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How Slavery Came About Essay

1304 words - 5 pages

HOW SLAVERY HAPPENEDPortuguese colonists started huge sugar plantations in Brazil. These Europeans enslaved thousands of Indians. But most of the Indians died from European diseases and harsh treatment. The Spaniards and the Portuguese then began to import blacks from West Africa as slaves. Other African blacks helped capture most of the enslaved Africans.During the 1600's, France, England, and the Netherlands established colonies in the West Indies and greatly increased the African slave trade. Soon, the Europeans enslaved only blacks. Sugar became the main export of the European colonies, though the settlers also developed profitable coffee, cotton, and tobacco plantations.The rising European demand for sugar helped create fierce competition for slaves and for new sugar colonies. From the 1500's to the mid-1800's, the Europeans shipped about 10 million black slaves from Africa to the Western Hemisphere. Nearly 2 million of these slaves died on the way. About 65 percent of the slaves were brought to Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica, Saint Domingue (now Haiti), and other sugar colonies. Brazil alone received about 38 percent. About 5 percent were brought to what is now the United States.FACTS ON SLAVERYSlavery flourished in the South, where large plantations grew cotton, tobacco, and other crops. The plantations required many laborers. But slavery was less profitable in the North, where economic activity centered on small farms and industries.By 1860, the slave states had about 4 million slaves. The slaves made up nearly a third of the South's population.Views of slaveryDuring the 1700's, noted philosophers and religious leaders in Europe and North America began to condemn slavery. They declared that slavery violated human rights and God-given law.Many Americans turned against slavery during the Revolutionary War in America (1775-1783). These Americans came to believe that slavery had no place in a nation that had been formed to protect natural human rights. Few people in the North owned slaves, and opposition to slavery developed more rapidly there than in the South. Some Southerners, including such leaders as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, spoke out against slavery. Jefferson owned slaves, but he believed slavery was morally wrong and would someday have to end. He took no strong stand in his own state, Virginia, because he felt the people were not ready for such a step. The high profits that resulted from slavery had far greater influence than did any moral arguments.Support of slavery remained strong throughout the South. But only about a fourth of the region's whites owned slaves or belonged to a family that owned them. About 45,000 planters owned over half the slaves, and these planters controlled the economy and government of the Southern States. Even the many Southerners who did not own slaves accepted the planters' view that the South's economy would collapse without slavery.During the early 1800's, abolitionists started a crusade to end...

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