Justification Of American SlaveryThis print version free essay Justification Of American Slavery.
Category: American History
Autor: reviewessays 28 February 2011
Words: 2322 | Pages: 10
How can you justify something thatâ€™s incredibly wrong? Our â€œfounding fathersâ€ were face with the same dilemma over 400 years ago when it came to the issue of building up The New World. They wanted create a place where freedom and justice roamed, escaping the lifestyle from which they came. However, our â€œfounding fathersâ€ knew that creating this New World(America) need cheap labor and a way to build up their economy. This lead to the enslavement of the Africans. Although this tyrannic practice was enforced in the Imperialistâ€™s mother countries, they still felt the need to enforced the Indenture Servant system.
The definition of an Indentured Servant was a person who signed and is bound by a debt to work for another for a specific amount of time in exchange for compensation. In the early 1600's, the majority of Indentured Servants were Native Americans. However, due to the increasing death toll of the Native American people as an result of European diseases. As a result, the percentage of indentured servants slowly shifted towards the African community as time progressed. At the time, colonialist had no problem justifying indentured servants into slavery.
There were five major methods in justifying slavery. One of these methods was a biblical justification, referring to the story of an curse falling
upon the son of Ham, on of Noahâ€™s children. This story supports the ideal that servants were made to obey their masters. Another justification for servants from a historical term was that slavery existed in all great civilizations and built their nations. The legal justification for slavery was in the U.S. Constitutionâ€™s refusal to forbid slavery. Another justification for slavery was a pseudo-scientific explanation. Many white southerners believe that Africans were put on this Earth as an inferior race, which lead them to belief that their only purpose was to work for the Superior race(Caucasians). Many southerners felt that they were doing the blacks a favor by enslaving them, introducing them to what they preferred to believe was a more civilized lifestyle. Lastly, a sociological defense was bestowed upon slavery. George Fitzhugh, an advocate for slavery, argued that the Negro(Africans)are merely overgrown adults and need to be governed as children. Many southerners believe that mayhem would exist if slaves were given free will. They also argued that they fed, sheltered and clothed the slaves, as if they were doing the slaves a great favor. These are some of the weak excused used to justify the Indentured Servant system in the new world which lead to over three- hundred years of slavery.
In the Chesapeake colonies, the methods of the indentured servant system was completely different, and these new circumstances easily led to increased exploitative powers. People signed indenture contracts with captains or merchants in England then these were then sold to Chesapeake planters upon arrival to the New World. The captain or merchant had no incentive to see the servant safely housed, because his primary interest only included making as much profit as possible from the servant's sale. Servants could not protect themselves in any way. They never met their future masters, they had no knowledge how their masters would use them, and they could not negotiate or stand up for themselves. By signing the indenture contract, they accepted whatever grim fate had in store for them. In fact, there is a sense that servant treatment was made worse by the constant flow of the servants from hand to hand. So many people were responsible for a servant's arrival in the colonies and yet no one felt personally responsible for ensuring the servant's physical safety.
Servants most likely envisioned service in the New World on the model of the Old World, but the agriculture of the lands demanded different types of work. In England, there were numerous varied tasks to be completed, and a servant might even come to specialize in one of them. For example, in England, servants considered carting and horse care to be the highest level of service.
The elite of Chesapeake society condoned various forms of servant exploitation in all gradations of severity. From 1607, the founding of the colony in Virginia, until 1660, Chesapeake masters abused servants in the course of their work, but only rarely denied them their rights if they reached the end of their indenture. By 1660, the system took an even more sinister turn. Tobacco planters morphed their already exploitative system into a new system that shared many parallels with slavery. The planter elite prevented freedman who had legally completed their indentures from acquiring land, which was the entire attraction of the New World. They tried to keep servants indentured for longer, and if they could not keep them as servants, they ensured that the former servant would remain in an economically servile position as a tenant, sharecropper, or laborer. First, The English precedents for indentured servitude and the nature of tobacco agriculture, which both produced a system that made exploitation possible and likely. Then the change for the worst in freedmen's conditions that occurred after 1660.
Slavery in the United States was part of a long established system of labor exploitation that dates to ancient times. Much of the ancient world was composed of well-organized slave societies of one sort or another. Slavery existed in the great civilizations of ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, China, and even among the Inca and Aztec worlds of pre-colonial America. The business of capturing and trading enslaved people was also a fundamental part of human society throughout recorded history. Prior to the Atlantic trade of enslaved Africans to the Americas, Muslim traders out of the Middle East and Northern Africa purchased, sold, and captured millions of enslaved Africans and Central Europeans in a slave-trading network that extended from present day Hungary to Southeastern Asia and the Far East.
Slavery in North America differed significantly from slavery in the rest of the Americas. In the first place, far fewer slaves were brought into what became the United States, only around 500,000 compared to perhaps 12 to 13 million imported into the Caribbean and South and Central America. Most of these imports to North America ended by 1770, moreover, except for a burst of activity by a few southern states after the American Revolution. Secondly, the fact that the English people had little experience with slavery in comparison to the Spanish and Portuguese meant that little historical reference existed for them to draw upon in the early years. Initially, the first slaves in the Virginia colony were looked upon as workers rather than as property, and some of them were treated much like white indenture slaves, the kind in European countries. The enslaved Africans often worked along side the indentured European laborers in the tobacco fields of the Chesapeake region. Nor were the Africans especially valued. It was cheaper in the early years to bring in white laborers from England as indentured servants than to pay for slaves. And most whites looked upon Africans as morally and intellectually inferior, at best.
