Treating humans as property led to unspeakable cruelties. Discuss in detail the origins and use of slaves in the Americas.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” (Thomas Jefferson). In my opinion the only problem with this passage from the Declaration of Independence is that it does not say, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men including their race, creed, religion, or color are created equal, that they.” Thomas Jefferson’s words were hypocritical. Not all men were created equal and these men were slaves. Slavery has existed throughout the United States at the time and by 1760 there were about 325,800 African slaves in North America.
This was the most inhumane treatment any man could endure. The following essay shall discuss the state of slavery in North America and its economic and social consequences.
Slavery in America started when the New World was first discovered. It started off when the first colonists came to the Americas and in order to survive they needed to farm the land and grow crops. Since they were not accustomed for the hot sun and were too lazy for hard labor. In order to survive they needed a large labor force to farm the lands. They tried to capture the native Indians and failed, for many reasons one of them was from smallpox, and from various diseases, which killed them. Another reason that the Europeans could not capture them was because they had been in America all their lives and they were a majority. Therefore the Europeans set out to seize African slaves.
Africans were the perfect choice of slaves to farm in colonial America, because slavery had already existed in Africa. Plus Africans could endure the heat of the raging sun, since Africa and America’s weather were similar. Also both African and European colonist’s bodies could resist many diseases, unlike native Indians.
Africans were shipped from Africa by the Europeans in what was called 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 America. Eventually they would take the crops and goods and bring them back to Europe. However the Europeans had no humanity what so ever. For example, they separated Africans from their families by the age of ten. After that they were shipped in uncomfortable ships. Most of them suffered from suffocation, disease, and lack of sanitation. Some of the African slaves committed suicide, the reason for that was because they could not stand the lack of sanitation or the deseases and sicknesses that spread around the boat. They were also the basis of Americas economic system since they grew most of the crops, such as tobacco industries. That helped their economy to grow due to the effect that the demand for tobacco was very big in Europe, so exporting the crop was a major factor in developing the agricultural economics.
The African natives were of all ages and sexes. Women usually worked in the homes, cooking and cleaning, whereas men were sent out into the plantations to farm. Young girls would usually help in the house. Young boys would help in the farm by bailing hay and loading wagons with crops.
Large numbers of African slaves working together on the same land or lands close together would usually talk to each other in their language (the Gullah language). Speaking in their own language helped them keep their own cultures traditions, and identities.
The harshness of slavery was different depending on the locus in which the slaves were located. Slaves in California were very ill treated. Californians believed in racism, they didn’t like to treat Negro’s equally. Therefore they treated them harshly. Slaves in Richmond and other towns would work as artisans or laborers, as long as they sent part of their wages and the money that they make to their masters, they still had harsh laws.
There came a time when the population grew and was about 50,000, that happened because of the mixed economy. Everyone worked in different occupations. The African Americans worked in either the fields or as cooks, housekeepers, personal servants, or artisans. Some of the most important jobs were to work as lumberjacks or shipbuilders. They built these ships because some slaves worked on the docks, or as merchant sailors, fishermen, whalers, and privateers. Some African American men and women worked in urban areas, in manufacturing and trading or as servants in the homes of the rich families.
Life was hard for both the free and non-free African slaves. Both were treated badly and disrespectfully. They had to obey a number of harsh rules; for example: they couldn’t gather for a harmful dance. They needed written passes to leave town or even if they wanted to travel more than forty miles from their destination, their punishment was to be cut up into pieces.
Anti-slavery ideas started in the north, since they were allowed to become popular. Eventually it moved down to the south; however, it took time for the southerners to accept it. This was bad for the landlords because if slavery were abolished then most or all of the economy in the south would collapse. Therefor plantation owners or landlords would no longer have cheap labor which will then result in expensive products so that means they can no longer compete in the market.
After anti-slavery ideas began to rise, political problems rose with them. After a little while the civil started, at the end of the civil war, as you might know the north was victorious over the south, that moment was when the north forced the south to ban slavery. Which ended up in the destruction of the south. ‘1
I come to conclude that slaves were people just as their slave owners were people. Despite the difference of opinions throughout this great country, it was an inevitable conclusion that everyone should have been treated equally. The enslavement of humans obviously produced different opinions among many Americans, which in turn I believe to be the start of the Civil War. African-Americans suffered through many hardships and losses over time. One must come to the realization that all humans should be treated the same no matter what their race, creed, or color. This is all in the past and Americans should treat it as such. We must never forget the hardships each and every American has gone through. Instead reflect on what has happened in the past and learn from it. Look to the future and remember all men are created equal.