From First Contact to the Civil War

From First Contact to the Civil War

HIS 300

From First Contact to the Civil War

The idea of the slave trade can be traced way back in 1619 when the Dutch offered to present the Africans that were captured from West Africa to the Americans. This became the genesis of this social vice that tore the Africans apart and other nations at large. The side effects of the slave trade are still reigning to date in the African nations, and most specifically the West African nations. Even though the Africans were humiliated and perceived as subjects of trade by the Americans, the struggle towards survival from this demise bore fruits, and it is explicitly rooted in the West Africans traditions (Waterhouse, 2006). The Europeans maximized on slave trade after the outcome that they received from the principal African slaves who were conveyed to the North America soil, at Jamestown in Virginia in the year 1619, with the motive of boosting crop production such as tobacco.

Majority of the Africans nations are known for their high reliability in agriculture. In fact, it is the entire African continent that is agricultural dependent. The connotation that Africans rely highly on agriculture implies that Africa is a continent built of hardworking persons who are used to hard labor. The people of West Africa became the first victims of slavery after close monitoring of their hard work by the Europeans (Epstein, 2004). The famous subjugation of the Africans into slavery took the American settlement by a wave in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, the time in which the African-American slaves orchestrated the monetary principles of the new country.

The critical factor that heightened the slave trade operations in America was the creation of the cotton gin in 1793, calling for higher demand for labor force in the southern economy. The American civil war that took effect in 1861-1865 was as a result of the westbound that saw some parts of America rapidly developing than other parts due to the input obtained from the slaves working in the plantations. One remarkable development was the liberation of the Union which saw a rough figure of 4 million slaves liberated, and this is part of the rich American history in as far as the slave trade narration is concerned. The Americans history is rarely narrated without the mention of their legacy of servitude and how it unfolded all along in the years of reconstruction in the 1865-1877, and the impact could be felt even in the social liberty development observed in the 1960s (Hummel,2013).

However much the slave trade and slavery, in general, is discouraged by the historians, it is worth noting that the first twenty slaves that were introduced in the town of Jamestown in 1619 obligated with the servitude policies and felt part and parcel of the Americans growing economy. In fact, it is unfortunate that some of these slaves started claiming slaves themselves, subjecting their fellow Africans to slavery and torture. This selfless service to the Americans made the slave trade gain roots by 1640s, and the Africans acquired genetic bondage in the American soil where they lived to serve as slaves for many years. The main operational base for the capture and trading of the slaves remained situated at Virginia, and by the next two decades, the Jamestown acquired the acknowledgment as the slavery center.

The magnitude of slavery and slave trade intensified with the expansion of the importation of tobacco by the Englishmen, as it was the primary source of revenue in Virginia. In the 1690s, the tobacco importation intensified further in Virginia, making it necessary to hunt for more slaves from the African soil. In fact, the situation became more serious in 1750 when the subjugation became regular and got sanctioned in Georgia, especially in the thirteen available settlements. The slave trade and slavery started taking effect even among the Europeans and Indians with the minorities being subjected to manual work. However, the situation favored their escape and majority of them escaped the mistreatments and left the Africans in bondage.

The Americans in the 1670s and mid-1700, particularly in Carolina, experienced the ruthless treatments and strikes after defrauding the Timucua’s, Gauss, and the Apalanchees, making the Africans turn into America’s prime guarantors. The Indians took advantage of the landscape, and with the hidden exchange taking effect, they escaped the oppression, and this meant that the Europeans could easily escape the slavery era. The Indians and the Americans threw the ball unto the Africans, and they effortlessly escaped the misery.

