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Why did Slavery Come to be the Dominant Labor System in the Southern Colonies - Essay Example

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Slavery in America has a long history spanning from a John Rolfe report in 1619 which stated that 20 slaves were bought in the last day of August. This was in Virginia and it was the first recorded history about Africans coming to America and being sold as slaves…
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Why did Slavery Come to be the Dominant Labor System in the Southern Colonies
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Download file to see previous pages The workforce in the agricultural sector in the southern colonies was mainly comprised of Europeans servants who worked on indenture basis. Although the Europeans still offered labor, African slaves were the better choice for planters because they were cheap to maintain and more productive. By mid 17th century there was a massive shift towards slave labor in the south since demand for food was rising with expanding markets. At this time Africans had started to be shipped and be sold as slaves to Americans. The climate and soil in the south were more favorable for agriculture than those of the north. This made the sound to be heavily dependent on labor for development of plantations. The south as stated above was an ideal region for agriculture all year round and crops like tobacco and rice thrived well. These crops are labor intensive and the lands were quite vast. Therefore, a huge potential of the southern lands remained untapped considering that there were many waterways where crops could be transported to overseas markets. As these farms grew labor shortages became intense and by the end of the 17th century more than 500 Africans had been bought as slaves to meet the demand (Schneider and Schneider 48). This trend was soon followed by withdrawal of indentured European servants since many had saved enough to buy their own land and start farming. America was quite big and unexploited by then and the Europeans found no reason not to venture into far away lands. The Bacon’s Rebellion also saw many planters release white servants as they proved to be a danger to political stability. In this regards an alternative had to be sought to counter the exodus of the white servants. By mid 18th century a total of 235,000 Africans were in America and 85% of them worked in the southern colonies of Virginia, Georgia, North and South Carolina (73). African slaves however came to be fully exploited after failed trials were made on Native Americans (Rodriguez 106). Many of them died from European diseases while many others ran away since they knew the land better than the Europeans. This left the planters no choice but to take in African slaves. This followed a massive expansion of plantations in Georgia and South Carolina which translated to increased production levels of rice and tobacco. These slaves did a great deal of work which the white servants had refused to do for example draining of swamps. West Africans came in handy especially in rice growing plantations since they were familiar with the kind of work required as their mother lands grew rice. Slaves worked for 15 hours on a daily basis especially during the harvest season (Norton and Sheriff 27). One overseer was required to supervise a minimum of 20 slaves doing back-breaking work and when a slave lazed around, the overseer was supposed to whip them. The fact that slaves were cheap to buy and maintain saw planters buy them in masses so as to plant and cultivate more. As earlier indicated slaves used to work for many hours per day which translated to bumper harvests and therefore booming plantation business. Many plantation owners like the Byrd family from Virginia turned to be quite wealthy (58). Such families came together to form elite classes of planters in the southern states who ensured that slave trade remained because it was a lifeline to their wealth. Southern colonies had vast fertile lands for agriculture where Europeans worked as servants on indenture basis. The vastness and the need to grow crops on large scale raised the need to have more workers. Slave trade was on the rise by mid 17th century and it saw many planters buy African slaves to work in ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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