Slave trade was a booming business in America before it was abolished in the eighteenth century. Many contemporary historians claim that the slave trade lasted for more than 2000 years. During the slavery period, people were illegally enslaved and transported under unkind conditions.
Slaves who were majorly obtained from the African continent were exchanged for goods on reaching the American and European continents. Slaves were forced to work in plantations, construction sites, and mining centres. The United States amended its constitution in 1865 in an attempt to abolish the slave trade.
However, the amendment only led to a decline in slavery. In some South American countries, domestic slave trade continued to boom. This essay elaborates the institution of slavery in South America with a view of providing a comprehensive discussion on the factors that pushed stakeholders to resist the termination of slavery and slave trade in South America.
Abolition of Slave Trade and Resistance in the South
Although the slavery business was significantly profitable to the slave masters, some opponents of the slave trade such as William Wilberforce of Britain and other antislavery activists tirelessly campaigned and fought for its abolition. Their efforts bore results after the Britain parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act that led to the end of the slave trade.
This situation pressured other participants of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade to abolish slavery and slave trade. North America, which was a major destination for slaves, also amended its constitution to enact laws that focused on abolishment of importation of slaves from the African continent. Nonetheless, some South American countries continued with slave trade irrespective of the laws that had been passed by other countries at the time.
Need to Sustain Workforce in Cotton and Rubber Plantations
The South American countries resisted the end of slavery due to several reasons. One of the most significant factors that led to resistance of termination of slave trade in the South American countries was the demand for labour force to work in cotton plantations. Both the price and demand for cotton were high. As a result, there was a need for additional labour force to produce more cotton (Oldfield, 2011).
Furthermore, slaves were required to work in vast plantations in the South to meet the rising demands for agricultural commodities. Slave labour was easily accessible. This situation led to enhanced convenience for the southerners who had established large cotton plantations.
However, the Southerners embarked on buying slaves from the northerners since they could no longer acquire slaves from the African continent. Elsewhere, other countries in the south such as Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia still demanded labourers to work in rubber plantations. This situation significantly contributed to resistance of terminating slave trade in the south (Murphy, 2010).
Nevertheless, most southerners benefited a lot from the domestic slave trade. For instance, several businesspersons had established thriving depots for selling slaves. After acquiring them from the north, they used to house them in warehouses to await potential buyers.
Consequently, domestic slave trade led to transportation of slaves from the northern states to the southern states. There were well-structured channels for transporting the slaves from the source and housing them as traders made arrangement to meet buyers. As a result, the merchants who owned such big slave businesses opposed the idea of ending slavery due to the enormous gains that they benefited from the slave business.
Booming Slave Business in the South
Although the abolishment of slave trade took place in many countries worldwide, domestic slave trade persisted in South America. The rising pressure of antislavery activists and enactment of laws to end slavery and slave trade did not take immediate effect amongst the southerners, as the slave business increased profits amongst the participants. Despite the enactment of laws to free slaves and end the slave business, slaves were not free to recollect their lives.
Instead, they lived in fear of being sold to the south to work in the cotton and rubber plantations (Walvin, 2000). Therefore, ending slave trade was much easier than ending slavery itself. Enormous efforts that were initiated by Wilberforce and his fellow opponents of slave trade from Britain did not bear fruits.
Owners of vast plantations, industries and other commercial businesses wanted the continual existence and expansion of slave businesses; hence, they needed to increase the number of labourers. Consequently, the northerners, who had ceased from the slave business and slavery, became the most convenient and available sources of slaves for the southerners (Walvin, 2000).
From the above analysis, it is evident that some American countries, especially in the south, were adamant towards the termination of slave trade. The need to sustain agricultural activities and mining necessitated the need to continue with the purchase of slaves to boost labour force.
Although slave trade was rejected based on moral grounds and the need to establish respect for humanity, the benefits of slave trade surpassed the need to stop slave business in the south. As a result, abolishment of slave trade became easier than ending slavery. The prevailing productivity in the agricultural and mining businesses forced most southerners to sustain cheap slave labour.
Murphy, A. (2010). American Slavery, Irish Freedom: Abolition, Immigrant Citizenship, and the Transatlantic Movement for Irish Repeal. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.
Oldfield, J. (2011). British Anti-slavery.
Walvin, J. (2000). Making the Black Atlantic: Britain and the African Diaspora. London: Cassel.