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Why New World Slavery Of The 16th To 19th Centuries Had Such A Profound And Lasting Effect Compared To Other Eras?

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In the 8th century, Arabs began taking slaves from Central and Eastern Africa and transporting them to the Middle East, India, and the Far East. Later, in the 15th century, Europeans began removing West Africans and moving them to the Americas and Europe through the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. Even though slavery was present in many eras like the Greeks, Romans, and even ancient civilizations, it had a huge effect on America as it lasted for a long time. Slavery in the 16th-19th centuries has a profound effect on the New World compared to other eras because slavery was connected with racism and slaves were needed for economic reasons in the New World.


Slavery was everlasting in the New World compared to other eras because slavery had a distinct connection with the race.


Slavery enters human history with civilization. Hunter-gatherers and primitive farmers had no use for a slave. They grew just enough food for themselves. One more pair of hands was one more mouth. There was no economic advantage in owning another human being. As people gathered in towns and cities, a surplus of food was created (due to the first Agricultural Revolution) which allowed for population growth and people to start specializing in certain skills. Only on a large farm or in a workshop is there a real benefit in a reliable source of cheap labor, costing no more than the minimum of food and lodging. These are the conditions for slavery. Every ancient civilization uses slaves and it proves easy to acquire them. War is the main source of supply, and wars are frequent and brutal in the early civilizations. When a town falls to a hostile army, it was normal to take some able-bodied inhabitants into slavery as they made useful workers. This is the main way civilizations, like the Babylons during the 18th century BC, acquired slaves. The Code of Hammurabi provides the punishment for slaves but also reveals that the system is not one of unmitigated brutality. In fact, Babylonian slaves were allowed to own property. During the 7th century BC in Rome, Slaves were more properly described as serfdom. Their existence is that of a traditional rural one to which certain rights remain attached. (Slavery in Babylon)


When Columbus discovered the New World, it opened up the Age of Exploration to European countries. The Europeans countries went to utilize the New World for different purposes. The British wanted to grow raw materials like sugar, tobacco, indigo, etc, and the Spanish wanted to look for riches in the New World, and the Portuguese wanted to establish new trade routes. (European Exploration)


In the New World, as more and more colonists survival brought population growth. Planters and colonists soon realized that they didn’t have enough people to keep up with the demand of the mother country. At first, colonists used Native Americans, but the Native Americans died in mass numbers. Colonists then decided to utilize Africans as indentured servants. Thus, Africans were imported and were given a contract stating they are obliged to work for a master for a certain amount of time and after that period is done, they will receive rewards like land and they were free. As more Africans were imported and the colonist’s population increased, the demand for land was great. The land became more scarce and further removed due to the need for access to roads and water transportation, both vital for agricultural commerce. The emerging planter class of colonists who had succeeded in accumulating scarce land and money shared fewer interests with newly arrived immigrants, developing an underlying hatred for them. As indentured servants’ labor period ended, they demanded land but the colonists and planters realized it was too costly to pay all indentured servants and they needed a new form of labor. As a solution, planters and colonists decided on importing Africans for cheap labor. The Africans would be life sentenced to labor and couldn’t be free, like indentured servants. (The Slave Trade)


After establishing that African slaves could be used as an import for cheap labor, white supremacy started to flourish. The whites both verbally and physically implied that the African Americans didn’t belong there and were below them. (Bacon’s Rebellion)


The tension between the two grew as decades passed and in 1676, a conflict arises, Bacon’s Rebellion. Initially, a conflict between William Berkeley, the governor of Virginia, and Nathaniel Bacon, a wealthy settler in the Virginia upcountry, was overland but as the rebellion continued, it sparked concerns about class and race. The short-lived rebellion showed the coalition between poor whites, African slaves and freedmen in Bacon’s rebellion and it produced a larger concern that such a coalition might remain a continuing source for further revolts and class uprisings. (Slave Treatment)


After the years following Bacon’s Rebellion, the distinction between indentured servitude and slavery grew into a pronounced difference. Indentured Servants became less attractive as a source of labor because servants now lived long enough to claim land – as the rebellion had demonstrated violently – and improved economic conditions in Britain reduced the supply of workers willing to come to America and increase the price of their contracts [1]. Africans continued to be readily available, and since most of them didn’t convert to Christianity, they could be enslaved and controlled while indentured servants could not. For example, Virginia passed a series of laws, constituting a formal slave code that removed almost all the rights given to slaves and added restrictions to their lives. Thus, slaves became Virginia’s primary workforce in its plantations, and slavery, an integral institution within its society. Before the emergence of slaves in the New World, people’s appearance and origins had not mattered as much before socially, particularly among the working class since the ethnic diversity was low. But as rebellions and laws were enacted, it created a rift and a mindset that all African Americans are below the color white and they are to be chained and do our labor. (Slavery in Brazil)

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Slavery in Portugal was different because they were not only mistreated, raped, and beaten, but an intermixing of the Portuguese with the Africans ended up creating a fourth ethnicity. The mixing of the races contributed to the rich cultural diversity that Brazil still today exemplifies. (Cartoon Depicting White Supremacy)


