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Slavery in America during the 1800's
During the 1800's, America and particularly the Northern part had several challenges. The land was vast, there was a severe shortage of labor, and the work was harsh. Therefore, Men and women were required to provide the much-needed energy. African slaves provided a solution to the problem being most economical on large farms where labor-intensive cash crops could be grown. Through a well outlined criterion, this paper will set out the role of slavery in shaping the American History. It will also look into slavery and explain the arguments put into place in justifying slavery and how the slaves reacted as a means of resistance. In addition, it will explain the action by Congress in guaranteeing equal rights for slaves and in their treatment as American citizens.
Slavery had proven unprofitable through the end of the American Revolution. In the South, they became less useful as they saw a fluctuation of tobacco prices and to a sudden fall in prices (Faust). However, the invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney made it possible for textile mills to use the type of Cotton that was easily grown in the South. As a result, tobacco was replaced by cotton and once again slavery became profitable. With the increased benefits of slavery, the Southerners ignored the moral and constitutional issues it raised and wholly embraced the institution. They argued that slavery was a benevolent type of system through which they were clothed and fed and most importantly, occupied.
Slaves typically received different forms of treatment. The treatment ranged from mild to extreme cruelty and sadistic. Family units would be dismantled with the mother, father, and children being sold away separately. Punishment through whipping was standard, and they had no legal channels of being in a position to protest the harsh treatment. As a result, Southerners feared that the slaves would cause open rebellion but this was rare. However, they would organize slowdowns, commit arson and murder, feign illnesses and sabotage farm machinery. The slaves would also run away for short periods as a way of resisting the cruelty of their masters.
The Civil War brought a new turn of events to the American nation. Initially, the war was a struggle to preserve the Union and not as an effort to free the slaves. However, a majority of the people in the North and the South believed that the conflict would decide both issues (Bowman). A majority of the slaves escaped towards the North during the early period of the war. The escapees enlisted to fight in the war on both the Union and the Confederate side serving in the navy and support positions. However, even after the slaves were freed and enlisted in the army, they never received equal treatment. They never received equal pay nor did they receive clothing deduction. Those that were captured by Confederates received harsh treatment than the white prisoners of war.
The Congress made efforts to ensure that the slaves enjoyed all the rights of an American Citizen. It passed laws that permitted the seizure of slaves from the property of rebellious Southerners. In 1862, President Lincoln presented the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. The document decreed that all slaves who would be in rebellion one hundred days after September the 22nd would be free thenceforward and forever. Lincoln also established an institution where blacks would join the United States Army and promised them an unprecedented level of integration. After the end of the Civil War, the American government adopted the 13th Amendment to the Constitution on December 6, 1985. The amendment outlawed any form or practices of slavery in the nation. Congressional work helped slaves a great deal, and the African-Americans began being viewed as normal people. However, they did not gain equal status among the whites but the laid out laws by the Congress was a good place to start.
With the above illustrations and explanations, it is quite clear that the issue of slavery is important in the Historical books of the United States. It rotates around the issues of freedom and liberty to every American citizen. Slavery and freedom form a very close link and has been incorporated in the Historical Books of the American history. Despite the substantial advocacy of slavery in the 1800’s, through congressional efforts, the inhumane slavery institution came to a standstill.
Bowman, John S. Encyclopedia of the Civil War. Dorset , 1992.
Faust, Patricia L. Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War. HarperCollins, 1991.