Decades after 1619 in which tobacco farming was booming in Virginia, farmers increasingly needed help which drove the need for slaves almost until Lincoln’s time. Long before America had ships to travel to Sierra Leone, Africa, to take slaves to bring back to the New World, Europeans and wealthier Africans had already infringed on the slavery idea. At the time of the Constitution’s ratification on September 17, 1787, there were approximately 700,000 slaves (18% of the population) in the United States of America. The idea of slavery in America was based on race and wealth.
Patriots were talking about liberty and equality and it was one of the things the American Revolution of 1775 had set out to do as did the Constitution in granting American’s rights within the Preamble. However, African American slaves felt that they should be granted the same rights under the Constitution. George Washington, the country’s first leader of the United States, was hesitant to extend the same rights to African American slaves. Washington was also one of the biggest slave owners at the time of the Constitution’s ratification with approximately 100 slaves that tended his fields at Mount Vernon and watched his every need.
“None of it exists without slavery. There are no settlements. There are no thirteen colonies without slavery. There is no United States without slavery. There is no independence movement without slavery. The whole thing is built upon slavery. That is why they didn’t abolish it” (Historian Christopher Brown). Charleston, South Carolina was the hub for slave ships. As slaves came into the New World, slave masters worked tirelessly to erase family names from slaves. Many slaves fled to Fort Mose just outside of Charleston which became the biggest slave revolt consisting of an African American army on the move with drums and leaders from the Republic of Congo.