Between the year 1619 and 1877, America was characterized by massive slavery. The blacks were owned by whites. They had no freedom of expression or movement. Hence, during the period there was rebellion since the blacks detested the treatment and the whites were not willing to set them free. Supported by the Congress, the slave trade became the norm in America. At whatever chance they got, the slaves would escape to the Southern side of the country. This paper discusses the major events and leaders from 1619 to 1877.
The first twenty slaves who were brought to America arrived in 1619 with a ship from Spain. By1690, every state in America had slaves. The slaves acted as servants and laborers for the white settlers. They replaced white workers from Britain. The sales were preferable as they provided cheap labor and were in plenty. In 1739 the first slave revolution occurred in South Carolina. It was named "Stono rebellion". However, the slaves did not succeed to emancipate themselves. The situation became worse. A major need for slaves came in 1739 with the introduction of the cotton gin (Horton and Lois 47-60). The machine facilitated the production of cotton and tobacco, therefore, increasing output. Hence, there was an upsurge of slaves in the South.
The phase lasted from 1765 to 1825. In 1818, the congresses acknowledged that slavery was illegally and imposed a ban on the trade. During the time, William Lloyd was very instrumental in disseminating information about the slave trade through an anti-slavery newspaper in Boston. The release was embraced by the "Abolitionist movement". This was the revolutionaries who were fighting for the end of slavery between 1805 and 1879. However, even with cessation of importation of slaves, the whites were still not willing to set them free. They continued to use them in domestic and agricultural duties. So in between 1831 and 1861, some slaves escaped from their master through an underground tunnel. The relocated to the Northern parts of the country. The settlers from the north were more lenient on slaves. Another publication was released by Fredric Douglas who was an ex-slave in 1846. The message was for anti-slavery campaigns. Between 1820 and 1913, Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery and became a leader who struggled to rescue slaves (McGowan and William 47-60). Together with other anti-slavery activists used safe houses called "underground railroad" as hideouts.
Despite the ban on slavery, human trafficking did stop. Thus, in 1858, the Congress came up with a law that allowed government involvement in the capture of escaped slaves. Hence, the slaves who had escaped had to be more careful since the settler had reinforcement from the government. However, not every American citizen was happy with slavery. Later in Boston, some residents tried to fight for the rights of Anthony Burns a slave who had escaped. However, they did not succeed since the county and its institutions were for slavery. The humiliation of slaves was at a peak and during the case of Dred Scot vs Sanford, it was decided that the Congress was unlawful in banning slavery and that slaves were not citizens.
In 1860, the election of Abraham Lincoln as the president brought anger to the citizens of the states in the south. He was passionate about the issues of slaves. Immediately after his election, the civil war broke. In 1861 and in 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared that the slaves who lived in rebellious areas were henceforth free (Guelzo 140-142). The settlers were agitated by his ruling and were unwilling to stop slavery. The same year, African America troops matched from Boston for a rebellious fight, under the rule of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. In 1865, the war ended and Lincoln was assassinated. Finally, the 13 Amendment to the constitution was signed. It prohibited slavery in America. This gave wake to the reconstruction process. Several laws were passed into that effect. These included the "Black Code" in 1866 and the "Civil Right Act". These allowed African Americans to be citizens which meant they would have equal rights like the whites. However, they were legally not entitled to voting.
Therefore, in 1870, the 14th Amendment was ratified. This redefined citizenship. Therefore, the decision in Dred Scot case was overruled which had defined blacks as noncitizens. The law was very instrumental to American history as it gave African Americans the right to vote. The reconstruction era ended in 1877 with a deal being made to withdraw troops from the south in exchange of Rutherford Hayes being made the president.
The period of 1619 to 1877 has become important to American history. The events contributed to the democracy and equality experienced in America. The blacks in America are now recognized as citizens. Though the narratives of the slave trade are still in Americans history, they serve as a reminder of how far the country has come. Hence, tribute goes to the people who die in the quest to emancipate slaves from their suffering.
Guelzo, Allen C. Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President. Eerdmans, 2003.
Horton, James Oliver., and Lois E. Horton. Slavery and the Making of America. Oxford University Press, 2006.
McGowan, James A., and William C. Kashatus. Harriet Tubman: a Biography. Greenwood, 2011.
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