Slavery : United States

Slavery began in the United States in 1619, this is when the Dutch brought a ship over with twenty African American slaves onto shore at the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia. Within the years of the 17th century the European settlers in America would go to the African American slaves as a cheaper, more productive source of labor, rather than the European servants they originally had.

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Historians have estimated that 6 to 7 million colored slaves were imported in during the 18th century alone. To me, that is unreal to wrap my head around. As a result, this stripped the African continent of most of their healthiest and apt men and women. Throughout the 17th and 18th century slaves would work on large southern plantations, mainly tobacco, rice, indigo, and later cotton. In 1793 Eli Whitney invented the Cotton Gin. Along with that came the growing need for cotton in Europe. Slaves were forced to leave the plantation land they knew involuntary told to work in factories.

In between the years of 1774 and 1804 the northern states had prohibited slavery, but slavery in the south stayed the same. Then in 1808 the United States Congress had banned slave trade; however, domestic trade blossomed. As a result, the population of slaves just about tripled the amount over the next 50 years. By the year 1860, it had reached almost 4 million, one-third of the southern population. Owners of slaves thought to make slaves entirely depended on them. One of the saddest things about slaves in my opinion, is that most of the time they were banned from learning how to read and write. There movement and behavior was also very restricted. This just does not seem like a very fair way to live life, and truthfully it was not. Another hard thing to think about is slave owners would often take advantage of slave women. It is sickening to think about all they had to live through. Within the lives of slaves, families were created. There were no legal basis around slave marriages and families. A majority of slave owners would encourage this behavior, but did not hesitate to split up the family by selling or removing family members.

Without a doubt, rebellions occurred within the system. What would you do if you were in that situation? Run away, and possibly get killed. Or live the slave life and die basically a prisoner? It may feel like a easy answer now 153 years later, but in that moment life would have been different. A famous slave rebellion story is Nat Turners. He led a rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia during August of 1831. The group was estimated to be around seventy-five slaves murdered what is thought to be sixty whites in just two days. They were able to accomplish this before armed official forces overtook them. Supporters of slavery would later point to Turner’s rebellion as evidence that African Americans were naturally wild, and required a system like slavery to discipline them. The fears of recurrence often led most of the southern states to update and strengthen their slave codes. Thes codes then would lead to limiting more movement, education, and assembly of slaves.

During the 1830s through the 1860s the movement to completely take away slavery in the United States gained lots of strength. This movement, known as Abolitionist Movement, was led by free blacks, Frederick Douglass, and white supporters William Lloyd Garrison and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Garrison was the founder of the radical newspaper, also known as The Liberator, while Stowe published Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the best selling anti-slave novel. Most abolitionists established their advocacy on the belief that slavery was indeed a harmful sin, while others thought of it more to be ‘free-labor.” Already freed blacks and northern antislavery whites would often help the southern slaves escape their daily torture. In the early 1780s safe houses would appear from southern slave plantations to the free north land. Later this became known and the Underground Railroad. The railroad really gained to mobility in the 1830s and it is believed that it may have helped anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 slaves be set free. The successfulness of the Underground Railroad without a doubt helped convince the southern pro slavery to accept defeat.

In 1820 a harsh argument over the government’s right to restrict slavery in Missouri ended in a compromise, also known as the Missouri Compromise. Missouri was entered into the union as a slave state, while Maine was a free state and all other western states north of Missouri’s southern border would be free. The Missouri Compromise was originally made to be keep and even balance between slave and free states; although, it also was able to temporarily conquer the forces of sectionalism.

September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued preliminary emancipation proclamation. Lincoln freed 3 million black slaves. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation did not officially free all slaves and end slavery in the United States, that would ultimately happen when the 13th Amendment passed after the Civil War had ended in 1865. Slavery is something none of us really enjoy thinking about. It was a truly dark time in American History, and most of us wish to forget it. However, I believe that America is stronger because of it. Throughout the years in history it has taught us a great deal of things.

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Slavery : United States. (2021, Mar 04). Retrieved November 29, 2022 , from
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