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Essay: The History of Civil Rights and Slavery in North America

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  • Published: 1 February 2018*
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  • Words: 835 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 4 (approx)
  • Tags: Slavery essays

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African Americans have a long history of problems including discrimination, racism, prejudices, and inequality. Civil rights are the rights people have today for equal treatment and opportunities no matter what race, gender, or religion. Traveling past time, The United States made civil rights to all people to this day. Do you ever wonder how America agreed to those terms throughout the years? Africans were used as slaves and were owned as property. They didn’t get the same treatment and rights as others did because of their skin color. North America was in need of labor due to fast producing colonies, so they bought a cheap source of labor which were slaves. Sending it back to the 1600s, black people would work for white landowners, and they felt superior to them. Africans were often whipped or punished in a terrible way if they tried to escape or didn’t do the right job. The Civil Rights Movement took place mainly in the 1950s and 1960s for Africans to gain equal rights.

In 1619, an English colonist captured the first African American slaves, and brought them to Jamestown, Virginia. This just made a system that served a plate full of cruelty, and abuse to the African Americans. It made the satisfactory needs of rapid growth of North American colonies. It is estimated that historians predicted that six to seven million slaves were imported in the 18th century. Slaves were valuable resources depending on how healthy and fit they are.

In 1787, slavery was prohibited in the Northwest Territory, and the United States constitution states that they can’t legalize slave trade till 1808. The Ohio River in the Northwest Territories made a natural dividing line between the free, and the slaves states of the country. How did the South Territories agree to this? This is because the power of the North territories made slavery in the south almost nonexistent.

On February 12, 1793, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law. This means that all states including the ones that forbid slavery to return all slaves back to their original owners. Slaves were allowed to catch and return slaves who tried to escape from their territory, and were required to report it to the federal judge that the slave was a runaway. The escapee could be fined up to $500. Some get punished by getting whipped, branding, amputation of their limbs, and other horrifying punishments. A new kind of abolishment started in the 19th century, and a man named William Lloyd Garrison, an anti-slavery voice, got people from the north to help free slaves through an underground railroad. The underground railroad during the 1830s helped about 75,000 slaves to their freedom. A lady named Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery, and came back to help thousands of slaves to their freedom. This railroad was so successful that the Northerners thought they were going to abolish slavery. An enslaved African American carpenter named Denmark Vesey had purchased his freedom. He wanted to plan a slave revolt to lay siege on Charleston, South Carolina. Once they found out about his plan, Vesey and 34 other people were hanged.

As the nation evolved into an independent Union, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both slave owners, limited slavery in the new nation. This would make it easier to free slaves, but the State Legislature did the exact opposite, and made it harder to free slaves. Washington was able to overcome State laws, and free all his slaves before he died in 1799. In 1826 the State law has gotten more strict that it was pretty much impossible to free his slaves before he died. When Washington’s father died when he was 11 years old, all he had was slaves that he inherited from his father. As his other family passes away, he inherits more slaves. Washington was one of the youngest to be a slave owner, and he realizes that he could be the one to be the greatest hero, or the great obstacle into freeing Virginia slaves. He stated that slaves are human too, so they should have a good enough life as Washington’s.

Slave trade is the producing, transporting, and selling human beings as slaves. During the 18th and 19th century slavery were trained throughout American colonies, and helped build an economic powerhouse by making tobacco and cotton. America’s westward expansion and abolishment could tear the nation apart, and create a bloody civil war. The Union’s win freed the nation’s four million slaves, and the legacy tended to influence American history that is started moving to the civil rights movement.  

During the 50s and 60s, the Civil Rights movement was a struggle for social justice, and a fight for equal rights. The civil war had ended slavery, but it didn’t quite end discrimination against black people. African Americans struggled with an abundant amount of prejudice and violence against them. During the reconstruction, blacks took on leadership roles like never before. They held public office, and seeked for legislative changes for equality, and the right to vote.

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