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Slavery, A Building Block In The Foundation Of America's History

1386 words - 6 pages

Slavery was present preceding the European discovery of the Americas. It was limited to the conquered people of the indigenous nations and it was not widespread. This situation changed with the arrival of Europeans, as they possessed modern weapons with which they were able to overtake the most formidable segments of native tribes. Sickness introduced to the indigenous tribes by the Europeans reduced the enslaved population to the point that new workers were needed. A slave trade was brought into existence by this need. Slaves were still gathered from indigenous tribes, but they were supplemented with African slaves brought by ship. These events helped to forge the Americas into the prosperous cultures they eventually became. Slavery influenced culture during the revolutionary period with the beginnings of racism, this culture change initiated lawmaking concerning race, which started with the first emancipation around 1780. How these two topics were molded until the 1850's, and have remained present in the modern era of our lives will be proven in the following essay.
The word racism is a term used to describe the believed differences between people of different colors, because of traits, morals, or intellectual prowess. These perceived differences cause a racist person to treat a person of color in ways that would be unaccepted by most people in their own race. [1] This practice, racism, was initiated in the 17th century to promote or justify the use of slaves in what was to become the United States. Racism is justified by many means including the bible, science, and hypothetical theories. A widespread religious following in the Americas became the basis for acceptance of racism using the bible for justification. It ran into conflict with the sciences for the same reasons. Religious justification could not come to terms with the scientific explanations presented. Religion also presented the basis for enslavement of lesser people as it gave conversion to Christianity as a reason to keep people under the care of the enlightened race. [2, p.64]
The use of slave was recognized in legal terms by the colony of Virginia in 1670 by the creation of a law, which stipulated “all servants not being Christians imported into this colony by shipping shall be slaves for their lives.” [2, p.66] This act did not establish race or slavery, but it was the start of differentiating between slave and free people. Expansion of farming and the need for laborers expanded the desire for cheap labor. Slavery was becoming entrenched in the economy of the colonies as slaves enabled the cultivation of large tracts of land. African slaves supplied by the Atlantic slave trade filled this need and the increase in presence brought about a greater interaction between whites and blacks.
Thomas Jefferson's opinion was quoted in 1781 as an assertion that blacks are “inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.” [2, p.163] Assertions such as this when made by...

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