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Why is a historically significant of US Slavery - Essay Example

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Ideas about what constituted being fully human, as well as what can be considered to be humane, were very different in the Southern states during the late 18th and 19th centuries , as described below. …
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Why is a historically significant of US Slavery
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Download file to see previous pages This is historically significant because it had a long term effect upon the place of black Americans in society right into the mid- 20th century, affecting for instance their rights to vote as full American citizens. Whether or not treatment of Afro-Americans can have ever have been considered humane depends upon your definition of the words ’humane’ and ‘human’. Justifiable Slavery Slavery has been described on more than one occasion as a crime against humanity, 1 but this idea has not always been the prevailing one. When the first Europeans shipped slaves from Africa the practice was already a long established as a norm in society on that continent.
The Europeans were merely taking advantage of what was made available to them. Then gradually the trade increased, with traders offering good prices for more and more slaves to work in the newly discovered lands of the New World. It is estimated that some 10 million black Africans were eventually landed and sold on as slaves - this estimate of course does not any account of the massive numbers who died before arrival.
It is relatively easy in the early 21st century to believe that slavery is wrong and find it hard to comprehend why people ever thought it was justifiable, especially if one reads the many accounts of the cruelty and horrors which were often involved. It is such stories which tend to stand out, rather than the ones were a slave was an established part of a household and community. There was obvious inequality, unfairness and modern man may feel this was not justified, being unable to fully put themselves into their shoes, but the people of earlier times just did not have the same mind set. Many of those who were slave holders were sincere Christians and could quote the scriptures which apparently backed up their position. This was backed up by their clergy. The Old Testament had laws as to how slaves should be treated e.g. Exodus 21 v 5 which refers to servants who did not want to leave their masters. Deuteronomy 15 v 11 onwards were taken as instructions as how to treat them i.e. provide for them. Verses such as Exodus 21 v 20 were used to justify the beating of slaves. In the New Testament there are verses such as Ephesians 6 v 5 ‘Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear.’ and Titus 2 v 9 ‘Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything.’3 These ideas were not just based upon the Bible, but were generally accepted . Great thinkers such as Aristotle claimed that :- We see what is the nature and office of a slave; he who is by nature not his own but another's man, is by nature a slave; and he may be said to be another's man who, being a human being, is also a possession.4 He does however also say ‘Is not all slavery a violation of nature’, but decides that it is not, on the grounds that some are natural leaders and others naturally subservient. It should be pointed out that this was not racial prejudice, but simply refers to weaker people, perhaps captured in times of war. . Thomas Aquinas, operating within a rather different society – one of medieval feudalism, took a similar position – leaders and led.5 Philosopher John Locke in the 17th century was concerned with the way that the British monarchs were treating their people - the British i.e. white people, could not become slaves of the Stuarts he maintained, but on the other hand ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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