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Historical Background: Slavery

27 Jan

Slavery:

a.

Reports of slavery were very common in the pasts in countries like China and Japan, Egypt and the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Americas. It seems that since prehistoric and primitive times, dominant people have used force and fear to make other people serve them. Most slaves were actually the Africans and African-American

b.

Africa:

In Europe, many crops could not be grown and sold. So, the europens brought slaves in their fields to make them work in the field. The basic reason for the constant shortage of labor was that, with large amounts of cheap land available and lots of landowners searching for workers, free European immigrants were able to become landowners themselves after a relatively short time, thus increasing the need for workers.

c.

United States:

Slavery in the United States was a form of unfree labor which existed as a legal institution in North America for more than a century before the founding of the United States in 1776, and continued mostly in the South until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1865. Most slaves were black and were held by whites, although some Native Americans and free blacks also held slaves; there were a small number of white slaves as well. Europeans also held some Native Americans as slaves, and African-Native Americans. The slaves from Africa were brought to plantations and agricultural fields to work as the europeans needed free labour. The slavery conditions in United States were so bad that in 1860, the population of the slaves grew to 4 million

Britain:

Britain played a prominent role in the Atlantic slave trade, especially after 1600. Slavery was a legal institution in all of the 13 American colonies and Canada (acquired by Britain in 1763). The profits of the slave trade and of West Indian plantations amounted to 5% of the British economy at the time of the Industrial Revolution. The Somersett’s case in 1772 was generally taken at the time to have decided that the condition of slavery did not exist under English law in England. The judgment emancipated the 10,000–14,000 slaves or possible slaves in England, who were mostly domestic servants. It also laid down the principle that slavery contracted in other jurisdictions (such as the North American colonies) could not be enforced in England. In 1807, following many years of lobbying by the Abolitionist movement, the British Parliament voted to make the slave trade illegal anywhere in the Empire with the Slave Trade Act 1807. Thereafter Britain took a prominent role in combating the trade, and slavery itself was abolished in the British Empire with the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. Between 1808 and 1860, the West Africa Squadron seized approximately 1,600 slave ships and freed 150,000 Africans who were aboard. Action was also taken against African leaders who refused to agree to British treaties to outlaw the trade, for example against “the usurping King of Lagos”, deposed in 1851. Anti-slavery treaties were signed with over 50 African rulers.In 1811, Arthur William Hodge was the first slave owner executed for the murder of a slave in the British West Indies. He was not, however, as some have claimed, the first white person to have been lawfully executed for the killing of a slave.

Portugal:

 

Slavery had existed in Europe from Classical times and did not disappear with the collapse of the Roman Empire. Slaves remained common in Europe throughout the early medieval period. However, slavery of the Classical type became increasingly uncommon in Northern Europe and, by the 11th and 12th centuries, had been effectively abolished in the North. Nevertheless, forms of unfree labour, such as villeinage and serfdom, persisted in the north well into the early modern period. In Southern and Eastern Europe, Classical-style slavery remained a normal part of the society and economy and trade across the Mediterranean and the Atlantic seaboard meant that African slaves began to appear in Italy, Spain, Southern France, and Portugal well before the discovery of the New World in 1492. From about the 8th century onwards, an Arab-run slave trade also flourished, with much of this activity taking place in East Africa, Arabia, and the Indian Ocean. In addition, many African societies themselves had forms of slavery, although these differed considerably, both from each other and from the European and Arabic forms. Although various forms of unfree labour were prevalent in Europe throughout its history, historians refer to ‘Chattel Slavery’, in which slaves are commodities to be bought and sold, rather than domestic servants or agricultural workers. Chattel Slavery is the characteristic form of slavery in the modern world, and this chronology is concerned primarily with this form.

d.

Rules that  Slaves have to follow:

Slaves usually have to follow rules set by their masters who were usually the whites. The slaves would never be able to escape but  if they were to, their owners would beat them up or cut off their body parts to punish them. The slaves seldom go outdoors with their owners’ permission as they may find a way to escape. The slaves could be sold to plantations to work in the fields or sold to another owner or auctioned. The slaves were never educated iin case they thought about freedom and try to escape. Also, slaves were never given any dangerous weapons lest they attack their owners.

e.

How does the notion of slavery relate to the novel? Does the study of slavery help you understand the novel better?

Yes. In the book “To Kill A MockcingBird”, slavery and discrimination against the blacks were introduced. The main character involving in the discrimination was Tom Robinson who was accused of molesting a lady which he did not.

Slavery in the United States was a form of unfree labor which existed as a legal institution in North America for more than a century before the founding of the United States in 1776, and continued mostly in the South until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1865.[1] The first English colony in North America, Virginia, first imported Africans in 1619, a practice established in the Spanish colonies as early as the 1560s.[2] Most slaves were black and were held by whites, although some Native Americans and free blacks also held slaves; there were a small number of white slaves as well.[3] Europeans also held some Native Americans as slaves, and African-Native Americans. Slavery spread to the areas where there was good-quality soil for large plantations of high-value cash crops, such as tobacco, cotton, sugar, and coffee. By the early decades of the 19th century, the majority of slaveholders and slaves were in the southern United States, where most slaves were engaged in a work-gang system of agriculture on large plantations, especially devoted to cotton and sugar cane. Such large groups of slaves were thought to work more efficiently if directed by a managerial class called overseers, usually white men.

Before the widespread establishment of chattel slavery (outright ownership of a human being, and of his/her descendants), much labor was organized under a system of bonded labor known as indentured servitude. This typically lasted for several years for white and black alike. People paid with their labor for the costs of transport to the colonies. They contracted for such arrangements because of poor economies in their home countries.[4] By the 18th century, colonial courts and legislatures had racialized slavery, essentially creating a caste system in which slavery applied nearly exclusively to Black Africans and people of African descent, and occasionally to Native Americans. Spain abolished slavery of Native Americans in its territories in 1769.

From the 16th to the 19th centuries, an estimated 12 million Africans were shipped as slaves to the Americas. (see Slavery in the Americas)[5][6] Of these, an estimated 645,000 were brought to what is now the United States.[7]

By the 1860 United States Census, the slave population in the United States had grown to four million.[8]

Slavery was a contentious issue in the politics of the United States from the 1770s through the 1860s, becoming a topic of debate in the drafting of the Constitution; a subject of Federal legislation such as the ban on the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850; and a subject of landmark Supreme Court cases, such as the Dred Scott decision. Slaves resisted the institution through rebellions and non-compliance, and escaped it through travel to non-slave states and Canada, facilitated by the Underground Railroad. Advocates of abolitionism engaged in moral and political debates, and encouraged the creation of Free Soil states as Western expansion proceeded. Slavery was a principal issue leading to the American Civil War. After the Union prevailed in the war, slavery was made illegal throughout the United States with the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.[9] A few instances of enslavement of Indians by other Indians persisted in the following years. In the South, practices of slavery shaped the institutions of convict leasing and sharecropping. Illegal enslavement of captive workers, often immigrants, has occurred into the 21st century in nations across the world.

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2 Comments

Posted by on January 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

2 responses to “Historical Background: Slavery

  1. Lam Sze Tung

    January 31, 2011 at 3:22 am

    Wen Feng , I think that your posts are REALLY long , it took me a very long time to read it . I would suggest editing your post further to make it more accessible for people who cannot read such long posts ?

     
  2. Bram

    February 7, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Wen Feng, I think that you must have done lots of research. However, I agree with Sze Tung that your blogpost is too long. For question a, I felt that you did not answer to the question. The question asked for when and how did slavery begin in the southern states so you should state which year it started and the events which led to slavery in the southern states.

     

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