The development and institution of slavery in the United States began when the U.
S didn’t even exist. When British colonies where beginning to pop up all over North East America there was a very noticeable problem; too much land and not enough people to work it. In order to work the land as much as possible many wealthy British colonist would pay to have indentured servants come to the new world and in return the indentured servants would work for them for seven years for free. At this time the servant would become free, however many servants died or ran away therefore fewer and fewer Europeans wanted to come to the New World.
A very quick and very devastating solution to this was slave labor from Africa. The institution of slavery was supplied with slaves as people who where sentenced to it, kidnapped, and a vast majority where captured in war and put into slavery. Of all the slaves that where shipped into the New World one third would die on the way, and 90% of those would end up in countries like Brazil, Cuba, Barbados and Jamaica. In North America the first documented African American slaves arrived in 1640 in Jamestown, approximately 20, and where sold as indentured servants, but an event in the early 1640’s would change that when three indentured servants fled their master and where captured. The two whites had seven years added to their service but the African was enslaved for life.
As time goes on, the idea of Ethnocentrism begins to snowball until Africans are stripped of all human rights and become pieces of property. By 1700 most slaves are men, however some women begin to be brought over and self-sustaining supply of slaves begins to emerge. At this time the south begins to develop a Plantation Economy growing staple products such as tobacco, which increases slave labor. Slavery continues on, for almost 100 years, until the Constitution is drawn up in (date).
The Constitution, however, reduces democracy and will do more harm for slaves than good. In the years to come the Constitution goes through some major changes, one of these is the 3/5 compromise which counts all slaves as 3/5 of a person in regards to representation of specific states. In January of 1808 Congress bans the importation of Slavery, which is surprisingly tolerable for the South. Southern plantation owners know that slaves are now self-sustaining, however, whites exceed slaves in population in only some parts of the South.
All of America knows that slavery will become a reoccurring issue for the Nation but for now the 36 degrees, 30 minutes law states that the North is free of Slavery but the South can continue use of slaves. During this time Nationalism begins to waste away and Sectionalism begins to set in. In the 1840’s the South’s population consisted of a majority of poor whites and of course slaves. In this Paternalistic society a very small amount of the population, maybe 5%, where wealthy plantation owners. Those who where in power treated everyone below them as children, there was a mass delusion that the slave life was a good life for African Americans to live.
In the Southern plantation economy slaves where the backbone of every type of cultivation. In the Deep South there is a huge demand for slaves because cotton cultivation skyrockets, during this time living conditions for the slaves worsens and the slaves begin to resist actively and passively. Active resistance seems to be the best strategy but the risk and punishment is very high. The more common type of resistance is passive which was hidden and undetected. In passive resistance slaves would accidentally break tools, over salt food in the kitchen, and would use singing and dancing to convey hidden messages to other slaves.
This did not solve the problem though it only reinforced the premonition that slaves where stupid and clumsy. There are several incidents of active resistance, but the most frightening to Southern whites was the revolt of Nat Turner where men, women, and children where killed on a killing spree. The South becomes more and more a closed society because whites become increasingly paranoid over the fear of slave revolts. Whites try to rationalize the Institution of Slavery in many ways. There was the idea of Scientific Slavery, which said that slaves where closer to apes by measuring the shape of their heads to prove that they weren’t very knowledgeable.
Southerners also said that being one of their slaves was better than being a wage slave to Northern Factories because Southern slave owners would take care of their slaves into old age and sickness. Another rationalization was that all slaves where to be treated as children because they could not govern themselves properly. These same white southerners reacted very quickly to threats made against slavery such as seizing and destroying mail-promoting abolitionism. Southern mobs would beat up, and tar and feather any suspicious Northerners. The Gag Rule also came into play, which meant that between 1834 and 1836 no petitions dealing with slavery would be turned away by (?).
Stronger fugitive slave laws where also passed.Bibliography: