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The History Of African Americans: Slavery

2542 words - 10 pages

The history of African-Americans has been a paradox of incredible triumph in the face of tremendous human tragedy. African-American persons were shown much discrimination and were treated as second class citizens in the colonies during the development of the nation. The first set men, women, and children to work in the colonies were indentured servants, meaning they were only required to work for a set amount of years before they received their freedom. Then, in 1619 the first black Africans came to Virginia. With no slave laws in place, they were initially treated as indentured servants, a source of free labor, and given the same opportunities for freedom dues as whites. However, slave laws were soon passed – in Massachusetts in 1641 and Virginia in 1661 –and any small freedoms that might have existed for blacks were taken away (“African American Slavery in the Colonial Era, 1619-1775”). Legislation later allowed laws permitting the act of slavery in the colonies and the areas under the Royal Crown. For example, in 1661 the Barbados Slave Code was passed by the colonial English legislature to provide a legal base for slavery in the Caribbean island of Barbados. This law allowed slave owners the right to do anything they wished to their slaves, including mutilating them and burning them alive, without any interference from the government (“Sugar and Slaves”). From the first ship of African slaves delivered in 1619 to the Revolutionary War to the Civil War and recent history, the legacy of the men, women, and children slaves lives on in the hearts of many in the United States of America through the impact of the colonies economically, socially, and politically.
Slavery developed from the growing necessity for cheap labor. Author David Brion Davis states, “Black slavery took root in the Americas in a slow, spasmodic, and seemingly haphazard way, but even the last three-quarters of the Sixteenth century gave ample and cumulative evidence that the fortunes of the New World depended on Africa” (Davis 64). During the development of the colonies and the nation as a whole, slaves were utilized in order to produce the crops and perform laborious tasks that were “below” white people. In the 1660s, there was an increased demand for tobacco products as well as indigo and rice in England (“African American Slavery in the Colonial Era, 1619-1775”). In order to fulfill the demand, there was a spike in interest in purchasing slaves. More and more slaves were needed to produce larger amounts of crops for the plantation owners.
In South Carolina, indigo and rice were popular crops to be cultivated during the eighteenth century. Slaves would work laboriously cutting, preparing, and drying the indigo so that it could be used by other slaves to die cotton yarn, wool, and silk to produce denim jeans and other clothing items.
Rice was also a common crop produced on the “Rice Coast.” Slaves who had the skill of planting rice were...

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