Slavery has been in the United States early as 1619. Slaves were brought to America for one thing and one thing only, money. Tobacco took a great amount of work to harvest, but with the slaves help it all got completed. Slaves cost at least three more times than a regular servant for the reason that slavery was their life, it was their job. Regular servants finished their ‘slavery’ time in about 4 years. Slavery really got across the whole country as time passed, and in 1670 the crop, tobacco, took over the nation.
In fact, slavery didn’t really come into play in the laws until the 1660s. In the early 1680s Virginia wanted to alter what a slave was, earlier defined by the House of Burgess. The Europeans saw African Americans as human beings, but their actions towards them did not say the same. Slaves that used to be put to work while on the ships did not appreciate it at all. Almost 15% of the slaves on the ship die on their way to a destination due to no food or by just being sick. The ship was so small sometimes that the slaves had to be on top of each other.
The owners of the ships tried to get as many slaves on the ships as possible so when they got to their destination they would sell the excess slaves. Since Africa had so many in it, that was the usual target to get slaves and bring them back to the land. By the early 1700s African Americans took over one fifth of the population in America. With the large number of slaves being introduced into the colonies they had a great impact on the economy and in reshaping the population as a whole. The Africans brought their expertise of travel, planting and hunting to the new world.
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The African dugout canoe became the chief means of transportation in the colonies. This expertise from the Africans contributed greatly to the prosperity of South Carolina. Many slaves had their own gardens that they could tend to when they were not working. On Sundays slave holders usually gave the slaves the day off as the day of the Sabbath. It was on this day most slaves would tend to their garden, hunt, or fish. The slaves who were experienced could often complete their tasks in the early afternoon.
With the growing rate of slavery, many slaves contemplated the idea of running away to try and gain their freedom. In 1693 Florida, which at that point was still part of Spain, granted the runaways that freedom stating if the runaways would convert to Catholicism they would be granted freedom. Since South Carolina was so close to Florida many slaves ran away and took advantage of this offer. In 1708 enslaved Indians composed as much as fourteen percent of South Carolina’s population. Why not more? Why did the colonists need to bring Africans over to the Americas when so many Indians already here?
Indians posed a difficulty. Indians by and large remained free because they resisted and were difficult to control. Indians who were slaves were able to escape and not be caught, for unlike the Africans and the landowners, Indians could escape into the countryside, which they new intimately. Slavery was brutal; whipping occurred frequently and usually occurred in a public setting as an example to others. The work was backbreaking and conditions were not less than ideal. In 1712 the blacks had a rebellion in New York City, which lasted only one evening.
But in 1739 in South Carolina the Stono Rebellion lasted several days. In both incidents many blacks lost their lives. The hopes of setting captured blacks free didn’t happen. In 1731 a law was put on the books prohibiting Africans from owning or possessing a gun and also fined owners for letting slaves wander at night alone. Running away, work resistance and revolution became the most common form of African resistance to slavery and helped to build a bond in the community as a whole. Slavery in the early colonies turned from Africans being able to earn their freedom to being treated brutally.
Without the expertise from the Africans, the early American colonies would not have flourished as they did. Escaping slavery – the central form of labor both in the North and the South for several centuries – became the main aim for the African Americans of the time. Later, with the times of the Revolution the concept of the full citizenship was born in the minds of those who fought for freedom. The first goal – the abolition of slavery - was officially ratified in 1863, while the second – the granting of the citizenship - was documented only five years later.
In reality, the fight for the real freedom and equality had just begun. The end of Reconstruction in 1877 signified the return to the inequality and racial prejudice, making basis for the later emergence of the Civil Rights Movement that signified further notion of freedom for the African Americans. The fight for slavery abolition resulted in the emancipation of the huge portion of the American inhabitants and the change of attitude to humans that are all “born free and equal”, according to the basic principles of the U.
S. Constitution. The abolition of slavery was a dream for the African Americans that were brought to the America as slaves or born into it for many generations. Slavery in the United States was forced by enormous economic challenges, backed by country official legislation and the connivance of the church. The United States were destined to realize the meaning and the price of freedom largely due to the African Americans’ active fight for their basic human and civil rights.
Thousands of people were depleted of their basic freedoms and dignity due to the difference in color and status. The change of this status that officially began in the late nineteenth century, lead not only to the transformation of the perception of the equality and freedom of the African Americans – it has forced a change in attitude to women’s rights, leading to women suffrage and further emancipation, making strong basis for the further acknowledgement of gender, racial, disability and sexual orientation equalities.
Ever since the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude”1, the African Americans fight for the rights gave a chance to the real, unconditional freedom in the land of the free. This goal lead to further development of the civil rights movement, resulting in the acknowledgement of the document that would enable more equality despite gender, race, color, disability or religious belief.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 that extended voting rights and outlawed racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and in public accommodations, was another victory of the African American ancestors that fought for freedom back in the nineteenth century. It would be wrong to claim the fight for the equality is over, because even almost half a century later, practical issues of discrimination remain, although these cases are incomparably fewer than back into the times of the formation of the United States.
The civil rights movement achieved impressive results in the fight for equality and it is important to study the African American History as it apparently constituted an impressive part of the history of the United States, starting from the early colonial days to the current events. The African American History has also formed the basic principles of the human coexistence within the country, creating the key laws on human rights and freedoms of the United States of America, which will surely determine the future of the nation.
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