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Definitions of Freedom, Servitude and Slavery Change in Colonial America - Essay Example

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Definitions of freedom, servitude, and slavery change in colonial America Professor number Definitions of freedom, servitude, and slavery change in colonial America Until the abolition of slavery following the civil war in America, the practice of buying and selling slaves was legally recognized in many states of the United States of America…
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Definitions of Freedom, Servitude and Slavery Change in Colonial America
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Download file to see previous pages Over the years, however, the definitions of freedom and servitude changed, not for the better, but they grew to be a part of the daily life of the people of colonial America and the language and idiom that they use to convey their beliefs regarding the freedom of the marginalized and the subaltern make this very clear. The practice of assigning superiority to the white man was an intrinsic feature of the colonizer’s rhetoric. One may take the example of John Winthrop’s speech to the general court of 1645. Winthrop was a rich lawyer who settled in America and was one of the major settlers of the new colony. His speech talks of the hierarchies that were divinely ordained whereby even the wife of a white man was supposed to find “honor and freedom” in “her subjection to her husband’s authority” (Winthrop). Such convoluted notions of freedom were extended to other subaltern groups in the society which would then occupy various positions on the social ladder, thus justifying subjection in general and offering a justification for slavery and colonialism based on theories that were based on Christian ideologies that were not a part of the societies of the slaves or the indigenous residents of America. This fervor to foist one’s own ideologies and beliefs onto the cultural ‘other’ also finds expression in the cartography of the period. Captain John Smith’s map of Virginia is an excellent example of this tendency where a map of an Indian settlement is replete with symbols of British monarchy; thus seeking to subjugate the native tribes of the area even in one’s own mind, on the part of the colonizer (Captain). The situation of the people who arrived in America as indentured laborers was only slightly better than that of the black slaves. They were welcomed with diseases the like of which they had not seen before in their land. The lack of immunity to these diseases led to a great number of deaths, to which the authorities turned a blind eye. This reveals the shocking insensitivity to servants in the minds of those who held positions of power in colonial America. This can be understood from a letter written by an indentured laborer named Richard Frethorne, to his parents, in which he complains, I am not halfe a quarter so strong as I was in England, and all is for want of victualls, for I doe protest unto you, that I have eaten more in a day at home than I have allowed m here for a Weeke. (Richard) This makes clear the sheer inhumanity of the treatment that was meted out to indentured laborers and gives us an idea of how worse the treatment that the black slaves faced was. The treatment that the blacks faced however did undergo a change for the better. Attitudes that the colonizers held slowly started to change and the magnitude of the atrocities began to dawn upon some members of the colonizing nations. Alexander Falconbridge’s relatively sympathetic treatment of the narrative of the journey of the blacks to the slave markets is an instance that communicates to us the changing attitudes towards the inhuman treatment of slaves. There are several concessions that Falconbridge makes to the slave communities such as the occasion when they are forced to sing. Falconbridge accedes to the fact that “as may naturally be expected, melancholy lamentations of their exile from their native country” ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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