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					SLAVERY IN THE AMERICAS                                                                   1
Nomi Sherwin
TOPIC: Origins of Slavery/Treatment of Indigenous peoples
note: this actually falls under the colonial period, but I thought it would be acceptable to
include it with the slavery stuff
     European colonists eventually determined that slaves from Africa were the best
        solution to their labor needs because of the problems associated with the previous
        forms of labor they had tried: indentured servitude and exploitation of native
        Americans.
 Why/reasons for slavery
     Those who came to the Americas wanted quick access to minerals that would
        make them wealthy (greed)
     Labor intensive nature of early economic activities
         Mining (especially silver)
         Agricultural labor (sugar had to be grown in hot humid climates with lots of
            mosquito borne illnesses; there were many injuries due to the machete, needed
            labor to harvest sugar cane)
         Clear land
     Religions – tried to convert the Native Americans and Africans to Christianity
     Belief that other cultural groups were inferior and hence deserved to be under the
        rule of the better culture
     Mercantalistic policies
         Colonies who wanted to gain wealth had to exploit others to sidestep the
            mercantilistic policies set forth by the mother country
 Exploitation of Native Americans (in Latin America, not used in US)
     Encomienda system in Spanish America - Spanish government practice of
        rewarding people that had provided valuable service to the crown by giving them
        tracts of land and the right to utilize the labor of the Native Americans living on
        that land
         Problems:
             Native Americans would move to avoid Europeans, made possible
                because they knew how to live off the land
             European diseases killed 50-90% if the Native Americans (smallpox,
                chickenpox, measles, mumps, rubella, influenza, scarlet fever, STD’s ->
                sterilization)
         Abolished because the new landed aristocracy in the Americas undercut the
            power of the monarchs, king wanted to get rid of the encomienda to undercut
            the power of the new aristocracy; pressure from RCC and Bartalameo de las
            casas
     Replaced by Repartamiento system (kinder, gentler form of exploitation)
         System in which Spanish colonial judges had the authority to allocate Native
            American Tribes for certain labor projects; judge negotiated term of service,
            working conditions and wages; judges had final authority in all issues.
         Encomeinderos left with vast lands and no one to do the work.
             Became corrupt and bribed judges
     Mita system
         One out of every 7 years of an adult’s life had to be spent mining for the
            crown
SLAVERY IN THE AMERICAS                                                                2
Nomi Sherwin
 Indentured Servitude (IS)
   Labor system in which a would-be migrant from Europe to the Americas by a
     landowners in the Americas in return for 5-7 years of labor.
   Migrant/servant provides 5-7 years of labor
   Land owner /sponsor provides: housing, food, clothing, transportation to the
     Americas, freedom dues
   Freedom dues
      Initially small plots of land (10-50 acres). As time progressed, became a lot
         lkess likely. May have given land closer to the frontier because it was lass
         fertile and the Indians were there. Also originally included tools (plows, hoe,
         shovel, pitchfork, ax, saws, machetes, etc), small amounts of cash, seeds, food
         (grain, molasses, coffee, fat pork, livestock)
   Problems:
      Land pressures: as European population in colonies increase, increase the
         value of property, decrease in number of IS gaining land upon their freedom.
         This meant that former IS moved to the frontier land and often came into
         conflict with Native Americans.
          Example of problem with this: Bacon’s rebellion – former IS rebelled
             against the Virginian colonial government (actually captured the colonial
             governor and threatened to kill him) because they wouldn’t raise a militia
             to help the former IS suppress the Native American threats. The
             government did not wasn’t to expend the funds and blamed the situation
             on the IS.
      Inconsistent supply (lower when the economy in Europe is strong, low
         unemployment rate, etc- could get, but would have to give up more, either
         more freedom dues or lower the years of required servitude.)
 Why Used African Slaves
   Although they were more expensive to obtain, they ended up cheaper because
      Labor is for life, not just for 5-7 years
      Because slaves are your property, any children that your slaves have also
         become your slaves (free slaves)
      Don’t have to pay free laborers or freedom dues
      Slaves aren’t given very many legal rights that slave owners must abide by.
      Because slaves are of a different ethnicity, harsher treatment of the slave is
         more easily justified then harsh treatment of an indentured servant who may
         be from where you are originally from.

