Without slavery, would The U.S. be the leading economic power?

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1.  Slaves within the United States were forced to endure many things that range all the way from working in the fields with little water to drink and belly’s mostly empty to being beaten and whip for actions one would not even reprimand a child for. From an outside perspective these might be viewed as terrible fates, but what do we make of families being torn apart. It begs us to ask the question, can a man truly be placed on a scale and find his weight in coins? In my research I found it ironic that often times when a black slave family was being separated from each other it was because a white slave owner had died and his/her earnings was being separated amongst their kin. I emphasize the color of skin only because I found it shocking that in the time of grieving over losing a family member white people during this time period were completely okay separating someone-else’s family.

In “FIFTY YEARS IN CHAINS Or, the Life of an American Slave” by Charles Ball, he shares the gruesome details of the day he was separated from his family. His mother pleaded with the slave master that had purchased her son from the slave block to also purchase her other children and herself. Pleaded with the man to not separate her from any of her children. He goes on to tell how his new slave master promised to take care of her son. And how see was beaten before his eyes for her efforts to keep her family together. That was the final memory he made with his mother. Another text, “Incidents in the life of a slave girl” by Harriet Jacobs she also shares her accounts of being separated from her. When her mistresses had pass, she thought that her dying testament she would have granted her, her freedom. Instead she had become a parting gift given to a five-year old child. A mistress she once loved; she grew resent realizing all she ever was to her was property.

Slave families on Plantations lived with the fear of being separated on any day, at any moment. Working hard to prove worth to the slave master. Keeping their heads low hopping to live there unnoticed to anyone but the ones that they loved. Mother’s and Father using their skills and crafts trying to make money hoping to buy their children’s freedom. Ultimately, being tricked and rejected because slaves weren’t allowed own anything. One thing that slaves new for sure, that if they were sold, they were to never see their family members again.

2.  Initially in the early years of the American Revolution it was thought that slavery would end based off of its progression but the invention of cotton gin  in 1793 changed everything in the South. The demand of cotton was increased by the Industrial Revolution which allowed slave patterns to change geographically and demographically due to the uptick in demand.

First the number of slaves increased from 700,000 to 4 million by the eve of the civil war. In the south, 15% of slaves served as domestic servants such as, cooks, maids, butlers, nurses and gardeners. 10% of southern slaves worked in trade and industries. These jobs included blacksmiths, carpenters, or millwright. Once plantation slavery declined skilled slaves could leave their master’s estate to “hire their time” while working for money and possibly keeping some for themselves. (Cotton Belt 2018)

When it came to industrial slavery, the third largest iron manufacturer((in 1860) Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, Virginia relied on slave labor. 50% of it’s workers were slaves and they worked in skilled positions in the textile and lumber fields. Between 1825 and 1835 Maryland Chemical Works used a mix of slaves and free workers to manufacture industrial chemicals, pigments, and medicine.(Whitman 1993). These slaves were hired out from their own masters which resulted in slaves having more autonomy. Most preferred these jobs because it allowed chances to advance unlike plantation slaves.

Slaves played a huge part in the nation’s financial success because they did the labor. The invention of   cotton gin spread further South and West which caused the need for cheap labor. Slaves had to manually separate cotton fibers from the seed. With Cotton being in high demand, it jumped from a slave cleaning one pound a day to 50 pounds per day which made cotton more profitable resulting in cotton accounting for 55% of southern agriculture

What I thought I knew of slavery was so one sided. When I thought of slavery, I always thought of only people working on plantations. Little did I know of them working in certain industries that basically boosted the economy. In a small way its sounds familiar to today where we work for a living, difference in not having to be loaned out by slave masters. The most surprising thing was finding out that these slaves got paid for their work and some of them actually enjoyed doing it because it gave them the chance to advance.

3.     I chose to do my summarization on the article “How Slavery Helped Build a World Economy By Howard Dodson”. I Feel he was trying to basically say that Slavery was very profitable. It allowed many people to become millionaires in the South than anywhere else in the world. He says how Sugar cane was very profitable but around 1793 the cotton gin was created. he explains how this “…gave slavery a new life in the United States.” “By 1830 ‘cotton was king’ in the south” he proclaimed. With this being at an all time high many people migrated to the south to began cropping. The main cash crops were cotton, sugar cane and tobacco. These crops caused the economy to flourish in massive ways. African slaves were a very important economic and political capital. At one pointe he elaborated that enslaved Africans were even used as collateral. They are used to clear debt, make business transactions, goods and services, and even used to purchase land and other slaves too. Slaves were then taxed on Slaves because the were considered property also. This helped to really kick off tax to what it is today. Slavey had personal  a hand in helping to make what our economic and political life is now what it is today.

4.  Without slavery, would The U.S. be the leading economic power?

Mr. Baptist view on the American economy is that if it was not for slavery, America would not be a prosperous as it is today.  Cotton was one of the leading source of income for America.  Everything has a cost for to produce items.  If it was a way to have cotton go from the fields to the factories for production, the cheapest way was for slaves to pick cotton.  Cotton in the south was the industry money maker.  Mr. Baptist mentions how New Orleans was the center state for cotton revenue.  Multiple ships was used to ship cotton to different locations.  With this happening economy was getting better, but a few year down the road New York becomes the center of the economic growth.  The slave trade was also a big back then.  Most people when getting slaves would go for the younger was around 15 to 25 years of age.  Revenue was staring to increase with having the labor of slaves.  After a while the slave trade stopped.  With that there were some law makers that felt as though slavery was wrong.  However, seeing that the economy was growing, the ones that were against slavery thought that slavery would eventually die down, especially since the stopping of the slave trade. In all Mr. Baptist strongly feels that slavery was the foundation for this country wealth.

I can agree with what Mr. Baptist is trying to say.  Take a look at history.  Slaves have been around for many of years in different countries.  If you would like to add the biblical times then that era as well.  However, most slaves became slaves as a punishment.  That is a difference than being taken from your home land and being sold to be owned by someone.  But most jobs that were done were done by slaves.  If there were know slaves to pic cotton or dry tobacco leaves etc, the nation then would have not been to wealthy.  Maybe the idea of factories and machineries would have been made sooner.  I am sure the people then would have worked but nothing like having someone to use any kind of way to get the job done.

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