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Features of Slavery in South America

Since the beginning of the discovery of America and the development of new territories, slavery has become widespread. Slavery occupies a relatively large segment of the historical existence of British America and the United States. The constitution adopted in 1787, simultaneously with the proclamation of various democratic freedoms, legalized slavery. The history of the United States is unique: it is the only state in the world that built capitalism and democracy to exploit slave labor.

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Slaves were a valuable asset, the value of which grew every year. For example, in 1860, a healthy adult male slave cost $ 1,800 – a considerable amount of money. In many cases, the slaves lived in conditions similar to those of the free white workers of that period, and sometimes even better. The slaves had guaranteed overnight accommodation, food, water, and in case of illness – medical care. The slavery of South America was based on the cultivation of cotton, the harvesting of which employed about 90% of the slaves. In the first half of the 19th century, the slave-owning economy of South America provided 2/3 of the world’s cotton harvest.

The assessment of the effectiveness of the cotton plantations of the South was very high. The cotton boom stimulated the growth of demand for slave labor. The low price of cotton allowed textile manufacturers – both in the United States and England – to expand production and provide consumers with cheap goods.

There was paternalism in the relations between slaves and masters, as most southern planters treated their black slaves as adults treated children. The white masters provided the basic needs of their slaves, and the slaves allowed the masters to dictate the rules of public and private behavior. In addition, black-skinned people born as slaves with their mother’s milk absorbed the realization that they must remain submissive to the owner’s will. Black-skinned slaves cooked food, nursed the master’s children, served as maids, and housekeepers accompanied their masters on trips, etc. There were situations in the order of things when the nurse of a white child was a black slave. The frequent consequences of such cases were situations when a white boy had a black foster brother. Such a foster brother grew up with the master’s child, became the first friend in children’s games, and later-a personal servant accompanying his master to war.

At the same time, it was the order of things to separate families, when children were sold separately from their parents, and husbands were separated from their wives. Slaveholders used slaves as chattels and insisted on the need for increasingly strict laws to protect their property – slaves. An example of such a law is the “Fugitive Slave Act” of 1850. As in any slave-owning society, the enslaved people in South America resisted their oppressors.

In addition to more passive forms of resistance, such as deliberate slowing down, many autonomous communities of runaway slaves have emerged in South America. These communities were called Mocambo or Quilombo, and often located near settlements or plantations, mainly relying on raids and theft. Black people living in cities often helped Mocambo by letting them into the city to take supplies and gunpowder. However, most Mocambo was not to overthrow the slave system but to exist outside of white society.

The planters did not interfere in the organization of the plantation labor of black slaves. The slaves themselves organized a complex plantation enterprise and were much more efficient than white farmers. White farmers were unable to master the complex organization of collective labor that black slaves had. The black slaves had a brigade labor organization based on cooperation and specialization. For example, when sowing, the “black brigades” consisted of five people – the plowman, the harrower, driller, dropper, and raker – each performed his function. Black slaves, working on plantations, united in communities and became labor collectives. Slaves, in critical conditions and in an alien cultural environment, created an original technology based on the experience, skills, and norms of their culture.

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The southern elites perceived the slave-owning system as absolutely natural. The masters provided their slaves with good living conditions and took care of them as a helpful tool. Still, Negroes mainly were viewed as second-class people – both slaveholders and poor white people who did not have slaves agreed on this opinion. The slave was completely defenseless before the owner, who could torture or rape him — such cases are also recorded. There were exceptions, for example, in Louisiana, where many free blacks historically lived, but they had little effect on the overall picture and mood. A considerable role in the development of the slave system was played by cotton plantations, which made a significant contribution to the economy of South America. Thus, slavery played a crucial role in creating the Southern mentality and worldview and significantly formed the social background.

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