Freedom and Slavery

The United States promotes that freedom is a right deserved by all humanity. Throughout the history of America the government has found ways to deprive selected people this right by race, gender, class and in other ways as well for its own benefit. This is a boundary of freedom. Boundaries of freedom outline who is able to enjoy their freedom and who isn’t. These people alter with time and as history unfolds. Slavery and the journey of their freedom was a big part of the foundation of the United States. At the beginning of the Civil War, Lincoln’s goal was to restore the Union and planned on keeping slavery present in the states.

African American’s journey to freedom and what freedom means was a long and turbulent one. With the British colonies being established in the New World, a source of cheap labor was needed. The Slave Trade was introduced into the colonies from Africa. Slaves were an important part of the success of this new economy being built. 7. 7 million African Americans were estimated to be transported to the New World between 1492 to 1820. They were treated like other goods and were sold through the triangular trade route across the Atlantic. Slavery had its advantages to Englishmen.

They couldn’t claim the protections the English law offered, their time of work never ended and their children were born into slavery and owned by the master as well. They also had encountered many diseases known to Europe and were less likely to capitulate to diseases. Slavery began to replace indentured servants on the Chesapeake plantations. To the normal plantation owner, it became more economical to buy labor for life, or a slave that you owned until they died. Slaves could be sold, passed on to family members, and leased. No black could own arms or put their hands on a white or else they were faced with extreme consequences.

Also, if off the plantation, a white person could ask a black to provide their freedom certificate or a note of permission to be off the plantation from the master they also faced extreme consequences. Slaves were like children to whites. They could not rebel without repercussions and could not betray or leave their owner. They had free labor that could not go anywhere; slavery was a huge benefit and was like a dream for a plantation owner. They were essential to production and cultivation of crops and plantations. By 1700, slavery was existent in all of the colonies.

The House of Burgesses realized that slaves were an extremely important part of the labor force and therefore, to the economy. A new slave code was enacted in 1705 stating that slaves were property of their owners and to the white community. Slaves were the legal responsibility of the master and if they started to rebel it was the master’s obligation to keep them in line. Slavery also brought a new division of people to the New World. The slaves that were transported to the colonies for labor were not all from the same culture, race or society.

They spoke different languages, had diverse customs and had many various religions. Many of these people would have never come in contact with each other if not for this slave trade. An overall stereotype of African’s was what they now where known as. There cultures and ideologies emerged into a single background and ancestry for people born into this lifestyle and they no longer came from different tribes or kinships. There new culture was based on African traditions, English fundamentals and American standards. This could almost be considered as the first installment of America becoming known as a ‘melting pot’.

Slavery was a huge part of the development of the New World and to the rise of its commercial supremacy. In Britain the profits from the slave trade encouraged the growth of ports, banking, ship building and helped to finance the industrial revolution. It also boosted the colonies wealth and set the foundation for the strong economical society it would later become. As a historian would later transcribe: “The growth and prosperity of the emerging society of free colonial British America … were achieved as a result of slave labor”.

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