Slavery in America

By: Sammy Wong

Slavery History

Slavery began when European merchants started the Triangular Trade. The triangular trade was a system between North America, Europe, and Africa. North America traded raw materials such as cotton, sugar, and tobacco, these materials went to Europe. Europe traded manufactured goods to Africa and Africa traded North America slaves. The slaves were shipped on ships and packed tightly. About 15 million slaves were shipped to North America. Many of Africans suffered from disease, starvation, and death. The maximum times they would be fed would be about 3 times but it was rare. Most of the slaves were in the southern part of North America because the environment in the New World (North America) could grow sugar, wheat, tobacco, cotton, and other goods. These jobs were very labour intensive. In 1793, Eli Whitney invented a simple machine called the cotton gin. This machine influenced the history of the United States. The cotton gin was a very simple machine to work. First the cotton balls were put into the top of the machine. Next they would turn the handle, which turns the cotton through a wire that combs the seeds out. Then the cotton was pulled out of the machine and was sold. This machine did not reduce the slaves because even though the cotton gin reduced the slaves the production of cotton grew bigger and they needed to pick more cotton so therefore they needed more slaves.


Slaves in America were treated very poorly. A slave was whipped by their masters if they didn't do what they were told. The women slaves were usually raped by their masters. Plantation or field slaves usually lived in a small shack with dirt grounds. If they were a field or plantation slave they would work from sunup to sundown. If an overseer saw that one of the slaves weren't working they would whip them. Some salves were punished either by a whipping, hanging, branding, or imprisonment. Since the slaves work to sunup to sundown they are tired and hungry. They were usually fed corn meal, lard, bread, peas, etc. If a slave was caught trying to run away would either had a severe punishment or usually sold away. Often runaways would be sold south or somewhere far away from the north because the north was where the slaves wanted to get out of slavery. The slaves ran away to get to freedom which the north was technically was freedom for the slaves because the north didn't have slavery but most slaves wanted to go to Canada.


Slavery began in 1619 but it didn't become illegal in the United States till 1865. Slavery in

America began when the first African slaves were brought to the North

American colony of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, to aid in the production of tobacco crops. In 1787, slavery was made illegal in the Northwest Territory. The U.S Constitiution states that the Congress may not ban the slave trade until 1808. 6 years later a federal fugitive law is enacted, providing for return saves who had escaped and crossed state lines. An enslaved American Blacksmith, Gabriel Prosser, organized a slave revolt to march on Richmond, Virginia. The plan was uncovered and Prosser and a number of slave rebels hanged. In 1831, Nat Turner an enslaved American preacher, lead a slave uprising (this was the most significant slave uprising in American history). He and his followers launch a short, bloody rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia. The militia quells the rebellion, and Turner is eventually hanged. As a consequence, Virginia enforces stricter slave laws. In that same year, William Lloyd Garrison started publishing the Liberator, a weekly paper that advocates the complete abolition of slavery. He becomes one of the most famous figures in the abolitionist movement. In 1849, Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery and becomes one of the most effective and celebrated leaders of the Underground Railroad. In 1857, the Dred Scott case holds that Congress does not have the right to ban slavery in states and furthermore, that slaves are not citizens. Lincoln runs for president in 1860, his plan was to get rid of slavery. Lincoln won and 3 years later, he issues the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring "that all persons held as slaves within the Confederate state are, and henceforth shall be free". A couple years later, Lincoln was assassinated and the Thirteenth Amendment abolishes slavery throughout the United States.

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Improving Race Relations in America

Racial tension is still a big issue in America today. There have been several issues, many believe that these incidents were caused by prejudice feelings towards anything race. There was an issue in Ferguson, Missouri where an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown was shot and killed on August 9th by Darren Wilson, a white police officer. Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson left Ferguson Market and Liquor. On a surveillance video it shows that Michael Brown was stealing some cigars. Officer Darren Wilson tells the two men to move to the sidewalk. He looks at Mr. Brown and says that he fits the description of a suspect from a recent store theft. Officer Wilson then calls the dispatcher about the 2 men. He then puts his car where it blocks the two men and traffic. Officer Wilson and Michael Brown both get into a disagreement. Officer Wilson then fires two shots from inside of the vehicle. One of the bullets grazed Mr. Brown's thumb and the other one misses him. Mr. Brown runs away and Officer Wilson chases him on foot. Mr. Brown turns towards Officer Wilson and he moves towards Officer Wilson. Officer Wilson then fires several more shots and Mr. Brown is fatally wounded. This is only one story but many other issues have occurred around the United States.


The legacy of slavery has contributed to these racial tensions. These tensions still exist 150 years after the 13th amendment made slavery illegal because everything is based off of stereotypes in racism. People think all black people are bad just because someone of that race does something bad. In a video, these little kids (like about 5) were given a series of questions and a line of different skin colors One of the questions asked was "who looks like the mean one?" and most of the kids pointed to the black girl/boys. Black racism can manifest within conduct involving acts of illegal discrimination at school, work, or other public settings. Blacks have made a mistake of buying the message, "the American melting pot under God" and so now they have mostly let the majority of white people into their political and economic lives. If you have noticed Barack Obama was the only black president that was a president and ran for president.


The one idea I have to improve race relations in America is to have police officers take a racial sensitivity test. This new test will decide if a police officer should still be a police officer or not. The test will be added in their training and if they are already a police officer they have to take it in the beginning of the year. Their answers to the questions will decide if they can become a police officer. If you lie on your test just to become a police officer you will be tested again. There will be scenarios, background information, opinion questions, etc. One of the questions would be: Do you think all blacks are bad? Explain. They will be forced to answer honestly and the test will be confidential with the government. You will never know your results from the test. The only way you will know is if they let you become a police officer. They will have to take the test in the beginning of every 5 years like a renewal of a license.

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