Slavery in Colonial America

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Slavery in Colonial America
Slavery was created in pre-revolutionary America at the start of the seventeenth century. By the time of the Revolution, slavery had undergone drastic changes and was nothing at all what it was like when it was started. In fact the beginning of slavery did not even start with the enslavement of African Americans. Not only did the people who were enslaved change, but the treatment of slaves and the culture that each generation lived in, changed as well.

When America was first founded the colonists believed that they could do one of two things. They could either ask for entire families and groups of people to come over from England to start family farms and businesses to help the colony prosper. The other option was to take advantage of the lower class people and promise them land and freedom for a couple of years of servitude (Charles Johnson et al, Africans in America 34). Obviously the second option was used and this was the start of indentured servitude in colonial America. The indentured servants that came from England were given plenty of accommodations in exchange for their servitude. They were also promised that after their time of service was complete that they would receive crops, land, and clothing to start their new found lives in America. Men, children, and even most criminals, rushed to the ports hoping to be able to find work in America and soon start their new life. However, a large quantity of them either died on the voyage over, died from diseases, or died from the intensity of their work, before their servitude was complete (Johnson et al, Africans, 34). America finally began to show signs of prosperity due to the crop, tobacco. The only problem now was that the majority of the workers were dying from being severely punished and overworked. The colony was in desperate need of people who could work the fields to help continue the growth of their cash crop, tobacco. In 1619, a Spanish ship containing some Africans was captured and then brought to Jamestown, where the Africans were traded for food (Johnson et al, Africans, 36). Little did anyone know but this one trade would shape the course of history for decades to come.

The first African Americans that were put to work in Jamestown were not treated in the way that people traditionally think of early slavery. In fact they were treated just as the indentured servants that had come from England were treated. This does not mean that they were treated with any sympathy or given easy work, but that they just were not discriminated by the color of their skin. In the beginning of the 1600s all servants had the same dream, to one day be free. In 1641, a black slave by the name of Anthony Johnson, was freed and given his own land to start his new life as an American (Johnson et al, Africans, 39). At this point in time the only things that separated people were if you were an owner or a servant and if you were a Christian or not. At some point in the mid 1700s something changed the way that the colonists saw things. All of a sudden there was no longer equal treatment of white and black slaves, the darker the color of ones skin was the worse off their life became. In 1640, three slaves tried escaping to Maryland but were unsuccessful, when they were brought upon the court two of the men were given an extra year of servitude and the other was sentenced to slavery for the rest of his life. The first two men were white and the third was black, this was one of the first ever instances of racism (Johnson et al, Africans, 40-41). Separation is one of the believed reasons for the changes. The colonists were hoping to turn the white slaves against the black in an effort to prevent the slaves from joining together and using their mass number to take over the colonies (Johnson et al, Africans, 40). These changes sparked a new era of slavery in the colonies.

Colonist no longer viewed African Americans as people but...
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