Essay on Slavery in the Americas in the 19th Century

Published: 2022/01/11
Number of words: 1240

Slave trade refers to the Trans-Atlantic trading routes that were started in the 17th Century. Ships full of trading goods and supplies would sail from the European continent to the West African Coast. The goods were exchanged with slaves provided by the African slave traders. Once the ships were full, they would set sail up to the Caribbean or the Americas. In the ships, slaves were kept under very cramped conditions. They were closely packed together with little or no food, little turning room, and a filthy environment. Many of them did not survive the voyages.

In the slave trade’s daily practice, slaves were treated like physical manifestations of the grouping traders used to pick their other goods. For instance, there were slaves in category 1, 2nd rate, and so forth. Walter (118) puts it that slaves would then be grouped according to those categories along with other supplies. This is referred to as commoditization. It happened between the 17th and late 19th centuries, sprawled in over 17 states, and involved over ten million African and African-American slaves. When they reached the Americas, they were sold at public sites. These deals happened mostly at port towns. However, after the sale of slaves was prohibited in 1807, inland business sectors jumped up also. By the 1860s, people were already being put up for sale as slaves, whose unique African great-great-grandparents had come to America in mid-1600, speaking of over one and half centuries of commoditized heredity (Hirschman & Ronald 236).

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To improve their attractiveness, slaves being unloaded were taken care of, cleaned, their hair cut, and brushed. Gray hairs were culled out or, if excessively various, were colored. Oil was spread on their lips and cheeks to improve their exterior look. They were then isolated into age and sexual orientation. Families were isolated abruptly, and any who opposed were flogged into accommodation.

Individually the slaves would be put in closed cages. Forthcoming buyers would scrutinize slaves about their work capacities. The slave frequently would be approached to exercise to perceive their state of being; eyes, teeth, and ears were inspected to decide their health. Female slaves who had all the earmarks of being acceptable reproducers were especially pursued. African American slaves generally spent their lives as a commoditized element. Beginning adolescence forward, slaves toiled not for the benefit of their master. Johnson puts it that:

“To be possessed by someone else… as a house or table is possessed. To live as a bit of property that could be sold a youngster sold from its mom, a spouse from her better half. To be viewed as not human, but rather a “thing” that furrowed the fields, cut the wood, prepared the food, breastfed another’s youngster; a “thing” whose sole capacity was dictated by the person who possessed you” (Walter 120).

A particular individual owned the slaves; this had a few consequences for their status as goods. First, their personalities got attached to their owner’s. Each slave was allocated surname of their proprietor or state. While among themselves, they allocated themselves African first names. They would habitually be called by their master their first name. Despite that, a self-appreciation personality was present among numerous slaves, even though it might be disturbed if the slaves were traded. The traded slave would consequently be relegated to another family name and maybe even another first name by the following proprietor. Although slave-traders did all they could to pitch for their ‘commodities’, unscrupulous sellers had emerged and started selling sickly and weak slaves because they were no longer useful. Slave buyers noticed the trick and resorted to race to identify most suitable, strong slaves. That is when even the colonialists started making captives of war and the convicted indigenous Americans and American Indians their slaves (Walter 120).

Skin color turned out to be more than a color difference; it turned into the marker of two unmistakable people groups, the white and the dark. Racial bias in opposition to African-origin people groups co-advanced with English and American slavery, but people of black color were not the only slaves, nor were the white people the solitary slave masters. For the greater part of the 17th C, indigenous Americans controlled nearly the whole part of North America. Only after over a hundred years of English-American contact and perceptions of countless Indians killed by infections did colonialists come to consider them to be in some way or another more “American” than the landmass’ natives (Lockeley 337).

All 17th century, racial ideologies did not state straightforwardly towards contemporary views of racial hierarchy. Chief Thomas Phillips, for example, an expert of slave-trade transportation in 1694, never legitimized his Captain work with such a belief: “There is no need to value whites than blacks, we only think towards that line because we are white.” For Phillips, the profit of slaver-trade was the only legitimization he needed (Douglass & Harriet 47).

English natives in the Caribbean utilized Indian slaves just as imported Africans. Jacobs & Adams (155) posits that before colonialists’ interruption, fighting indigenous societies may take captives of battle from adversary clans to be beheaded as a sign of victory, exchanged to associated Indian assembly as blessings fused into the territory of their subjugators. Throughout the period of colonization, Europeans abused these frameworks of aboriginal slavery in numerous regions of the Americas. Settlers bought prisoners from the Indian dealers with firearms, blades, liquor, and other fabricated products. Colonialists transformed the bought captives into slaves who worked on ranches in different capacities: trackers and gatherers, field workers, domestic laborers, fishermen, and mistresses. As the slave exchange between the Indians and colonialists turned out to be more important, illicit attacks, instead of purchases, turned out to be normal. Courts would likewise punish sentenced Indians by giving them for profit into bondage (Lockely 344).

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Wars presented the most widely known methods for colonialists to obtain indigenous Americans too. Seventeenth-century European legitimate idea held that making detainees of war slaves was lawful, and more compassionate than murdering the prisoners outright. After the Pequot War of 1636-1637, Colonialists in the Massachusetts Bay offered several American Indians to the West Indies. A couple of years after that, Dutch pioneers in New Jersey and York enslaved Indians during the War of 1641 to 45 and the two wars of Eposus between 1659 and 1664 (Slavery and the Making of Race | US History I (AY Collection), 2020).

It can be deduced that although African-Americans formed the majority of the ‘commodities’, colonialists in the early Americas utilized other races. This paper has ventured into the issue of commoditization from the perspective of slavery only. Thorough research on what isolates people from goods and the areas where they might be used is recommendable.

Works Cited 2020. Slavery And The Making Of Race | US History I (AY Collection). [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 22 December 2020].

Douglass, Frederick, and Harriet A. Jacobs. Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave. Random House Digital, Inc., 2000.

Hirschman, Elizabeth C., and Ronald P. Hill. “On human commoditization: A model based upon African-American slavery.” ACR North American Advances (1999).

Jacobs, Harriet, and Julie R. Adams. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. ProQuest LLC, 2002.

Johnson, Walter. Soul by soul. Harvard University Press, 2009.

Lockley, Timothy James. Race and slavery. Oxford University Press, 2010.

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