Essay on American History
Question 1: How and why did slavery begin in the British colonies in North America, and how did slavery evolve from the time of its origin to the outbreak of the American Revolution?
Slavery in England ceased to exist in the eleventh century. This makes it understandable that English colonists who had arrived to the New World gained the idea of engaging into owing slaves with the help of the Spaniards. The first slaves were brought to the colonies in the sixteenth century to meet the economic needs of the colonists (Kelley, Lewis, p. 16).
Surely, the main way to justify the need for slaves was the fact that hard work had to be done and strong labor force was needed to complete it. As Native Americans were unsuitable for the jobs of that kind, African Americans became the nation enslaved (Kelley, Lewis, p. 21).
At first, slavery was simply a wide-spread type of labor in the British colonies, though in the mid-1600s slaves started to be considered inferior to whites. Only in those years the articles in regards to slavery appeared in statutes of the colonies, and it was then that the deterioration of slaves from the society was explained by the fact that they were not Christian (viii).
Slavery was a critical point influencing the growth of the colonies, especially the Southern ones. In the South planters relied fully on servants, though it was not in their interest to hire servants and they pay them, rather owing slaves was a way to increase profits and minimize losses.
Over the course of slavery centuries several large scale uprisings happened, though the African Americans did not feel the strength to go against their masters for a very long time. The evolution of slavery can be understood when looking at the evolution of the Virginia Slaves’ Statutes describing the rights of slaves.
Question 2: What part did slavery play in establishing Britain as a world economic power, and how did the slavery issue affect the American perception of liberty before the American Revolution?
From the beginning slavery was the basis of the British Empire when it came to most of its campaigns. In fact for a very long time Britain denied the strong effect slavery and slaves themselves had on the economic and political wellbeing of the country.
First of all, it was the three hundred years of trading African slaves that allowed Britain to become a world economic power and finance the Industrial Revolution. In fact, many banks grew out of slave labor and slave trading. Second of all, a great part of British cultural heritage was built by the slave labor.
Prior to the Civil War many of the Americans understood that the fact of existence of slavery violates the Golden Rule of American Liberty for all. Many of people who had this opinion expressed in private attacks on slavery. However a small percentage of such translated private sentiment into real life actions. The condition of blacks made it obvious for white Americans that the concept of liberty for all is mainly utopian, as the contradiction between reality and the rhetoric documents was so strong (Kelley, Lewis, pp. 108-112).
Question 3: How did the idealism of the American Revolution affect American attitudes about slavery after the Revolution, and how did the establishment of American independence affect slavery as an economic system?
The American Revolution was brought about by the desire of the Colonies to be separated from England due to political and economic reasons. The zest for Liberty for All was one of the undermining pillars of the American Revolution that had a great influence on the political thinking of the Revolution.
Those who argued the patriot cause of the Revolution stated that unless independence is achieved the colonies would become slaves of the British. Certainly, the fear of enslavement resulted from the actual viewing of enslavement of African Americans. Idealism of American Revolution had contradictory effect on slavery. In the North, most of the slaves freed themselves. Though, the in South slavery became even more widespread. What has to be mentioned though is that even in the North the resistance to emancipation and freeing of slaves was strong. Thus, the idealism of American Revolution was applied only to the freedom of the colonists from the British (Kelley, Lewis, pp. 174-178).
After the proclamation of Independence slavery expanded as well as the United States did. It was the era of cotton cultivation. Clearly, a great bulk of all of the cotton was cultivated by the slaves. Thus, it must be noted that after the Revolutionary War slavery made American economy not only prolific, but also profitable.