Slavery has always been a part of human history. Therefore on cannot talk about when slavery began in North America. Soon after the American colonies were established in North America, slaves were brought in to meet the growing labor need on plantations. Although the importation of slaves continued to grow as new plantations were developed, it was the industrial revolution that would have the most profound impact on the slave industry. The purpose of this essay is to analyze the effect of slavery in the 13 colonies due to the industrial revolution.
Cash Crops in the 13 Colonies
One of the important early contributions of the 13 colonies was to grow produce to support the expanding economy in England. The produce that they grew were known as cash crops. According to Miriam Webster, A cash crop is "a readily salable crop (as cotton or tobacco) produced or gathered primarily for market." These cash crops were usually cotton or tobacco as they grew well in the 13 colonies. Cash crops were either processed locally or shipped back to England. (Citation 20, 123helpme.com)
The Rise of Slavery
In the late 1600s and early 1700s, plantation owners used indentured servants to work the plantations. An indentured servant, unlike slaves, usually would agree to work for a special number of years in exchange for certain benefits such as free passage to the colonies form Europe. But this system only worked "for a little time as these servants would work their time of servitude, and then leave on their own." (Citation 14, 123helpme.com) As a result, plantation owners started buying slaves to work in the fields instead of indentured servants as this provided more labor stability. "An increase in the amount of slaves doing work on plantations was evident to its profitability for planters and farmers and the control on labor." (Citation 9, 123helpme.com) So to Southern colonists, "slavery was first an economic institution solely for the purpose of solving an economic problem. The problem was that labor was too expensive. So the colonists "implemented forced labor for economic gain." (Citation 15, 123helpme.com)
The Onset of the Industrial Revolution
The industrial revolution was a time of great change in Europe. Many of those changes were brought about by mechanical inventions that greatly increased efficiency by which raw materials were processed. "While working in the sciences and tinkering with mechanics, a few people were able to come up with new ways of doing things. New machines were invented" (MacroHistory and World Report) Three significant machines that were invented during this time period that greatly increased the cotton industry were the cotton gin, the spinning jenny, and the power loom. Since cotton was one of the major cash crops exported by the colonies to England, it is important to understand these inventions in order to grasp the changes brought about by this trio of machines on the cotton industry.
The cotton gin,...