Slavery and its Relation to the Modern World
The history of slavery in colonial America is a story of two worlds: the world of the aristocratic landowners and the slaves from African that helped to maintain and work the plantations. Each group had its own experiences and views, and each group was impacted differently by slavery. At the time, slavery was an accepted practice in the South. It had first been introduced in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619 when 20 slaves from Africa were brought to the colony by a Dutch ship. Thus began an era of slavery in America that had lasting effects on the population of the country even unto this very day. This paper will show how slavery throughout the history of the United States influenced the Legacy of slavery today because slavery is discussed in a negative connotation.
As the Editors of History.com note, “though it is impossible to give accurate figures, some historians have estimated that 6 to 7 million black slaves were imported to the New World during the 18th century alone.” This was an immense number of people that were forced to move from one continent and culture to another. It had a tremendous psychological, social, economical and political impact on American culture. White plantation owners used the slaves for harvesting tobacco initially; some of them could be quite cruel, as the letter from Lucius published in the Virginia Gazette in 1773 showed by describing “the Practices of a cruel and savage Master” in hopes of bringing to light how inhumane some Masters could treat their slaves (Costa). Though the practice of slavery continued on, it did change in form over time—mainly because the industry changed: with the invention of the cotton gin, the South switched to growing cotton and became huge cotton exporters. To manage the cotton industry, they needed slaves—free labor—which allowed them to rake in the profits with big margins (Editors of History.com). By using slaves to make themselves part of the elite class, the southern plantation owners were able to benefit from slave labor and become rich and wealthy and powerful. This led to their belief that they could survive on their own apart from the Union, which is essentially what led to the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict on American soil in the nation’s history.
Yet, for African slaves, they had no sense of power. If one wanted to feel powerful, he had to escape and then educate himself, like Frederick Douglass did. Douglass spoke in 1852 on the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence—an anniversary celebrated by free men in America—on the plight of the slave and how he shares not in the joy of the free whites: “Fellow-citizens; above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them” (Douglass). In other words, the two worlds experienced history differently: the world of the slaves was steeped in oppression; the world of the white slave owners was steeped in satisfaction and freedom, power and joy. The white slave owners were convinced that they could rule their…In that sense, in the sense, that a discussion at all can be had, there is at least some positive aspect to the legacy: more films are made about it and more people are aware of the legacy thanks to articles like the one by Coates. However, talking about it is not the same thing as actually rooting out the culture that made it possible and that still exists today. The fact is that while slavery may have ended in the 19th century, the mentality of slavery continues to exist. There is still an enormous gap between the rich and the poor, and that gap can be seen in racial terms, as most of the poor are primarily blacks. The black population was never fully treated equally even after Emancipation. It was still seen as lesser than, and the white power structure still used its influence to create an environment in which blacks would go on being oppressed. They could use Jim Crow, they could use politics, and economics to cut the black people out of their fare share of American prosperity. This was the legacy of slavery: the country that was founded on the backs of black labor never really intended to repay that group at all. Some still call for reparations but they are unlikely to be answered: the power structure will not allow it because it would mean an end to their power. When Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he did not intend on giving independence to the slaves: he meant it for the whites—people like himself. This same mentality still exists among the…
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