TOPIC: Conditions of enslavement: adaptation and resistance
 Forms of Resistances
   Slave revolts
      Conspiracies designed to spark widespread violent uprisings that would end
        slavery/free slaves in a wide region
      Often did not work because the slaves lacked advanced weaponry, often very
        difficult to coordinate.
   Sabotage
      Kill/damage crops through slating, breaking the shoots, etc
SLAVERY IN THE AMERICAS                                                                   3
Nomi Sherwin
          Damage/harm the livestock
          Poison/adulterate food and beverages either of the master (if you were a house
           slave) or of yourself (make yourself slightly sick so that you cannot work).
           This was very dangerous, especially if you got caught
        Break the tools and equipment (plow strap, ax handle). Likely the most
           common method.
      Refusal to work
      Subtly slowing down the pace of work
        Slave owners often saw how much the slaves could produce in a day, and then
           held them to that standard. Hence, if the slaves slacked off (while looking like
           they were working so as not to get in trouble), they lowered their workload
      Doing a poor job, cutting corners on quality
      Stealing (especially food)
      Escape/run away (not that common)
      Temporary flight (use absence as a bargaining chip to get better conditions)
      Infanticide (killing of young children so that the master would have no more free
       slaves, save the children from a life of servitude.

TOPIC: The pro-slavery arguments
 Slavery as a benefit for blacks
   Takes them away from barbaric Africa (where they run around nude, do human
     sacrifices, cannibalism) an civilizes them in America (Christianizes them)
   Blacks don’t have to compete with whites (blacks are incompetent and
     competition would cause extinction of Africans)
   Slaves treated better than paid laborers in North (get housing, food, clothing, etc)
   Idea of paternalism: slaves are like children who need a father figure (master).
     Unifies whites, makes them happier to be free.
   Slavery makes slaves happy and encourages the exercise of virtues.
 Problems that will result from emancipation
   Will become extinct when in competition with whites
   Become a burden to society as they cannot provide for their future needs
   Emancipation -> race war…send either whites or blacks from the south north.
   No more white unity/equality…more class divisions
   Black men would rape white women
   Cause collapse of southern economy -> economic ruin of north
      Manufacturing in north based on raw materials in south
      Increase in number of laborers -> decrease in wages for everyone
      Increased unemployment
      Ruin of south -> north to lose a market in the south
   Political instability
   Increase of foreign workers coming to Americas (people in prison, etc)
   Class struggle (slaves are uneducated, whites educated…educated and uneducated
     don’t interact with each other.)
 Arguments to refute Antislavery beliefs
   Declaration of independence was written in heat of war; the founding fathers
     didn’t really mean what they said.
SLAVERY IN THE AMERICAS                                                                 4
Nomi Sherwin
    No where in old or new testament is slavery condemned
    Other forms of slavery in society (wives, children, men slaves to work, etc)
    More work on slave owners than slaves (have to take care of all the slaves, do
     business side, make sure slaves are working, etc.)

