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American Slavery, American Freedom - Assignment Example

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Slavery began with the arrival of the first slaves in Virginia in 1619 and continued in America for the next 250 years. During the colonial era in the 18th century, the African migrants who made up the majority of slaves were ushered into the New World. …
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American Slavery, American Freedom
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American Slavery, American Freedom Order No. 548442 What distinguished American slavery from previous forms of slavery in world history? What specific led to slavery in North America and what role did racial prejudice play in its creation? ‘Give Me Liberty’ by Eric Foner, Professor of History, Columbia University, gives us deep insight into specific incidents leading to slavery in America. His book dealing with 19th century America, focusing on slavery, war and reconstruction, has won him great acclaim as a leading contemporary Historian and is extensively used as a History text in the classroom. Professor Foner’s central themes revolve around American freedom and he explains how the meaning of freedom changed with the evolvement of American society brought about by changes in the Political, Social and Cultural incidents that occurred. Slavery began with the arrival of the first slaves in Virginia in 1619 and continued in America for the next 250 years. During the colonial era in the 18th century, the African migrants who made up the majority of slaves were ushered into the New World. One of the chief causes for antislavery sentiment was discrimination and segregation of slaves. Slaves had no identity of their own, nor were they represented in Government administration. They were bought and sold like commodities and were brutally treated by their white masters. Slaves were not permitted to own property, nor were they allowed to receive any type of education. In the bigger picture they led lives of indentured servitude beginning with indentured working contracts. Tobacco was a common commodity that helped to rake in a lot of money and stabilize the colonial economy. John Rolfe of Jamestown imported tobacco seeds from West India and cultivated them. Tobacco grew very well in the humid climate and this brought about two fundamental changes in the economy. 1) The cultivation of tobacco brought rich rewards but the level of food production dropped as farmers found that cultivating tobacco was much more lucrative. 2) The new tobacco economy gave rise to a crisis in the labor market as there was a dearth of labor hands. Hence during the 1670’s there was a great decline in the number of European immigrants to the Chesapeake area and it was due to this reason that the nature of slavery was redefined. The Virginia Company faced the crisis of the labor problem by instituting the headright system. This system was used as a ploy to attract laborers to work in the tobacco fields. The system offered the worker land to attract them for the job. In the 1660’s the planters in Virginia suffered economically as tobacco prices reached rock bottom. The House of Burgesses established perpetual slavery for the black people. The production cost of tobacco was fairly high compared to the money obtained from selling the crop and the planters remained angry and unhappy. Therefore, the breakdown of peaceful negotiations with the Indians, the war with Netherlands, loss of trade with the Dutch and others and the revival of propriety land grants worsened the situation for Berkeley and a rebellion was initiated by Nathaniel Bacon in 1676 called the ‘Bacon Rebellion’. In this rebellion the colonial capital of Jamestown was reduced to ashes, while the House of Burgesses and the Governor Berkeley were held at gunpoint to concede. It was only after the Civil War, the 13th Amendment was introduced in 1865 that brought an end to slavery in America. References Bacon’s Rebellion Slavery in America Read More
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