The history of the United States cannot be fully understood without examining the phenomenon of slavery, its underlying causes, and long-term implications. It takes its origins in the colonial past of the country when many African people were forcefully brought to the newly established settlements. Overall, slavery can be regarded as a system of legal and ethical norms according to which people could be treated as property. In other words, it was based on the premise that some individuals could be denied the right to humanity. This assumption was often used to legitimize the existence of this social institution. In turn, the owners could treat the enslaved people according to their wishes. In the nineteenth century, many people could perceive slavery as something acceptable.
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One should note that slavery existed in different parts of the United States, but it was mostly widespread in the southern parts of the country in which labor-intensive industries played a very important role. This argument is particularly relevant if one speaks about cotton industry in Arizona, Florida, or Mississippi. The use of forced labor was welcomed by many planters. The dominance of agricultural production in these areas was one of the reasons why slavery persisted in the South. In contrast, the rapid industrial development in the North gradually marginalized forced labor. This is one of the differences that should not be overlooked.
It is possible to say that the enslaved people could perform different kinds of labor. First of all, these people could work on cotton and rice plantations. For instance, one can speak about such activities as cane-cutting, planting, and manuring. In the long term, this work could completely undermine their health. Additionally, these people could act as skilled artisans. In particular, they could be engaged in shoemaking, carpentry, or tanning. Such people could create significant economic value. It should be noted that the work of female slaves had distinct peculiarities. In particular, they had to do a variety of house chores such as sewing or cooking. Moreover, they were partly responsible for rearing the children of their owners. Overall, they could be engaged in various activities that represented different areas. Moreover, the labor of slaves was vital for the economic development of many areas.
In order to understand the experiences of slaves, one should first take into account that the owners did not perceive slaves as equal human beings. To a great extent, they were viewed as sub-humans or even animals. Therefore, these people could be subjected to various forms of humiliation. For instance, they could suffer severe corporal punishment such as caning for any failure to follow the demands of their owners. Moreover, female slaves were often the victims of sexual abuse and rape. The most important issue is that there were no legal safeguards that could protect them. In fact, their owners could kill them without facing any persecution. Certainly, there were people who did not accept this legal and ethical system, but in many cases, they could not secure widespread support. Additionally, in most cases, enslaved people were denied the right to education. It is important to remember that very often, they could seek consolation in religion because it enabled them to forget about their difficulties, at least for a short time. These are some of the main aspects that can be identified.
In turn, the experiences of the owners could be very diverse. First, one cannot assume that leisure was the only concern of these people since this assumption is based on the stereotypes, rather than historical evidence. In fact, many of them were engaged in trade, production, or other economic activities. Additionally, they could get access to education which enabled them to acquire high social status. Thus, it is possible to say that their living conditions were much better, especially in comparison with the hardships faced by slaves. One can say that they perceived themselves as the rightful owners of slaves. Many of them did not even question the ethical aspects of their behavior. Thus, racism was an inseparable part of their value system.
Overall, these claims are based on various sources. First, there are many diaries written by escaped slaves, and these documents can throw light on the way in which these people could be treated. Moreover, there are documents written by people who supported the existence of slavery. These sources can show how slave owners perceived their victims. These primary sources are usually very informative because they were written by people who could directly observe various peculiarities of slavery. Moreover, the modern popular culture also explores various aspects of this social institution. For instance, one can mention such a film as 12 Years a Slave. Certainly, the accuracy of many popular culture works can be questioned, but they profoundly shape the views of many people. One can say that the legacies of slavery continue to affect the life of the American society nowadays. These are the main details that can be singled out.