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Slavery Essay

924 words - 4 pages

Slavery

Slavery is a social institution defined by law and custom as the most absolute involuntary form of human servitude. England entered the slave trade in the latter half of the 16th century. In 1713 the exclusive right to supply the Spanish colonies was granted to the British South Sea Company. The English based their trading in the North America. In North America the first African slaves landed at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. Brought by early English privateers, they were subjected to limited servitude, a legalized status of Native American, white, and black servants preceding slavery in most, if not all, the English colonies in the New World. The number of slaves imported was small at first, and it did not seem necessary to define their legal status. Statutory recognition of slavery, however, occurred in Massachusetts in 1641, in Connecticut in 1650, and in Virginia in 1661. Contrary to what is commonly believed, slaves did have some legal rights, such as support in age or sickness, a right to limited religious instruction, and the right to bring suit and give evidence in special cases. Custom gave numerous rights also, such as private property, marriage, free time, contractual ability, and, to females, domestic or lighter plantation labor, which, however, the master was not bound to respect. Brutal treatment such as mutilation, branding, chaining, and murder were regulated or prohibited by law, but instances of cruelty were common before the 19th century.

In North America the first African slaves landed at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. Brought by early English privateers, they were subjected to limited servitude, a legalized status of Native American, white, and black servants preceding slavery in most, if not all, the English colonies in the New World. The number of slaves imported was small at first, and it did not seem necessary to define their legal status. Statutory recognition of slavery, however, occurred in Massachusetts in 1641, in Connecticut in 1650, and in Virginia in 1661.

Abolitionists, reformers of the 18th and 19th centuries dedicated to eliminating slavery, especially in the English-speaking countries. Although the Quakers had long opposed slavery, abolitionism as an organized force began in England in the 1780s, when William Wilberforce and the Clapham Sect—a group of wealthy evangelical Anglicans—began agitating against the African slave traffic. Their success (1807) stimulated further political assaults on slavery itself. With compensation to owners and apprenticeship arrangements, Parliament abolished West Indian slavery in 1833.

British example, Quaker traditions, evangelical revivalism, and northern emancipations (1776-1827) aroused interest in abolitionism in the United States. The abolitionists differed from those of moderate antislavery feelings in that they called for an immediate end to slavery. The most extreme abolitionists denied the validity of any laws that recognized slavery as an...

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