For complex reasons, the value and presence of enslaved workers from Africa began to grow after 1676 in the Virginia colony. For one thing, white indentured servants could easily run away. They also demanded to be treated like Englishmen, especially in terms of their rations of grog and time-off from labor. Importantly too, the supply of white indentured servants began to decline as more working-class whites found employment back home in British industries, commerce, and shipping. And the increase in the life span of indentured servants in the new world meant that many of them began to live long enough to claim the share of lands promised to those who had labored the full terms of their indenture-usually six years. Enslaved Africans, on the other hand, could not easily blend into the surrounding white population by escaping-and Native Americans were often employed as slave-catchers. Nor could they make demands upon their masters for humane treatment, justice, or land.
As time progressed, slavery in the upper south became less profitable while slavery in the lower south was most prosperous. As a result of The
Revolutionary war, the Chesapeake tobacco economy was almost completely demolished. In South Carolina and Georgia, however, slavery was making their economy most prosperous. By the year 1790, South Carolina and Georgia were the only two states that didnâ€™t abolish slave importations.
In Georgia and South Carolina, at a time where Blacks outnumbered White more than two times the population, slave labor still was an essential part the prosperity of that region.During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries enslaved African Americans in the Upper South mostly raised tobacco. In coastal South Carolina and Georgia, they harvested indigo for dye and grew rice, using agricultural expertise brought with them from Africa. By the 1800s rice, sugar, and cotton became the South's leading cash crops. The patenting of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney in 1793 made it possible for workers to ginâ€”separate the seeds from the fiberâ€”some 600 to 700 pounds daily, or ten times more cotton than permitted by hand. The Industrial Revolution, centered in Great Britain, quadrupled the demand for cotton, which soon became America's leading export. Planters' acute need for more cotton workers helped expand southern slavery. By the Civil War the South exported more than a million tons of cotton annually to textile manufactories in Great Britain and the North. Short-staple, or upland cotton, dominated the market. An area still called the Black Belt, which stretched across Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, grew some 80 percent of the countyâ€™s crops. Cotton has expanded from Arkansas to Texas, places where African Americans made up almost seventy-five percent of the population.
By the 1800's, more than one out of every ten black person was freed in the Chesapeake region. This came at a time in which most people were disgruntled by the ideal and barbaric practice of what was at the time modern day slavery. The south, however, was still very dependent
on slavery at this time. Although the majority of slaves worked on farms and plantations, they still contributed to the southern economy. The upper south, however, became known as the non-slaveholding south. Politics took a major role on slavery while each sided with the confederate on the unionâ€™s side.
When I was a kid, growing up, I was taught that Abraham Lincoln free the slaves. Thanks to a college education, I have learned that freeing the slaves wasnâ€™t the task on hand at the time of the emancipation proclamation. By the time that slavery was abolished in America, The majority of the states have already unofficially ended slavery, The main purpose of the slave act was to build up the American economy, and many of the regions where plantations flourished had no need for slaves anymore, besides the lower south. And at the time of the Civil war, slaves were allowed to fight, so I see their freedom being given as a constatation prize. There was basically no need for slaves anymore at that time. The emancipation proclamation was a political act, not a humanitarian one.
I feel that slavery , although it happened a long time ago, still plays a major role in the African American lifestyle of the current day. As we can see from politics and whatâ€™s going on in the world today, the northern state seem to be more accepting of new ideas and beliefs while the south continue to dwell in their ignorance. The Set up of the Union and of the Confederate still remains in modern times today. The south still remains one of the most racist locations in America today with many southerners still believing that white are superior towards blacks. I can deduct that slavery in America was not only a means of building our economy, but also a way to ensue the value that blacks are inferior to whites. I feel that modern day blacks do not necessarily suffer the affects of slavery in a physical manor, but rather in a psychological manor, which is the worse of them all. We were brainwashed to believe that we were an inferior race, and although times have change our actions still shows that we believe this lie that was bestowed on us centuries ago. In our community, crime rates are the highest, we sell illegal substances to our own people, and we tend to make fun of people who most resemble a black person, whether itâ€™s making fun of someone of a dark, ebony complexion or making an effort to relax our kinky hair. Everyday the African American community lives with the notion of hating ourselves but loving the wealth of majority, which leads us to compromising ourselves in many ways.
In closing , I recollect on the history of the Indentured Servant system, the justification for it, and I canâ€™t help but become a bit angry at this country at times. America has become one of the most fairest, opportunity driven places with such a ugly history behind it. Slavery built this country. Simple as that. However, can we imagine what this country would of been like if slaves never existed? America is forever in debt to the slaves help the country become the most powerful one in the world so many years ago. Although America has affirmative action programs, ones which most non-minorities oppose, one must not forget what the slaves did for this country.
I know I wonâ€™t.