The Changing Place of Slaves and Slavery in the American Nation

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The Changing Place of Slaves and Slavery in the American Nation Tomeka T. DeBruce
HIS 203: American History to 1865
Prof. Corinne Barker
October 15, 2012

The Changing Place of Slaves and Slavery in the American Nation In the beginning as early as 1502 the European slave traders shipped 11 to 16 million slaves to America. The English colonists had indentured servants instead of slaves. Indentured servants were servants that had a contract and only worked for a certain period of time. African American slaves were used when the English men were running out of indentured servants. The first African American slave was in 1619. They also had Irish, Scottish, English and German indentured servants. Over half the indentured slaves in the thirteen colonies were white immigrants. By the beginning of the eighteen hundreds slaves could be found in every area of the colonies. This paper will discuss the transformation of indentured servants to slavery and how slavery evolved through the American Civil War and how it came to end with the 13th Amendment. The definition of a slave according to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary is a person held in servitude as the chattel of another; one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence. As stated in a forum by Stanley Engerman (2000) slavery and other social systems are seen as quite different and somehow more acceptable, and that any definition of slavery has legal, cultural, political and economic aspects and that it is often hard to draw the line among labor institutions(Engerman,2000). Tracing the history of these Black Americans initially referred to as American Negroes, can be traced to 1619 when the first batch of slaves arrived in Jamestown Virginia and later, their numbers were intensely increased as the demand for their services increased amongst the rich Americans who were interested in large scale agricultural production. Later, it gained significance especially after the colonization of this territory by the European powers that further developed commercial agriculture. As a result of the preconceived misconceptions of inferiority, the slaves were harshly treated more like property than humans. They had no legal rights to claim any freedom. As they started out as indentured servants, to serve a certain number of years, this later transformed due to the high demand of labor, and the shortage of indentured servants (Stockwell, 2012) People have debated for decades the precise role of slavery in precipitating that war. Some emphasize fundamental, irreconcilable conflict between societies based on forced labor and contract labor. According to an article by William G. Thomas (2003), it is stated that slavery did not bear a simple relationship to emergent forms of modernity in the economic, cultural, or political realm. The very pervasiveness of slavery throughout the South meant that it exerted complex effects on every aspect of society. Slavery was adapted by whites to technology, communication, industry, and agriculture in ways that permitted white Southerners to consider themselves participants in the most advanced developments in Anglo-American culture and society. On the other hand, slavery led white Southerners to organize their societies in ways different from nearby wage-labor societies, ways that precluded certain kinds of social development and that in turn encouraged the South to understand itself as a perhaps superior variant of that Anglo-American culture and society. The article also lends to concentrate on particulars on untangling the relationships between political structures and social structures. Thomas makes claims that historians have tended to conflate social interest and political identity, assuming that votes for slavery were votes for secession. But the pervasiveness of slavery across the diverse South meant that those who defended slavery voted across the entire range of strategies from fervent Unionism to fervent secessionism....
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