TOPIC: Insurrections and reactions
   Mexico-8 significant slave revolts in 150 years; brazil – 9 significant slave revolts
     in 100 yrs; US – 1 significant slave revolt
 Reasons for the insurrections
   Disproportionate number of male slaves compared to female slaves
      LA – 2 males : 1 female (closer to 3:1 in sugar growing parts of Brazil and
         Caribbean)
      US – 1.2 males : 1 female
      A lot of men didn’t have wives, kids, or family ties -> sense of hopelessness,
         increased reckless behavior because they feel they have nothing to live for
   Ratio of Slaves to nonslaves
      West Indies (Jamaica, Haiti, etc) – slaves = 80-90%
      United states – never more than 20% total, but were 33% in south
      The greater the percentage of slaves the greater the prob of a slave revolt
         because there is strength in numbers
      The slaves would be lacking in weaponry compared to those designated with
         task of ending rebellion
   Size of plantation/agricultural estate
      The larger the size of the agricultural estate, the greater the prob of a revolt
      In Us: 50% of slave owners have 20 or less slaves, 75% have 50 or less.
      In Caribbean: many plantations have 150 or more slaves.
      WHY?
          More people to initially conspire with
          Strength in numbers
          Larger plantation owners do not directly oversee slaves; often used paid
             white overseers to watch slaves in their daily labor; whereas in the us it
             was typically slave owner himself or one of the slaves.
          Master less hard on slaves because of economic interest that paid overseer
             doesn’t have, each slave worth more (b/c there are usually less). Also
             more personal connection on smaller estates
   Large number of slaves born in Africa
      LA; higher death rates (1/3 higher) combined with lower birth rates (4.5 to
         9.2) -> increased reliance on the importation of slaves from Africa.
      Many slaves (born in Africa) were born free; they remember it and want to
         return to freedom.
   Geography
      LA, much more dense forest (jungles) and more mountainous terrain -> easier
         to run, hide from militias
      In NA: not as dense forest, not many mountains. People hid in swamps
 Actual slave rebellions
   Haiti (1791-1804)
SLAVERY IN THE AMERICAS                                                                    5
Nomi Sherwin
          Resulted in the independence of Haiti and the abolition of slavery (1st black
           republic in modern history)
          Rebels killed 2,000 whites
          See independence movements for more info
    US
      Gabriel Prosser
         Virginia, 1800.
         Planned to invade Richmond, attack the armory, and arm his rebel slaves
          of which he had thousands following him
         Betrayed by 2 followers, all routes to Richmond were cut off and Prosser
          and his followers were hanged.
         Result: Scared the white slaveowners to no end, made them realize that
          what happened in Haiti could happen in US.
      Nat Turner’s rebellion (1831-only successful slave revolt in US history)
         Turner was the unofficial religious leader (Christianity) in Southampton
          county, VA.
         He and his disciples entered his masters house and killed everyone inside
          except the infant with one hatchet and one broad axe
         Then they moved through the countryside killing all white families that
          owned slaves. As they went, they collected more slaves and weapons
         The whites came out and begin to slaughter the slaves, but Turner hid and
          was not found for a couple of months
         This really scared the white slave owners as they realized what could
          really happen (55 white people had been killed)

TOPIC: Life of the free African Americans
 Antebellum period
   Hardly better than that of a slave
      Couldn’t own a gun, buy liquor, assemble (except in church), testify in court,
         vote; had a curfew
      Stemmed from fear that blacks would rise up against whites in power.
      In many states, licensing requirements and bans were put on work
         opportunities (ie becoming a riverboat captain or pilot)
      In many places, they were still not allowed to learn to read or write.
   Afraid of massive rebellions (due to examples of successful slave revolts)
      1806, Virginia required all free blacks to leave the state.
      Many southern states barred the entry of free blacks into their states
      Legislation was passed which made it illegal to free slaves without legislative
         or court approval.
      By 1850s, some states (ie Texas, Mississippi, and Georgia) had banned
         emancipation all together.
 Non slave states
   Treated like second class citizens
      In many cases, they were barred from entering or were required to pay bonds
         of $500-$1000 to ensure good behavior
   Rights
SLAVERY IN THE AMERICAS                                                                     6
Nomi Sherwin
        Originally, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine allowed
         freed blacks to vote
      1842, Rhode Island allowed free blacks to vote.
      Massachusetts – blacks allowed on Juries
      In 5 states, blacks not allowed to testify against whites.
   Humiliation
      Many exluded from or segregated in public
      Rampat discrimination in hiring (could only be hired as a janitor or
         handyman)
      Jobs of men not stable, women worked to supplement income.
 After emancipation
   US
      Many African Americans became share croppers
      The white plantation owners would allow the black workers to stay and work
         the land. The sharecroppers were responsible for getting everything from the
         plantations store (seeds, clothing, etc) and were expected to sell the crop at a
         flat rate to the owner. Anything else could be kept or sold. Often the field
         workers ended up in further debt.
   Spanish Colonies (like Cuba)
      1880, government ends slavery, but demands that all former slaves work for
         ex-master for 8 years
      1886, all blacks are freed from compulsory labor