The climatic conditions in the south were favorable for agriculture, and this meant there was a high demand for manual labor. Such crops as rice, tobacco, and indigo did so well that the southern technically required more attention to boosting the economy than the Northern provinces. For this reason, arrangements were made where the European settlers worked, not as slaves, but as casual contract laborers which lasted for seven years at the most. The reality is that Virginia, followed by Maryland had the biggest population of the enslaved persons through the pilgrim period. The state of Carolina was equally highly populated by the slaves, and even after the split into north and South Carolina in 1663, the slaves constituted the largest part of the population in these states. Further, South Carolina subdivided into two provinces in 1701, and the slave aggregate population did not reduce any further, tallying to sixty percent in 1765. The seventeenth and the eighteenth century are historically remembered for the high black slave population on the south coast, tilling in the rice, tobacco and indigo plantations.

The conflict of interest arose in the American Revolution era of 1775-1783 when numerous homestead owners in the north started assisting the slaves in the south to escape towards the north. Also, the mistreatments of the slaves by the British raised the alarm, and there was a need to amend the constitution and see into it that the slaves were constitutionally recognized. Although the implication seemed to work in favor of the American economy as they looked forward into taxing the slave operations, the slaves benefitted concurrently as they were not excessively forced into hard labor as it was the norm. According to the constitution, any individual who was held to work or administer a conspicuous double speak for subjugation had the privilege repossessed by the government from the slave owner.

The Africans slaves worked for hand in hand with other slavery abolitionists from the north and helped a large number of slaves escape from the south. This became the genesis of the effective abolition of the slave trade with a large number of slaves escaping through the famous Underground Railroad practice in the 1830s. In fact, the practice was so effective that 40000 to 100000 slaves managed to escape to the north and escaped the torturous southern investors (Lancaster, 1999). The Underground Railroad spread an emotion wave in the north, making the majority of the northerners gang up for the abolition of the slave trade in general. The southerners, however, restricted the practice and they reached to the northern masterminds trying to stop them from disrupting their already running economic practice.

As the battle intensified, the thirteenth amendment was achieved, creating some hopes for the liberation of the black slaves. The slaves in bondage got the chance to acquire citizenship and the equivalent assurance which was penned down in the fourteenth amendment in 1868. Eventually, the slaves got the privilege to vote in the fifteenth amendment in 1870. Although the constitution was meant to protect the status of the slaves, it took a long time to achieve this accomplishment in several parts of the American soil. The constitution was disregarded, and the majority of the previously enslaved Africans continued to serve the Americans and got subjected to the harsh conditions as it previously stood.

As time lapsed away, the reconstruction period started losing meaning among the African Americans, and the white supremacy took shape once more, and bigot associations came into existence. The most remarkable bigot association was the Klux Klan which had its roots in the south way later in 1877. The situation worsened, and most slaves in the New Jersey had to chip away at little homesteads since there was a rise of harsh subjugation than even in the south (Boles, 2015). The slaves found themselves working even in private firms in the New Jersey, with some working in iron works in Burlington County, and others in copper mining owned by the Schuyler family in the Bergen County.

In conclusion, the rise and downfall of slavery and the slave trade had a significant association with the west African input. The subjugation saw the Africans oppressed and subjected to hard work, but they gathered courage towards liberation. The input of the northerners in the abolition of the slave trade cannot be looked down upon. It is through the input of the northerners that the above-narrated events towards the abolition of slavery took effect.


Boles, J. B. (2015). Black Southerners, 1619-1869. University Press of Kentucky.

Epstein, R. A. (2004). The Case Against Black Reparations. BUL Rev., 84, 1177.

Hummel, J. (2013). Emancipating slaves, enslaving free men: a history of the American civil war. Open court.

Lancaster Jr, D. A. (1999). The Alchemy and Legacy of the United States of America’s Sanction of Slavery and Segregation: A Property Law and Equitable Remedy Analysis of African American Reparations. Howard LJ, 43, 171.

Waterhouse, C. (2006). Avoiding Another Step in a Series of Unfortunate Legal Events: A Consideration of Black Life Under American Law From 1619 to 1972 and a Challenge to Prevailing Notions of Legally Based Reparations. BC Third World LJ, 26, 207.