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The Effect of the Industrial Revolution on Slavery

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Slavery has always been a part of human history. Therefore on cannot talk about when slavery began in North America. Soon after the American colonies were established in North America, slaves were brought in to meet the growing labor need on plantations. Although the importation of slaves continued to grow as new plantations were developed, it was the industrial revolution that would have the most profound impact on the slave industry. The purpose of this essay is to analyze the effect of slavery in the 13 colonies due to the industrial revolution.

Cash Crops in the 13 Colonies

One of the important early contributions of the 13 colonies was to grow produce to support the expanding economy in England. The produce that they grew were known as cash crops. According to Miriam Webster, A cash crop is "a readily salable crop (as cotton or tobacco) produced or gathered primarily for market." These cash crops were usually cotton or tobacco as they grew well in the 13 colonies. Cash crops were either processed locally or shipped back to England. (Citation 20, 123helpme.com)

The Rise of Slavery

In the late 1600s and early 1700s, plantation owners used indentured servants to work the plantations. An indentured servant, unlike slaves, usually would agree to work for a special number of years in exchange for certain benefits such as free passage to the colonies form Europe. But this system only worked "for a little time as these servants would work their time of servitude, and then leave on their own." (Citation 14, 123helpme.com) As a result, plantation owners started buying slaves to work in the fields instead of indentured servants as this provided more labor stability. "An increase in the amount of slaves doing work on plantati...

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...ir production of cash crops. This created an increased demand for slaves. Plantation owners were now also importing large amounts of slaves to work their plantation. "In the [late] 1700s, 3 out of 4 arrivals to America were African, most of the time, slaves" (Citation 18, Eltis 15)

It is clearly seen by the evidence given in this essay that the industrial revolution had a large impact on slavery in the 13 colonies. Before the Industrial Revolution, cash crops played a small role in supporting the motherland of the colonies. After, however, the colonies had to create more cash crops to be processed by the more efficient machines. This led to nations wanting more money from the efficient output which meant they pressured the colonies into producing more cash crops. This resulted in the colonies importing more slaves to work the plantations, to meet the demand.
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