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Enslaved and Free Africans in the First World WarResearch Paper

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¶ … Contact to the Civil War

Explain the background of how slavery developed in the New World from less-severe forms of servitude into a permanent slave class based on race

The Origins of American Slavery

Slavery had already been established in the Americas by the 1600s. Slavery wasn't new, though. The roots of slavery can be traced back to the most ancient civilizations of the world. There were different forms of slavery throughout the history of the world. Some societies had slaves working as just domestic servants in households that were wealthy. Some worked in the fields and mines. Most people found themselves in slavery after being captured in battles or when they were sold off in payment of debts. Some of the slaves were treated respectfully and others could have property in their names. Most of their children were set free. But with the coming of sugar plantations, slavery started changing (Beginnings of Slavery in America, n.d.).

After the founding of the colonies in the Americas by the Portuguese and Spanish, the plantation system was introduced. Africans were enslaved to provide labor for four main reasons. First, their bodies were immune to a majority of European illnesses. Second, they lacked family ties in the Americas that could assist them in the resistance against slavery. Third, those in slavery gave permanent and cheap labor. Even the children of the Africans could be held in slavery. Fourth, they had experience working in farms (Beginnings of Slavery in America, n.d.).

Slavery in the Americas

On arriving at the colonies, the slaves would be auctioned. Some of them were taken to wealthy homes where they served as servants. Most of them were forced into hard labor in mines and haciendas. Their housing and feeding was quite poor. Many of them waged resistance and ran away. The maroons established communities across New Spain and Peru with the natives. Some of the slaves staged rebellions. In efforts to curb rebellion, the government of Spain passed laws governing slaves. Some of the laws softened the harsh working conditions the slaves endured, but a majority were structured to punish them and ensure they stayed in bondage. With time, among the Europeans, slavery came to be associated with the black Africans. Dark skin was considered a sign of inferiority by the Europeans (Beginnings of Slavery in America, n.d). Slavery that had come up to provide labor had degenerated into racism. Racists believe that other people are inferior to them because of their skin color. Slave trade took place between the 1500s and mid-1800s, a span of approximately 400 years. The contact between Americas and Africa brought with it the Columbian exchange. The Africans were vastly knowledgeable about animals and farming. Conversely, American crops like peanuts, chillies and sweet potatoes were taken to Africa. The enslaved Africans also had in them a strong heritage in music, dance and storytelling. Slavery brought individuals from around Africa of different cultures . The slavery experience established a culture in the Americas that was Africa-based. By the 1700s, all American colonies under European nations had slaves from Africa. (Beginnings of Slavery in America, n.d.).

Explain the principal manner in which the survival of African-Americans from colonial through Civil War times is inextricably rooted in West African traditions. Support your response with at least two aspects of African Culture that had survived and manifested themselves in daily lives of both free and enslaved African-Americans

The African slaves' transportation to the New World from a colonial period to antebellum times had great effect in the founding of a distinctive culture of African-Americans and the formulation of North America's dominant American culture. Cultural characteristics of Africans that they came with have influenced the American culture in music, folk crafts, architecture and dance (Draper. 2000).

African-American Elders, Cultural Traditions, and the Family Reunion

There is a bigger meaning to the family reunions of the African-Americans than the food and fun. The gatherings serve to reinforce positive patterns for the coming generations and preserve the past. Family reunions have been key in the health, endurance and health of families of African-Americans and helped maintain their cultural heritage through the tumultuous times (McCoy, 2011).

The family institution has been the foundation of the culture of African-Americans from way back in the periods of slavery and racial discrimination. One of the most inhumane aspects of slavery was the effort to distort the family unit. The efforts were not as successful, luckily. The family institution played a role in ensuring that African-Americans overcame slavery (McCoy, 2011).

African-American Nationalism

Initially, the African-American ancestors had resisted slavery in Africa without systematic organization. This resistance culture continued after the slavery and colonization in the U.S. The black movement grew as a cultural, ideological, political and intellectual opposition to the American colonialism and apartheid that denied the African-Americans historical and cultural space and independent development. African-American ancestors in both groups and individual capacity resisted slavery in Africa and fought about the vice in ships and later on in the plantations. Some ran away from the plantations while others remained to put forth armed resistance (JALATA, 2002).

Investigate at least two events between 1619 -1860 that demonstrate the ability of enslaved and free African -Americans to overcome the legal limitations on their claims to dignity and self-respect. Provide your rationale for selecting the two events in question.

African-Americans influenced North America for 250 years through the struggle to be set free that was aimed at restoration of their freedom and them retaining their identity as Africans. This indicates that in spite of the firm controls that had been imposed by the masters with the support given by the existing institutions, they were unable to control the spirit and minds of the African-Americans. This period saw the development of African-American peoplehood in various regions in the country (JALATA, 2002).

Building of Institutions

African-Americas did not accept slavery and its ideologies and continued to put resistance to it. Further, a number of former slaves with the support of some whites who were against slavery (see Roediger, 1991) struggled relentlessly to ensure the liberation of African-Americans from slavery. They also put forth a fight for the elimination of racial segregation in the institutions and buildings. All these resistance efforts led to the establishment of a solid social foundation which gave birth to cultural memory as well as popular consciousness for history. These facilitated the development of African-American nationalism. The segregated freed African-Americans in the North in urban areas established independent fraternal and self-help associations, schools, churches, media, cultural centers and small businesses (JALATA, 2002).

Gaining Dignity through writing books

The African-Americans of the Antebellum age wrote many books, newspapers, journals and magazines which helped establish black cultural memory as well as historical consciousness. These activists and scholars, even though they were putting up a fight against racial segregation and slavery, attempted capturing the past experience of African culture intellectually, evaluated the positive and the negative experiences of African-Americans in the New World, and rejected racist elements of American culture. By reconnecting the African-Americans to their past and showing the other African civilizations to the rest of the world, the activists rejected White supremacy as well as historical propositions that were Eurocentric and made claims that the Blacks were primitive, backward, pagans and inferior to the Whites intellectually (JALATA, 2002).

Examine the manner in which the two chosen events showcase the ability of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence to live up to their promises. Include specific examples from both documents that reinforce your argument.

Building of Institutions and promise of U.S. Constitution

Part 1 of "To Secure These Rights" details how the U.S.A. Was founded to ensure the security of the American people's natural rights. Thomas Jefferson proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that governments are established to secure the natural rights of citizens. The security of the natural rights is therefore the reason for the enactment of the constitution. This is to say that the original intention of the founders was actually this. A strong and independent judiciary is listed as a fundamental right in the U.S. Constitution. The judiciary ought to preserve the right of the people and interpret laws in an impartial manner. The judges should discharge their mandate in impartial, free and independent manner. They should be honorable and should only remain in office for as long as they uphold the integrity of the judicial courts (Gaber, 2014).

Gaining Dignity through writing books and promise of U.S. Constitution

Thomas Jefferson drew inspiration from the then prevailing individual rights political theory as he was writing the Declaration in 1776 (notably, the theories of John Locke, a theorist of British descent). Lincoln condemned slavery later on in the 1850s and 1860s on grounds of individual rights. Lincoln asserted that even the slaves were people and should have freedom as this was a right granted to them by the constitution. In his speech "I have a Dream," King proclaimed in 1963 that he dreamed that his… [END OF PREVIEW]

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