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The African American experience in colonial and antebellum North America - Term Paper Example

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In the 16th Century, Slavery was rampant, and slaves were sourced from African Kingdoms of West Africa and taken to the United States to work in the Spanish and Portuguese farms. Slaves were denied their rights and handled like animals. The Ships that arrived in the United…
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The African American experience in colonial and antebellum North America
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The African American Experience in Colonial and Antebellum North America In the 16th Century, Slavery was rampant,and slaves were sourced from African Kingdoms of West Africa and taken to the United States to work in the Spanish and Portuguese farms. Slaves were denied their rights and handled like animals. The Ships that arrived in the United States in the period were mostly carrying slaves (Zinn 1). One out of three slaves died during the shipment (Zinn 1). Back in the US, the blacks were slaves while the whites were the masters. The slaves suffered and worked for long hours without payment. Some died because of poor shelter during the winter as we are told some lived in caves. Food was scarce and even opted to eat corpses. Mostly, slaves came from Africa, the Caribbean and South America and by 1619; there were more than a million slaves in Virginia (Zinn 4). The whites and the Indians practiced their culture while the Africans were humiliated, and their culture was deemed to be inferior. Ironically, the African civilization was at par to that of Europe in terms of technology. Since slaves were treated harshly, they started rebellions that were crushed mercilessly. We are told that even some of the offenders were burnt alive and some hanged (Zinn 8). Later on, the black slaves and white servants started colluding to cause mayhem but those caught were equally punished. Racial discrimination is evident in this article because whites were considered superior to blacks hence given privileges like ownership of weapons and enough food. During this time, slaves also started demanding for their freedom (Zinn 12).
The antebellum period was a time of slavery in North America whereby discriminatory laws were in place. Despite the existence of this laws, the African Americans were allowed to participate in societal duties. The black men were allowed to enlist themselves into the army that fought the 1812 American revolutionary war. In relation to these laws, Englishmen were not allowed to marry a Negro woman. However, if by chance an Englishman committed fornication with a Negro man or woman, he was fined (Bacon 42). On the other hand, non-Christians who were brought to the United States by land or sea and were not considered free (Bacon 42). IN this era, nobody was allowed to buy anything from a slave. Any woman who was a slave and conceived a child while serving her master was fined thousand pounds of tobacco. The child father was required to provide security to the church wardens of the parish where the child shall be taken care of and any complaints from the wardens reported to the relevant county courts (Bacon 43). Moreover, the white men who came from England may it be a priest or anybody was allowed to marry a white woman with mulatto man. Whoever committed such an offence was liable to pay a fine of ten thousand pounds (Bacon 42-43).
Furthermore, from the conversations of John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, who are both assistants we see that children were not catered for well. In this situation, their caretakers hurt children. From the conversation of the two, it is a clear that this society was dominated by witchcraft, and we see Titubas revelations that he had encountered the devil several times. He says that sometimes the devil appears as a great dog, sometimes appeared like two rats, black rat and a red rat (Boyer and Nissenbaum 77). Tituba claims that the devil approached him and told him to be his servant, and if he could refuse, he will suffer more. From the above revelations, it is clear that during this time the society was living in fear because of imaginary evil spirits. The spirits did not take any particular form and kept changing from one form to another. The spirits had taken the conscience of Tituba, and he could not realize he was himself the devil by his action of hurting the children (Boyer and Nissenbaum 77).
The fugitive slave act of 1850 was a stern law that governed the rebellious slaves from their duty of slavery. The act regulates the movement, rights, punishments, rules and regulations under which the slave and the society could relate. Any slave who could be deemed to be fugitive, the act defines a categorical action to be followed in case of any rebellion. In this scenario, due to the rise of the rebellions from slaves which was evident from the 16th and17th a century there was a need to draft the fugitive slave act, which became effective and approved on September 18 1850 (Houston Community College 1850).
The forty Acres and a Mule was enclave in Florida along the Atlantic Coast that was abandoned by many inhabitants due to the war turmoil in1860s. The conflict occurred between government forces and rebels that forced many inhabitants to vacate. Most people who were displaced by the war were slaves, and in order to secure this land, it was made as a settlement scheme for the former slaves (Sherman 1). Additionally, the abandoned land was given to the Negroes because they were made free from the acts of war and through the President proclamation. In order number II, it gave more rights to the Negroes, and no white man was allowed to reside in the Negro settlement schemes. Since the Negros had secured their freedom, they were encouraged to enlist in the United States national army to contribute towards national building (Sherman 2).
Additionally, the Negroes were also organized into companies, battalions, and supported with all things including food and clothing as one of the conditions of the United States militaries (Sharman 3). The Negroes who did not have land had right to be given land, but not more than 40 acres and given security by the US military until they can provide for their security. Only Congress had powers to regulate their titles. The proclamation given by the president on May 29, 1865 gave powers to African Americans to own land and property in the United States (Sherman 4). Anybody who had proof on the land he or she settled had a right to it. The government also was ready to give back any pardoned land to anybody who could prove to be an eligible owner of that land.
Works Cited
Bacon, Nathaniel. “Virginias Statutes the Declining Status of African American Slaves, 2660-1705.”
Boyer, Paul and Nissenbaum, Stephen. “Examination and Testimony of Tituba, a Servant-Slave in Salem, Massachusetts.” New York. Da Capo, 1977.
Houston Community College. “Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.”
Sherman, William. “Forty Acres and a Mule.”
Zinn, Howard. “History is a weapon.” A Peoples History of the United States, 1980. Read More
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