Slavery in Colonial America

Better Essays
Slavery became of fundamental importance in the early modern Atlantic world when Europeans decided to transport thousands of Africans to the Western Hemisphere to provide labor in place of indentured servants and with the rapid expansion of new lands in the mid-west there was increasing need for more laborers. The first Africans to have been imported as laborers to the first thirteen colonies were purchased by English settlers in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 from a Dutch warship. Later in 1624, the Dutch East India Company brought the first enslaved Africans in Dutch New Amsterdam.
Early English settlers in the lower Chesapeake Bay region learned to cultivate tobacco from the Native Americans and it would prove to have profound influence in the development of Chesapeake society and the colonies of Virginia and Maryland as a whole. Between 1627 and 1669, annual tobacco exports climbed from 250,000 pounds to more than 15 million pounds. (p39. The American Journey). The Chesapeake region became the New World’s largest producer of tobacco. Since tobacco was a labour intensive crop to cultivate, the planters sought indentured servants from England as a source of cheap labour. However many servants died in alarming numbers from disease as a result from the supply of indentured servants declined, and larger planters who were wealthy managed to buy slaves. Slave population increased rapidly from 1,708 in 1660 to 189,000 in 1760. (Smith, Billy G., and Nash. Encyclopedia of American History).
Rice was another cash crop that required a substantial investment in land, labor, and equipment. It was among the most intensive and extensive crops developed in colonial North America. Its cultivation helped shape the development of societies in South...

... middle of paper ...

... market, but demand in continental Europe and the United States grew even faster after 1840. The profitability of slavery ultimately rested on the enormous demand for cotton outside the South. This made slaves the most valuable commodity at the time and most of the profits from slave labor and sales went into purchasing more land and slaves.
At the heart of Anglo-American trade lay the highly profitable commerce in cash crops, from tobacco in the Chesapeake colonies to rice and indigo in South Carolina, wheat from the middle colonies to cotton in the South; an extensive textile industry in the North, Insurance companies that insured slaves as property, to many wall street firms that got their start as middle men in the cotton trade, I think it would be logical to conclude that the foundation of American economy lay in the back breaking toil and sweat of Slave labor.
Get Access