The Cost Of Slavery Essay

1497 words - 6 pages

After the French and Indian War, from 1754 to 1763, Americans were proud to be called British subjects. But in just twelve years, America would be fighting for their independence from Britain, mainly because they were afraid that Britain would raise the taxes on them higher—and, at least in their minds, reduce them to servitude. Even after the revolution, when they had felt in their minds the fear that the possibility of becoming slaves to Britain’s whims had instilled in them, they were persistent in keeping slave labor legal. Some, like abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison with his newspaper The Liberator, took it upon themselves to fight for the slaves. Garrison started the magazine to demand “the immediate, unconditional abolition of slavery” (Masur, 23). Finally, in 1831, a violent slave revolt was led by a slave named Nat Turner. This rebellion led to deep unrest across the states—plantation owners and their families were frightened that they would be the next target, government leaders were frantically trying to smooth things over, and slaves were increasingly getting the idea that there was a hope for their future, and their freedom, if they would only fight for it. Even Englishmen who came to visit the nation in the early 1800s noticed the stark contradiction in a country that boasted liberty and morality but insisted in keeping slave labor legal. What America did not seem to realize was that slave labor came at a high price: the paranoia of becoming slaves to Britain, the annoyance of inexorable abolitionists such as Garrison, the danger of serious slave revolts like Turner’s, and the tainted reputation of their nation.
Britain now owned Canada—a prize they had won during the French and Indian War—and had to keep garrisons of British troops in Canada. This was expensive, and so England’s leaders decided to put a small tax on the American colonies to raise money to pay for the troops’ quarters. Americans were completely indignant about the taxation, and believed that these small taxes could only lead to more taxes. America also had no representation in England’s government, and so could not put in their opinion on the matter. England did not see the taxes as an issue, but the Americans were outraged because, in their world, there were only two classes: rich or poor, white or black, master or slave. By taxing them, the Americans felt that the British were treating them as inferiors, and the only inferiors in their culture were black slaves. Even George Washington, a hero in his own right, believed that the British would “make us as tame and abject slaves, as the blacks we rule over with such arbitrary sway” (American Revolution Handout, 6). This was a bad side effect of holding slaves—they could be very useful, but also dangerous. A slaveholder could hold great power in the 16th century world of American aristocracy, but, as a result of seeing slavery firsthand, he would live in constant fear of succumbing to the thing that...

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