Starting in the seventeenth century, European settlers in the United States began deploying enslaved Africans as workforce because they were less expensive and more available than indentured servants (mostly poorer Europeans). Enslavement flourished throughout colonial America after 1619, when a Dutch ship transporting Twenty Africans landed at the British settlement of Jamestown, Virginia (History.com Editors, 2009). Furthermore, slavery was designed to aid in the manufacturing of lucrative commodities such as nicotine and helped in the creation of the monetary foundation of the new nation. The Western expansion of the USA sparked an extensive discussion over oppression that led to conflict. Therefore, this analysis discusses the background of slavery, what these enslaved people went through, how slavery changed the world, and how this slavery affected everyone, in addition to how society justified slavery in America.
Background of Enslaved People
In American history, slavery was seen as an economic concept. Slavery existed, and the individuals who benefitted from it valued it economically as a production system. The main illustration is the existing situation in the American South, in which the market for approximately four million enslaved people was estimated to be worth between $3.2 and $3.7 billion in the United before the Civil War (History.com Editors, 2009). Compared to other assets, owners earned higher returns from their slaves. The practice also profited insurance providers, cotton buyers, and industrial organizations. Such valuable property drew regulations to protect it with institutional practices regarding slavery, a detailed justification for contemporary law and business.
What Enslaved People Went Through in America
Slavery had become an essential element of the American economy by the early nineteenth century. Legally, enslaved people were regarded as slaveholders’ possessions or property. Individuals could be purchased, exchanged, and traded into lifetime service under chattel slavery. Slave position was passed down to the offspring of enslaved employees (History.com Editors, 2009). Additionally, many enslaved people performed labor on small family farms, in private homes, and urban areas. Nevertheless, most were employed on plantations.
Enslaved people on farms generally had long workdays that started before sunrise and ended after nightfall. Several people worked while preparing land for future planting, clearing trees, or harvesting and planting crops (History.com Editors, 2009). Other individuals were in charge of butchering animals or maintaining structures and tools. Cleaning and housekeeping were done by domestic slaves, who also frequently looked after the slaveholder’s youngsters.
Beyond the dangers of exhausting labor and long working hours, slaves faced additional risks. Families were regularly divided, and persons were sold to work on various estates. African American women were sexually molested and violated by white slaveowners. The farm supervisor, who was charged with supervising the job, had the authority to impose whippings or other sanctions at any point (History.com Editors, 2009). Slave codes, or regulations regulating their rights and behavior, also limited enslaved people. For instance, several Southern states created legislation that made it illegal for African Americans, both enslaved and free to sign contracts or witness against a white person in a courtroom.
The way of life was very challenging. Compact, shoddily constructed cottages served as the slaves’ homes, and there was rarely adequate foodstuff for everyone. They incorporated foodstuff they cultivated in tiny gardens into their meals as a supplement. Mortality rates among children were enormous, and illnesses like hepatitis and cholera spread far and wide.
How Slavery in America Changed the World
Almost every nation in the world has been afflicted by enslavement. From ancient Greece to the Americans of today, numerous administrations have supported the complete control of particular groups of people for the benefit of other groups, usually under the guise of societal, economic, and technological advancement. Enslavement has, nevertheless, contributed to the industrialization of the globe. Around 1600, industrialization started in both America and Europe (History.com Editors, 2009). Consequently, a large number of workers was required as a result. Little machinery had been created throughout this era, necessitating much human labor.
Additionally, a consistent supply of raw materials was required as industries developed through enslavement. As a result, the agrarian revolution spread throughout the world. Commercial production of commercial and food crops was a component of the agrarian revolution (History.com Editors, 2009). The white people required inexpensive labor because they owned significant land.
The establishment of the enslavement code was another element that changed the world. According to the law, all slave owners’ kids must be treated as the masters’ sole property, just like their moms. Initially, after a few decades, bondage became hereditary. It happens because the rich people’s children inherited all their parents owned when they died, along with the slaves. Additionally, it was against the law for masters in Charlestown to subject their slaves to any hardship (History.com Editors, 2009). Significant numbers of Europeans started exploring North America. War broke out among the men of France, the Netherlands, and England.
