Slavery and freedom have always been intertwined in American history. Some of the first settlers in the New World were indentured servants, who agreed to work for a set period of time in exchange for their passage to America.
While indentured servitude was not Slavery in the strictest sense of the word, it was a form of forced labor that often left workers subject to brutal conditions and little hope of ever achieving true freedom.
The rise of the slave trade in the 1600s brought thousands of Africans to America, where they were bought and sold as property. Slavery would become one of the most divisive issues in American history, pitting North against South and leading to the Civil War.
In 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery, but the legacy of slavery would continue to haunt America for generations to come. Today, the issue of freedom is still at the forefront of American society, as we grapple with questions of immigration, workers’ rights, and social justice.
The development of freedom and equality in this nation [America] was accompanied by the development of slavery (Slavery and Freedom: An American Paradox, page 5). This statement is true as a paradox.
A paradox is defined as a statement or proposition that appears to be self-contradictory or absurd but really conveys a genuine truth (Dictionary.com). In his essay Slavery and Freedom: An American Paradox, Edmund S. Morgan specifically points out that the advancements in liberty and equality were coupled with slavery’s expansion at the same time.
He argues that in the 1600s both Europeans and Africans were indentured servants. They both had a term of labor, usually around seven years, and then they would be free (Morgan, page 3). So then why was one group seen as property while the other was not? The answer to this question can be found if we look at the development of liberty and equality in America.
The English colonies in North America were born from a desire for freedom. The English settlers who came to America were looking for religious freedom and political freedom. They did not want to be controlled by the English monarchy or the Church of England.
The colonies were also born out of a desire for economic opportunity and land ownership. In England, it was very difficult to own land. The English monarchy owned most of the land and the aristocracy owned the rest. This left very little opportunity for poor Englishmen to own land. So they came to America in search of a better life.
The English colonies were born out of a desire for freedom, but they were also built on the backs of slaves. The English settlers who came to America brought with them the practice of slavery. Slavery was an economic necessity in the early days of the colonies. The settlers needed a cheap labor force to help them build their homes and farms and to harvest their crops. So they turned to the African slaves who had been brought over by the Spanish and Portuguese colonists.
Slavery was not just an economic necessity in the early days of the colonies, it was also a way to keep the peace. The English settlers were constantly at war with the Native Americans. The Native Americans saw the English settlers as a threat to their land and their way of life. So they attacked the settlements and killed the settlers. In order to protect themselves, the English colonists began to import African slaves. They believed that the African slaves would be more docile and less likely to rebel than the Native Americans.
The English colonists also believed that the African slaves were less human than they were. This belief allowed them to justify the practice of slavery. The English colonists thought of themselves as civilized people and they thought of the Africans as savages. This belief was used to justify the brutal treatment of the slaves. The English colonists believed that they were doing the slaves a favor by taking them out of their savage homeland and giving them the opportunity to live in a civilized society.
The practice of slavery was also justified by the fact that it was legal in England. Slavery was not abolished in England until 1833. So, when the English colonists came to America, they brought with them the legal institution of slavery.
The English colonies were not the only ones who practiced slavery. The Spanish and Portuguese colonies also had slaves. In fact, slavery was practiced all over the world. But, it was the English colonies that were founded on the principles of freedom and equality. So, how could a country that was founded on the principles of freedom and equality also have slaves?
The answer to this question can be found in the development of liberty and equality in America. In the early days of the colonies, the English settlers were not concerned with the rights of others. They only cared about their own rights. They did not think about the rights of the Native Americans or the Africans. They only thought about their own right to religious freedom and political freedom.
It was not until later that the concept of equality began to develop in America. This development was spurred by two events: the American Revolution and the Industrial Revolution.
The American Revolution was fought for the principles of liberty and equality. The Founding Fathers believed that all men were created equal. They believed that all men had the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These beliefs were put into the Declaration of Independence.
The Industrial Revolution also played a role in the development of equality in America. The Industrial Revolution led to the rise of capitalism. Capitalism is an economic system in which people are free to buy and sell goods and services. This system leads to competition among businesses. The businesses that are the most efficient and produce the best products will succeed while the others will fail.
The rise of capitalism led to the development of a middle class. The middle class is made up of people who are not wealthy but who are not poor either. They are able to afford things like education and healthcare.
The development of the middle class led to the development of a new set of values. These values included things like education, hard work, and progress. The middle class began to think about the rights of others. They began to think about the rights of women and minorities.
The development of equality in America led to the abolition of slavery. Slavery was abolished in 1865 with the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment made slavery illegal in the United States.
The abolition of slavery did not immediately lead to equality for all Americans. African Americans were still discriminated against after the Civil War. They were not given the same rights as white Americans. It was not until later, with the Civil Rights Movement, that African Americans finally achieved equality.
Today, the United States is still a country with a lot of inequality. There is a great deal of wealth inequality and poverty. But, the United States is also a country with a lot of opportunity. People from all over the world come to America in search of a better life.
The United States is a country with a long history of slavery and freedom. The two have always been intertwined. The story of America is the story of the struggle for equality. It is a story that is still being written today.