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Slavery in the United States

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1 Slavery in the United States

2 What is slavery?

3 Slavery (definition) Social institution defined by law and custom as the most absolute involuntary form of human servitude.

4 Slavery (definition) Characteristics of slaves:
their labor or services are obtained through force; their physical beings are regarded as the property of another person, their owner; and they are entirely subject to their owner's will.

5 Slavery (definition) Since earliest times slaves have been legally defined as things; therefore, they could, among other possibilities, be: bought sold traded given as a gift willed pledged for a debt by their owner


7 Natives as Slaves? The number of Native American slaves was limited in part because the Native Americans were in their homeland; they knew the terrain and could escape fairly easily. The settlers found it easier to sell Native Americans captured in war to planters in the Caribbean than to turn them into slaves on their own terrain.

8 Where did slaves come from?

9 The Slave Trade From the early 16th to the mid-19th centuries, more than 10 million Africans were taken from their homes.

10 How were slaves brought to the new world from Africa?

11 Slave ships followed a triangular trading pattern.
Triangle Trade Slave ships followed a triangular trading pattern.

12 Triangle Trade On the first leg of their voyage, vessels left their European home port laden with a widely assorted cargo of manufactured goods which was to be bartered for slaves and other African produce on the ship's arrival on the African coast.

13 Triangle Trade The slaves were then transported across the Atlantic to the Caribbean islands or South American/North American colonies, on what became known as the notorious 'Middle Passage'.

14 Triangle Trade On arrival they were auctioned like cattle, the majority becoming field hands on the large plantations. As payment the slave captains generally took on board produce such as cotton, sugar, coffee or tea before embarking on the final stage of their voyage home.


16 Triangle Trade

17 Slave Trade Across the Atlantic The Middle Passage

18 Captured Slaves in Africa

19 Captured Slaves in Africa

20 Slave Ship

21 What was the experience of the Middle Passage like for the slaves taken across the Atlantic?

22 What was the slave experience like in the United States?

23 Slavery in the United States
In North America the first African slaves landed at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. By 1800 some 500,000 slaves resided in the United States, of whom 50,000 lived in the northern states. The majority of slaves (more than 9.5 million) were forcibly shipped to the agricultural plantations of Central and South America and the Caribbean.

24 Slave Auction This slave auction advertised slaves for sale or temporary hire by their owners. Buyers often paid $2000 for a skilled, healthy slave. These auctions often separated family members from one another, many of whom never saw their loved ones again.


26 Slave Auction

27 Slave Distribution and Vocations
Generally, in the northern colonies, slaves were used as domestics and in trade In the Middle Atlantic colonies they were used more in agriculture In the southern colonies, where plantation agriculture was the primary occupation, almost all slaves were used to work the plantations.

28 Slave Distribution and Vocations
Slaves of the north often worked in the home as personal servants, but also in labor intensive fields such as ship builders dockworkers, lumberjacks, and trades such as masonry and carpentry work.

29 Slave Distribution and Vocations
Slaves of the south cultivated tobacco, grew rice and indigo, and picked cotton in the fields. On the property, slaves could be blacksmiths, carpenters, or masons. In the house, slaves often fulfilled the roles of cooks, barbers, nursemaids, and butlers.

30 Slave Distribution and Vocations
Tobacco in the upper South (Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina) and rice in the lower South (South Carolina, Georgia). Slaves also worked on large wheat-producing estates in New York and on horse-breeding farms in Rhode Island, but climate and soil restricted the development of commercial agriculture in the Northern colonies, and slavery never became as economically important as it did in the South.

31 Slave Distribution and Vocations
Most of the agriculture in the southern United States during the early 19th century was dedicated to growing one crop—cotton. Most of the cotton crop was grown on large plantations that used black slave labor.

32 Plantation Work


34 Plantation Work


36 Slave Life The first provision was that black slaves, and the children of slave women, would serve for life. By the 1770s, slaves constituted about 40 percent of the population of the Southern colonies, with the highest concentration in South Carolina, where more than half the people were slaves.

37 On the Plantation As slavery grew, so too did its diversity. Slavery varied according to region, crops, and size of holdings. On farms and small plantations most slaves came in frequent contact with their owners, but on very large plantations, where slave owners often employed overseers, slaves might rarely see their masters.

38 On the Plantation Most slaves on large holdings worked in gangs, under the supervision of overseers and slave drivers. Some, however, especially in the coastal region of South Carolina and Georgia, labored under the task system: they were assigned a certain amount of work to complete in a day, received less supervision, and were free to use their time as they wished once they had completed their daily assignments.

39 Slave Treatment The character of such care varied, but in purely material terms such as food, clothing, housing, and medical attention, it was generally better in the pre-Civil War period than in the colonial period.

40 Slave Treatment Clothing and housing were crude but functional: slaves typically received four coarse suits (pants and shirts for men, dresses for women, long shirts for children) and lived in small wooden cabins, one to a family.

41 Slave House


43 Slave House

44 Slave Treatment Although young children were often malnourished, most working slaves received a steady supply of pork and corn, which if lacking in nutritional balance provided sufficient calories to fuel their labor. Slaves often supplemented their rations with produce that they raised on garden plots allotted to them.

45 Slave Treatment Masters intervened continually in the lives of their slaves, from directing their labor to approving or disapproving marriages. Some masters made elaborate written rules, and most engaged in constant meddling, directing, nagging, threatening, and punishing. Many took advantage of their position to exploit slave women sexually.

46 Slave Treatment Slaves could not leave their master’s property without permission, nor board ships or ferries. Slaves could not own property, carry canes, disturb the peace, read, write, or communicate with slaves on other properties. Punishments included whipping, banishment to the West Indies, and death

47 Slave Treatment The security and stability of these families faced severe challenges: no state law recognized marriage among slaves, masters rather than parents had legal authority over slave children, and the possibility of forced separation, through sale, hung over every family.


