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Slavery’s Obituary Paper

The United States Constitution adopted the 13th Amendment on 18th December 1865. Slavery was officially abolished through the Amendment, immediately freeing over 100,000 enslaved individuals from Kentucky to Delaware (Ellis, 2022). The Thirteenth Amendment used the language adopted from the 1787 Northwest Ordinance. Slavery was an advantage to the Whites and a disadvantage to the African Americans. African Americans felt pain, frustrations, constrictions, and disruptions while enslaved. Furthermore, slavery inhabited family formation and made it difficult, if not impossible, to have a secure family life. On the other hand, colonial officials enslaved Africans while restricting their rights of movement, making it hard for slaves to be emancipated. The essay elucidates the origin of slavery, the place and time of slavery’s death, surviving aspects of slavery, and the surviving supporters of the institution.

The “birth” and history of slavery go four hundred years back. In August 1619, the Sao Joao Bautista, a Portuguese slave ship, traveled across the Atlantic Ocean with a hull full of human cargo (Jarvis, 2022). The first African captives were from Angola, southwestern Africa. The cargo had men, women, and children from the Kongo and Ndongo kingdoms, bound for a life of enslavement in Mexico (Jarvis, 2022). By the time the ship was seized by two English pirate ships, about half the captives had died. The remaining captives were transported to the Virginia Company of London, built twelve years before the ship’s arrival. John Rolfe, the colonist, informed Sir Edwin Sandys about the arrival of the “Dutch man of war.” Ultimately, Africans were assigned to work in the tobacco fields established for the company.

The trans-Atlantic slave trade introduced a slavery system that was racialized, commercialized, and inherited. As early as the 15th century, Africans were present in North America, but selling the “20 and odd,” Africans initiated what came to be slavery in the United States (McDowell, 2023). Forced labor was common in the 1500s, as African slaves were treated as commodities, not humans. Consequently, the colonial countries limited freedom to ensure power and maintain slavery enterprise.

Despite the pain, turmoil, and suffering brought by slavery, it came to an end. The Black Independence occurred on 19th June 1865 (Al-Hashimi, 2021). Although Abraham Lincoln enacted the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, enslaved Blacks in Galveston, Texas, were informed of their freedom in 1865. United States General Gordon Granger read General Order No. 3, stating that all slaves were free according to the proclamation from the U.S. Executive. The Emancipation Proclamation freed about three million slaves in the rebel states, depriving the Confederacy of the bulk of its labor forces and strongly putting international public opinion on the Union side.

Nonetheless, the Emancipation Proclamation did not officially end American slavery. After the end of the civil war in 1865, the passage of the 13th Amendment officially ended slavery (Al-Hashimi, 2021). Unfortunately, about 38,000 Black soldiers out of the 186,000 who joined the Union army lost their lives. Therefore, Juneteenth became an official federal holiday marking the end of slavery.

Despite the slavery abolishment in 1865, some aspects remained to be dealt with to erase all traces of slavery from the U.S. Thousands of African Americans faced new difficulties in forging an economically independent life in the face of hostile whites. The freedom of the Black slaves made the Whites grow hostile, fearing revenge from the freed Blacks. The freed men and women had little or no education or money. Unfortunately, the White’s attitude did not allow easy assimilation into the community. Freedman Houston Hartsfield said, “We people of color did not know how to be free and the Whites did not know how to associate with the colored men among them” (Wilson, 2020). Nonetheless, African Americans prepared for freedom by demanding civil rights, education, voting, family reunion, and economic opportunities.

After abolishing slavery, the federal government established a temporary agency, the Freedmen’s Bureau, as part of the reconstruction. The agency’s purpose was to provide clothing, food, and medical care for freed slaves. Additionally, the government established special boards to set up schools for the freed slaves in the south. Consequently, Black and White teachers were employed to help freed slaves to become literate. The U.S. government encouraged some African Americans to move to northern cities where job opportunities were available. Ultimately, the African American’s right to vote was hotly debated but later added to the constitution.

There are some friends and supporters of slavery that lasted even after the Emancipation Proclamation. For instance, Brazil gradually abolished the slave trade instead of drastic abolition. The Brazilian Parliament, in 1871, passed the “Free Womb Law,” which declared children born to women slaves free (‌Nyarko, 2023). Unfortunately, children were obliged to work for their parents’ owners until adulthood to compensate. A new law was enforced in 1884, freeing enslaved persons aged 60 (‌Nyarko, 2023).

Consequently, slave owners only abandoned slaves once they had become more susceptible to diseases and less productive. The legal abolition of slavery did not benefit the Afro-Brazilians since no policies were made to promote integration and help freed persons get full citizenship. Arguably, Brazilians were unwilling to accept slavery abolition.

Conclusively, the essay explains the origin of slavery, the place and time of slavery’s death, surviving aspects of slavery, and the surviving supporters of the institution. Slavery began in 1619 when a Portuguese slave ship transported “20 and odd” African Americans for labor in Mexico. Juneteenth is the Black Independence Day commemorating the day Emancipation Proclamation. Despite the abolition of the slave trade in the United States, the Whites’ attitude towards the Blacks made it challenging for the slaves to integrate freely, access education, and find jobs. Brazil is an example of a country that did not support abolition drastically to control its economic production.

Reference List

‌Al-Hashimi, M. (2021). The brazen daylight police murder of George Floyd and the racist origin of American policing. Fourth World Journal20(2), 34-46. From:

ELLIS, R. J. (2022). A Case of Command: The Emancipation Proclamation as a Last Resort. Presidential Studies Quarterly.

Jarvis, M. J. (2022). Isle of Devils, Isle of Saints: An Atlantic History of Bermuda, 1609–1684. In Google Books. JHU Press.

McDowell, E. A. (2023). The Children of Slavery. The Black Reparations Project: A Handbook for Racial Justice, p. 174. From:,+Africans+were+present+in+North+America+but+the+sale+of+the+%E2%80%9C20+and+odd%E2%80%9D+Africans+initiated+what+came+to+be+the+slavery+in+the+United+States&ots=4Xcp61nts2&sig=GDT1uwoyaXumFStVrEWWpWbilEA

‌Nyarko, J. A. (2023). Anti-Slavery Laws of Brazil. Available at SSRN 4391095. From:

Wilson, C. R. (2020). The American South: A Very Short Introduction (Vol. 666). Oxford University Press. From:,+%E2%80%9CWe+people+of+color+did+not+know+how+to+be+free+and+the+Whites+did+not+know+how+to+associate+with+the+colored+men+among+them&ots=QV2TB2TLGf&sig=SmZkXW0yEd9hIFqXl_pT5WOxzZM


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