December 9, 2014
Slavery in North America
Slavery began in the U.S. when the first African slaves were delivered by ship to the colony of Virginia in 1619. Their purpose was to work without pay in agricultural and industrial fields to financially benefit their owners. While the idea of unpaid servitude has been prominent throughout history, its development in America took on an entirely new meaning. It was racially based, creating a prejudice society that slaves and former slaves could not escape. Slavery evolved drastically from the colonial period to its end in 1865, primarily due the revolution, laws, revolts, culture, and religion.
With the beginning of the revolutionary war in 1775, slaves were not given weapons or permitted to fight because their owners feared organized rebellions. However, several “Negro battalions” were created by Alexander Hamilton. He knew that if slaves weren’t offered freedom in America, they surely would be in Britain. To keep the large number of slaves on the rebel’s side, he granted them the opportunity to fight for their “freedom”. At the end of the war and with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, many slaves were inspired by the passionate words spoken by founding fathers and their views on equality and freedom. The revolution created a dramatic divide between the north and south. Slaves in the south were property, and slaves in the north took the role of second class intelligent servants.
Questions on the morality of slavery began to rise, leading to social conflicts, rebellions, and political compromises. Usually opinions were split from north to south. The Atlantic slave trade was outlawed, which frustrated southern plantations owners, and subconsciously dehumanized slaves even further in their eyes as they began to breed them. In addition to the many social issues in the south, political issues came to the forefront. The three fifths compromise was made to appease southern...
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