa) became a prime source for Europeans to acquire enslaved peoples, to meet the desire for free labor in the American colonies, and to produce a steady supply of profitable cash crops.

The northeastern and mid-Atlantic states, including Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, had legally permitted slavery in the 17th and 18th centuries. However, during the decades leading up to the American Civil War, almost all slaves in the North had been emancipated through a series of state legislature statutes, creating the northern “free states” in opposition to southern “slave states.”
Slaves in north America worked on all sorts of jobs. Many of them were field hands who worked on the tobacco fields in the southern part of the colony. The slaves worked extremely hard and were treated inhumanly. Other slaves were house servants, this one did the chores around the house or helped their owners in the trade shops. Slaves who worked on the plantation were given one set of clothes for a year. The clothes were similar in style to what any colonial farmer would wear when working. Slaves working in the house usually dressed nicer, often wearing their master's old clothing.

Slaves were treated differently depending on their owners and what kind of work they did. Slaves who worked on the plantations were treated very poorly compared to slaves who worked in the house of the owner. Field salves were often beaten and forced to work on long hours with little rest when compared to house slaves. But this doesn’t mean that house slaves were not beaten and or raped. Slaves did not have any rights under the order of their master twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. They could be sold at any time and children were sold as soon as they could work.

Any slave found guilty of burning or rape of a white woman was put to death. However, a slave woman who got raped by a white man the rapist will only be charged of trespass on her owner property. This double standard makes rape makes it hard for the victims to report the crime and thus makes the incident happen regularly. Slaves were punished by whipping, shackling, hanging, beating, burning, mutilation, branding, rape, and imprisonment. Punishment was often handed down in response to disobedience or perceived violations, but sometimes abuse was performed to re-assert the dominance of the master (or overseer) over the slave.

They were punished with knives, guns, field tools and nearby objects. The whip was the most common instrument used against a slave. Many slaves fought back against sexual attacks, and some died resisting them and others were left with psychological and physical scars.

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Slavery in British America. (2021, Mar 04). Retrieved February 29, 2024 , from

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