Additionally, by acquiring the enslaved people, the owners acknowledged that they had initially bought them, just like they do with some property investments. The slaves, nevertheless, were released from this form of ownership and could live independently. Nevertheless, as the slave code evolved, several human privileges were established to safeguard and abolish slavery. For example, masters were forbidden from abusing their slaves (Savage, 2020). The promotion of the slave trade was stopped, and the death of enslaved people was prosecuted as a crime worldwide.
The English Revolution and the legal reforms ushered by enslavement altered the course of history. The regulation was first created to shield white people from black slaves. The main objective of the regulations and laws that various nations passed was to end slavery worldwide. For example, The New York Assembly enacted workforce legislation prohibiting enslaved Africans from proclaiming against whites or congregating in groups larger than three on public streets in 1702. South Carolina implemented rules mandating enslaved people to wear clothing designating them as slaves in 1735 (Savage, 2020). Free and independent slaves must leave the town within six months or risk being sold back into slavery. The Code Noir, the primary set of regulations governing slaves and free blacks in North America, was established by the French colonial administration in Louisiana in 1724 (Savage, 2020). Nevertheless, today several regulations have been passed to prohibit slavery worldwide.
How Slavery Affected Everyone
For the first Sixty years of the nineteenth century, enslavement significantly impacted American and global politics, economics, and community. Furthermore, until tension ignited the Civil War, separating American political culture appeared to be the most significant impact of opposing factions. Slavery played a significant role in major rapid industrialization or manufacturing construction during the agricultural revolution that America was going through.
Despite the perception that slavery was abolished in the late nineteenth century, contemporary slavery still affects everyone and takes many forms. Men being compelled to work in the building, young girls marrying older men, pushing women into sex trafficking for monetary or social reasons, and every other way of controlling a human being’s life without that individual’s permission are examples of contemporary slavery. Several individuals who travel searching for a job are occasionally made to labor without eating and live in atrocious conditions (Gerber & Zavisca, 2020). Governments must thus assess these circumstances and act to guarantee that everybody can live in freedom, either within their nation or in another, and that they can choose where they would work and under what conditions.
How the Society Justifies Slavery
Slave owners and supporters, especially the Southerners, justified enslavement with unreasonable notions during slavery in America. Many contended that since Africans were lesser humans than whites, it was just a natural way of things that took its course. Since they thought they were less human, it was appropriate to treat them as such (Cobian, 2021). Others asserted that being a slave was beneficial for the enslaved since it prevented them from being free and succumbing to hunger or due to their being incapable of making their own choices.
Another misconception that justified slavery was the concept that the scriptures supported it. Because most white Americans, including slaveholders, were considered Christians, they utilized religion to defend their skewed perspective of slavery, which was perhaps the most successful strategy. They provided several examples to support this idea, including Caesar Augustus’ involvement in promoting the adoration of rulers like himself as gods (Cobian, 2021). Nevertheless, even when individuals referenced the Bible to defend slavery, they were mainly relying on human reasoning rather than that of their Creator.
In conclusion, when the term “slavery” is employed without any explanation, African Americans are still disturbed by it. Despite the American Congress’s prohibition of the domestic slave trade, the number of slaves in the country nearly tripled in the subsequent decades. Although the slave trade was outlawed, many freed slaves continued to act in ways that clearly showed they valued their freedom more than their owners did. Also, with higher wages, the former masters struggled to persuade their slaves to return to working as group laborers. Although slavery was inhumane and wrong, some people, like slave owners and supporters, especially the Southerners, justified slavery with false notions during the American slavery era.
Cobian, A. (2021, August 23). How did people justify slavery? Sojourner Truth African Heritage Museum. Retrieved December 8, 2022, from https://www.sojoartsmuseum.org/how-did-people-justify-slavery
Gerber, T. P., & Zavisca, J. (2020). Experiences in Russia of Kyrgyz and Ukrainian labor migrants: Ethnic hierarchies, geopolitical remittances, and the relevance of migration theory. Post-Soviet Affairs, 36(1), 61-82. https://doi.org/10.1080/1060586X.2019.1680040
History.com Editors. (2009, November 12). Slavery in America. History.com. Retrieved December 8, 2022, from https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/slavery
Savage, A. (2020). COVID-1619: A brief history of racism. Available at SSRN 3671093.