How Slavery Became The Economic Engine

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Slavery played a big role in the 1800s. Through the 17th and 18th centuries, many people had been kidnapped, mostly from Africa, and forced to work in America. They were mainly used for the productions of tobacco and cotton. Slavery could vary and be different depending on certain colonies and the slaveholder. Native Americans didn’t consider people as “property.” The Native Americans thought that these people just didn’t have kinship networks. These slaves didn’t always have to be permanent. If someone got married, they could get into a kinship network and that’s one way that they could join the community.

The southerners wanted slavery so, therefore they defended it. The southerners defended slavery because they believed without slavery, it would kill the economy and make a bad impact in the South. In the south, slavery was their foundation. The southerners looked at it from a selfish standpoint. They didn’t want to lose their crops such as cotton and tobacco. They believed that if slavery ended, there would be too much chaos and too many people would be unemployed. Southerners always argued their beliefs, they argued that there has always been slavery and slavery is what identifies men into mankind. They even stated that Abraham Lincoln himself had slaves. Southerners looked to the court. The same court that ruled all blacks, not just slaves, to have no legal right in court, they were known as just property. There were some people that treated their slaves somewhat fairly and took care of them when they got too old or ill, but not every slave owner was like that. After the 1830s, the white southerners stopped looking at slavery as “necessary evil” and started looking at it as beneficial. In 1840, is when more people joined the side of southerners.

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Many slaves resisted being a slave. They tried to escape, rebel, and sabotage some work products. Slaves often didn’t like the name their slaveholders gave them. Out of everything, slaves mainly resisted work. They could've had a hard time understanding their job and not wanting to do it. When slaveholders increased work or perhaps punished them harshly, the slaves would work slower, break tools, or pretend to be very ill. This made the slaveholders angry, but they didn’t want to lash out at the slaves because it would make things worse. The slaveholders thought that if they lashed out on the slaves, they would break more tools. Instead, the slaves tried changing their daily routines and the slaveholder often agreed to them because it would increase work and the outputs would be better. Surprisingly, slaves would sometimes steal certain things from their owners. For example, they would take fruits and vegetables. If slaves got caught running away, they would be punished by getting whipped and other punishments.

Slaves had many roles during the civil war. Depending on the slave's owners, some handed their slaves over to the confederate medical department. They hired up to hundreds of men and women to work as nurses, cooks, and other small jobs. Many abolitionists fought and fought to prove that slavery was wrong but not many people agreed or did anything about it. There were no slaves in nineteen states, two in Kansas and fifteen in Nebraska, Delaware had 1,798, Maryland had 87,189, and Virginia had 490,895 (With 52,128 slaveowners.) Out of 4 million slaves, about 400,000 had been freed from slavery. They didn’t have all of their rights back, but they had opportunities to be successful and free. During the civil war, as soon as they could, most slaves fled and left their owners to head North or anywhere else. Although many people fled, some did not want to leave without their families.

The slaves were mostly an asset because they could easily persuade the slaves to go in and serve them. They did things such as cooking food, washing clothes, and going in to fight. They could also be considered a liability because the trustworthy slaves that were loyal to their owners were used to go in and spy on the others during the war and bring back the information. After the civil war, African Americans (slaves) got emancipated but there were some problems with that. The thirteenth amendment is what set slaves free, this happened in 1865. While there was reconstruction, there were a few African Americans that held jobs within the government. There were also some that lived in the south, and they lived in extremely poor rural communities after the civil war. The slaves were happy to have their freedoms. Having their freedom, meant no more sexual assaults, being punished by whipping or beating, and no harsh forced work. Most African Americans celebrated this through public and private events. That was until a law came into a place known as the “black codes.” The rights to this were the right to marry, own their properties, and the right to sue in court. However, there were also illegal parts to this code that many didn’t appreciate. They couldn’t be a part of the jury, they could not testify against any whites or the right to serve in their state's military. The blacks had to sign contracts with white landowners in order to have labor. If they did not want to sign this contract or refused, they would either get arrested or removed from the job. The people that had to live in rural poverty places could not get their education. If they got denied education, ex-slaves were forced to rent land from previous slave owners, and they paid for rent by doing crops and sharing those portions with the landowner. In some places, the aftermath of the civil war resulted in some slaves gaining land but that didn’t last for long. The land got taken away from them by the troops and ended up giving it all back to the landowners. They tried to get their own land, but it was all unsuccessful. These were the biggest problems because although slavery had ended, the blacks were still treated badly, and whites still had control over them. Life was never fair to the blacks back then. The black churches became very important to the community and there were black ministers that were community leaders. They also eventually got an opportunity to get their education.

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How Slavery Became The Economic Engine. (2021, August 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
“How Slavery Became The Economic Engine.” Edubirdie, 09 Aug. 2021,
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