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What were the origins of African-American slavery - Essay Example

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As a quick fix solution to their problem, they engaged in barbaric act of enslaving Africans especially from West Africa. They captured Africans and forced them to…
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What were the origins of African-American slavery
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The Early European settlers in America had plenty of work in their fields, but the labor force was inadequate. As a quick fix solution to their problem, they engaged in barbaric act of enslaving Africans especially from West Africa. They captured Africans and forced them to leave their lands, families and cultures to work in their lands. These slaves provided cheap labor and their supply was plentiful compared to the labor force provided by the poorer fellow Europeans. However, the process of getting the slaves was accompanied by war.
The first slaves to arrive in America under the slavery system, 20 in number, were brought in Virginia in North America in 1619. However, these were not actually the first slave. This is because slave trade had long started before the 16th century i.e. during the Triangular trade or transatlantic trade, which involved the Americans, Europeans and the Africans. In the transatlantic trade, slave traders delivered slaves captured in war from Africa to work in the South America in exchange for sugar and tobacco.
After the first batch of slaves in 1641, the colony of Massachusetts made slavery legal and then Virginia followed suit in the year 1660. Slavery intensified in the 17th and 18th century being enforced further in 1787 when U.S constitution was drafted to prohibit congress from meddling with slave trade before 1808 (Berlin, 2003).
After the American Revolution War 1775-83, Americans began associating enslavement and oppression of Africans to the manner in which they were manhandled by the British. The slaves had no right to vacation, wages, owning property and marriage. This led to call for slavery ban, acknowledgement of slaves as three-fifth of a person for taxation purposes and recognition of slave as person held under service. Mostly in 1800’s slavery in North America was viewed as oppression amongst many, however, people of South America did not conquer with this opinion. This is because they relied heavily on slave labor and abolition of slavery would amount to loss of much of their wealth (Franklin, 2000).
Despite the above progress, South faced Economic crisis in late 18th century as a result continued slavery in contrast to the North America. This was in the European industrialization period and there was high demand for cotton, South America cash crop. Moreover, the invention of the mechanical cotton gin in 1793 required more manpower. Consequently, the south continued slave trade to counter the huge labor demand and to meet their export demands. However, between the year 1774 and 1804 many North America colonies had banned slavery encouraged by American independence from the British. Consequently, there were many slaves between the year 1830 and 1860 who fled from Southern America to the North using the Underground Railroad system.
These differences existed till 1861 when the pro-abolitionist North, won the American civil war 1861-65. This led to illegalization of slavery in 1865, following President Lincoln “Emancipation Proclamation” and the 13th U.S constitution amendment which henceforth illegalized slavery in America (Baptist & Camp, 2006). It is believed that up until then about ten to fifteen million Africans had been enslaved in America.
Baptist, E & Camp, S. (2006). New studies in the history of American slavery. Georgia: University of Georgia Press.
Berlin, I. (2003). Generations of captivity: a history of African-American slaves. New York, NY: Harvard University Press.
Franklin, H. (2000). From slavery to freedom: a history of African Americans. New York, NY: A.A Knopf. Read More
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