Economic Basis of African Slavery in the United States

Topics: American Civil War, Slavery in the United States, Slavery Pages: 4 (1299 words) Published: March 30, 2010
Economic Basis of African Slavery in the United States

In early American history slave owners were mainly of the Christian faith and believed in the literal truth of the Bible. They felt that many quotes in the bible gave them a “right” to use slaves for prophet. One such quote comes from Colossians 3:22 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.”

There are several economic factors contributing to African slavery in the United States, three of which will be discussed. Tariffs are one major economic factor that contributed to slavery in the US. The United States federal government taxed imports at rates from 5 to 15 percent, the taxes were primarily designed to create revenue to pay expenses and part of the national debt that the federal government had. These tariffs increase the price of items brought into the US from overseas. As the shipping costs rose and the taxes increased as well as the need for the importers to make a profit as well, the costs of these imported goods became too high and the demand for US products grew.

Such products as Cotton and Tobacco could be grown and harvested in the US and sold at a far lower price, and slaves were used to harvest these products and avoid the tariffs. Avoiding many of the costs of importing these types of products and using slaves to harvest them allowed the owners of the slaves to make the money they needed to survive and become wealthy.

Another major economic factor contributing to the growth of slavery in the US was the high demand of cotton. In 1793 the invention of the cotton gin, which separated the cotton seeds from the fiber, made it possible for plantation owners to produce more cotton products faster but the harvesting of the cotton could not keep up, more and more slaves were used to harvest the cotton just to keep up with the gin capacity. Once again not having...

Citations: Peter Kolchin, B.A., Ph.D 2009 retrieved August 9, 2009, from
Martin Kelly 2009 retrieved August 12, 2009 from
Swain, Gwenyth, 2004, Dred and Harriet Scott: A Family 's Struggle for Freedom. Saint Paul, MN: Borealis Books.
Robert William Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman, 1974, Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.
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