A Mercy -Toni Morrison

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The lives of slaves in the 1600’s can be compared to the life of orphans that have been moved back and forth from home to home. They have no idea where they’re going to end up and who they’re going to end up with. They’re lives are already difficult but illnesses and diseases can make it a lot more difficult. They live day by day not knowing what’s going to happen next. Sometimes, slaves are treated more like animals than humans. Other times, they were treated with a little respect. Slaves in the northern colonies of America were treated differently depending on different religions and cultures. In the novel, a Mercy, Toni Morrison sympathizes towards the lives of slaves and slave owners in the 1600’s. A Mercy is based on a historical time period of the 1600’s in New York, Maryland, and Virginia. The 1600’s is the time period when slavery first became popular. In 1619, a Dutch slave trader exchanged his cargo of Africans for food, which was the first arrival of Africans to Jamestown (Hening, 7). Africans were beginning to play a huge role in the economy of the Northern colonies in the U.S. “Jamestown exported 10 tons of tobacco to Europe…” and slaves were being traded back and forth for food and tobacco ( Hening, 5). By the 1680’s, slaves had become essential to the economy of Virginia (Hening, 7). Since trading slaves was getting bigger and bigger, eventually African slavery was legalized in Virginia and Maryland. “In 1663 the Maryland legislature enacted a law that ‘all negroes and other slaves to be thereafter imported into the province, should serve during life; and all children born of any negro should be slaves, as their fathers were for the term of their lives” ( Harper, Douglas, 6). This law was one of the many slave laws and codes that were passed in this time period. In New York, “the English took over the colony in 1664”. There were a lot of skilled and unskilled jobs that slaves were needed for (especially on plantations), so they continued to...
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