SLAVERY IN COLONIAL HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES (1600–1776)

Slavery in America began when the first African slaves were brought to the North American colony of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, to aid in the production of such lucrative crops as tobacco. Slavery was practiced throughout the American colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries, and African-American slaves helped build the economic foundations of the new nation. The invention of the cotton gin in 1793 solidified the central importance of slavery to the South’s economy. By the mid-19th century, America’s westward expansion, along with a growing abolition movement in the North, would provoke a great debate over slavery that would tear the nation apart in the bloody American Civil War (1861-65). Though the Union victory freed the nation’s 4 million slaves, the legacy of slavery continued to influence American history, from the tumultuous years of Reconstruction (1865-77) to the civil rights movement that emerged in the 1960s, a century after emancipation.

The Origins of the African Slave Trade.The Slave Trade was initiated by White People. Africans didn't just offer up slaves for trade.Whites went into Africa and found mercenaries from different tribes to do there work for them.

Colonial and state laws considered them property and commodities, not legal persons who could enter into contracts, and marriage was, and is, very much a legal contract. This means that until 1865 when slavery ended in this country, the vast majority of African Americans could not legally marry. In northern states such as New York, Pennsylvania, or Massachusetts, where slavery had ended by 1830, free African Americans could marry, but in the slave states of the South, many enslaved people entered into relationships that they treated like marriage; they considered themselves husbands and wives even though they knew that their unions were not protected by state laws.

The colonial history of the United States covers the history of European settlements from the start of colonization in the early 16th century until their incorporation into the United States of America in 1776

Some enslaved people lived in nuclear families with a mother, father, and children. In these cases each family member belonged to the same owner. Others lived in near-nuclear families in which the father had a different owner than the mother and children. Both slaves and slaveowners referred to these relationships between men and women as “abroad marriages.” A father might live several miles away on a distant plantation and walk, usually on Wednesday nights and Saturday evenings to see his family as his obligation to provide labor for an owner took precedence over his personal needs.This use of unpaid labor to produce wealth lay at the heart of slavery in America. Enslaved people usually worked from early in the morning until late at night. Women often returned to work shortly after giving birth, sometimes running from the fields during the day to feed their infants. On large plantations or farms, it was common for children to come under the care of one enslaved woman who was designated to feed and watch over them during the day while their parents worked. By the time most enslaved children reached the age of seven or eight they were also assigned tasks including taking care of owner’s young children, fanning flies from the owner’s table, running errands, taking lunch to owners’ children at school, and eventually, working in the tobacco, cotton, corn, or rice fields along with adults.

On large plantations, slave cabins and the yards of the slave quarters served as the center of interactions among enslaved family members.

 Here were spaces primarily occupied by African Americans, somewhat removed from the labor of slavery or the scrutiny of owners, overseers, and patrollers. Many former slaves described their mothers cooking meals in the fireplace and sewing or quilting late into the night. Fathers fished and hunted, sometimes with their sons, to provide food to supplement the rations handed out by owners. Enslaved people held parties and prayer meetings in these cabins or far out in the woods beyond the hearing of whites. In the space of the slave quarters, parents passed on lessons of loyalty; messages about how to treat people; and stories of family genealogy. It was in the quarters that children watched adults create potions for healing, or select plants to produce dye for clothing. It was here too, that adults whispered and cried about their impending sale by owners.

In the late 16th century, England, France, Spain, and the Netherlands launched major colonization programs in eastern North America.

Enslaved people lived with the perpetual possibility of separation through the sale of one or more family members. Slaveowners’ wealth lay largely in the people they owned, therefore, they frequently sold and or purchased people as finances warranted. A multitude of scenarios brought about sale. An enslaved person could be sold as part of an estate when his owner died, or because the owner needed to liquidate assets to pay off debts, or because the owner thought the enslaved person was a troublemaker. A father might be sold away by his owner while the mother and children remained behind, or the mother and children might be sold. Enslaved families were also divided for inheritance when an owner died, or because the owners’ adult children moved away to create new lives, taking some of the enslaved people with them. These decisions were, of course, beyond the control of the people whose lives they affected most. Sometimes an enslaved man or woman pleaded with an owner to purchase his or her spouse to avoid separation. The intervention was not always successful. Historian Michael Tadman has estimated that approximately one third of enslaved children in the upper South states of Maryland and Virginia experienced family separation in one of three possible scenarios: sale away from parents; sale with mother away from father; or sale of mother or father away from child. The fear of separation haunted adults who knew how likely it was to happen. Young children, innocently unaware of the possibilities, learned quickly of the pain that such separations could cost.Paradoxically, despite the likelihood of breaking up families, family formation actually helped owners to keep slavery in place. Owners debated among themselves the benefits of enslaved people forming families. Many of them reasoned that having families made it much less likely that a man or woman would run away, thus depriving the owner of valuable property. Many owners encouraged marriage, devised the practice of “jumping the broom” as a ritual that enslaved people could engage in, and sometimes gave small gifts for the wedding. Some owners honored the choices enslaved people made about whom their partners would be; other owners assigned partners, forcing people into relationships they would not have chosen for themselves.

Slavery was big business and encouraged it for three centuries, their  whole entire family could be bartered for a barrel Rum, or bars muskets for guns by European ship traders, most of whom were the Portugese and British captains.

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