Type: History
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Slavery as a Social System

Slavery refers to the social system in which the captives are considered as the property of their masters (slave owners). Slaves could be sold, bought and coerced to provide free labor at the discretion of their masters. Typical of the American slave system, the slaves were forcefully held captive by their masters from the time of their purchase, capture or birth and thereafter they were required to submit to the authorities of the master and yield to forced free labor without any objection. Historically, the social practice of slavery was recognized in several societies in different parts of the world. Historical records show that slavery was in practice in many cultures of the world such as the medieval Europe, Asia, Americas and Middle East. Therefore, this article aims to determine the origin, operation, and effects of the black system slavery in America.

The Origin and Operation of Black Slavery in America

The origin of the slavery in America could be traced back to the history of Aztecs, Creek of Georgia, Inca of Andes, and Comanche of Texas (wood, 2005). These were states that were principally dominated by the slave owners. A good number of slaves were moved from Africa to America during the colonial era courtesy of the ongoing slave trade between British colonies and the America (Finkelman, 2006). This was because of kidnapping of most of the African boys and girls, especially those aged 18 years and below, who were carrying their daily chores such as collecting firewood. The young African generation was considered more promising in terms of labor service delivery. Most of the slaves who were moved to North America had been born in West Africa in the 17th and 18th centuries (Finkelman, 2006).

Formerly, the blacks were considered servants and not slaves by the pilgrims and they were given freedom after attaining the age of 25 years (Finkelman, 2006). This changed when the Dutch started embracing slave trade in 1621. The slave African males were sold at $27 each and they were put into intensive labor force for only 70 cents per day and some instances they could work without pay. States such as Massachusetts and Connecticut legalized slave trade since it was considered beneficial to the agricultural sectors (Finkelman, 2006).

Virginia also followed the trend of legalizing slave trade since and the first black slaves who arrived in Virginia in 1619 were 19; they were brought by the Holland traders who captured them from a Spanish ship meant for slaves. Virginia got the slaves due to the trading in tobacco that was initiated by Jamestown (Finkelman, 2006). The African women were exchanged for one hundred and twenty pounds of tobacco. The success of tobacco trade led to the Virginia law makers legalizing slave trade. This saw the number of black slaves increase tremendously in Virginia. Moreover, by seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the black American slaves had occupied all the North American colonies of England. This saw the number of the black salves rise to 600’000.

However, this changed because of the oppressions from the Britain colonies. Both the black Americans and the Native Americans were tortured and this brought a new face to the black American slaves (Wood, 2005). The colonial wars against the Yamasees, Tuscaroras and Pequots led to the enslavement of Native Americans, especially in Carolina (Wood, 2005). This gave the black American sigh of relieve since after experiencing the same agony, they intermarried with the Native Americans.

Effects of the System of the Black Slavery in America

Black slavery in America had a mixed blessing to the blacks. The first negative impact is the issue of racism in America. From the American history, the blacks have struggled to gain their right and to free themselves from the hands of oppression from the whites (Marger, 2009). This was brought about by slave trade that saw a good number of Africans move to occupy a better part of the American land. The black slaves lived in a pathetic condition on the plantations that they were forced to work on (Marger, 2009).

They were physically abused and overcrowded in wooden shattered shelters, which led to the death of quite a number of them. They suffered from diseases such as respiratory diseases and were denied access to healthcare, which also resulted into to the death of quite a number of the slaves. The slave also languished in abject poverty; and illiteracy among the slaves reached its peak (Marger, 2009). Further, the slaves were racially discriminated against in the American society; they could neither vote nor be elected into a public office. On the contrary, to the slave owners, the agricultural activities increased due to continuous labor supply by the black slaves.


Access to information was a problem to most of the black slaves since the slave owners were afraid that doing so would facilitate the escapes of most of them (Marger, 2009). Consequently, they were denied the opportunity of getting educated and to ensure they were completely dependent and helpless. They were brutally treated to instill fear and complete submission in them. On the positive side, the black slaves intermarried with Native American after the colonial war against the Yamasees and the Pequots. This led to the exchange of culture between the two societies that led to peaceful coexistence. Moreover, some slave owner improved the living condition of the salves to prevent them from escaping (Marger, 2009).

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