There were many aspects that contributed to the abolition for both the Roma and African Americans. While each group was enslaved for hundreds of years, the Roma were enslaved much longer than the African Americans before the idea of abolition arose. The difference in time was affected by the motives for enslavement, the identities of the abolitionists, and the outside influences of society on abolition. Roma and African Americans were freed for similar reasons, such as morality, economics, and politics, and experienced impoverished lifestyles as outcasts in society when freed; however, unlike the Roma, African Americans participated in their abolition with more support from society and received more reparation from the government afterwards.
The primary concerns that led to abolition are the realizations of slavery being immoral and of the existence of freedom. In other words, someone, anyone who can speak against slavery, has to question the morality behind slavery before any progress can be made toward abolition. Roma were enslaved for centuries before the morality of slavery was questioned by the government. Although researchers do not have an exact date for when the Roma were officially enslaved in the Balkans, they have estimated it to be around the 1420’s. After at least four hundred years of enslaving the Romani people, Paval D. Kiselev, an appointed Russian governor of Wallachia and Moldavia, clearly expressed his disdain for the practice of slavery. Sadly, when his opinion was publicized, Romani slaves had grown too anxious at the thought of emancipation and tried to ensure their freedom by bribing him. These slaves, being gold-washers, had supposedly stolen gold while working to provide enough for the bribe. Their actions led to further restriction and wiped away any chance of emancipation.1 As for the United States, African American serfdom gradually evolved into slavery no later than the 1640’s. There was an unsettling opposition between colonists regarding slavery ever since the American Revolution in the 1770’s. Even though the idea was never fully accepted, the major abolition movement did not start until the 1830’s, when debate arose about slavery’s legality in the expanding western territory. Nonetheless, the majority of the North acknowledged the cruelty behind slavery and argued that it defied the principle of freedom in the Constitution.2 If morality was an issue for both the United States and Moldavia and Wallachia, why did it take the principalities centuries longer than the United States to question slavery? Furthermore, why would any culture hesitate to protest against their oppression? When discussing the moral realization of the oppressors, the Roma were enslaved in Wallachia and Moldavia when each principality desperately needed economic support. First, the principalities had their resources exhausted by the Crusades and needed a vast working class to tend to their agricultural needs. Although the situation started as serfdom, they simply couldn’t afford for the Roma to leave and had to coerce them to stay by enslaving them. As time progressed, the “status of Romanian Gypsy slaves centered around the boyars’ total dependency on their talents” (Crow, 2007; 111).3 The oppressors kept the Roma enslaved for the sake of business and were distracted from the immorality of slavery by the importance of money. Furthermore, prior to the Russians, the Ottoman Turks had been ruling over these Balkan societies. The Ottomans were indifferent toward the Roma’s enslavement due to their non-Islamic religion.1 Thus, the Ottomans saw the Roma’s enslavement as justifiable according to their beliefs and necessary for the demanding work force. Unlike the Roma, the African Americans remained enslaved partly because of their race. For hundreds of years, white supremacist beliefs encouraged dogmatic views that people with darker skin color were mentally and physically inferior to white people. People...
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