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When was Slavery abolished in America, Why and How? – end of slavery in America, history of slavery

Updated on June 9, 2012
the end of the life in chains
the end of the life in chains

Slavery, racism and oppression in America

Slavery in the American colonies (specifically Virginia and Maryland) began because of racial attitudes already held by the English. Slaves were taken from the racially oppressed communities. Racism is prevalent since the birth of America. Various types of racial stereotypes existed in American before the advent of slavery. The use of racial stereotypes upgrades or degrades the value of a group in general and ignores the importance and uniqueness of the individual. The black minorities were thus oppressed to the core which made them pushed to the cruel hands of the slave traders. Slaves were taken from the disadvantaged black minorities. Slavery is the child of racism.

What is slavery in America - history of slavery in America

What led to the practice of slavery in America

America since its very beginning practiced cruel racism which does not have any true scientific or biological base. Ethnic segregation and discrimination was very much evident in all areas. This practice started long years back and was followed by people and transferred to the next generations. It later became a political phenomenon. The white majority was found to be proud in their own race (a part of heritage). They were of the belief that they are superior to others in race as well as culture. They tried to put the minorities down in order to strengthen their own group. They developed extreme hatred towards the black minorities and had an overall sense of bigotry. The black minorities were oppressed to the core and were denied all rights. The demands and opinion of the blacks were never considered at all. All political, economic and social activities of the society were planned by the leaders of the superior group in order to give power and authority to white people and to strengthen the dominance of white group over the non-white group. The strange segregation thus totally tampered the unity and cooperation in our society. This eventually developed a situation that ultimately led the society to the practice of slavery.

Story of the elimination of slavery in America

Story of the elimination of slavery from the American land is quite long. Slavery is the core reason the nation witnessed the disastrous civil war. United States started practicing slavery as early as 1619. Towards the closing of American Revolution, majority of the northern states stopped slavery, while the plantation economy of the South continued practicing it. In the years before the Civil War all the issues were centered on the issue of slavery. This started with the debates made on the three-fifths clause on the Constitutional Convention of 1787. It further proceeded with the Compromise of 1820, the anti-slavery Gag Rule, the Nullification Crisis, and finally the Compromise of 1850.

Disrupted balance between free state and slave state

In the first half of the nineteenth century slavery was supported by the Southern politicians. They maintained the control of the federal government. Though they had most of their Presidents hailing from the South, they were very serious about maintaining a balance of power in the Senate. New states joined the Union and several compromises appeared to keep an equal number of free and slave states. In 1820, Missouri joined as a slave state and Maine came as a free state. The balance got disrupted in 1850 as Southerners allowed California to come as a free state in return for laws upholding slavery. The balance was later disturbed with the joining of free Oregon and Minnesota. The increase of the gap between free and slave state illustrates the changes happening in each region.


Fight in Kansas - South North Clash

When South, with a slow population growth, adopted an agrarian plantation economy, North adopted industrialization. They had large urban areas, with large infrastructures. They witnessed increased birth rates and a large inflow of European immigrants. The increase in population made South to keep a balance in the government. This lead to the addition of several free states. An anti-slavery president was also appointed. The political issue that ultimately took the nation towards the war was nothing but slavery in the western territories acquired during the Mexican-American War. The same case was earlier considered in 1820, when slavery was permitted in the Southern border of Missouri. Rep. David Wilmot tried to prevent slavery as he brought the Wilmot Proviso in Congress. After long debate it got defeated. Attempts were made to solve the issue, but failed.

Kansas-Nebraska Act, anti-slavery Wyandotte Constitution and tensions between South and North

The issue appeared again in 1854 with the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Kansas-Nebraska Act resulted in an arrival of pro- and anti-slavery forces into Kansas. Free Staters and Border Ruffians continued open violence for few years. Even though the pro-slavery forces in Missouri influenced the elections, the President Buchanan accepted the Lecompton Constitution. Though he put it before Congress for Statehood, they rejected it. Congress ordered fresh election. The anti-slavery Wyandotte Constitution got it appeal from Congress in 1859. The fight in Kansas increased the problems between South and North.

Slavery abolishing in America, final causes

As the South understood that the control of the government was getting weak, it considered the rights arguments of the states to protect slavery. According to Southerners, federal government has no rights to interfere in the rights of the slaveholders and take their property into a new territory as per the tenth Amendment. They said that government should not interfere with slavery. The issue of slavery got worsened by the coming of the Abolitionist movement in the 1820s and 1830s. Adherents said that slavery is not just a social evil, it is rather a practice which is morally wrong. Abolitionists cried for the freedom of the slaves. They campaigned for anti-slavery causes and demanded the abolition of slavery. They supported anti-slavery causes like Free State movement in Kansas. As abolitionists started popularizing their ideas, there arose an ideological debate with thee Southerners about the morality of the practice of slavery.

Anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin and the abolition of slavery

The anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin also gave enough support to abolitionists. The book made the public turn against the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. John Brown, a fervent abolitionist who became popular in the ‘Bleeding Kansas’ used violence and insurrection to fight against slavery. Brown and his men tried to raid the government’s armory. He expected the nation’s slaves to rise up and attacked the armory for obtaining weapons for the insurrection. However US Marines arrived and captured militia. He was tried for treason and later hanged. He predicted that the crimes of the nation will be purged away with blood only. No wonder the nation headed towards the Civil War. This finally resulted in the elimination of slavery from the land of America.

