A Historical Analysis of “12 Years a Slave”: The Evolution of Slavery

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The Origins of Slavery in America

Slavery has been a big issue since the beginning of civilization. Its traced all the way back to when Europeans first settled in America. The first affected by Slavery were the Native Americans. They were the first victims of Slavery because they were seen as minorities. Spaniards captured many of them to take them back to their home. According to the book, Columbus promised the Spanish crown gold and slaves. Columbus stated, “With fifty men, they can all be subjugated and made to do what is required of them.” Many slaves suffered because they were exposed to a new environment and new diseases.

During the 1500s, Slavery was increasing throughout the world. Around 1503, a man named Juan del ponce raided Florida for slave raids. Around 1598, another man named Juan de Oñate led four hundred settlers, soldiers, and missionaries from Mexico into New Mexico. There, he had ordered to cut off a foot of every single male over the age of fifteen, and he enslaved the remaining women and children. There were many Indian slaves who would kill themselves because they could not resist harsh lives as slaves. Those who would be competent with the life of Slavery would not marry because they refused to bring in children only to have them enslaved in the future.

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African Slavery and Its Expansion

The most common Slavery we know with African Americans began when the Dutch advanced the slave trade and brought African slaves with them to the New World. Slavery was an essential part of Dutch capitalist triumphs. There were companies that would capture slaves and sell them to rich white people or were forced to work on big projects. For example, slaves in 1926 were assigned to build New Amsterdam, also currently known as New York City. They were also tasked to build a defensive wall that Is known as the modern-day Wall Street. During the early 17th Century, African Slavery was very common.

Some slaves sued for back wages and won. Many other company-owned slaves fought for the colony against the Munsee Indians and also won. Although they didn’t win their whole freedom, they had” half freedom.” Not many were as lucky as this slave; the Dutch slaves suffered terribly. According to the book, the Dutch came to exist alongside increasingly brutal systems of Slavery. Brazil wasn’t left behind in the slave trade. Over the entire history of the Atlantic slave trade, more Africans were enslaved in Brazil than in any other colony in the Atlantic World. Slave trading made sugar brought in more money than any other commodity.

The Rise and Impact of Slavery in the South

Slaves grew more and more until they finally reached the South. In 1619, a Dutch slave ship sold twenty Africans to the Virginia colonists, and that started Slavery. Africans were even chained until they reached their destinations, like Jamestown. African Americans were not only physically abused, but they were also mentally abused. They were denied humanity and were treated as a whole separate race. They thought that “blackness” was a sin. They even brought religious beliefs with them. They believed that god had punished black people. They preached that in the Old Testament, God cursed Ham, the son of Noah, and doomed black people to perpetual enslavement. Slavery was booming, and the economy grew increasingly dependent on slave labor.

Dissent and Opposition to Slavery

Not everyone agreed on Slavery. In 1706, Reverend Francis Le Jau quickly grew disillusioned by the horrors of American Slavery. He met with slaves who were ravaged by the Middle Passage. Ministers also felt bad for slaves. They would Baptize and educate slaves but frightened the masters. Alexander Falconbridge, a slave ship surgeon, described the sufferings of slaves from shipboard infections and close quarters in the hold. Historians estimate that between 24,000 and 51,000 Native Americans were forced into Slavery. Native American slaves died quickly, mostly from disease, but others were murdered or died from starvation. Slave ships transported 11–12 million Africans to destinations in North and South America. Slavery was expanding, and there was no stopping it. Beginning in the 1440s, ship captains carried

African slaves to Portugal. Charleston, South Carolina, became the leading entry point for the slave trade on the mainland.
As a proportion of the enslaved population, there were more enslaved women in North America than in other colonial slave populations. Slavery was blackening people’s life. Slave owners didn’t care at all for this “race” They even passed last, stating that the slave’s children would get passed on the mother’s “condition.” This meant that after the mother passed away, the children would have to fill in for the mother and do the job she was working on. Slavery was not only hard work; they were limited to everything, including their personal lives. Slaves were only seen as help. They weren’t even allowed to marry people they worked with, slave or not. Mixed-racial marriage was also not approved of. Slave marriages were not recognized in colonial law.

Slavery went through a rough time, but later, Slavery was seen as wrong and was even tried to stop, but it was not easy. The North and South began to clash over federal policy as Northern states gradually ended Slavery, but Southern states came to depend even more on slave labor. According to Tallmadge, Slavery was cruel and mocked the Constitution. This is because the Constitution claims freedom to all men, no matter their color, race, or ethnicity. He pro- posed that Congress should admit Missouri as a state only if bringing more slaves to Missouri was prohibited, and children born to the slaves there were freed at age twenty-five. Many other states argued about Slavery, many would be for it, and many would be against it. Missouri became pro-slavery while others, like Maine, would be declared a free state.

