The History of Slavery and the Evolution of Slave Culture in America

The slave culture is still prominent today and it resonates among all races. Whether is it through our political system, religion, workplace or media, many minorities still believe they are “enslaved” and still have not “freed their mind”. However, the slave culture today is not “black or white”, but it is a matter of “the haves” and “the have nots”. The slave trade began in the 15th century, after the Portuguese started exploring the coast of West Africa. At first the number of enslaved Africans taken was small, but overtime that number increased over because the Europeans realized how beneficial African were to them.

The majority of slaves taken in the transatlantic trade were from the states on or near the west coast of Africa. The growing demand for slaves from Europe meant that the African suppliers increased their activities. The Africans were sold in many ways. They were sold to traders by other Africans, and eventually forced into slavery by men with guns. From here, slaves were placed aboard ships to be taken across the Atlantic on a voyage that was eventually coined “the middle passage.”

The beginning of slavery started with the enslavement of African Americans in the mid 1600’s, when whites identified African American as servants. To make sure the slaves made it cross sea as healthy as possible the owners of the ships divided the watercraft into holds with a very small amount of room. The slaves were only allowed a small space for headroom and had to lay side by side cramped together along with the dozens of other slaves. Owners of the slave ship did their absolute best to hold as many slaves as they possibly could by cramming chaining and selectively grouping the slaves by size to maximize the space and bring as much profit they could possibly bring. Over the period of the slave trade, millions of slaves were shipped from West Africa.

Approximately 300,000 slaves were shipped from Africa to the Americas before 1620 by European slave traders. As a result, almost 12 million Africans were shipped were stripped from their homes and brought to New World against their will. After being placed in the New World these Africans were forced to do a lot of hard labor under horrible conditions. Enslaved men and women were beaten very badly, separated from family and friends and, regardless of sex, treated as property in the eyes of the law. Men who were slaves had a variety of labors that ranged from building houses to plowing fields. Men had some of the hardest jobs because they tend to be stronger and able to take more of a beating than female slaves.

Furthermore, slavery in America began when the first slaves were brought to the North American Colony of Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. Slavery took several decades to develop in Virginia and enslaved men and women were beaten very badly, separated from their family and friends and, regardless of sex, treated as “property” in the eyes of the law. Men who were enslaved performed labors that ranged from building houses to plowing fields. Men had some of the hardest jobs because the slave master viewed them as physically stronger than female slaves.

Enslaved Africans resisted, or rebelled, against their position as slaves in many different ways. The many slavery who accepted their situation. Instead they proved their strength and determination in fighting for their freedom. There were many slaves that successfully escaped away from their owners such as Harriet Tubman. As one of the most well-known conductors of instances of resistance show that slaves were not victims of the underground railroad Harriet Tubman rescued over 300 slaves in the time p of 11 years. Tubman felt she would be sold away from her family because she was sick, so she fled to Philadelphia to then return and rescue her family and other slaves. The great antislavery leader Frederick Douglass had a lot of respect for Tubman.

Another ally was John Brown, who justified armed struggle to destroy slavery. Harriet Tubman helped him recruit supporters. John Brown referred to her as “General Tubman” because it always seemed like she had a plan for everything. John Brown saved 11 slaves, and killed over 200 white people which made him a very wanted man. Brown was most famous for his raiding of the federal arsenal in Virginia to give weapons to slaves so they come overpower their slave owners. On August 21st 1881 Nat Turner and other slaves, he gathered to rebel against the whites, launched one of the largest slave rebellions in American history. The rebels moved from home to home killing every white person that they met.

Another way slavery evolved was through Dred Scott. Dred Scott was a black slave, with a wife named Harriet who had once belonged to army surgeon named John Emerson. Emerson bought Scott from the Peter Blow family of St. Louis. After Emerson died, the Blows apparently helped Scott sue Emerson’s widow for his freedom, but lost the case in state court. Chief of Justice Robert B. Taney said that Scott was a slave, and slaves were not considered a citizen of the United States and could not sue in a federal court.

In closing, the election of 1860, Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected as President, which resulted in a major change of slavery in America. All throughout his life Abraham Lincoln said “if slavery was wrong, nothing was wrong.” President Lincoln played a major role in ending slavery. President Lincoln hated slavery because it somehow reminded him of his childhood and how he used to get sent from farmer to farmer to work for his father. Lincoln stopped slavery from growing by writing the Emancipation Proclamation. This document declared that as of the date of its issuance in 1863 that all the slaves should be freed in the states that were still in rebellion against the union.

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