Causes and Effects of Slavery in the U.S.

Better Essays
Slavery has been described as a "social institution defined by law and custom as the most absolute involuntary form of human servitude." . The three main characteristics of slavery are that the people are regarded as property, they are forced to serve (often through violence), and they are subject to the owner's will.

The most famous example of this kind of slavery is found in America, during the 16th, 17th and 18th century. During this time, America's southern states were dominated by slavery, and the vast majority of plantations were essentially run by black slaves, imported from Africa. The slave trade was founded in 1444, by the Portuguese who, sensing the need for more slaves, ventured to use Africans. They realised that the sheer numbers of slaves needed to work in Europe and the European colonies an America could be easily acquired from the African tribes people who were already using slaves in their own communities. The Portuguese realised that the slaves could be used to make a profit, and during the early 16th century, the Spanish began to travel to Africa to get slaves. Shortly after this, English colonists and merchants also joined the now expansive slave trade.

Legal recognition of slaves was begun in 1641, by Massachusetts, who recognised the need for some sort of legislature to control the use of slaves. The state of Massachusetts was shortly followed by Connecticut in 1650 and Virginia in 1661. However, these laws were not intended to protect the black slaves. They were intended to protect the rights of slave owners. By the time of the war of independence, the Africans had become slaves in the fullest sense according to law and custom. The law protected the plantation owner's rights over slaves, and thus...

... middle of paper ...

...perience" . This excerpt shows the racial hate which seems unfounded in today's society, but which came from an expansive, nation-wide institution of abuse, hatred, and serfdom. The positive aspects of slavery are greatly outweighed by the negative and it seems that the more people learn about society, the greater the impact which slavery has made on it.


Microsoft® Encarta® Reference suite 2000

Slavery in American Society third edition

Lawrence Goodheart, Richard Brown, Stephen Rabe (editors)D.C. Meath and company, Lexington Massachusetts 1993

White over Black, American attitudes toward the Negro, 1551-1812 Winthrop Jordan W. W. Norton & Company, New York, London

Society and Culture in the Slave South J. William Harris Routledge, London, New York 1992

The Negro American Family Du Bois The Atlanta University Press 1908
Get Access