Understanding the historical context of issues is imperative, as the past always has a lingering effect on the present and future. On that note, there is much that people can learn about the current social problems in the United States by understanding the minute details of the country’s history. This paper’s precise topic of discussion is the sensitive matter of slavery in the United States and the significant events that led to its end.
The first time that the concept of slavery of African-Americans commenced was in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. People in Africa were kidnapped and sailed to the U.S. to work on a large plantation that dealt with the large-scale farming of cash crops. These crops were deemed valuable by many developed countries at the time, so they were exported and generated a considerable amount of revenue.
Therefore, these enslaved people in Africa contributed significantly to the economic growth and development manifested through the trade of cash crops. The first account of slavery was recorded in 1619 when the British government transported twenty Africans to provide forced labor to people in the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia (LaVeist et al., 2019). This encounter made people in the United States view slavery from a different perspective, as it proved to be a cheaper source of labor, which translated to higher revenue. Enslaved Africans labored mainly on the southern coast’s tobacco, rice, and indigo plantations. Slavery was prevalent in the Southern hemisphere, from the Chesapeake colonies of Maryland and Virginia south to Georgia.
Events that Led to the End of Slavery in America
The American Revolution
The abolition of slavery in the United States happened because of several incidences. One of the most significant ones was the American Revolution, which is a crucial period in the political history of the United States. The American Revolution was characterized by military and political tussle after thirteen British North-American colonies rejected imperial rule. The American Revolution happened because people felt mistreated and could not bear the harsh conditions associated with imperial governance.
Intricacies arose when British colonies and France waged a costly land war, and the British government adopted several additional levies to recuperate these costs. As a result, the British implemented the Townshend Act, which imposed a tax on various vital items, including tea. The rising discontent among Americans in the aftermath of this event resulted in the invasion of Boston by British forces in 1768 (Krieger, 2021). Two years later, a mob assembled around a squad of military men amid the commotion. Without direct instruction, the troops opened fire at the crowd, murdering five individuals and injuring six more. The significance of the American Revolution was to fight against all forms of oppression. Following the American Revolution, many colonists, especially in the North, where enslavement was irrelevant to the agriculture-based economy, came to connect the oppression of enslaved Africans with their attrition by the British and called for the abolition of slavery.
The Civil War
The Northern States had no use for forced labor, so they found it necessary to end the barbaric act of slavery. Their reason for going against the slave trade was their firm belief that it was dehumanizing and similar to colonization, which Americans were subjected to by imperial rule. However, people from the Southern states were overly reliant on enslaved people to run their plantations, so they were firmly against the abolishment of slavery in America. The civil war occurred between the year 1861 to the year 1865, and it was between the Northern and Southern states (Shackel, 2022). The primary reason for the conflict was a disagreement over whether slavery would be allowed to extend into western regions, resulting in new slave states, or if it would be prohibited, putting slavery on a path to extinction.
Years of political debate about slavery were driven to a peak by Abraham Lincoln’s win in the 1860 U.S. presidential election, who opposed slavery’s advance into the West (Shackel, 2022). Following Lincoln’s election, seven southern slave states seceded from the United States and became part of the Confederacy in 1861. Within its boundaries, the Confederacy captured forts of the United States and other government assets. Confederate President Jefferson Davis led the Confederacy to capture over fifty percent of the United States territory in eleven out of the thirty-four U.S. states that were present at the time. Four years of heavy fighting occurred, especially in the South. The northern states won this war, and the slave trade was eventually outlawed.
The 19th of June 1865 marks the day of freedom from slavery and till now, African-Americans celebrate this day as a day of liberation. This particular day is better known as Juneteenth. The abolishment of the slave trade in the United States was necessary because it gave black people in the U.S. some sense of dignity. Nonetheless, the sensitivity of this period in history has never abated as issues about slavery are considered quite radicalizing in the society of the contemporary United States.
Krieger, G. J. (2021). Why the British Lost the American Revolution. 12. Web.
LaVeist, T. A., Fullilove, M., & Fullilove, R. (2019). 400 Years of Inequality since Jamestown of 1619. American Journal of Public Health, 109(1), 83–84. Web.
Shackel, P. (2022). Negotiating the Memory of the American Civil War [Chapter]. Cultural Encounters and Tolerance through Analyses of Social and Artistic Evidences: From History to the Present; IGI Global. Web.