African American Slavery

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This paper intends to discuss the daily life of African American slaves in the nineteenth century. The first Africans landed in 1619 in Jamestown, Virginia. By this time numerous accounts of slave life were published. The origins of slavery in the United States can be traced to colonial America where there was an abundance of agricultural land but not enough labor. In responding to that, this paper will also discuss, first, the importance slavery played on the economic and political development of the United States; second it will explain the daily life of African American slaves; and lastly defending that slavery is not “a positive good”. In conclusion I will explain what led me to this topic, why this subject is important to world history and how it’s changed my perception. To begin with the most fundamental fact: Slaves were not things. Whatever the law said, they were in reality human beings. A plow could not be evasive at work tasks, or burn down the barn, or escape – nor would it bleed when whipped, or develop for self-protection an elaborate courteous politeness when dealing with a master. An indicate complex of informal customs and “rights” sprang up because the slave was a person”.

The institution of slavery has played an important part in the economic and political development of the United States since colonial times. North America developed race-based plantation slavery. The colonization of North America could not of formed without the use African slaves. The demand for workers increased due to the tobacco cultivation. Unlike indentured servants, African slaves were not protected by the English common law. They could never be free, and their kids would be born into slavery. The English saw that African slaves were accustomed to heavy agriculture labor and unlike the Indians they were able to surpass various diseases that were spreading in Europe. “As the value of African workers increased the gradually ceased to be treated at indentured servants. First they became “servants for life,” and then subject of ever more elaborate “slave codes” the defined their legal position in detailed ways…..By the end of the seventeenth century the distinction between black slaves and white servants had become sharply defined: Servants were humans; slaves were things”. As colonies began to develop, the need for labor increased. Tobacco became one of the important crops in the new colonies. Western Europeans could not do the work alone so African slaves were brought to the new colonies to cultivate and care for the crops. Slaves became a crucial part in the development of the United States. In Virginia, slaves were considered the center of the economic process and that instead of a “society with slaves”; it became a “slave society.” “Slavery was the foundation of Virginia's agricultural system and essential to its economic viability. Initially, planters bought slaves primarily to raise tobacco for export. By the last quarter of the 18th century, wealthy Virginia farmers were using slave labor in a diversified agricultural regime. Enslaved African Americans also worked as skilled tradesmen in the countryside and in the capital city of Williamsburg. Many also served as domestics in the households of wealthier white Virginians.” Slaves became essential in the growth of the economy.

Slave life was not easy. African slaves lived under a wide variety of circumstances, such as; household servants, wagon driver, iron foundry worker, and skilled artisan. The majority of African slaves worked as farm laborers; growing cotton, tobacco, rice and other products. Some worked in large plantations or farms alongside their masters. Slaves worked from sunset to sunrise. Their masters kept a close eye on them. At night they had a curfew in their cabins, which was randomly inspected to ensure they didn’t escape. They had no right to leave their home without the permission of their master. African Americans come from a strong tradition of...
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