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African Americans In Antebellum America Essay

1643 words - 7 pages

Africans first arrived in the area that later became the United States of America in around 1619 in the Chesapeake area. The large amount of fertile land in the area gave the settlers their biggest cash crop, which was tobacco. As time went by, more and more tobacco was being exported to England. Because of this, more labor was needed. This need for more labor was not only in the north, but in the south as well due to their mass production of cotton. This movement started the institution of slavery in America. Then, the colonies and other countries started to trade slaves and it became a business. The Royal African Company was the first slave trading company, which was started in 1672. The slaves were transported by the Middle Passage, which were the ships that carried the slaves to the colonies . The vessels of this company made regular visits to Chesapeake Bay. As the supply of slaves increased, the prices dropped. In 1698, the Royal African Company lost its monopoly. This led to the reproduction of slaves in the colonies. Indentured servitude, which is signing a contract and putting your body in service to someone, was common the Chesapeake area until about 1750.

About 5,000 African slaves fought in the Revolutionary War against England. I say "African" because there was not a United States when the war started in 1775. The Declaration of Independence was written in 1776. Most of the slaves who fought in the war were promised freedom, but did not receive it. Slavery became a way of life for most Africans that later became African Americans until some states abolished slavery, owners decided to free their slaves, or if the slaves ran away from their owners and journeyed to a non-slave state.

When America gained its independence, there was a disagreement that took place during the Constitutional Convention in 1787 that dealt with how each state would count their population. The House of Representatives uses the states' population to determine how many representatives each state receives in the House. In the southern states, they thought that everyone, including slaves, should be counted. The northern states did not think that it was fair to count the slaves in the total population, since there were a lot more slaves in the south than the north. Both sides agreed to the 3/5 Compromise. This compromise said that for every 5 slaves, they would be counted as 3 citizens. Therefore, 60% of the slave population would be used when the states' population is counted. Slavery in the United States lasted until towards the end of the Civil War and even some after the Emancipation Proclamation, since it only freed slaves in the South and not in the North.

Growing up as a child in a slave family was pretty easy, until you discovered the harsh reality of slavery. The children were not allowed to call certain people by certain names. For one former Louisiana slave, that moment came when her mistress whipped her for saying...

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