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American Slavery: Immoral and Profitable

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    American slavery became a profitable but controversial institution. Slavery in my opinion was never a good thing regardless of time, place or race. I’ve always felt American slavery was wrong because it held human beings in bondage under inhumane conditions for free labor. Slavery prevented human beings from basic civil rights enjoyed by us today. Slavery was an immoral institution and was motivated primarily for profit along with other factors. The enslavement of Africans and African descendants was a crime against humanity.

    It was a crime against humanity because of its offensive barbarism, its magnitude, long duration, and number of people it brutalized and murdered. It’s the largest forced migration in history and caused the deaths of millions. The African Slave Trade by Basil Davidson showed us slavery coming from Africa and into the Americas. Davidson showed how slavery in Africa and the brutal form of slavery that would develop in the Americas were surpassingly different. African slavery was more affiliated with European servitude which was the condition of most Europeans in the 15th century.

    In West Africa, for example, slaves could marry, own property and even own slaves. And slavery ended after a certain number of years of servitude. That idea came to the Americas but down the line there was a shift in thought. Most importantly, African slavery was never passed from one generation to another, and it lacked the racist concept that whites were masters and blacks were slaves. Before slavery began Northern Europeans would even entertain African royalty. Europeans spoke of barbaric and cannibals in the Southern part of African but there was no idea of inferiority. They supposed no natural inferiority in Africans, no inherent failure to develop and mature. That was to be the great myth of later years…” So the idea of racial inequality seemed to not exist initially according to Davidson. The African slave trade was a result of trading. Europeans would trade goods with Africans. Europeans became technologically advanced and According to Davidson, the slave trade worked so well as a stranglehold was because it was a unidirectional relationship, there was no give and take.

    Davidson explains, “To Europe the trade with Africa was always enrichment; and this enrichment could and did help Europe into new and more productive forms of society and government” (284). In other words, the labor force from Africa helped the Europeans establish a new social and economic structure, capitalism. Europeans begin trading with African for goods. Davidson attributes the growth of the trade to demand for labor in the New World that was not met by either Native Americans or by indentured servants. In essence, slaving became a royal enterprise and there was a lot of money to be gained.

    Money became important as Africans desperately traded slaves for technology. Africans lost a lot because they did have a stable a social and economic structure. This contributed to the myths of African/black inferiority to whites. According to Davidson Europeans believed that “the slave trade was a ‘natural’ outcome of African indifference to human life” (284). This helped me to understand the mindset of historians such as Ulrich B. Philips who wrote American Negro Slavery (1928). Phillips through research of plantation records focused on the master slave relationship.

    He believed slavery was a burden of unprofitability and that planters maintained these institutions for other reasons. Philips provided examples to show that slaved were lazy docile, and incompetent and gave notion that slave masters were paternalistic. Philips saw the social and moral behavior of blacks under slavery as a result of the race not as a consequence of slavery. Kenneth M. Stampp, who wrote The Peculiar Institution (1956), stripped away the South’s romanticism about slavery. Separation and isolation, not freedom, contributed to the destruction of the African slaves.

    Louisiana slaves, Stampp told the reader, literally ate dirt and clay. Malnourishment and horrible living conditions meant that slaves lived little better than animals. Violence and terror entered into the slave’s life often. Flogging in particular became the chief mode of physical punishment for unruly or defiant slaves. The effectiveness of constant physical punishment was limited, for slaves often ran away after being whipped. Above all, Stampp finds that slavery remained a labor system and an institution for controlling race relations. The institution allowed upper class slave owners social control and profitability.

    He discusses how slave owners could move up in class and if they owned more than 30 slaves were highly efficient and became planters Slavery to me has always been a wrong and unjust institution. My opinions will never change about slavery. Slavery stripped away families, freedom, and progression for the African people. In spite of my opinions, my knowledge base has been opened to the ideas of evolution as it relates to slavery. I’ve had great insights about the African Slave trade and I am now eager to learn more about slavery. With all of my extended knowledge and insight slavery was never a good thing regardless of time or place.

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    American Slavery: Immoral and Profitable. (2016, Oct 23). Retrieved from

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