Woman carrying a child, Trinidad, c. Trinidad London,plate Copy in Virginia Historical Society, Richmond Enslaved women and slavery before and after Diana Paton, Newcastle University This year's commemorations of the th anniversary of the passage of the British Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade have tended to focus on those exceptional individuals who led movements against the trade and against slavery itself.
One of the first martyrs to the cause of American patriotism was Crispus Attucks, a former slave who was killed by British soldiers during the Boston Massacre of Some 5, black soldiers and sailors fought on the American side during the Revolutionary War.
But after the Revolutionary Warthe new U.
Cotton Gin In the late 18th century, with the land used to grow tobacco nearly exhausted, the South faced an economic crisis, and the continued growth of slavery in America seemed in doubt. Around the same time, the mechanization of the textile industry in England led to a huge demand for American cotton, a southern crop whose production was unfortunately limited by the difficulty of removing the seeds from raw cotton fibers by hand.
But ina young Yankee schoolteacher named Eli Whitney invented the cotton gina simple mechanized device that efficiently removed the seeds. Congress outlawed the African slave trade inthe domestic trade flourished, and the slave population in the U.
By it had reached nearly 4 million, with more than half living in the cotton-producing states of the South.
History of Slavery Slaves in the antebellum South constituted about one-third of the southern population. Most slaves lived on large plantations or small farms; many masters owned fewer than 50 slaves.
Slave owners sought to make their slaves completely dependent on them, and a system of restrictive codes governed life among slaves. They were usually prohibited from learning to read and write, and their behavior and movement was restricted.
Many masters took sexual liberties with slave women, and rewarded obedient slave behavior with favors, while rebellious slaves were brutally punished. A strict hierarchy among slaves from privileged house slaves and skilled artisans down to lowly field hands helped keep them divided and less likely to organize against their masters.
Slave marriages had no legal basis, but slaves did marry and raise large families; most slave owners encouraged this practice, but nonetheless did not usually hesitate to divide slave families by sale or removal. Slave Rebellions Slave rebellions did occur within the system—notably ones led by Gabriel Prosser in Richmond in and by Denmark Vesey in Charleston in —but few were successful.
The slave revolt that most terrified white slaveholders was that led by Nat Turner in Southampton County, Virginia, in August Abolitionist Movement In the North, the increased repression of southern blacks only fanned the flames of the growing abolitionist movement.
Free blacks and other antislavery northerners had begun helping fugitive slaves escape from southern plantations to the North via a loose network of safe houses as early as the s.
This practice, known as the Underground Railroadgained real momentum in the s and although estimates vary widely, it may have helped anywhere from 40, toslaves reach freedom. Although the Missouri Compromise was designed to maintain an even balance between slave and free states, it was able to help quell the forces of sectionalism only temporarily.
Kansas-Nebraska Act Inanother tenuous compromise was negotiated to resolve the question of slavery in territories won during the Mexican-American War. Four years later, however, the Kansas-Nebraska Act opened all new territories to slavery by asserting the rule of popular sovereignty over congressional edict, leading pro- and anti-slavery forces to battle it out—with considerable bloodshed—in the new state of Kansas.
Inthe Dred Scott decision by the Supreme Court involving a slave who sued for his freedom on the grounds that his master had taken him into free territory effectively repealed the Missouri Compromise by ruling that all territories were open to slavery.
The insurrection exposed the growing national rift over slavery: Brown was hailed as a martyred hero by northern abolitionists, but was vilified as a mass murderer in the South. Civil War The South would reach the breaking point the following year, when Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln was elected as president.
Within three months, seven southern states had seceded to form the Confederate States of America ; four more would follow after the Civil War began.
Abolition became a goal only later, due to military necessity, growing anti-slavery sentiment in the North and the self-emancipation of many African Americans who fled enslavement as Union troops swept through the South.
When Did Slavery End? Despite seeing an unprecedented degree of black participation in American political life, Reconstruction was ultimately frustrating for African Americans, and the rebirth of white supremacy—including the rise of racist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan KKK —had triumphed in the South by Almost a century later, resistance to the lingering racism and discrimination in America that began during the slavery era would lead to the civil rights movement of the s, which would achieve the greatest political and social gains for blacks since Reconstruction.In slavery, this aspect of African womanhood was debased.
Whereas childbirth in Africa was a rite of passage for women that earned them increased respect, within the American plantation system that developed by the mid-eighteenth century, it was an economic advantage for the master, who multiplied his labor force through slave pregnancy.
Enslaved women were forced to have sex with their owners, but their masters considered this a favor.
White men often claimed they were doing Black women a favor by saving them from having sex with Black men who were considered to be animalistic and brutal.
Female slaves often were in the fields before five in the morning, and in the evening they worked as late as nine in the summer and seven in the winter.
They prepared fields, planted seeds, cleaned ditches, hoed, plowed, picked cotton, and cut and tiedrice stalks.
Slave women also cleaned, packaged, and prepared the crops for shipment. The inability of the slave husband to protect his wife from such violation points to another fundamental aspect of the relationship between enslaved men and women.
The paternalistic language of slavery, the restrictions of slave law, and the circumstances of slave life created a sense of parity between black wives and husbands.
Enslaved women and slavery before and after Diana Paton, Newcastle University This year's commemorations of the th anniversary of the passage of the British Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade have tended to focus on those exceptional individuals who led movements against the trade and against slavery itself.
Cultural Influences of Women Slaves) is an influential study of women in Mombasa that paid significant attention to the particular experiences of slave women. More widespread and sustained scholarly interest began in the s, providing new perspectives on slavery in general and in particular.