It is safe to say that not everyone was born into the same circumstances, but it is even worse discerning the truth that some weren’t even born with rights. Imagine being ripped of your self-worth and honor. Just imagine what that does to a person. The history of slavery in the development of early America is such a dire and extremely sensitive subject to talk about, yet a vitally important contribute to the country we have become today. Although it shouldn’t have occurred, we can’t take it back nor should we forget the past.
African American’s historical circumstances with the social construct of race and discrimination ultimately outline the way of life for anyone with a color descent. Slavery was one of the most inhumane acts ever installed on a group of people. Slavery throughout American history is a subject profound, yet so horrific as it dwells on the past. It is not only history but a part of African American heritage. You may well ask, why slavery? Slavery was an adopted solution within the fifteenth to the nineteenth century, due to the low abundance of labor in the New World.
African slaves were employed in mines, sugar, rice, tobacco and cotton plantations. The Virginians of 1619 were desperate for labor, and barely had enough food to stay alive. They needed corn for subsistence and tobacco for export. They couldn’t force the Indians to work for them because they were outnumbered and too intelligent. The white servants were not yet brought over in adequate quantity. The probability of indentured servants being slaves wouldn’t have lasted, due to the importance of cheaper labor. Also, specialized- skilled labor wasn’t needed.
It would only be a temporary or short term fix. As A People’s History of the United States proclaims, “Black slaves were the answer” (Zinn 24). Because slaves often experienced many perilous problems such as awful economic situations and feelings of hostility and inferiority from whites,” their helplessness only made enslavement easier” (Zinn 26). Even with slaves being almost half of the population, outnumbering most of their masters, they were scared to do something about their conditions because the owners had a mental control over them.
It was more so a fact of mind over matter at that point. They didn’t realize they had all the advantages. It was almost inevitable for whites to rely on African slavery. Slavery in the New World was a forced immigration. They did not choose to come to the New World but instead captured from their villages. Therefore, at the time the New World seemed to have had all the power. W. E. B Du Bois coherently describes every slave owners’ way of thinking during early Americas.
In the book, Racism: Essential Readings, he states: They [whites] said: Slavery was wrong but not all wrong; slavery must perish and not simply move; God made slavery; the will of God be done; slavery to the glory of God and black men as his servants and ours; slavery as a way to freedom- the freedom of blacks, the freedom of whites; white freedom as the goal of the world and black slavery as the path thereto. Up to the white world, down with the black! (Cashmore 34). The quote being pretty self-explanatory, gives justification to the reasoning behind their “madness” per se.
The reason African slaves came to the New World was because slavery merely made the whites richer and kept the minorities minorities and under the same oppression as before. The African slaves simply made the New World prosperous. The first slaves to come to the New World was recorded in 1619 in Jamestown, Virginia. Approximately 20 captive Africans were sold into slavery, in the British North American colonies (Zinn 33). They originated directly from Africa. In 1636, Colonial North America’s slave trade began when the first American slave carrier, Desire, is built and launched in Massachusetts (pbs. rg). Although most African slaves that came to the New World were sent mainly to the South, some ended up in the North, as well. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut were the leading Northern slave colonies. The slave trade was, for much of the time, a governmental enterprise. The terrible weeks and sometimes months locked in the holds of slave ships, speak to the traumatic loss of freedom, dignity, the degradation of enslavement, and the long years of bondage and despair that followed.
But the Middle Passage also represents the will to survive, the determination of black people not to be degraded by dehumanizing circumstances, and the confidence that freedom would eventually be theirs and that they would take their rightful place as people among peoples (Blackburn 3). The Atlantic Slave Trade was a remarkable business-like method, as well as a system of destructiveness (Blackburn 3). The acquisition of some twelve million captives on the coast of Africa between 1500 and 1870. The arrival of African slaves’ initiated the unwanted cultural collision and havoc throughout early every day early America.
Practically everyone treated slaves ruthlessly as an outcast or someone they looked down upon as if they were nobody. As mentioned in The Atlantic Slave Trade, slaves were mere “Individuals who were ultimately held against their will by threat or force. [They did not choose to come to the New World but instead, captured from their villages and were forced into migration)” (Pg. 1 Klein). Especially in the Southern culture, slaves were also horribly disciplined, if they did something bad in the eyes of their masters. Disciplinary was a reaction to the slaves’ insubordination.
Sadly but true, they would often torment and overly abuse slaves. Punishments were sometimes redundant if the masters felt the need to prove their ascendancy. It goes without saying that the experience of being a slave wasn’t pleasant. Each situation being different and bringing about its demands, hazards, and perks. To a degree, the conditions of slave life were predetermined by the status of the slave. The lives of black slaves were under microscopic control by slave codes. In many colonies, slaves could not participate in wage-earning trade or labor. They were denied he right to own any sort of property.
The slave’s resulting dependence on his or her master for the most necessities: food, shelter and water. Slaves were the personal property of their owners in all South. They had no constitutional rights, no say in the government and they couldn’t leave the plantation without permission. Most slaves were illiterate. Learning to read or write was forbidden. Slave families live crowded cabins called quarters. They were usually bare and simple. The food was adequate but dull; it consisted mainly of molasses, salt pork (bacon) or corn bread.
Blacks were practically property. For instance, the state of Louisiana made clear: “The slave master had absolute authority over his human property. He may sell him, dispose of his person, his industry and his labor; [the slave] can do nothing, possess nothing nor acquire anything from his master” (crf-usa. org). In other words, these people were believed to be nothing more than savage beasts that, with training, could bring in tremendous profits with very little money on the part of the owners (Debate. vm. edu). When they could, slaves spent their free time visiting friends or family nearby, telling stories or folktales and making music. Many of the cultural elements have been passed from generation to generation orally. The stories told, provided African slaves with the opportunity to inspire and educate one another. Some of these activities combined African traditions of the Virginia colonists. Several music instruments used by slaves are bel to be similar to instruments that were used in Africa.
The banjo, for instance, and the drums were two instruments that slaves made to create music. They tried to keep and protect many of their aspects of their African heritage and religion. The way slaves subsisted in the New World and how they were treated as personal property was no way for them living their life, Nonetheless, their religion beliefs reminded them that their lives had meaning and dignity. One event that occurred due to the African slaves’ presence in the New World was in Stono, South Carolina, in 1739, approximately 20 slaves rebelled.
They killed two warehouse guards, stole guns and gun powder, burned buildings, headed south and killed anyone standing in their way. Many other joined until there were about 80 slaves. According to one account,” they called out, Liberty, marched on with colours displayed and two drums beating”. Unfortunately, the militia found and attacked them (Zinn 37). In response to the rebellion, the South Carolina legislature passed the Negro Act of 1740, which restricted slave assembly, education, and movement.
As mentioned in the book, “Just to think if something was not done to “control the slaves, the South would remain in total fear from the one thing that kept their economy alive: enslaved Africans” (Zinn 38). Throughout history, society has always tried to empathize with black rage, black’s battle and blacks despair over the growth and expansion of the world due to slavery. The gesture is nice but what others feel to realize is they will never truly understand the disappointment and heartache blacks feel to this delicate topic.
One author remarks, “Blacks were stolen from their homelands and broken apart from their families. It is almost impossible for many of us to comprehend the mindsets that these slave owners obsessed [let alone the slaves themselves and what they’ve endured)” (dread. uvm. edu). To precisely demonstrate the emotions of blacks would be almost impossible because most have not experienced it. Slavery was one of the most dreadful acts ever introduced to a group of people in our world’s history.