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Slavery in the United States of America is a highly important topic to discuss even at the present moment. Although this regime and level of racial discrimination have been left in the past, people must still learn the history of American slaves who were owned by white citizens. Not only does this let one learn more about the country in which they reside, but it also shows its citizens how freedom was gained for all inhabitants. The following paper will present a discussion of slavery in the USA and an explanation of the tremendous impact it made on the lives of all Americans. It will also include a description of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and coverage of various Civil War events.
As mentioned in the introductory section, slavery existed in a period when the United States of America was not an attractive country for immigrants from Africa. Once a black person was noticed in towns or cities, he or she could be caught and sold to slaveholders, regardless of their free status (Berlin 26). Although these people could have families and jobs, their freedoms were disregarded by other citizens due to their skin color, which was the main basis for discrimination. It is a well-known fact that nowadays those with racist beliefs are disapproved of in the US. However, when the famous American Revolution was going on, people with black skin were treated as representatives of a lower racial caste (Thirty-Ninth Congress of the USA). It is necessary to mention that individuals of Arabic, Hispanic, or other non-white ethnic backgrounds were not enslaved and were regarded as free people of color (Berlin 54).
The majority of slaves transferred from Africa were forced to work on the cotton plantations of businessmen from the CSA (Confederative States of America). They also worked at farms, mills, and other places that required cheap human labor. As mentioned previously in the paper, black people were not paid for their hard work. In addition, their living conditions were inappropriate – they had no access to clean water for hygienic purposes, no beds, no private rooms, and so on (Berlin 27). It would be accurate to state that many black people could not bear living in such conditions. Their lives were short, with a majority of them dying because of fatigue and exhaustion (Berlin 32). Some of those who were enslaved might be treated better than others if their owner saw that a particular person worked hard and brought much profit to his or her slaveholder. The majority of people deprived of their rights had to work in fields under the burning sun for more than twelve hours every day. They were not allowed to have any days off or vacations.
The situation with slavery became critical, with white people disregarding the rights of individuals from Africa, and the government of the USA became seriously concerned with the idea of emancipation (Thirty-Ninth Congress of the USA). It appeared that almost all businesses situated in the territories of the CSA back then were powered by slaves. However, Afro-Americans’ civil rights were respected in the Northern part of the country when Abraham Lincoln was in rule. The president wanted to make all people in his country free and equal (Thirty-Ninth Congress of the USA). After he was elected in 1860, the politician started considering the emancipation of slaves (Lincoln). Nevertheless, his colleagues told him that giving freedom to the approximately four million black people from the Southern states of the country would have an adverse impact on its economy and the well-being of white citizens in the CSA.
Abraham Lincoln asked governors of several states in the South to support his emancipation strategy (Lincoln). All seven territories (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Georgia, and Texas) refused to free their slaves and become part of the Northern States. Although many governors refused to support Lincoln’s strategy, they had to stand against his army forces in the Civil War that started later. The main purpose of the multiple battles between the Union and the Confederates was to make all people in the country free and equal.
When the war was almost over, President Lincoln issued and signed the Emancipation Proclamation on the first day of 1863, ordering “That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free,” (Lincoln). Almost three million former slaves were freed. In response to this, some slave-owners took their workers and moved to the South or other territories outside of the country as they believed that their economic system would be destroyed according to the new laws of the United States of America (Berlin 71). Indeed, black people were fully freed even in the Southern states once the Civil War was over.
Unfortunately, the American economy was not as stable and prosperous as it has become in the present. Therefore, many black people preferred to stay and work for their previous masters after the war ended in 1865, as they could not find any other jobs (Berlin 63). Indeed, the Reconstruction Era was a hard time for all people who inhabited the former CSA. However, nowadays, American citizens cannot even think about going back to this regime of discrimination based on race. However, the thirteenth amendment that was issued at the end of the Civil War stated that every citizen of the USA could not be enslaved unless he or she was punished for breaking the law (General Records of the United States Government). It appears that this kind of racism is now both illegal and immoral. Although many other adverse political and economic situations happened in the USA after Emancipation, this event presents a border between the country’s past and the future (Lincoln).
Impact on the Modern Society
Since the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, citizens of the United States of America have never faced slavery again (Lincoln). Nevertheless, this part of the country’s history made a tremendous impact on all people who live here because racism is considered to be immoral and remains a taboo topic. Discussions of these phenomena are inappropriate in the society of African Americans as well. There is no other country in the world that considers the topics of both racism and slavery as limited as they have become America. People are allowed to talk about slavery and discrimination against black individuals only at schools during history classes. Otherwise, it is considered to be offensive to people of color.
Slavery in the USA was one of the toughest periods in the country’s history. Slaves did not have appropriate living conditions, food, water, or other benefits of contemporary civilization. Thankfully, Abraham Lincoln signed and issued the Emancipation Proclamation that made all black people in the USA free since 1863. This event may be regarded as a critical moment in American history that promoted citizens’ rights and dignities. Nowadays, regular citizens are discouraged from mentioning racism and slavery in public places and cannot discriminate against people of color. Inhabitants of the USA must learn the history of slavery to understand how their nation became one of the greatest liberty symbols in the world.
Berlin, Ira. The Long Emancipation: The Demise of Slavery in the United States. Harvard University Press, 2015.
General Records of the United States Government. “Proposed Thirteenth Amendment Regarding the Abolition of Slavery.” DocsTeach. 1861, Web.
Lincoln, Abraham. “Emancipation Proclamation.” DocsTeach. 1863, Web.
Thirty-Ninth Congress of the USA. “Civil Rights Act of 1866.” DocsTeach. 1866, Web.