The problem of slavery

Slavery is something that should have never happened, but unfortunatly it did. This project is about the history of slavery in America, and the terrible unfair reality that slaves had to deal with. When the Meso American, or the Middle American natives first encountered the Europeans, they were very familiar with slavery. Among the most advanced civilizations in Central America was the Aztecs and Maya. In these places slavery, although not necessary, was common. The Aztec used the the same methods for getting slaves as other cultures.

Slaves were prisoners of war, criminals, debtors, and poor people selling family members nto slavery. The most common reasons for becoming a slave was poverty, or not being able to pay taxes to the empire. Slaves in Aztec were not mistreated and were fed, housed and clothed by their owner. Slaves could marry, and have their own property, just as others could. In Aztec, slavery was a reversible condition and if you were once a slave you could become a normal citizen again. Slaves could gain freedom by running away from their masters at the market, and if they made it to the rulers palace they were freed.

No one could stop the slave or they themselves became a slave. Also they could buy their freedom, r marry their owner. Slaves were often used in sacrificial ceremonies. The removal of the heart was a practice of the Middle American civilization, the most common of their sacrifices. The Maya was a civilization who were known for architecture, artwork, trade networks, writings, mathematics, and the calendar. Like the Aztec, the Mayans aquired slaves in the same ways. In Maya, slavery was hereditary, the children of the slaves would automatically become slaves themselves.

Slaves preformed hard manual labor for households. They carried merchandise on their backs, paddled canoes, gathered supplies, and pampered heir masters. The slaves of an important person who died may be killed and buried with the owner to become his slave in the next life. Two separate economies developed in northern and southern America. In the north, where there are many small farms and mills, slave holdings were small, and most of the slaves were domestic servants in coastal cities. In the south there was a cash-crop economy based on plantation.

The north was creative in the development of the southern economy because of its domance in the slave trade that brought African labor to the colonies. The trasatlantic slave rade between Africa and North America lasted less than 170 years, even though slavery existed in the colonies and the new United States. The constitutional delegates were able to reach a compromise on the issue of slavery representation. They decided that for the purpose of representation, each slave would count for three-fifths of a person. Several individual states would be allowed to get rid of slavery in their own time and in their own ways.

The African slave trade would continue for twenty more years, until 1807. Although fewer than 500,000 of the 30 million slaves kidnapped from Africa had ntered North American parts, generations of breeding had raised their number in United States to 4 million by 1860. The invention of the cotton gin and spinning and weaving machines at the end of the eighteenth century sealed the destiny of thousands of Africans. Spinning and weaving machines could produce cotton cloth at low cost. By the 1860’s southern plantations were producing 75 percent of the worlds cotton.

This meant that they needed more land, but also more hands to do the terrible and painful labor. The slave traders of New England and the native cheifs of Africa produced the necessary slaves. There have been two basic types of slavery in the past. The most common was the household slave or domestic slave. Although these slaves occasionally worked beyond the household doing work such as harvesting, most of the time they served their owners in the house or did any other work their masters wanted, like military service. Many owners in the society spent a lot of money on slaves.

The other was a productive slave. This slave worked hard labor, on the plantations doing agricultural work like harvesting sugar. Also, the mines had terrible working conditions, in which thousands of slaves lost their lives. In the house, they cleaned, cooked, drew water, shopped, and looked after the children. Americans today have a diffucult time understanding how early Americans justified slavery with the Declaration of Independence and its message that “all men are created equal. ” All men, for some reason, did not include slaves. Slaves were property to early Americans, not people.

They had no rights. A slave was like an animal, with an owner. Although some slave owners weren’t certain of the idea of treating humans this way they continued to do it themselves. Many of the American Statesmen felt that slavery was a dying nsititution and they hoped it would end as soon as possible. When the Continental Congress met in 1787 to write a constitution for the new nation, many of the slaves were far from abolishing slavery. Many people were disgusted by the cruleties of the slave trade. By 1787 seven northern states had outlawed slavery.

Unfortunately, because of the huge reliance on slaves for the plantation economics, abolition was not an option for most southerners. A master and a slaves relationship was an area where very little law consisted. A master could kill his slave, and bury them when they died. Later the slaves had the rights not to be killed without reason. In most places, slaves had no marriage rights. The slaves were sold at markets, and before their sale the slaves would be washed and greased to make their bodies shine. Slaves were placed in cages after they were bought that were twenty feet square.

As many as 150 slaves would be forced into the cages. Slaves were expensive, and most families never owned one. Two well slaves were worth more than a man’s land, his house, and everything in it. Slaves who ran away faced torture, the lash, branding, or the selling of their children if hey were caught. Free states were often hundreds of miles away from the plantation that the slaves worked on. Even if a slave made it to a free state, slave catchers were everywhere, anxious to capture slaves and get the rewards for turning them in, although, there were people waiting for those slaves fortunate enough to reach them.

Free blacks and concerned whites developed a safe haven in their homes and barns between the middle states and Canada. This link became known to be the Underground Railroad. Travelling at night from one station to another, thousands of slaves reached freedom. Harriet Tubman, an African American woman and escaped slave, was one of the greatest heroes in the eyes of the slaves by risking her life many times to free slaves. From the start of the 1840’s, free blacks and whites have joined the fight to abolish slavery.

They held public meetings to give speeches, published newspapers, and supported the Underground Railroad. In 1854, roughly 50 abolitionists met to organize a political party. They could not agree on what type of action to take against slavery. Some of the men on the committee was Henry Garnet, a former slave who preached violence against slave masters. Frederick Douglass and Sojauner Luth, used lectures and newspaper to voice their opinions. Also, Abraham Lincoln thought stopping slavery in the new states would cause it to eventually die out.

The emmigration movement failed because there weren’t enough ships or money to get the blacks back to Africa. As well, many had been born in America and didn’t want to leave. The debate over slavery became stronger in the years before the Civil War. The Civil War officially began when the Confederate Artillery fired in the harbor of Charleston on April 12, 1861. Although John Brown, an abolitionist, who was killed fighting, ad many slaves fighting in his honor, in the war that would abolish slavery in America.

The southern states of America formed their own Confederate in 1860 and the issue of slavery was at the top of the agenda. The states that were for slavery wanted to have the right to choose if they wanted slavery. However, the newly elected president Abraham Lincoln was against slavery. After a long period of debate the Emancipation Proclamation came into effect in 1863. This freed slaves in the Confederate States. The Union Army had to conquer southern territory for the slaves to feel liberated. All the free blacks joined to fight in the war as they had in the previous ones.

Altogether half a million fought, and thirty-eight thousand died in the war. Soon after, the Confederate Army surrendered. In 1865, the United States passed three constitutional ammendments that abolished slavery and finally gace the black slaves equal rights as citizens. People have enslaved others of their own nations, races, religions, and families for many years before us. Even slaves owned slaves, and in these cases not once has it been right. Thankfully, from events in the past, we enjoy equal rights and freedoms for everyone.


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