Abraham Lincoln described slavery as "the one retrograde institution in America," and told a delegation of black leaders in 1862 that "your race is suffering, in my judgment, the greatest wrong inflicted on any people." Slavery was a stain on American history and by far an unthinkable act that makes most people cringe. If you can imagine someone kicking in the door to your home, tying up yourself and your family, dragging them to a vehicle for transportation, and then sold to the highest bidder in some land you know nothing about. Even worse, your family was sold to another person whom, unbeknown to you, lives miles away. After being sold, you are forced into severe manual labor, being harshly punished for any miniscule mistake, with you existence as a slave ending when you either die, or are freed, the latter holding a very small probability. It is the horrible treatment, and the way the Africans were uprooted from their native land that is the base for why people feel reparations are needed. Others feel differently, viewing the enslavement of Africans as a horrible part of our past, however, those people feel that while the act and the way the Africans came to America was horrible, they benefited by eventually becoming American citizens, whether them or their ancestors, and living in the best Nation that ever existed. Regardless, the issue over reparations needs to be settled, whether through a compromise between those that are pro-reparations and those that are against it, or a passing of a bill that cannot be disputed and must be put into action.
Slavery enters human history with civilization. Hunter-gatherers and primitive farmers had no use for slaves, when all they do is grow enough food to supply their small group. When the method of hunters and gathers ceased to work with the growing population and decreasing lack of supplies, the human race began to evolve into people that would settle in a specific site to flourish as a civilization. Even that far back there was a form of slavery. Typically, war would have been the main source of slaves. When a town would fall to a hostile army, it would be normal to take into slavery those inhabitants who would make useful workers and then to liquidate the rest. In Greece, dating back to the sixth century B.C.E., both the leading states of Greece, Sparta and Athens, depend entirely upon forced labor. Although, the system in Sparta is more properly described as serfdom rather than slavery, the distinction is that the helots of Sparta are a conquered people, living on their own hereditary land but forced to work it for their Spartan masters. Their existence is a traditional rural one to which certain rights remain attached. The slaves of Athens, by contrast, have no conventional rights. But their condition varies greatly according to the work they do. The varying conditions depending on the work assigned is similar to the Africans, in which the living conditions could vary greatly depending if the slave was put in the fields or assigned to domestic duties. The most unfortunate Athenian slaves were the miners, who were often driven to the point of death by their owners. In Rome, in the first two centuries before the rise of their great empire, slaves were employed by Romans more widely than ever before and probably with greater brutality. In the mines they were whipped into continuing effort by overseers; in the fields they worked in chain gangs; in the public arenas they were forced to engage in terrifying combat as gladiators. The chain gangs, and the brutality that came with it, that Rome subjugated their slaves to was not seen again until the slaves on the tobacco and cotton plantations in the South of colonial America. It was the horrible treatment that Rome gave their slaves that lead to the famous revolt led by Spartacus. In the period after the collapse of the Roman Empire in the west, slavery continued in the countries...
Cited: 1. Huggins, Nathan. Black Odyssey. New York: Pantheon Books.
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3. "Introduction to Colonial African American Life." Colonial Williamsburg. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2011. Web. <http://www.history.org/almanack/people/african/aaintro.cfm>.
4. Horowitz, David. Uncivil Wars: The Controversy over Reparations for Slavery. San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2002.
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6. Eric Foner (December 30, 2007). "Forgotten Step Toward Freedom". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/30/opinion/30foner.html.
7. Paul Shepard (February 11, 2001). "U.S. slavery reparations: Hope that a race will be compensated gains momentum". Seattle Times. http://community.seatlletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20010211&slug=reparation11
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