TOPIC: Pro-abolition arguments
   Those opposed to slavery used arguments based on American and Christian
     morals, as well as moral and civic duties, and economic growth to try to convince
     people to abolish slavery.
 Slavery contradicts American Ideals
   Dec of indep: all men created equal, all men born w/unalienable right to life,
     liberty, pursuit of happiness.
      Life- masters could kill slaves if they so chose, worked to death, abused
      Liberty- masters could dictate every aspect of their slave’s lives
      Pursuit of happiness- slaves were unable to attain wealth, couldn’t chose what
         they wanted to do, or sometimes even marry who they wanted to.
   Bill of rights: slaves denied due process (amendment 5), right to peaceful
     assemble (amendment 1), freedom from cruel and unusual punishment
     (amendment 8).
   Slavery creates artificial/dangerous divisions within the UNITED states
      De Toque
 Slavery contradicts Christian values, beliefs, and principles
   Breaking up slave marriages, separating families (mother from child, etc)
   Though shall not steal (slavery as theft of human life…)
   Sexual deviance (rape, adultery, breeding)
   God created man in his image; slavery turns a man/person into a thing/piece of
     property.
SLAVERY IN THE AMERICAS                                                             7
Nomi Sherwin
   All believers equal in the eyes of God….yet slavery rejects the equality of those
     enslaved
 Slavery inhibits the development of moral and civic duties
   Cruelty, use of force/violence become accepted norms for getting one’s way
   Despotism at home breeds despotism in society and governments
      North compelled to learn that you convince people to be on your side
      South learned to beat people into submission
   Laziness, idleness, reliance upon others is a byproduct of slavery
   Retards the development of a merit-based class system in which individuals are
     rewarded based on their efforts and abilities.
 Slavery retards economic growth and development
   Capital tied up in land and slaves leaves little for education and transportation
     infrastructure (railroads) or technological innovation
   Slaves denied opportunities for self improvement/acquiring more sophisticated
     skills (eg reading, writing, etc)
   Slaves are an untapped/ potential market for manufactured goods
   Slaves given little incentive for careful, diligent work
   Slavery decreases the value of free labor
   Obvious signs of “improvement”/progress (urbanization, industrialization,
     mechanization) not as evident in slave based economies.
   Slavery retards European immigration
      Diff to compete for jobs -> slaves doing all the jobs -> Europeans not wanting
         to compete with slaves.
   Slavery results in land monopolization and takes away opportunities for
     white/European families to own farms
      Racist principle
          American fields worked by Africans
          Missed opportunities for land for whites.
   Limited investment in technological innovation (in economy where you pay
     laborers you look for ways to reduce cost --> research in technological
     innovations --> decrease cost --> increased efficiency)

I didn’t know where to put in the stuff about the abolitionists, but since there are
questions that refer to it, I thought this would be a good place.
 Abolitionists pre-1830’s
     Example: American Colonization Society, est 1816
         Promoted gradual, voluntary emancipation and resettlement of former slaves
            to Africa (created Liberia)
         Attracted evangelicals, Quakers, some blacks, and slaveholders who wanted to
            send the free blacks back to Africa
     Did not think that the government had any authority to abolish slavery within a
        given state, only in territories (ie Missouri compromise)
     Non-confrontational
     Believed their should be compensation for whites
     Did not criticize slave owners, said it was an unfortunate inheritance from our
        ancestors.
SLAVERY IN THE AMERICAS                                8
Nomi Sherwin
 Abolitionists post 1830’s
   Example: American Anti-slavery Society, est 1833
      Unwilling to compromise
      Wanted immediate emancipation
      Welcomed all blacks, whites, and women
      Much more opposed by the south
      Criticized passive people in the North
   People morally derisive about slavery

				
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