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    • dhannyya profile image
      Author

      dhannyya 5 years ago

      Dear Nellieanna....so delighted to see your appreciation comment. Went through your experiences ..just like the story of good samaritan....only the samaritan helped the injured man...

      thank you for the insights you gave concerning slavery..that was really a new information for me...I am an India..not very much aware of the history of america...i just did a study a wrote this article....

      once again thank you for the comment....i really liked it

    • dhannyya profile image
      Author

      dhannyya 5 years ago

      Dear Nellieanna....so delighted to see your appreciation comment. Went through your experiences ..just like the story of good samaritan....only the samaritan helped the injured man...

      thank you for the insights you gave concerning slavery..that was really a new information for me...I am an India..not very much aware of the history of america...i just did a study a wrote this article....

      once again thank you for the comment....i really liked it

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 5 years ago from TEXAS

      Dhannvya - You've done some impressive research here. You're to be congratulated on it.

      Of course the idea & the business of slavery didn’t start here in America. This country continued practices & views brought here with its early immigrants from countries in the Eastern Hemisphere, where slavery traces back to ancient civilizations there. The slave-trading at the time it reached America was already in full-blown practice. Here, it was ‘bought into’ but didn’t originate. But it was embraced; and not only in the South, though that is where is flourished. The rural-agricultural economy of the South favored slavery. In the North, where it was more industrialized, it was not as applicable to the economy.

      Nevertheless, - of course, there is no excuse for enslaving other human beings for selfish gain. That’s what slavery always is, whether in ancient Egypt, Rome or wherever. It always involves a degree of mistreatment - after all, what is more mistreating than denying a person’s freedom and human rights? Most Southern ‘owners’ defended their practice as being humane and kind. There may be degrees of cruelty,- but once a person becomes ‘property’, degrees fade into insignificance, in my humble opinion. I’ve personally lived in a situation in which my freedom was severely limited and I know the anguish of any degree of being denied freedom and rights.

      I was born and grew up in Texas, specifically in the Southwestern region. Texas (in many of its regions) was a little different from other Southern States in the southern Confederacy, which was the pro-slavery entity in America's Civil War of the mid 1800s. Meanwhile, Texas had been an independent NATION during part of that horrid war, but became a member of the Confederacy during other parts of the war. Our history here in my state is rather unique among the other 50 states.

      The Southeastern region of our quite large state, with its at least 5 distinctive regions, has been very much allied with the other 'Deep South" states, especially its next door neighbor, Louisiana. There were slave owners in the Southeastern region with working plantations using slave labor not unlike those in Louisiana. I’ve in-law relatives in that region who still cling to those times with a misplaced pride. Fortunately the newer generations of their family seem to have moved on and become totally tolerant. But the older generations which came soon after the war and their children never acknowledged the defeat of the South in the war, for the most part.

      Where I grew up in Southwestern Texas, there were almost no blacks, actually. The area had and still has Mexican influence. The attitudes between the citizens there was never as intolerant as shown blacks earlier, though there were some landmarks of discrimination, most of which are now GONE, thankfully.

      When I was 7 years old, I fell into a deep hole and shattered my leg. I’d never seen a black person but somehow my playmates found a black gentleman walking along the sidewalk and got his help for me. He came down there, lifted me and carried me out to safety. I never saw him again - but I’ve always felt he was a guardian angel somehow. Of course, it formed my appreciation of the race. Now I happen to have several great-grandchildren living in Indiana who are bi-racial.

      Blacks in this country gained basic freedom and rights, of course. But I give much credit to their spirit and determination to BE for the best forward strides made, once the legalities were relieved and conditions improved. It was not an overnight conversion, of course. Going from slavery to freedom was a big step. They’d missed much training for freedom and living as freemen. And there were and still are residues of the demeaning attitudes toward them left over from those early days of this country. Everyone involved was caught up in a lifestyle which wasn’t to change overnight. I’m just glad so much improvement has happened and relatively peacefully. Both sides can take some credit for that.

      It seems that in any society, attitudes usually linger longer than political changes. Sometimes, they simply must ‘die out’ to be altered in positive ways. They are definitely changing for the better, even in the Deep South.

    • Karre profile image

      Karre Schaefer 5 years ago from Eskridge, Kansas

      Yes, I think it is an issue, but compared to a few years ago, its going away. Almost all young people I know are not racist. That's encouraging. :-)

    • dhannyya profile image
      Author

      dhannyya 5 years ago

      Karre..this is certainly an encouraging comment..i never knew that kansas had underground railroad....i agree with your points..racism is still an issue in US..right?

    • Karre profile image

      Karre Schaefer 5 years ago from Eskridge, Kansas

      Pretty good job on this. Thanks for including Kansas. Did you know Kansas had an underground railroad? Many do not know this. Racism though I would argue came after the civil war, because before it was simply an economic issue (400 years of slave trade). Racism was used to justify slavery or the now, lack thereof. The US made a concession during the Declaration of Independence, etc. in order to get the votes of the South. Also, women gave up their fight for freedom in order to help free the African-American -- they did this three times. Later during the voting crisis and in the 1960s. Just some additional info you might already know. Great job on the article. Look forward to more! Karre.