In one form or another slavery had been existing in any part of the world. There is hardly a nation that has managed to avoid this terrible form of a social development. The United States of America from the very beginning appeared as a slave-owning state. Slavery was the integrated part of the American style of life.
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The American slavery was not similar with the ancient one. It has been shaping under the circumstances of capitalism and it has reflected its peculiarities in the agricultural economy of North America. Because of the undeveloped employment market, American plantation owners had to use the work of slaves. However, this usage of the slave labor made its impact on the plantation bourgeoisie that was transformed into separate social class. The class in which the typical characteristics of the capitalists and the slaveholders were combined.
The USA, which was the first independent country in the New World, had appeared as a result of the revolutionary war of the North American colonies for their independence. However, in spite of all the proclaimed slogans about the equality of all people, the first and the second American revolutions did not abolish the slavery of the black people.
During the initial period of its history, the USA was dependent on the Great Britain. The expansion of the New World was realized by private actors under the protection of the English Monarch. Among these actors, there may be distinguished three main groups. There were the joint stock companies which were searching for profits, markets and the sources of the raw materials. The Protestants, who were eager to bring to life on the new land their religious and ethical principles, were the second group. There were also aristocrats, who were hankering for the vast feudal ownerships.
America had endless land spaces, and from the very beginning of the English colonization there existed real conditions for the agricultural development.
Appearance of the African slaves in the British colonies of the North America was stipulated by the necessity of the solution of the problem of the labor power (Taylor para.54). The possibility of purchasing of ownership of the land property had promoted transformation of the colonists into the small holding landowners. Under the circumstances of the colonization, there was the complete dependence of a laborer on his employer. By means of compulsory measures, the institution of slavery was established as the only and natural basis of the colonial wealth.
In the North American colonies, the emergency of slavery took place simultaneously with the appearance of the first settlements. From the very beginning it was not always the slaves delivered from Africa (“Slavery in the United States.” para.15). The color of skin was of no importance, because before the implementation of the African slave owning the labor of the Indians and the white people had also been used.
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Colonies quickly developed aiming to obtain the economic and political independence. At the same time, the metropolitan country considered them to be no more than a source of the raw materials and huge revenues. By the eighteen century, there were thirteen separated states. Population of the colonies counted more than 1.5 million people. The colonies were ruled by the governors appointed by the English king. The British government did not pay much attention to the needs of the colonists and did not confer them any rights.
The self-seeking police of the British government, their attempts to force into application the large landholding, the arbitrariness of the governors and the civil servants –all these factors caused the dissatisfaction of the English settlers. The tension in relationships between the English authorities gave birth the armed conflict. In such a way, the first war of the North American colonies for the independence began. It had absolved the colonies from the power of the king and implemented the republican system.
Further, based on the social and state structure there was adopted the Constitution of the 1787. At the same time, the Constitution legalized the institution of slavery and strengthened its positions in the newly formed state. Later on, in accordance with this Constitution the legislative bodies of different states had adopted numerous acts consolidating slavery in the USA.
During the first American Revolution, slavery was prohibited in the northern state. Many American democrats hoped that the slavery would be soon abolished in the southern states to. These hopes were connected with the increasing inexpedience of the slavery. Nevertheless, economic changes of the 18th century doomed their hopes to failure.
The rampant development of the industrial revolution in England caused high demand for the cotton wool. The invention of the ginning machine in the USA increased in a great manner productivity and profitableness of slavery system. In the first quarter of the 19th century due to the rapid development of the weaving factories in the USA, the institution of slavery obtained one more reason for its reinforcement.
This time there was the whole row of the authoritative slavery advocates. One of the most popular among them was John Calhoun. He argued that slavery was the fundamental principle of the economic development and the wealth of the country and its abolition would cause the apocalypse (“John C. Calhoun.” para.5). That was why all the debates concerning the nature of slavery were senseless. No matter whether it was good or bad – the institution of the slavery had to be protected. His views were widely distributed in the northern as well as in the southern states.
Another typical representative of the slavery system approval was George Fitzhugh. He asserted that the Negro slave had better life than a white wage laborer, and it was reasonable to enslave all the laborers regardless of their race (George 352). For him it was obvious that people were not equal since their birth and the idea of the equality was not only mistaken but also immoral.
The views of these prominent adherents of the slavery had found their reflection in the works of William Simms, Josiah Nott, Samuel Cartwright and others. The general principle of all these public figures was the idea of the white supremacy.
In such a way, there was a specific situation in the USA. The slavery existed in the country, which was developing in accordance with the capitalistic pattern. In the country where slogans of freedom, human dignity and civil rights were proclaimed. That was why the slavery existed in the USA in such a few ever seen in the history of the humanity form.
In their attempts to find the cheap source of the labor force, the colonial authorities used different methods. From the very beginning, one of the most popular way of the enslavement was the sale of the captured indigenous inhabitants or the abduction. Though the slave labor of the Indians had played definite role in the economic development of the colonies, the attempts of colonists to use them, as slaves were futureless (Lewis 155).They were too freedom loving for that. The Indians often refused to work and maintained resistance.
In a course of time, colonial slaveholders directed their eyes on Africa. Soon they ascertained that the Africans better met the requirements than the Indians or white people. The first African slaves appeared in Virginia. In the northern colonies, slavery was not so widely spread, as these states were not adapted for the production of the arable crops. In the northern states because of their industrial character, there was a demand for people with the definite specialization. Nevertheless, slavery existed in the Northern colonies as well. In New England, the overall percentage of slaves was approximately 2-3% (“Slavery in Colonial British North America.” para.6).However, in the big cities of the region such as Newport and Boston this index was much higher. In Pennsylvania and New York, the number of slaves was also high.
The majority of the slaves were transported from Africa. In 17thcentury, there existed the so-called intermediate trade. The goods from New England were transported to West Indies where they were changed into rum. After that, the ships proceeded to Africa where the rum was changed into slaves and then the human traffickers returned back to West Indies. Here, according to situation the slaves were either sold or delivered to New England.
The civil war in America had destroyed the institution of slavery. The comparison of the industrial capitalism and the plantation slavery has shown that the unrestricted competition and the wage labor market were more progressive and incompatible with the institution of slavery.
Fitzhugh, George. Cannibals All! Or, Slaves without Masters. Richmond: Morris Publisher, 1957. Print.
“John C. Calhoun.” History. n.d. Web.
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Lewis, Tom. The Hudson: A History. New York: Yale University, 2005. Print.
“Slavery in Colonial British North America.” National History Education Clearinghouse. n.d. Web.
“Slavery in the United States.” EH.net. n.d. Web.
Taylor, Quintard. “The African American Experience. A History of Black Americans from 1619 to 1890.” Department of History: University of Washington. (2000). Web.