Slavery In America (1700-1880) Essay, Research Paper
From the early 17th century to the mid 1860’s, African Americans where sold and used as slaves. They were brought over by boat looking for a better life style and more respect. Instead they were sold at auctions to white English men. These men owned their own farm and worked slaves in their fields cutting Sugar Cane and growing Tobacco, Coffee and Cotton. While working in the fields they all grew close to one another, fell in love and later got married and had children. They also had a lot of political problems while trying to gain better working conditions.
In 1619, 20 Affrican Americans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia. These people where sold and bought by the English Mainlanders. All of them were not slaves but where in fact Indentured Servants. There where many Indentured Servants already in the American Colonies but more just kept on coming. Most slaves where young, black males. But not all Slaves where from Africa like most. Some were homelanders and knew the area well which made it easier for them to escape.
By the time of 1625 there were only about 25 Negroes in the Virginia Colony. Soon the population grew too over 1,000 in 1672 and all the slaves where being bought. There was never a shortage of Slaves in 1708 when more than 12,000 Affrican Americans were being brought in along with 18,000 whites. Then 48 years later the population of Slave Labour had mulitiplied by ten leaving 120,156 Negro Slaves in the Southern Colonies. Then in 1763, 60,000 Slaves where all imported into Cuba and used there as Slaves. But then in 1793 the world was in a high demand for cotton and Slavery expanded rapidly.
In the time the Affrican Americans where slaves to the English white people there where usally about 30-60 of them who made most of the southern Agriculture unit. They worked in the feilds doing various jobs. Most Slaves didn’t work alone. They usally worked in groups of 20-25 because one particular job needed the power to do so. If a Slave was cutting Sugar Cane they would need the help of 49 others to do the job. The Sugar Cane always had to be kept clean and the fields had to be weeded constantly. They worked in the heat, the cold, the rain, the hail, the snow and nothing would stop them from working except the master of the slave. Working in the heat of the South summer was harsh. After the rain or snow the Slaves would be out in the fields taking the snow off the tobacco, corn, and cotton plants just to save the crops. In the spring they would have to drian all the water out of the fields and then after doing that they planted the next years crop and took care of it all year round. They mostly planted Tobacco, Sugar Cane, Coffee and Cotton, where the most important crop of the southern colonies was the Tobacco and the cotton. This usally happend in the first few months of the new year, usally around March or April. Planting was the simple part but sometimes Slaves where in knee deep water for hours every day picking cotton out of it. This was the time when labour was the most difficult. There where other jobs for the slaves to do other then work in the fields. For the Slaves who where in the Northern colonies some where taught skilled labour. Slaves were Slaves and did everything from being house servants, nurses, mid wives, carpenders, blacksmiths, drivers, preachers, gardeners, and handymen. Usually Slaves where assigned a daily job and once that job was done the rest of the day was theirs to do whatever they wanted to. As they lived and worked the men usally wore Jeans and a T-Shirt often called an osnaburg. For the women they usally wore dresses or calico.
For the most part Slaves had their own small, wooden sleeping cabin and were given seeds for them to grow their own food. On their down time they would do work around their cabin. Most hoped for better days and some day even own their own place sometime. And altough Slaves were there to work for free they all shared a complex and intimate relationship with each other. Many times intimacy was often proved fatal for the bondsman. They also thought about themselves and lived as American people would have lived. They had friends, they sang to pass time, told stories to the children and others, they played games and tried to make the most out of their lives. They all knew too, what the most important thing to them was, their families and their religion. Most Slaves were lucky in a way that they still kept living as a family. Though they had to share a small cabin together they were at least together. Some also feared that their loved family members whould be sold off and taken away and that they would never see them again. Women also feard they would be used as Slaves sexually to their Male masters.
There where apoximently eight (8) million white people who enjoyed the service of Slave Labour and “384,884 people owned Negro Slaves”. This means three- quarters of the white people in America (of the southern colonies) did not own slaves (1947: Franklin, 139). Of the first 12 presidents 8 of them where Slave holders. In 1788 Governor John Hancock protested the return of the Negroes but didn’t get anywhere with it. But before that in 1778 there was a law that was passed and said if there where any Affrican American Slaves caught escaping they would be sold to anyone who bidded the highest on them. The main reason for the white english people to have Slaves was because they could only stay on the plantation for so long without catching a virulent fever. Also owning a Slave gave a white english man the total control of their Slave. This made them feel like they where someone with some kind of power. Most masters directed what their Slave could and couldn’t do. They had power over a Slave to approve or disaprove of a marriage. Some even went all the way and wrote out rules for their Slave to abide by. If any of the rules where broken their Master would punish, beat, nag, and threaten the Slave, but if a Slave was lucky, they would have a rich master who would take care of them. Some would call in a doctor to see what the problem was with their Slave if they where sick and couldn’t work. Most Slaves got so sick of being tossed around and always hoped they would one day be able to escape from their owners who treated them poorly.
Slaves didn’t like the way they were being treated. They complained in an attempt to gain better conditions. But of course never got any. They wanted control of their lives instead of them being run by White English people. They hated their masters because they would always get in the way of their lives and they wanted to increase their independance while their owners tried to minimize it.
Affrican Americans struggeld with political, legal, and social issues to gain full citizenship and equality. Segregation was a big issue for the Affrican American people too. Segregation is the legal or social issue of separations people based on race or ethnicity. Segregation occured when national laws required racial separation. During civil rights movement people challenged segregation and discrimination by protesting, boycotting and not following the laws of Segregation.
Towards the end of Slave Labour in 1860 only 5% of people living in a town of 2500 people or more were Slaves. Slavery finaly came to an end when President Lincoln issued a reality check on the 13th amendment to the American constitution in 1863. Although the Southern Politicians were against the ending of Slavery in December of 1865 Congress passed the law.
By 1865 Slavery had come to an end. Black Affrican Americans were free and could look after themselves and not have to work for anyone else for free. African Americans now had rights just like any other American citizens. “Although slavery was ended, it was followed by an intense struggle during Reconstruction over the status of the newly freed slaves. In subsequent decades, black Americans continued to struggle against poverty, racism, and segregation, as they sought to overcome the bitter legacy of slavery.”