Life for African American Slaves

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Life for African American Slaves from the 1800’s until today Erica Bass
America History since 1865- HIS204
Mark Davis
September 26, 2010

Life for African American Slaves from the 1800’s until today
With the end of the American Civil War the African American people became free from slavery and supposedly free to be citizens of the nation like everyone else did. However, as anyone who knows anything about American history, this was clearly not the case. African American people continued, and continue today, to struggle for the same rights and freedoms as the white people of the nation. The following paper examines the progression of African American’s since the end of Civil War in 1865.

Some five hundred years ago, ships began transporting millions of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas. This massive population movement helped create the African Diaspora in the New World. Many did not survive the horrible ocean journey.Enslaved Africans represented many different peoples, each with distinct cultures, religions, and languages. Most originated from the coast or the interior of West Africa, between present-day Senegal and Angola. Other enslaved peoples originally came from Madagascar and Tanzania in East Africa.

A strong family and community life helped sustain African Americans in slavery. People often chose their own partners, lived under the same roof, raised children together, and protected each other. Brutal treatment at the hands of slaveholders, however, threatened black family life. Enslaved women experienced sexual exploitation at the hands of slaveholders and overseers. Bonds people lived with the constant fear of being sold away from their loved ones, with no chance of reunion. Historians estimate that most bonds people were sold at least once in their lives. No event was more traumatic in the lives of enslaved individuals than that of forcible separation from their families. People sometimes fled when they heard of an impending sale.

Even though slavery existed throughout the original thirteen colonies, nearly all the northern states, inspired by American independence, abolished slavery by 1804. As a matter of conscience some southern slaveholders also freed their slaves or permitted them to purchase their freedom. Until the early 1800s, many southern states allowed these manumissions to legally take place. Although the Federal Government outlawed the overseas slave trade in 1808, the southern enslaved African-American population continued to grow.

The demands of European consumers for New World crops and goods helped fuel the slave trade. Following a triangular route between Africa, the Caribbean and North America, and Europe, slave traders from Holland, Portugal, France, and England delivered Africans in exchange for products such as colonial rum, sugar, and tobacco. Eventually the trading route also distributed Virginia tobacco, New England rum and indigo and rice crops from South Carolina and Georgia. (http://www.nps.gov/history/delta/underground/slave.htm)

To meet the growing demands of sugar and cotton, slaveholders developed an active domestic slave trade to move surplus workers to the Deep South. New Orleans, Louisiana, became the largest slave mart, followed by Richmond, Virginia; Natchez, Mississippi; and Charleston, South Carolina. Between 1820 and 1860 more than 60 percent of the Upper South's enslaved population was "sold south." Covering 25 to 30 miles a day on foot, men, women, and children marched south in large groups called coffles. Former bondsman Charles Ball remembered that slave traders bound the women together with rope. They fastened the men first with chains around their necks and then handcuffed them in pairs. The traders removed the restraints when the coffle neared the market.

By 1860 some 4 million enslaved African Americans lived throughout the South. Whether on a small farm or a large plantation, most enslaved people were agricultural...
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