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Henry Clay's views of slavery - Essay Example

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Name: University: Tutor: Course: Date: Henry Clay’s Views of Slavery and Impact on American Economy Henry clay was one of the people who had a contribution to the state of slave trade in the USA abolitionists, even before the father of emancipation, Abraham Lincoln, came to the limelight…
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Henry Clays views of slavery
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Henry Clay's views of slavery

Download file to see previous pages... To put action to words, he, of his own free will, freed his slaves, many years before the Civil War and the emancipation (NPR para 4). Clay was one of the people who President Lincoln admired a lot, and his drive for the emancipation must have emanated from this. In fact, Clay and Lincoln seem to have shared the same socio-political philosophy when it came to leadership. For instance, Clay is quoted as having said that he would rather be right than president. This was indication of how his view on slavery was hindering his political career. There have been conflicting arguments on how the abolition of slavery affected the economy of the United States. Some feel that the abolition was a big loss to the economy, especially the southern parts of America which were too dependent on slave labour for their extensive agricultural activities. Slave labour was fundamental in allowing the southern farmers to be able to continue being large-scale producers. In fact, although the southern parts constituted only about thirty percent of the population at the time, it was able to produce a majority of the agricultural products such as cotton which was in great demand, and other food crops. With the abolition of the slaves, these farmers could not access the cheap and affordable labour the farmers were getting from the slaves. The economic impact of the abolition of slavery can also be considered in terms of the productivity of an individual. The question in this case would be, were slaves more productive while in slavery than they were while free? In one way, it can be argued that slaves, due to the fact that they were to work constantly, were more productive. A free person on the other hand, can do work in one day which will give him enough income to help his family for three days. In this regard, such a person may end up being idle for the rest of the days. This argument has however been countered, especially by modern research on human motivation. For instance, Abraham Maslow, a psychologist, established that human motivation changes from time to time in a hierarchical manner depending on the various levels of human needs. These conflicting issues of slavery can be best seen in Henry Clay’s attitude towards slavery. Henry was a representative who influenced a lot of issues in USA politics and economics and at one time was openly opposed to slavery. Yet, in spite of his stand on slavery, he himself owned slaves (NPR, 2010). This is an indication that although opposed slavery on moral grounds, he still could appreciate the economic importance of slavery. The other way in which the impact of emancipation can be considered is by looking at the value of a slave. Although the actual value of a slave could not have been calculated accurately, it can be estimated. A slave was bought at about $200 and was estimated to have a value of $800 to $100 when future value of his work is considered. It is estimated that there were four million slaves, giving a value of $400 of the slaves who lived during the time of emancipation. This would mean that this value of the economy was destroyed just by freeing the slaves. However, this argument is valid only in theory but falls short in practice. Freeing a slave did not nullify his or her economic value but only shifted the value from one owner to another (from the slave master to the slave). In this regard, it cannot be said that freeing the slaves nullified their ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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