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Justification of American Slavery

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Autor:   •  February 28, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  2,322 Words (10 Pages)  •  1,008 Views

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How can you justify something that's incredibly wrong? Our "founding fathers" were face with the same dilemma over 400 years ago when it came to the issue of building up The New World. They wanted create a place where freedom and justice roamed, escaping the lifestyle from which they came. However, our "founding fathers" knew that creating this New World(America) need cheap labor and a way to build up their economy. This lead to the enslavement of the Africans. Although this tyrannic practice was enforced in the Imperialist's mother countries, they still felt the need to enforced the Indenture Servant system.

The definition of an Indentured Servant was a person who signed and is bound by a debt to work for another for a specific amount of time in exchange for compensation. In the early 1600's, the majority of Indentured Servants were Native Americans. However, due to the increasing death toll of the Native American people as an result of European diseases. As a result, the percentage of indentured servants slowly shifted towards the African community as time progressed. At the time, colonialist had no problem justifying indentured servants into slavery.

There were five major methods in justifying slavery. One of these methods was a biblical justification, referring to the story of an curse falling

upon the son of Ham, on of Noah's children. This story supports the ideal that servants were made to obey their masters. Another justification for servants from a historical term was that slavery existed in all great civilizations and built their nations. The legal justification for slavery was in the U.S. Constitution's refusal to forbid slavery. Another justification for slavery was a pseudo-scientific explanation. Many white southerners believe that Africans were put on this Earth as an inferior race, which lead them to belief that their only purpose was to work for the Superior race(Caucasians). Many southerners felt that they were doing the blacks a favor by enslaving them, introducing them to what they preferred to believe was a more civilized lifestyle. Lastly, a sociological defense was bestowed upon slavery. George Fitzhugh, an advocate for slavery, argued that the Negro(Africans)are merely overgrown adults and need to be governed as children. Many southerners believe that mayhem would exist if slaves were given free will. They also argued that they fed, sheltered and clothed the slaves, as if they were doing the slaves a great favor. These are some of the weak excused used to justify the Indentured Servant system in the new world which lead to over three- hundred years of slavery.

In the Chesapeake colonies, the methods of the indentured servant system was completely different, and these new circumstances easily led to increased exploitative powers. People signed indenture contracts with captains or merchants in England then these were then sold to Chesapeake planters upon arrival to the New World. The captain or merchant had no incentive to see the servant safely housed, because his primary interest only included making as much profit as possible from the servant's sale. Servants could not protect themselves in any way. They never met their future masters, they had no knowledge how their masters would use them, and they could not negotiate or stand up for themselves. By signing the indenture contract, they accepted whatever grim fate had in store for them. In fact, there is a sense that servant treatment was made worse by the constant flow of the servants from hand to hand. So many people were responsible for a servant's arrival in the colonies and yet no one felt personally responsible for ensuring the servant's physical safety.

Servants most likely envisioned service in the New World on the model of the Old World, but the agriculture of the lands demanded different types of work. In England, there were numerous varied tasks to be completed, and a servant might even come to specialize in one of them. For example, in England, servants considered carting and horse care to be the highest level of service.

The elite of Chesapeake society condoned various forms of servant exploitation in all gradations of severity. From 1607, the founding of the colony in Virginia, until 1660, Chesapeake masters abused servants in the course of their work, but only rarely denied them their rights if they reached the end of their indenture. By 1660, the system took an even more sinister turn. Tobacco planters morphed their already exploitative system into a new system that shared many parallels with slavery. The planter elite prevented freedman who had legally completed their indentures from acquiring land, which was the entire attraction of the New World. They tried to keep servants indentured for longer, and if they could not keep them as servants, they ensured that the former servant would remain in an economically servile position as a tenant, sharecropper, or laborer. First, The English precedents for indentured servitude and the nature of tobacco agriculture, which both produced a system that made exploitation possible and likely. Then the change for the worst in freedmen's conditions that occurred after 1660.

Slavery in the United States was part of a long established system of labor exploitation that dates to ancient times. Much of the ancient world was composed of well-organized slave societies of one sort or another. Slavery existed in the great civilizations of ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, China, and even among the Inca and Aztec worlds of pre-colonial America. The business of capturing and trading enslaved people was also a fundamental part of human society throughout recorded history. Prior to the Atlantic trade of enslaved Africans to the Americas, Muslim traders out of the Middle East and Northern Africa purchased, sold, and captured millions of enslaved Africans and Central Europeans in a slave-trading network that extended from present day Hungary to Southeastern Asia and the Far East.

Slavery in North America differed significantly from slavery in the rest of the Americas. In the first place, far fewer slaves were brought into what became the United States, only around 500,000 compared to perhaps 12 to 13 million imported into the Caribbean and South and Central America. Most of these imports to North America ended by 1770, moreover, except for a burst of activity by a few southern states after the American Revolution. Secondly, the fact that the English people had little experience with slavery in comparison to the Spanish and Portuguese meant that little historical reference existed for them to draw upon in the early years. Initially, the first slaves in the Virginia colony were looked upon as workers rather than as property, and some of them were treated much like white indenture


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