49 Slave Punishments




53 Slave Revolts The Stono Rebellion in Charleston, SC, was an early example of armed slave rebellion, but because slaves couldn’t communicate with each other beyond property lines, organized revolts were few and far between. More often than not passive revolts, like faking illness, were employed to gain some degree of control.

54 Slave Revolts Nat Turner’s rebellion in 1831 was the largest and most violent. 70 slaves attacked four plantations and killed 57 whites in Virginia. They were eventually caught and hung.



57 Slave Revolts John Brown’s raid on the Harper’s Ferry arsenal in Virginia (1859) was the last attempt at armed rebellion in the South prior to the Civil War.


59 Slavery and the Government
By 1804, all of the northern states had either banned slavery or passed laws to gradually end it. In 1808, Congress banned the importation of slavery to the US. The already immense slave population in the South continued to grow regardless, and made up almost 2/5 of the entire Southern population.

60 Slavery and the Government
Missouri Compromise of 1820 – to deal with the issue of slavery in the western territories, this compromise allowed Missouri to be admitted as a slave state, and Maine to be admitted as a free state. Slavery was outlawed in future states to be created north of the 36°30’ latitude This maintained the balance of Senate power between slave and free states.


62 Slavery and the Government
The Compromise of 1850 – began to re-address the issue of what to do with the newly acquired lands of the west. California admitted as a free state The sale of slaves (but not slavery) made illegal in Washington D.C. Texas would relinquish land to New Mexico for $10 million

63 Slavery and the Government
The Fugitive Slave Act – the last part of the Compromise of Ordered all citizens of the US to assist in the return of escaped slaves, and would deny a jury trial to escaped slaves as well Slaves could no longer simply cross the Ohio River into free territory. Canada was the only free destination.



66 Slavery and the Government
The Dred Scott Decision – In Scott vs. Sandford, the US Supreme Court ruled that: Slaves were not citizens of the and therefore had no right to sue in court Slaves who had previously lived in free states, and then became slaves, were not free

67 Slavery and the Government
The Dred Scott Decision (continued): Congress had no power to ban slavery anywhere, due to the fact that slaves were considered “private property”, and therefore legal under the Constitution


69 Slavery and the Government
The Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) – repealed the Missouri Compromise by allowing the new territories of Kansas and Nebraska the right of “popular sovereignty”, or the right to choose their fate as a slave or free state.

70 Popular Sovereignty Popular sovereignty is the notion that no law or rule is legitimate unless it rests directly or indirectly on the consent of the individuals concerned.

71 Popular Sovereignty and States Rights
The 10th Amendment states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

72 Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan, published 1651, claimed that the first and only task of political society was to name an individual or a group of individuals as sovereign. This sovereign would then have absolute power, and each citizen would owe him absolute obedience

73 John Locke in his writings, Second Treatise of Government, published 1690, claimed that the legislative was only empowered to legislate for the public good. If this trust was violated, the people retained the power to replace the legislative with a new legislative.

74 Slavery and the Government
“Bleeding Kansas” – in effort to fill the state with slave and non-slave voters, tensions in the state grew to the point of violence as outsiders from both the North and the South moved to the state in huge waves



77 Abolitionist Movement
The abolitionist movement in the United States worked to end slavery through political and religious persuasion. Some abolitionists defied the laws and refused to return runaway slaves to the South.

78 Abolitionist Movement

79 Abolitionist Movement
The abolitionist movement began during the late 1700’s, mostly by free African-Americans and northern whites. Convinced that free blacks and emancipated slaves would never be given equal treatment in the US, the American Colonization Society formed in 1817.

80 Abolitionist Movement
The purpose of the Society was to allow free black and emancipated slaves free passage back to Africa, to the country of Liberia (which had been purchased in 1822). Most African-Americans found it offensive, and only about 1,400 took the offer.

81 Abolitionist Movement
Influential abolitionists included William Lloyd Garrison, who started The Liberator, a newspaper devoted to ending slavery. That eventually led to the formation of the American Anti-Slavery Society. Frederick Douglas, an escaped slave and member of the AmAnSlSo, spoke out against slavery. His biography documented the hardships experienced by slaves.


83 Abolitionist Movement
Sara and Angelina Grimke, sisters from South Carolina, were influential women of the abolitionist movement. Politically, the Liberty Party was formed to speak out against slavery.


85 The Great Escape The Underground Railroad was a network of escape routes from the slave South to the free North, and eventually to Canada. Anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 slaves escaped along the route. Harriet Tubman led over 300 slaves to freedom.





90 Slavery as a Cause of the Civil War
With most presidents having been from the South, the institution of slavery was relatively safe. The president appointed Supreme Court Justices, whose job it was to interpret and change the constitution. When Lincoln, a northerner, won the election of 1860, the South’s grip on control began to slip. Lincoln had already proposed in his “House Divided” speech that he would end slavery in the western territories if elected president.

91 Slavery as a Cause of the Civil War
With the “popular sovereignty” clause of the Kansas-Nebraska act, most new states accepted into the Union chose to be accepted as non-slave states. This also gave Senate control to the North.

92 Slavery as a Cause of the Civil War
The continued moral and social debates over slavery turned most of the rest of the world against it, including England (1833). This put pressure on the South to end slavery.

93 Slavery as a Cause of the Civil War
With the threat of limitations placed on, or the abolishment of slavery, the South feared for their economic lives. With only 1/3 of the nation’s population living in the South, plantation owners needed hands to plant, cultivate, and harvest their cotton and tobacco. To pay farm hands would cost too much money, and no one wanted to work 12 hours a day, six days a week, etc. Free labor kept costs down and profits up.

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