The Origins Of Colonial Slavery - Free Essay Sample on American History
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Slavery was a shameful reality of early American history. The English colonies were where settlers began their lives in America. Virginia was one of those early colonies that were blameworthy of legalizing slavery and the inhumane treatment of African slaves. The focus of the essay is on the differences in the laws of indentured servants and slaves, with the connection of racism as the catalyst for distinguishing laws between slaves and servants. The involvement of the first group of people, the Quaker’s, who stood against the institution of slavery is also briefly discussed.
During the 1960’s and 1970’s laws of the Virginia Colony established a distinction between white slaves or indentured servants versus the black slaves. Black slave use to have some rights in the earlier years, such as if they were baptized they could sue for their freedom; however, as the laws begin to shift toward the racist division this no longer was the case. Several other legal actions taken against the African people were the loss of property that they may have had. Interracial marriage or sexual relations were illegal as Virginia adopted the laws to legalize slavery.
The measures that were taken in Virginia, to draw lines between blacks and whites included the legal repercussions of rules that were broken by the indentured servant or slave. The black slave was stripped naked and whipped, but the white servant was not. Punishment of death was acceptable almost without question for the black slaves. A wider gap grew between the rights and unfair treatment of the indentures servants and slaves based on race.
The Quakers were some of the first to speak out against the institution of slavery based on their religious beliefs. They argued that according to religious teachings, the treatment of slaves was not fair and that if all men are created equal, color should not change that principle. The Quakers viewed the actions of slavery as a sin. They made it known that the way in which this people were stolen from their homes and families against their will was unacceptable in God’s eyes. To summarize the sentiment of the Quakers, “Pray, what thing in the world can be done worse towards us, than if men should rob or steal us away, and sell us for slaves to strange countries; separating housbands from their wives and children. Being now this is not done in the manner we would be done at therefore we contradict and are against this traffic of men-body” Unfortunately it took many years before the masses felt this way and decided to remove the practice of slavery.
Mintz, S., & McNeil, S. (2013). Change this text to the title of the section. Digital History. Retrieved 2/12/2015 from http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=3&psid=71
Statement of protest by Quaker families. (personal communication, February 18, 1688)
Retrieved 2/15/2015 from http://www.yale.edu/glc/aces/germantown.htm
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