American Slavery

Topics: Slavery, Atlantic slave trade, Caribbean Pages: 5 (1947 words) Published: September 20, 2013
Name: Nell Mooney

Student No: 14872628

Essay Question: Give and explain three reasons why African slaves were brought to North America before American independence in 1776?

Word Count: 1630

Depleted land in Barbados forced planters and slaves to establish new sugar plantations in the southern states of North America. With this move came the discovery of an untouched and fertile continent ripe for colonisation. European nations raced to secure a piece of the new world. This new land provided an opportunity to strengthen the economy of the European nations thereby giving them the means to protect their empires. Initially slaves were required to fulfil the labour demand of setting up colonies in North America. This included building family farms and plantations. Once colonies in North America became well established the colonists began to diversify their crops. This increased the need for labour encouraging the Atlantic slave trade to prosper. The number of slaves required could only be met from Africa. No other continent was as easily accessible or offered such a robust race of people to cope with slavery. Europeans establised a strong economy by trading African slaves across the Atlantic to North America. Slavery was a self-perpetuating industry until the declaration of independence was written. The declaration forced the states to re-examine their ideas about freedom and what they wanted freedom to look like in their new nation.

Labour was a driving force in bringing such large numbers of African slaves to North America. The first colonists required a large amount of labour to create family farms1. This included clearing land, building barns, houses and fences, planting crops and raising herds of livestock. Once the family farms were established they became less demanding on time. The settlers used their newfound free time to experiment with new crops. The need for more slaves grew as the settlers diversified their production activities2. In the Chesapeake tobacco was the primary crop grown for export to Europe. When war in Europe and low prices slowed the demand for tobacco the colonists turned to wheat and rye to maintain their trading economy. Local trading between colonies was also started as a result of the growing range of goods and produce coming from each state34. Sugar was the initial produce to come from the southern states. As the African slaves showed their prowess for cultivating rice it replaced the supply of sugar5. There was more variety in the use of slaves in the middle colonies. As well as clearing land and working on farms some slaves were put to use in construction, maintenance of public buildings and forts11p423.

Pre-American slavery had a different priority. Slaves in the Ottoman empire were used for the day to day running of households or as concubines to provide legitimate heirs9, 10. Some slaves would be taught the appropriate cultural skills for their intended location. This might include such things as Jewish dietary laws, singing, dancing and new languages. In the Ottoman Empire the demanding physical labour was carried out by tenants rather than slaves. Tenants would pay a percentage of their profit to their master9. Slaves in the Ottoman Empire were more commonly captured during raids or campaigns10. Religion provided some motivation for taking slaves in the Ottoman Empire as a means for gathering more followers. The intention was either to convert them or punish them for their sins if they would not convert. Conversion did not necessarily result in freedom. However a converted slave could now marry someone of the same religion giving them a slight rise in status10. Jews and Muslims maintained similar structures in that Slave could freed after a set period of time – usually one or two years. A slave might also be able buy their freedom if they could produce the original amount they were purchased for10. None of these ideals prevailed in North America. Instead the...

Bibliography: 9 Journal. Baker, H. D. (2001). Degrees of freedom: Slavery in mid-first millennium BC Babylonia. World Archaeology, 33(1), 18-26.
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3. Davis, D. B. (1984). Slavery and human progress. New York: Oxford University Press.
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11 Journal. De Jong, G. F. (1971). The Dutch reformed church and negro slavery in colonial America. Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture, 40(4), 423-436. doi:10.2307/3163567
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6. Foner, L., & Genovese, E. D. (1969). Slavery in the new world: A reader in comparative history. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall.
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1. Innes, S., & Institute of Early American History and Culture (Williamsburg, Va.). (1988). Work and labor in early America. Chapel Hill: Published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture by the University of North Carolina Press.
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8. Northrup, D. (1994). The Atlantic slave trade. Lexington, Mass: D.C. Heath.
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