Saturday, March 28, 2015

"It was a short walk into slavery."

The Relationship between cotton and slaves in 1790
Recently, in my Honors History 10 class, we discussed the morality of slavery and how it was entrenched in American society by the early 19th century. As shown by the graphics, slavery was very much correlated to the amount of crops being grown in the South. As the people of the South started to rely more and more on slaves to work in their fields, slavery became more and more entrenched in American society. Slave worked crops brought in so much of America's export that if it stopped the country would be likely to have an economic collapse. It was for that reason, slavery could not be abolished very easily and was allowed to continue.

The difference in 1860. Use the hyperlink above to see
all the maps and statistics available. 
In order to better understand all of these concepts and actions that went on during slavery, we watched the PBS Documentary A Prince Among Slaves. Before watching the movie however, we got an idea of the differences between slavery in Futa Jallon, Africa and Natchez, Mississippi.  Slavery in America was a lot crueler than slavery anywhere else across the globe. The documentary highlighted the lack of dignity involved with becoming a slave. The owners of slaves would often beat their slaves and change their appearance. The owner has taken away their slave's identity. They have effectively wiped a human off the face of the earth.  This signified the start of a new life for the slave. However, this has effectively taken away the dignity of the slave. They are now longer the proud person they once were, but a shell of their old self who has been beaten into submission. While dignity is very important, the system of slavery based off of race also tends to forget the value of human life. It gives one specific group of people the power to control another based off of the color of their skin.  In Futa Jallon, there was  more fair system of slavery. People could only become slaves if they were a prisoner of war or had committed a great crime. There was also a better chance of freedom in Futa Jallon. The system there was not based on the color of one's skin so more people found it fair and fewer people tried to change it. Another thing that America's system of slavery ignored was the value of family. Oftentimes families would be split up and sent to work at different plantations. Because owners felt that the slaves were their property, they also felt that they were completely within their rights to do this to families. Plantation owners would split them up in the way that would earn him the most money.

Maps and Graphics from The University of Oregon

 'A Prince Among Slaves' from Google Images

Title is a quote from Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand

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