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African American History Essay

1389 words - 6 pages

Slavery is an institution that has been in the world since the beginning of time. Whether it be the Roman or Greek empires, Europe, or even in Africa, slavery is in no way a unique or new concept. This institution was, however, very dynamic and fluid in character. In the New World, slavery was very much different than in any other parts of the world, and between 1619 and 1739, the character of slavery in colonial North America changed as a result of many varying factors.
The enslavement of large groups of people in colonial North America was the result of European imperial drives and the need to fuel the colonization and profitability of the New World. While the use of the African ...view middle of the document...

This is, along with other reasons, one of the most apparent causes for the colonists turning to Africans as their primary source of forced labor. The other reasons include the “long-term advantages” that black slaves offered the colonists. Unlike the white servants who could run away and blend in easily in neighboring colonies, escaped blacks were “far easier to recover” and “recapture”. All blacks would be assumed s runaways by white men who “suppos’d [him] to be a runaway” and imprisoned to make sure that their owners could retrieve them. This proved very difficult to do with whites who blended in easily. Also, in 1662, slavery was made heritable, providing the colonists with a somewhat “self-replenishing” supply of forced labor. Slavery in North America went from being indifferent to race, to focusing only on the enslavement of the African people. The slave trade with Africa was now such a critical part of the success and survival of the colonies that until the end of the 17th century, the English held a monopoly over the African slave trade.
Along with slavery in colonial North America becoming focused on an individual group of people, there were other changes in the character of slavery. From 1619 to sometime around 1690, the status of blacks declined rapidly. This change was marked by many different things. For one, slavery was, for the first, time heritable. Also, in 1691, interracial marriage was outlawed. Any person that married a “negroe, mulatto, or Indian” would be “forever banished from the colony ‘within three months of such marriage’”. These changes, marked the spreading of the belief that the white race as a whole was superior to the African as well as the indigenous people. For seemingly the first time, whites asserted their racial superiority as a whole over the African race. Laws were even passed in Virginia disfranchise and disarm blacks by spreading the belief that all blacks were dangerous. This widespread conviction is what marked the taking away of any freedom blacks had managed to maintain by saying that only whites could be and deserved to be fully free. This is very much different than the early 1600s when blacks could earn their freedom or at least have their children born free.
In short, slavery from the early 1600s to the mid and later parts of the century underwent several character changes that proved to be very detrimental to the African people while at the same time being very profitable and beneficial to whites in America. Slavery was, for the first time, heritable, permanent, and aimed at a single group of people. These wouldn’t, however, be the last of the character changes that slavery would undergo until 1739.
Another significant character change of slavery from 1619 to 1739 would be the treatment of slaves. In the beginning of slavery in colonial North America, slaves were treated with respect and humanity. In Carolina, slaves were, for the most part, valued and treated with considerable respect...

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