History of Slavery in Colonial America - Essay Example

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Slavery has become one of the most intriguing periods in American history. While most people associate slavery with the southern half of the country during the early nineteenth century, few know that slavery has been a stain on America's fabric since the colonists first settled on America's shores…
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History of Slavery in Colonial America
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Download file to see previous pages The Portuguese first utilized the slave trade around 1562 (Sylvester, 1998). The prime area for slaves was on the west coast of Africa called the Sudan. The peoples inhabiting the Sudan and surrounding areas were known for their skills in agriculture, farming, and mining.
Europeans soon realized the commodity these skilled laborers could bring to their countries and began trading them regularly. African tribal wars produced captives, which became a bartering resource in the European slave market. Black and white slave hunters obtained those not captured during war. The main sources of barter used by the Europeans to secure African slaves were glass beads, whiskey, ivory, and guns.
The first slaves to arrive in America were brought to the Jamestown settlement in 1619. A Dutch slave trader exchanged his cargo of Africans in that year (Becker, 1999). This was the first time an African set foot in the New World. The first slaves were brought to Jamestown as indentured servants, having to serve seven years for a master before gaining their freedom, the same as white indentured servants. This became a problem in latter years however, when the indentured servants were done with their time, they became competition for their masters and caused outrage among the predominantly white business world.
There is some argument a...
Some argue however, that the word servant as was used to describe the African slaves by the white settlers was the same inference that the word had in England, which was more akin to the more modern definition of slavery. These same scholars argue that southern plantation owners and slave masters still used the term "servants" to describe their slaves right up until the end of the Civil War.
While white indentured servants where still the primary source for cheap labor in the colonies, tensions were growing between the poor workers and the newly emerging merchant class. The merchant class was now able to seize land and hold it as their own, regardless of the poor farmer's objections. The merchant class was also given the right to vote since they were technically landowners. This had the former indentured servants angry, and they were beginning to revolt.
Bacon's Rebellion
Slavery in the colonies grew in necessity following Bacon's Rebellion. Bacon's Rebellion occurred when a settler named Nathaniel Bacon disobeyed direct orders and seized a tribe of Native Americans for allegedly stealing his corn. Bacon was reprimanded and soon he began leading revolts against the Native Americans who had been attacking small out-lying farmers and their property. While Bacon was repeatedly reprimanded, his attacks continued and grew in their ferociousness.
Bacon's rebellion ended when a group of his men surrounded Jamestown and burned it to the ground. The rebellion led the wealthy landowners of the time to begin to look elsewhere for cheap labor, fearing they too would have to endure another rebellion similar to that of Nathaniel Bacon (Bacon's 2005).
With the emerging slave class in the colonies, twenty-five thousand and growing by 1700, came new laws ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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