Slavery is a huge part of the American history. Colonist first started out enslaving Native Americans. The problem with enslaving Native Americans was that they knew the area very well to which they could escape. At the same time, they also relied on indentured servants from Europe. A lot of poor Europeans wanted to come to the colonies for a new opportunity. Since they were too poor to buy their way to the colonies, they will sell their labor in exchange for the trip. They will work for an amount of time, then they will be released with land and money to survive in the colonies. Since there were frequent ships going back and forth between Europe and the colonies, peoples comments about the colonies are being brought back to Europe.
Comments about indentured servants being mistreated got brought back to Europe. This caused people in Europe to be scared to work in the colonies. Africans were later introduced to the colonies for sale. They were seen as a cheaper and better option compared to indentured servants and Native Americans. African slaves later became the norm in the South. Despite the fact that colonist could enslave Native Americans and European indentured servants, Africans were economically, politically, and culturally beneficial for the southern society.
Slaves were essential for the southern economy to thrive during the 1800s. They needed the slaves to work on the farms. The South needs to keep up with the demand of rice and cotton to supply the North. The price of cotton and rice was kept down low to beat out the competition by other southern farmers. If an indentured servant was to work on the farms, the price to sell the cotton would be a lot higher to compensate the cost of the indentured servant. Cotton gin played a huge role in the slave trade during this time. With the invention of cotton gin, more farmers wanted to be in the cotton business.
This also means that the demand for slaves increased dramatically. Congress tries to ban slave trade in 1808 with the Abolition Act. Despite Congress put the act into effect, it didnt stop slave trading in the South. Southerners would smuggle slaves into the country and sold them in their own flea market. By selling it at their own flea market, it will not be detected by the marshals. Another way slaves were continued being trade was by breeding slaves. Slave owners will encourage sexual intercourse between slaves. Their offspring will be sold to another farmer.
By smuggling and breeding more slaves, the South gain a lot more political power in the government. With the three-fifths compromise being in effect, the South out populated the North with the huge amounts of African slaves. In the 1850s, pro slave legislators were powerful in all branches of the government.
With this power, they pass the Fugitive Slave Law. This law requires all runaway slaves to be returned back to its slave owner. If a runaway slave was caught in the North, they are not allowed to stand trial even though they made it to the Freeland. Northerners were also encouraged to catch and return slaves back to the South by a money award. This law clearly didnt follow the guidelines of the constitution. Also, the Supreme Court didnt review it at all. Northerners were not happy with this law. A senator named William H. Seward from New York said this law was above the constitution. Northerners didnt agree with the South with its wrongdoings of slavery, but the South finds ways to explain their doings is right.
In order for the Southerners justify slavery is right, they turned to God. They say that according to God, they are meant to come to America to be slaves to live a better life than in Africa. Slave owners are taking care of the powerless by providing them a space to live. Some Southerners went even further saying that some people are born to do hard labor and be owned by someone. Southerners tried very hard to keep in possession and control of their slaves. Despite the effort, many slaves escape through the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad was a system that helped African slaves in the South escape to the North.
With the Fugitive Slave Law being in effect, some African slaves were caught. Majority of them made it to the Freeland. A lot of Southerners were angry that people are helping the slaves escape. In the eyes of most Southerners, Africans were not seen as people, and shouldnt be helped as people.
The Africans in the South obviously didnt agree with those ideas. To fight for their identity and equality, some African slaves tried to use the judicial system to fight for their rights. One of these cases was the infamous Dred Scott case. Dred Scott was a slave working for a master in the South. One day his master decided to bring him up to the North for a business trip. During this time, Africans who lived in the North are considered free and not as slaves. Since Dred Scott step foot into a northern state, Illinois, he wanted to be considered as a free person. Dred Scott decided to use the judicial system to gain his freedom and rights as an American.
The case Dred Scott Vs Sandford went all the way to the supreme court. The verdict from the court was that even if an African slave set foot in a free territory, they are still considered as slaves and they are not granted freedom. The court also said that people of black color are not guaranteed the same rights as white people. This verdict upset a lot of Northerners and Africans in the North and South. This verdict also favored the South and gave them an excuse to justify slavery. This case was one of the few cases which brought up the tension between the North and the South. This tension was later turned into the Civil War.
Southerners gain a lot of perks by owning African slaves and justifying slavery. Africans were taken advantage of because of their social status and skin color. They were forced into hard labor which set the foundation of the southern economy. Africans were also used to gain more political power with their population in the South. African slaves tried to fight for their freedom and equality, but they were seen as not humans and shouldnt be treated as humans.
The American history has numerous events which they took advantage of people base on their skin color or race. For instance, Chinese people were taken advantage to build a railroad system in a country that doesnt even treat them equally. Even to this day, Mexicans are taken advantage to grow fruits and vegetables to people who want to kick them out of the country. It is very hard for American to stop taken advantage of people that are not pure white. The concept of color is so embedded into the American society. We, as Americans, need to stop seeing color in people to truly make this country great again.
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