Slavery In The 18th And 19th Century

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Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, a variety of laws were passed to remove the rights of slaves. What little rights slaves had were quickly taken away when African slavery became prominent in America. These were known as the Fugitive Slave Acts. History.com states, “Enacted by Congress in 1793, the first Fugitive Slave Act authorized local governments to seize and return escaped slaves to their owners and imposed penalties on anyone who aided in their flight. Widespread resistance to the 1793 law later led to the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which added further provisions regarding runaways and levied even harsher punishments for interfering in their capture” (“Fugitive Slave Acts”). In 1793, the Fugitive Slave Act allowed …show more content…
Slaves were typically held in pens until they could be auctioned off. Henry Watson, a slave during the mid-1800’s, writes, “Each one of the traders has private jails, which are for the purpose of keeping slaves in… These jails are enclosed by a wall about 16 feet high, and the yard-room is for the slaves to exercise in and consists of but one room, in which all sexes and ages are huddled together in a mass” (“Slave Auctions”). Slaves were sold to the highest bidder, they had no choice in the matter. The sellers did a multitude of things to make them look healthier, including darkening grey hair and coating damaged skin with oil. Henry Watson explains, “Just before the doors are opened, it is usual for the keeper to grease the mouths of the slaves so as to make it appear that they are well and hearty, and have just done eating fat meat” (“Slave Auctions”). The buyers were then allowed to examine the slaves. They poked and prodded them, checking for wounds or any type of disabilities. The average price of a slave was roughly $10,000 in today's money. Young men were often worth over $30,000, the old and disabled worth much

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