Essay Sample on Impact of Slavery on Development of Unites States Economy

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  945 Words
Date:  2022-11-26


In a speech delivered by Patrick Henry at a Virginia Convention in 1775, he stated, "...but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death." In those years, Africans were seized and taken to America as laborers. Many European colonial economies depended on labor from enslaved Africans. The European colonial official claimed that the vast land they discovered was useless without enough labor to exploit it. Neither the Native Americans nor the Europeans could provide this; and therefore, they sourced slaves from Africa. Slavery system of labor manipulation was preferred. The trans-Saharan slave trade contributed enslaved African workers to toil on the sugar farms in the Mediterranean along with the Balkans and white slaves from Russia. This trade transported nearly ten thousand slaves per annum to serve masters in the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa, and the Middle East. Enslaved Africans showed their competency to offer labor in European farms. The essay will discuss the impact that slavery had on the development of the United States Economy.

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Many African slaves worked on sugar plantations. Because of this sugar became the most produced commodity in American. In the 16th century, Brazil was the top producer of sugarcane (Graham 621). One of the earliest mass production company was set up to convert juice from sugarcane to sugar, rum, alcoholic drinks, and molasses. Notably, the profit generated from the trade of these products to Europe were used to buy more slaves. In the 18th century, Haiti outdid Brazil as the top sugar-producing colony (Graham 627). The slaves taken during this century came to work on expanding the sugar plantation market. However, the Haitian Revolution caused a ban to slavery leading to the setting up of the first black republic in America. Moreover, it ended Haiti's control of the sugar industry. Sugar remained the foundation of the economy and a basic product in the 20th century. It was also produced by slave labor in Louisiana.

Another product produced by slave labor was tobacco. This product was dominant in the U.S. during the colonial period. Tobacco plantations, which were concentrated in Maryland and Virginia, utilized the biggest percentage of enslaved Africans who had been brought to the United States before the American Revolution (Nunn 150). Other plantations that survived on the Enslaved African labor were rice and indigo. Remarkably, the American Revolution cost Maryland and Virginia their major European tobacco market. Many northern states banned it, and even in the Virginia Assembly, the abolition of slavery was debated.

In the late 18th century and early 19th century, the slave economy shifted from the upper south i.e. Maryland and Virginia to the lower south. This was after the invention of cotton gin. Slave-produced cotton grew from Georgia and North Carolina to the west of Mississippi(Nunn 167). The plantations economy was a section of a bigger international and national economy. For instance, the cotton plantation was a part of the local economy of southern America. These cotton farms were the basis of the historical southern economy. The cotton produced by slaves influenced the American financial and transport industries. This product was not directly transported from the south to Europe; it was rather transported through New York. As the cotton plantation market grew in the southern region, financial house and banks in New York delivered the investment assets and loan assets to buy more land and slaves.

Moreover, the enslave Africans while on the plantation worked in other positions. They include domestic works such as butlers, launderers, tailors, house cleaners and waiters. Other slaves were given responsibilities such as stable boys, carriage drivers, and hostlers. As part of the plantation labor services, the slaves were also employed as artisans to work as blacksmiths, stonemasons, coopers, spinners, carpenters, and weavers(Wright 256). There was a huge range of jobs done by slaves in the cities. Even though most slaves directly worked for their masters, some were lent out to work as trained laborers in industrial enterprises, on public works project such as improving waterways, building railroads or repairing roads, and on the plantation. Remarkably, some even hired themselves and paid a part of their wages to their owners. The slave owners took advantage of the chance to earn extra money from renting their slaves; they however kept the most able workers to work in their fields (Wright 276). The African slaves were legally a form of property, they were used as collateral in any commercial transaction and were exchanged for all sorts of service and goods. The slave owners held an investment value in their slave, which they used to guarantee loans to purchase extra slaves or lands. The slaves were also used to settle arrears. This was a source of tax income for state and local government. Taxes were imposed on the slave transaction.


In general, from the history of the U.S. colony, African slaves were important in the development of the Southern state economy, since the supplemented inexpensive labor to work on the huge plantations. Although slavery become unpopular in the North with time, their use grew in the Southern states. This is attributed to the fact that it was beneficial for landowners to use slaves, rather than the white free workers who were more costly, and were more likely to strike or quit. In conclusion, the essay has depicted the different means of how slavery system influenced the development of the U.S. economy.


Graham, Richard. "Slavery and economic development: Brazil and the United States South in the Nineteenth Century." Comparative Studies in Society and History 23.4 (1981): 620-655.

Nunn, Nathan. "Slavery, inequality, and economic development in the Americas." Institutions and economic performance 15 (2008): 148-180.

Wright, Gavin. Slavery and American economic development. LSU Press, 2006.

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