The physical distinctiveness of African slaves not only marked their newly created subordinate position but it became the justification and reason for that position [1]. Because of this, people had an innate belief that African Americans were inferior to Whites which was backed up by white supremacy. ‘Race,’ explained why Africans were slaves, while the degradation that slaves received supplied the evidence for their inferiority [1]. (Slavery in the Roman Empire)

Compared to other eras, slavery took a stronghold in the Americas because there, they based slavery off of the color of one’s skin. In other eras of history, this was not the case, for example, the Greeks and Romans didn’t care who did the labor and nobody took notice of the color of the skin of each race that worked. In those empires, the race was diverse since the Greeks and Romans would constantly go into war to gain slaves and war prisoners. In America race has taken up a great aspect of slavery, and has caused it to be prevalent for many centuries.


Slavery in the Americas had a profound and lasting impact compared to other eras because slaves were heavily utilized for economic purposes.


In South America, Portugal utilized slaves for labor so that they could establish trade routes, create many raw materials and manufacture large numbers of goods to boost their economy. Once the slaves started to become a huge staple of Portugal’s imports, they were mainly assigned to sugar plantations to harvest molasses. Slaves were treated as objects without any care for their emotions due to the role of slaves in terms of their economic status in Portugal’s colonies. (Slavery in Brazil)


After the American Revolution, Americans started relying on cotton as their staple export crop. From 1801 to 1862, the amount of cotton picked daily by an enslaved person increased by 400 percent. The profits from cotton propelled the US into a position as one of the leading economies in the world and made the South its most prosperous region. The ownership of enslaved people increased wealth for Southern planters so much that by the dawn of the Civil War, the Mississippi River Valley had more millionaires per capita than any other region [4]. Because the reliance on labor increased tremendously, the economy of America was boosted.

Due to the increased demand for raw materials such as cotton, American’s created a complex system aimed at monetizing and maximizing the labor of the enslaved. In the South, this is used as a record-keeping system. The labor of each person was tracked daily, and those who did not meet their assigned picking goals were beaten. The best workers were beaten as well, the whip and other assaults coercing them into doing even more work in even less time. As overseers and plantation owners managed a forced-labor system aimed at maximizing efficiency, they interacted with a network of bankers and accountants, all to manage America’s empire of cotton. An entire industry, America’s first big business, revolved around slavery. Slavery was used as a way to boost the economy of any state.


The reason why slavery wasn’t outlawed in the world until the mid 19th century is because the exploiting of cheap labor of African Americans, global superpowers were able to increase their economy greatly. In other eras, slavery was kept in control and it ended when the global superpower died off. For example, when the Roman Empire collapsed, the slaves and war prisoners were set free because they weren’t tied to a master anymore. But without the help of the slaves, the Roman Empire couldn’t have flourished. In the Americas, slavery became more and more prevalent and countries such as America became superpowers. Slavery lasted for so long because it has gained complete root in the Americas and it takes a lot of effort to root the weed out. Slaves in previous eras like the early 8th century BC were utilized for economic purposes as well, for example, in the Roman Empire, slaves were utilized to build roads and aqueducts. Some Romans believed that masters would get more work out of slaves if they treated them well. They would pay a small allowance into a fund for their slaves. When there was enough money in the fund the slaves could buy their freedom. As the owner could stop paying the money into the fund if the slave misbehaved, this system was a good way of achieving complete obedience. Also, the owner could arrange that slaves would only have enough money to buy their freedom when they were too old to work. The man could then use the money to buy a new young slave while the old slave, unable to work, would be forced to rely on charity to stay alive. Since slaves were treated nicely and utilized in smaller numbers compared to that of the Americas, it had a positive effect during that era with a limited amount of slaves. In the Americas, since white supremacy flourished, slaves were treated horribly and imported in mass numbers. This increased the tension between Black and Whites but also made slavery almost impossible to eradicate due to the number of slaves in the Americas.


Slavery in previous eras didn’t have a profound effect as New World slavery because slavery wasn’t connected to race and slavery in the Americas was exploited to help boost and economy of the country. Slavery’s long legal existence created the American caste system that endures today, one that maintains a false white superiority and black inferiority built on an unfair education system, unfair employment system and social institutions that support this notion while appropriating black language, music, and fashion.

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Why New World Slavery Of The 16th To 19th Centuries Had Such A Profound And Lasting Effect Compared To Other Eras? (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 6, 2022, from
“Why New World Slavery Of The 16th To 19th Centuries Had Such A Profound And Lasting Effect Compared To Other Eras?” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
Why New World Slavery Of The 16th To 19th Centuries Had Such A Profound And Lasting Effect Compared To Other Eras? [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 6 Dec. 2022].
Why New World Slavery Of The 16th To 19th Centuries Had Such A Profound And Lasting Effect Compared To Other Eras? [Internet] Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2022 Dec 6]. Available from:
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