Sure slavery isn’t around any longer, but it was once and that’s all that matters. It is history, after all. Why was slavery such a big deal? Well, for starters it’s totally immoral (or so I think). I cannot imagine a worse thing to do to a person than force them to cater to my every whim and do all the dirty work for me, without any pay at all. That’s right: no pay.
I suppose that at the time it did not seem like such a huge deal. The colonists needed the work to get done and I’m assuming slavery seemed like a good solution back then.
It all started in Jamestown, Virginia. Tobacco production was increasingly becoming a challenge as demand increased, but who would be able to tend to the crops and labor away for long, demanding hours. They found the answer to be….slaves. Isn’t that a shocker?
Slavery spread like wildfire. Well, maybe not that fast, but you get the point. Free labor? What landowner wouldn’t jump on board? In 1622, Virginia officially made slavery a lifelong commitment, though the turmoil and horrid conditions made a lifelong not so long. Once you were forced to be a slave, death was the only way out. Virginia was also the very first colony to actually define a slave (basically all colored and/or non-Christian people brought into the colonies). How nice of you, colonial Virginia.
Slaves soon came to be considered “real estate” and were awfully dehumanized. They were bought and sold like farm animals, not human beings. They had so few rights, were unable to earn money or own land, and were forced into becoming dependent on their masters to help them with the most basic of things: food, shelter, and clothing.
Image Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_slavery
One must also consider the emotional pain slaves felt as a result of this enslavement. They were separated from their families, and forced to spend their lives with ungrateful masters. They most certainly felt small and insignificant, but they were, in fact, very significant.
Slaves, in my opinion, were the backbone of this nation. What would have happened had it not been for slaves who worked painstakingly (though not by choice), hour after hour, doing a job they shouldn’t have had to do? We would have crumbled under the weight of the torture they went through. America became so utterly dependent on slavery, that slavery became the economic foundation of the country at the time. It’s sad to think that our country was successful mostly because of oppression. Fortunately, not all believed slavery was just and eventually things would change for the better.
So, thank you, slaves, for teaching our country the difference between right and wrong and for making our country prosper. We couldn’t have done it without you.