Slavery had many wars and fights about it. There were many angry white people who were against the free states and fought to bring Slavery back, claiming that African Americans were born to be slaves. For example, In Philadelphia, thousands of white rioters torched an antislavery meeting house and attacked black churches and homes. Slavery was a big issue, and Racial tensions also influenced popular culture. The white actor Thomas Dartmouth Rice appeared on stage in blackface, singing and dancing as a clownish slave named “Jim Crow.”

Many other white actors copied him. There was a battle between the whites and blacks. Many antislavery supporters organized boycotts of consumer products like sugar that came from slave labor, and they sold their own hand-made goods at antislavery fund-raising fairs. For many of them, the antislavery movement was a way to participate in “respectable” middle-class culture, a way for both men and women to have a say in American life.

“12 Years a Slave” in the Cotton Era

During the cotton era, Slavery was at one of its highest peaks. It was a cruel and horrible time to be a slave. Working long shifts and long hours picking cotton. Without Slavery, there could be no Cotton Kingdom, no massive production of raw materials stretching across thousands of acres worth millions of dollars. According to the book, “Slavery became a way of life, especially as farmers expanded their lands, planted more crops, and entered the international trade market.

Over the course of the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s, Slavery became so endemic to the Cotton Belt that travelers, writers, and statisticians began referring to the area as the Black Belt, not only to describe the color of the rich land but also to describe the skin color of those forced to work its fields, line its docks, and move its products.” African Americans were sold as slaves at many different prices. Prices for slaves varied drastically, depending on skin color, sex, age, and location, both of purchase and birth. In Virginia in the 1820s, for example, a single female slave of child-bearing age sold for an average of $300. An unskilled man above age eighteen sold for approximately $450. Boys and girls below age thirteen sold for around $100 and $150.

Cotton was the foundation of the Southern economy, and the idea of free slaves was not an idea. Since cotton was what helped run the economy, no slavery was just not an option. No one would work in the fields, and therefore, no money would go back into the economy. The Cotton Revolution was a time of capitalism, panic, stress, and competition. Slavery was found in both men and women. They were treated the same. Sometimes women had to do the job of the men.

Some even faced Sexual violence, unwanted pregnancies, and constant childrearing while continuing to work the fields, all of which made life as a female slave more prone to disruption and uncertainty. Slaves would often receive Christian instruction from white preachers or masters, whose religious message typically stressed slave subservience. Many slaves chose to create and practice their own versions of Christianity, one that typically incorporated aspects of traditional African religions with limited input from the white community.

Rebellion, War, and the End of Slavery

After so many years of Slavery, the rebellion would soon show. A man named Turner led the most deadly slave rebellion in the antebellum South. According to the book, Turner initiated the violence by killing his master with an ax blow to the head. By the end of the day, Turner and his band, which had grown to over fifty men, killed fifty-seven white men, women, and children on eleven farms. By the next day, the local militia and white residents had captured or killed all of the participants except Turner, who hid for a number of weeks in nearby woods before being captured and executed. The white terror that followed Nat Turner’s rebellion transformed southern religion, as anti-literacy laws increased and black-led churches were broken up and placed under the supervision of white ministers. Turner didn’t end Slavery, but he began the end of Slavery.

During the civil war, many African Americans were forced to join and fight for the country. Many were promised freedom after the war. Slavery was also controversial when it came to the government. Slavery’s existence was the essential core of the fledging Confederacy. Slavery also became controversial within politics as well. The Republican Party had risen as an antislavery faction committed to “free labor.” Many slaves began to run away from their captures. They were punished if found. They revolted and fought for their freedom. There have been many iconic faces that have been connected to freedom from Slavery.

Although Slavery eventually ended in 1865 because of laws and the emancipation proclamation. War also ensured the end of Slavery. Because racism is something that is connected to it. Racism didn’t stop when Slavery did. African Americans had their freedom, but they still faced another challenge of racism. Today, Slavery is illegal. Although there are still forms of Slavery, like human trafficking, it is not as harsh as Slavery back then. We must fight to end Slavery once and for all.

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A Historical Analysis of "12 Years a Slave": The Evolution of Slavery. (2023, Aug 11). Retrieved from https://edusson.com/examples/a-historical-analysis-of-12-years-a-slave-the-evolution-of-slavery

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