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Slavery pattern in North America took a funny trend since initially the blacks had some social positions and had a voice in the running of the community. This however later changed and the North also started to own slaves at a higher rate. There are several factors that led to this change in events in the north that made it to fancy slavery just as much as the South was with its plantations.
It is worth noting the background of the slavery trend in order to fully comprehend the drastic shift in slavery from the class servitude to racial slavery which was predominantly in the late 17th century and early 18th century. The black laborers and white laborers from the working class used to work on the same level and the Europeans used to be allowed to have slaves from the non-Christians population regardless of the color. The class determined the servitude. Any servant who broke his contract terms was punished regardless of the race. At the end of the slavery time, they used to be give freedom dues and let go. States like Virginia had such policies implemented very strictly in the 1625s leading to 1670s. It was during the 1670 that the trend began to change against the black slaves.
The freed slaves had the right to get some piece of land as a freedom token. The tricky part with this was that as more and more slaves were released, the pressure on the land grew and they ultimately posed a danger to the land that belonged to the elite white settlers. Conflict started to brew between the slaves and to some extent burned down properties. Majority of the freed white slaves or servants moved on to settle in other areas while the black population remained behind predominantly and became competitors to the elite European masters. The other factor that was of concern to the white elites was the expensive cost of finding replacement for the freed slaves.
On the backdrop of these conditions, Massachusetts passed a law legalizing slavery in 1641 a move that was followed by other states like Virginia in 1662 and several other states of North America. This was the turning point of the slavery trend. Virginia decided that by law any child born to a slave would be a slave. Slavery was not only now a life long condition but a quality that was passed down from parent to child, like the skin color.
To further enslave the blacks, Virginia passed a rule in 1705 that all servants who were imparted to the state and were originally not Christians in their original country were to be slaves. This then covered the Indians and the mulatto on top of the Africans (PBS Online, 2012).
This marked the beginning of the 'terrible transformation' as the suppliers of the slaves in England responded by heightening their supply. There was increase in demand due to the economic reasons and now that it had been legalized everyone wanted to have slaves. This also marked a terrible development as English legalized the slave trade. From the early 1700s to 1750s, the number of slaves brought to America shot up from the annual 5,000 to 45,000 slaves annually. Thereafter the economy became the new determining factor in the slave ownership. Both the North and the South argued on a business rationale to slave ownership. The thriving plantations of the South needed cheap labor and the booming industries of the North also required labor and they both found it cheaply from slaves whom they bought just once. This perpetuated the triangular slave trade between Africa, North America and Europe.
2. Evaluate the main forms that slave resistance took, analyze the historical forces behind this resistance, and explain its main effects.
Slaves were subjected to inhuman conditions right from their capture in Africa and transfer of them through the unfavorable weather conditions and squalid onboard the ships conditions that saw many of them die. This mistreatment was met with resistance at all the levels, right from the transportation stage to the working period in the farms and industries after being sold.
The resistances that were seen aboard the slave ships came in various forms. One of the common methods was open violence to the slavers, killing or maiming them then taking control of the ship to the closest destination they could see. The other form of resistance was a passive resistance that was conducted by going on hunger strikes. Indeed some starved themselves to death as indicated by James H. Sweet (2010). This kind of resistance was countered by placing hot coal on a shovel, placing it close to their mouth and threatening to make them swallow the coal if they do not eat. The other docile resistance was refusal of medical attention till one died of disease. The other form of resistance on board was throwing of oneself into the water either in an attempt to swim to safety or with deliberate intention of dying. Some slaves hanged themselves with the belief that death would take their spirits back to their motherland.
Upon landing in North America, the resistance continued and it is noted that one of the most commonly used from of resistance was suicide, where slaves could conduct a mass suicide upon arrival to escape slavery. The other form of resistance was stealing of the master's provisions and livestock. This was seen as both an act of resistance as well as means of having provisions for their hunger. The other docile resistance was telling lies to the masters and the managers. They also resisted by working as slowly as they could with the fewest number of whippings, this was the most overdone resistance method that it was thought that Africans had some peculiar disease to them alone that made the break tools and work extremely slowly.
Slaves also escaped from the farms where they were mistreated as a means of resistance especially when they knew that they were to be sold off to another strange master. For the blacks who worked as domestic helps within the white people's houses, they once in a while used to poison the entire white family as a way of revolting against the brutality. Though few, some of the resistances took the outright violent trend and bloody fights ensued with looting and destruction of property that belonged to the masters. This was however met by stiff penalty that saw one sentenced to death if he hit his master to cause a bruise.
The slaves who rebelled by escaping from their masters went ahead and formed groupings that were referred to as Maroons. These were communities that they formed to help preserve their culture and protect each other from falling into the hands of the masters again. The various forms of resistances noted above also pointed out to the masters the discomfort that the slaves were living under and it was upon these that the slave trade abolition movements built upon.
3. Explain why slavery was questioned widely during the Revolutionary period and why the Northern and Southern history of the institution diverged so greatly after the Revolution.
Ideally the revolutionary period is said to be between the 1760s and 1820s. Several wars were fought and in many ways the blacks were involved in fighting for the patriot forces (America's Library, 2012). The fundamental difference in policy held by the North and the South on slavery was on the moral standing concerning the issue of slavery. The North stood by the policy of slavery being morally wrong yet the Southerners never took a solid stand on the morality or otherwise of the slavery (National Park Service, 2007).
Due to the fact that the South owned slaves, they were vehemently opposed to the banning of the slavery. In the face of this massive call to end slave trade during the 1820s to 1850s the South wanted to be left with the right to chose what to do with their slaves. They also coined out some provisions like allowing the slaves to join fighting groups and enjoy some other additional rights. On the other hand, the North was really for the banning of slavery. As a matter of fact, the northern states had abolished slave trade as early as 1830s and it is with the realization if the gross cruelty that slavery subjected the blacks to and with that the 13th amendment was brought to the front discussion row.
It was difficult to practically emancipate the slaves from the South until the North had a profound military success in the civil war and the proclamation was used rather as a propaganda tool to tell the world that the U.S.A. was serious about fighting slavery. Indeed it was until the election of Lincoln for his second term that he abolished in the constitution through the thirteenth amendment (Our Documents, 2011).
The Emancipation Proclamation was a categorical document that sought to spell out the status of the U.S.A. As…[continue]
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