Slavery in 1619 (a Year Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1450 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Black Studies

Slavery

In 1619 (a year before the Mayflower landed in Massachusetts) more than 20 black people from Africa sailed into Chesapeake Bay in Virginia and were traded to the colony's authorities by their captain in exchange for supplies he needed for the ship. They are often thought to be the first slaves in North America, but actually, African people were working in St. Augustine, Florida in the early 1500s. These Spanish-speaking Africans built houses, shops, and other buildings, planted gardens, and fished. Some sold fish in the local market. Others were paid as drummers, fifers, and flag bearers in the local militia. They were typical of early black population, which were a mixture of enslaved and free.

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Forces worldwide, however, were combining to cause the emergence of a gigantic slave-trade industry. For one thing, Martin Luther rebelled against the Catholic Church for religious reasons and founded the Protestant movement. Eventually, the movement was known as the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Church was an economic force and politically powerful. Countries that remained Catholic (i.e. Spain, Portugal, and France) were in direct competition with Protestant countries (i.e. England and Holland) for control over foreign resources -- resources such as gold, silver, furs, fish, timber, tobacco, sugar and rice that would bring wealth to their countries. Financed by governments, each side raced to establish colonies in the New World. To settle the colonies and build industries required labor and this created the need for slaves to do the work.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Slavery in 1619 (a Year Before the Assignment

From 1600 to 1670, slave status varied in English colonies. This was also true in Dutch colonies like New Amsterdam (now New York). Some Afro-Dutch workers had "half-freedom," for instance. Others were freed by their former owners and owned land of their own. They were also allowed to use the courts to settle disputes. In Rhode Island, a law was passed to limit the length of involuntary servitude. Moreover, at first, slaves had some chance of gaining their freedom in North America because English Christians believed in enslaving only those people who were "heathens" (or non-Christians). Religious status was more important than race to the early English colonists. But the first shipload of Slaves who came directly from Africa arrived on the Hudson River in 1655. After that, the Protestant "mission" to convert non-Europeans to Christianity became less and less important, and gradually color became the significant factor in determining who was to be a slave. The "terrible transformation" had begun.

After 1670 English settlers from Barbados brought slaves to the Carolinas and with them came a legal code that led to institutionalized slavery. They also brought a social system that approved of enslaving black people. Slave trading became more and more profitable as the market for humans grew. As the colonies grew richer on the system, they could afford to buy more and more slaves. There was further incentive for this because settlers were given free land in the colonies if they would come and work it. For each slave, they got an extra parcel.

As this was happening, it became illegal for slaves to get out by way of Christian conversion. Once religion was removed as a factor, race determined who could be made a slave. Slaves were no longer "heathen people" but were now "black people," and their owners no longer called themselves "Christians" but were now "white people." It was only a small step to claiming that blacks should be enslaved. "Those who wrote the colonial laws not only moved to make slavery racial; they also made it hereditary" (Kelley & Lewis, 2000, p. 68). The law now said children of slave mothers were to be slaves forever.

Other repressive laws prohibited blacks from earning money. They were not allowed to go about freely or to gather in groups, go to school, marry whites, carry a gun, resist punishment, or go to court. In Virginia, all the various laws were condensed into a unified "Slave Code" in 1705. Soon other colonies did the same. These laws produced racism as an integral aspect of American society, and after 1700 racism was central to American culture. Thus the system, driven by profit, became acceptable to Christians and was supported by the law.

Africans did every kind of work imaginable, particularly if it was dirty or dangerous. They also brought skills with them from Africa that were put… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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