The History of Slavery, Economically Driven

Yesterday, the Wisconsin flash mob attacked innocent white civilians. In researching the event I have come across many different slurs and rants that are entirely false and based entirely upon prejudice. However, many claims are true in that the nature of a people has been badly influenced based upon a corrupt past.

~~ 1619 was the first year that a slave ship approached the colonies, selling some 20 slaves to Jamestown. However, it would not be until the end of the century that slavery took off.

At the beginning of colonization the head-right system allowed for the peoples of Europe to come to America, and work a seven-year contract in exchange for land in the New World. Many complied to this system due to famine, religious freedom and political unrest in their homeland. The populations grew, and the land surrounding the Atlantic coast became cluttered. As more people were released from the head-right system, they had to move west into Indian territories where they were attacked. This situation was finally realized in 1676 Jamestown following Bacon’s Rebellion, in which one thousand Virginia planters followed Nathaniel Bacon in revolt against the colony’s governor William Berkeley. Following this revolt, the head-right system slowly dissolved as more slaves were available and the frontiersmen were seen as being rebellious and rude.

In this same time period, Caribbean sugar plantations grew exponentially in wealth. The great demand from Europe for products, along with the need for greater production, led to the use of the Triangle trade for the importation of African slaves to work… By 1700 the black population increased by 250,000… and they outnumbered white settlers 4:1. Only the rich could afford such imported labor, with Sugar being an expensive commodity and only the better-off tobacco, indigo or rice planters able to afford a couple slaves.

The exportation of tobacco was steadily increasing, and cotton became a gold mine with the invention of Eli Whitney’s cotton gin. Slaves became cheaper with their continued population growth and importation, and rising conditions in Europe coupled with unruly white servants had led to the demise of the head-right system. The working slave population would remain under the Southerners’ control, up until the Civil War.

The South’s slaves were mainly owned by rich plantation owners, with the poor whites owning one or two. Hinton R. Helper, a non-aristocratic Southerner who despised slavery, attacked the plantation system with his book The Impending Crisis of the South. Helper used statistics to prove that poor Southerners would remain in their stagnant position so long as they remained slaveholders in the face of the plantation owners.

Let’s fast forward to the Civil War… Britain was already working to free slaves in their own country. They flirted with allying with the Confederacy to be neutral, but they had already colonized India for their cotton supplies. In America, the North was not winning the war until it’s turning point – the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862. At this point the Emancipation Proclamation was written and finally released on January 1, 1863.

However, it did not free the slaves. As a document of the North, it could not comply with the seceded Confederacy due to their technically being separate entities. In any case, it only applied itself to the Southern states in revolt – excluding border states which had stayed with the Union and specific states which were already under Union control. It was only until the passage of the 13th Amendment of 1865 that slaves were officially free.

Following the Civil War, entitlement programs and welfare was introduced to Southern states with Reconstruction. The Reconstruction was directly consequential to the Civil War due to the slaves’ needs to have education, work skills and self-dependence. Many former slaves were, however, ensnared in a sharecropper’s debt as they remained on their former owners’ lands. Government programs similar to Reconstruction would continue, even all the way to the present. It would be a few decades until the emergence of a reluctant black integration of Southern society…the great black migration to the Northern industrial centers would begin in the 1940’s – 1960’s, as families moved from there into the suburbs. It is from this movement into the cities that inspired artist movements, equality rallies… and the brotherhoods and settings that would also lead to organized crime, reverse racism and continued lack of motivation.

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This is the basic history up until the Antebellum period. Slavery had been driven by pure economics, and became a morality issue primarily due to the South’s expanding into the Republic of Texas, Missouri, Bleeding Kansas and across the land. If you have any specific questions about further history, please comment and I will answer – I am specifically biased from this point further in African-American history, as it no longer pertains to economic ties and relates closer to personal experiences among different people.

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Posted on August 12, 2011, in America, Businesses, Historical References and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. This is really a nice posting I found through Google & I can’t but just bookmarked it. I wish you will post more and more interesting topic like this one. Regards

  2. I went over this web site and I think you have a lot of fantastic information, saved to favorites (:.

  3. What i do not understood is actually how you’re now not really much more well-appreciated than you might be right now. You are very intelligent. You already know thus considerably with regards to this matter, made me in my opinion consider it from so many numerous angles. Its like women and men aren’t interested unless it is something to accomplish with Lady gaga! Your personal stuffs excellent. All the time deal with it up!

  4. I like this post a lot. You work from a different angle than I do but, no less valid. I can easily accept the economic drivers of slavery as listed.

    I often think that slavery might have been solved prior to the Civil war if it hadn’t been for Whitney’s cotton gin, but that’s a feeling, I’ve done very research in the area.

    I will be back soon and often.

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