Plantation Slavery Essay, Research Paper
The institution of slavery was a dark time in our country?s past history. The many family members who have been affected by this brutal institution will never forget the scar it marked on our past. Due to the institution of slavery, many people today still feel bitterness because of the harshness these people had to endure and the atrocious way they were treated by their masters. Two conflicting sides on whether or not to keep the institution of slavery was forever prominent since slavery started in the colonies. Due to these two conflicting sides and the many disagreements, it seemed a Civil War was inevitable.
To begin with slavery in America stems well back to when the New World was first discovered and was led by the country to start the African Slave Trade – Portugal. The African Slave Trade was first exploited for sugar plantations in the Caribbean, and eventually reached the southern coasts of America. The Portuguese showed the English how to raise sugar and introduced them to slavery on a large scale and for a time dominated the exportation and marketing of the crop. The African natives were of all ages and sexes. Women usually worked in the homes cooking and cleaning, while men were sent out into the plantations to farm. Young girls would usually help in the house also and young boys would help in the farm by bailing hay and loading wagons with crops. They were shipped from Africa by the Europeans, which quickly became known as “The Triangular Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade”. This was an organized route where Europeans would travel to Africa bringing manufactured goods, capture Africans and take them to the Caribbean, and then take the crops and goods and bring them back to Europe. Planters were able to appropriate about 80 percent of their slave?s labor for their own profit a rate exploitation that probably never been reached anywhere else, and because of these great profits slavery was able to continue. This was the beginning of the slave trade on a mass scale, which built the foundation of our country on unsteady terms.
Slavery also had a profound impact on the drafts of two of our most famous documents in history ? the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of the United States. In writing the draft for the Articles, the delegates had trouble figuring out how they wanted their states to be represented. Larger states favored representation according to population, but no census existed, and smaller states just wanted to be treated as equals. To raise money, Congress would have to print it or requisition specific amounts of money from the states. Northern states wanted slaves to be counted in computing the ratios because it would add to the population and the southern states wanted to apportion revenues on the basis of each state?s free population. The Articles were finally ratified on March 1, 1781 and contained a firm commitment to state sovereignty, but it was given no power over Western claims and requisitions were based on each state?s free population. The Constitution on the other hand was given a provision that free and slave states were able to agree on. The three-fifths Compromise was developed in order to apportion both representation and direct taxes. This was important because it was able to apportion money for the slave states, with being able to count some of their slaves towards it ? three out of every five. It was something both the south and the north were able to agree on, but all it did was postpone the war a few more years.
Religion did not play a huge factor in the institution of plantation slavery. Slave owners worried that baptized slaves would declare their freedom, after learning the ways of Jesus Christ and the Lord. The owners forbade clergyman to converse their slaves to Christianity because of this reason. They thought the slaves would listen to the Christian stories and it would give them the idea to escape from their chains and shackles. Even though many slaves ignored what some missionaries taught, they embraced evangelical Christianity and transformed it into an independent African American faith. Some slaveowners encourages this and built them ?praise houses? and permitted them to have religious meetings. The slaves would pray, preach, sing and at their meetings they would rehearse a faith that was at variance with the faith of their slaveholder. Religion was a way for the slaves to bond together, and pray together and it gave them hope that one day they may be free.
This horrible war can also be contributed to all of the new technology springing up throughout the country. It all started by an alarming increase in a need for cotton, which triggered the building of a barrier between the Northern and Southern territories of our growing nation. New machinery was changing the textile industry in New England and Britain. These mills needed more and more cotton, creating a new demand in the south. For this trade with Europe, after 1812, raw cotton accounted for one-third all cotton exports of the United States. By 1830, it increased to half. Cotton quickly became a big moneymaking cash crop for the South and North economy alike. But the demand also revived the need for slaves. The plantations had to be worked, and blacks were a cheap, efficient way to get the cotton picked. To make their jobs easier, Eli Whitney took advantage of the new idea, and invented the cotton gin (short for engine). It rapidly cleaned the seeds from the short, sticky fibers of upland cotton, the variety that grew all over the South. In addition to this, the transportation of this crop became extremely important since so much was being produced. Steamboats were starting to be used, and they could be seen transporting thousands of bales of cotton up and down the Mississippi River. Steamboats were important because they were able to go against the strong current and were able to ship to the north. Canals and railroads was also a major contributor to transporting cotton. Canals connected major bodies of water together for transportation. Railroads were not around until a few years before the war, but they were an important contributor – transporting became faster and cheaper, again, which increased the number for more slaves. With the train, transportation became transcontinental which became vital during the war. Due to all of these important technological contributions the demand for slavery grew leading up to the bloody Civil War.
There were many attempts at treaties trying to resolve slavery before leading up to this great war. The Northwest Ordinance was the beginning for all of these treaties. It protected civil liberties, made provision for public education, and prohibited slavery within the region, and it allowed southern states to count three-fifths of their slaves toward representation. Congress hoped that with this treaty it would help slow down the expansion of slavery in the northern areas, and despite the antislavery clause all southern delegates voted for it. Again facing conflict over new states being slave, Congress passed another treaty, The Missouri Compromise of 1820. It states that if the North would admit Missouri as a slave state, then the South would agree to outlaw slavery in territories above thirty – six degrees north latitude. This line opened Arkansas territory to slavery and closed slavery to the remainder of the Louisiana Territory ? land that would develop into around nine states. Following the Mexican War, many other new treaties sprang – the Wilmot Proviso and the Missouri Compromise of 1850. Both of these treaties were cures to the never-ending clash over whether slavery should be allowed into the new territories of the South, such as Texas and California. The Wilmot promised everyone that under no circumstance will any land from Mexico afford slavery, and this treaty ended the debate for fifteen years. The Kansas ? Nebraska Act was brought into Congress under basis for popular sovereignty. It was brought to see if Nebraska was brought into the nation as a free state, then could Kansas be brought in as a slave state. This scared many people because it seemed to them the institution of slavery was spreading like fire, and it seemed nobody knew how to bring this deeply entrenched institution to an end. After this bill, the United Sates had become the world?s largest slaveholding society, and this bill allowed it to expand even further.
In conclusion since the beginning of our country?s time it had been built on corruption and on unsteady ground. The institutions of slavery made are country this way. From the beginning it should have been known are country was deemed to fall because of the great dispute everyone felt over slavery. It was inevitable that this war was going to happen, and it seemed nobody knew how to slow it down or stop it. Despite the booming economy and the incredible rate at which our country was growing everything seemed to be going along excellent, but deep down America was wrong from the start.