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Slavery In the North and South

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Contrary to what many people in this country believe, slavery took place in the North and the South. In fact, Massachusetts was the first colony to legalize slavery. By the year 1700, Rhode Island had surpassed Massachusetts as the chief importer of slaves in the north. Major slave ports included Boston, Salem, Providence, and New London. The tariffs that were enforced upon slave imports were used to pay for community projects, such as repairs to roads and bridges. At the beginning of importing and exporting Africans, slavery disguised itself as indentured servitude.

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But the reality was that indentured servants, of African origin, were often turned into slaves against their will and against the contract they had signed to enter to the New World. Indentured servitude became outdated and old-fashioned due to the fact that the general society was uncomfortable with allowing former servants to purchase land after their contract expired. Another reason for this is due the fact that servants were much more expensive to replace than slaves.

Lastly, making black slaves gave an easily identified mark— one skin color determined who the horse was and who the king was.

Slavery existed in New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Massachusetts and the other Northern states. Famous Northerners, such as John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, and William Henry Steward (the 24th secretary of state, in President Lincoln’s cabinet) were slave-owners. Although slaver was abolished in New England by 1804 slavery continued in the northern colonies for another 80 years. Northerners profited from slavery in many ways. New England’s manufacturing empire was based on shipping and their shipping money was acquired through the trading of slaves.

Without a workforce as large as the slavery had offered, the towns, cities and companies would have taken sustainably longer to develop and prosper in the way that they did. The poor, landless white indentured servant was a problem for the colonial establishment elevating them above the African slave solved two problems: African slaves were more abundant and easy to come by, and the landless hapless white servant now had a reason to feel superior. The white indentured servant could vent their hostility at the Africans and thus provided the upper class with a buffer.

This led to an eventual phasing-out of indentured servitude, and the rise in slavery. An example of how fearful the colonial establishment was of the rising dissatisfaction that the landless felt was the Bacon Rebellion of 1676. Here slaves and Indentured servants got together and tried to overtake the planters of Virginia. The reason why slavery was abolished in the North had more to do with the expense associated with keeping slaves and with the need for the economy to have workers who could fuel the needs of the industrial revolution.

The north did not have a large-scale agrarian society so slavery did not come to be relied upon the same way it was relied upon in the south; Slavery also lost its hold in the North because of the Revolutionary War with Britain. As Britain moved throughout the newly created United States of America, it freed the slaves, using them to help Britain wage its war against the new founded country. The puritan influence was also a factor in the freeing of slaves. The idea that freedom should be accessible to all came into conflict with the concept of slavery.

However, it is also clear that the Puritan ethic led Northerners to erase their hand in the slave trade. Ultimately, this ability to forget their part in the slave trade led the Northern colonies to believe that the southern slave system was alien and set apart from their own lifestyle. The north was less conducive to farming. However, for the most part, this was the mainstay of families in the northern colonies. Towns were built around these farms and these towns produced areas for other industry.

The church, the general store, and the entertainment industries of bars and hotel services all grew up alongside the farming community. Because the northern colonies were along the coastline, many industries were built up around living life near the water. To earn a living, people engaged aquatic activities in fishing, whaling, and shipbuilding. Because the land was so unsuitable for large scale farming, the northern colonies developed different than their warm, southern counterparts. Fur trading and timber were large enterprises in the Northern colonies.

The harsh conditions also made it necessary that every member of the family be a part of the family’s survival. Children were not educated formally unless they were from the upper class of society. However, every white person was expected to know and be able to read the Bible. Religion was an important center of community life. The church established both secular and religious law, and enforced both. It is no surprise that higher education started in the North, with Harvard opening in 1636. The northern states were made of people from England and the Netherlands. As a

result, the architecture, clothing, types of food enjoyed, and social activities differed from their southern counterparts. In New England for instance, stones were used to build cellars so that one could have frost free winter storage. The layout of the home was to maximize warmth from the fireplace and slope of the roof was made to compensate and distribute the weight of heavy snowfall. The northern treatment of slaves was also influenced by the British and Dutch cultures, often seemingly less harsh in their treatment of servants and slaves than their French and Spanish competitors in the south.

Family life was also culturally influenced with men hunting, fishing, and tanning animal hides to make clothing. Women and children worked inside the home making textiles and preparing food. In the south, everyone had to be on hand to plant and harvest crops and thus the division of labor seemed much different than in the South. The conditions under which the northern and southern colonies developed were vastly different from one another. Culture, geographic location, religious, and philosophical differences produced two distinct economic and social systems.

However, it is very clear that slavery was the constant thread through which businesses flourished and many colonists got rich. The slave trade continues to be a shameful mark upon all the achievements that occurred in the Colonial Americas and in the United States. Slavery’s abolishment came as a result of economic necessity rather than moral indignation and any attempt to forget this devalues the horrors that slavery inflicted on the African people who came to the New world.

Cite this Slavery In the North and South

Slavery In the North and South. (2016, Jul 11). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/slavery-in-the-north-and-south/

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