Investigating the History of Slavery and the way it Impacts the Contemporary Society


Slavery history is not a new phenomenon as there have been many investigations conducted about it. In the past, slavery was a heart-wrenching story that affected many individuals. People were dehumanized, and society alienated depending on the premises of natural attributes. The standards of freedom that established the United States of America was also conflicted. Moreover, slavery led to the loss of lives since states battled each other. Although it unfurled based on white supremacist ideologies, the United States was harangued for centuries. Aside from that, it was cast in its relationship with African ancestry and descent individuals at the start of the American Revolution. Additionally, various studies have shown the association of the industrial revolution and the slavery of human property that pounded between the eighteenth and nineteenth century in the US. For instance, the South experienced labor shortages as it was pomp in agricultural activities. Colonial officers also had challenges in attracting and retaining workers amid the beginning of Chesapeake Bay interruption. This paper will exclusively investigate the history of slavery in the American setting and articulate its effect on the contemporary society.

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According to Godreau, Cruz, Ortiz, & Cuadrado (2015), it is apparent that the presence of slavery has brought tension in the contemporary society and caused the occurrence of a racist community. The key aspect of racism includes discrimination of white people from the blacks. The epitome of slavery in Massachusetts and Virginia legislation was the establishment of years that slavery would control individuals of African descent. After the arrival of Africans in Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas, there were no laws regarding subjection. Besides, three indentured servants who attempted to escape service were sentenced by a Virginia court thereby becoming the antecedent of a raft of lawful servitude authorities that would be taken after. In 1641, Massachusetts sanctioned slavery legislation by the Body of Liberties that gave various legal authorities of the act. Although the southern societies prohibited a sexual relationship between black men and white women to preserve racial purity, legislation in slave states did not protect them. However, the national ideologies researchers of mestizaje in the Caribbean and Latin America have emphasized the way ideas of mixed race work in particular arrangements of power that reject black people. As a result, they found that slavery has led to developmental barriers for the Afro-Latin American and Caribbean countries. The reason behind this effect is the hindrance towards the achievement of democracy and harmony in the racial context. Besides, current studies of these nations are also being victimized by racial discrimination (Godreau et al., 2015).

As stated by Foster (2015), white people in the current society are ranked as superior and the blacks as inferior due to the slavery that resulted in the emergence of the concept of race. Notably, the start of slavery in America traces to the beginning of Chesapeake Bay settlements. Even though the colonial officers had difficulties in attracting and retaining laborers under frontier conditions, it is apparent that the intrusion of the colony was making a path for access into the vast expanse of the wild south. Owing to this effect, the mortality rates among the obligated servants increased significantly. In spite of the worker’s desired to cross the Atlantic, they were required first to sign indenture contracts that effectively corresponded to the safety of their way to the West. Although the training in the isolated farms as well upkeep was to be settled by their agreements, enslaved servants were also expected to work for more time than what was indicated on the contract. Moreover, they were free and equipped with many farm skills even after the invasion of Chesapeake. However, this motive turned into an issue to people who were agricultural-oriented in the South. In 1619, the first Africans reached the US after it became an English colony (Foster, 2015). After the release of Africans from a Spanish slave ship, the Dutch traders found an opportunity to bring them. As such, their freedom began years after expensing their services to their masters efficiently. In fact, their leaders provided land and supplies as a token of appreciation thereby making them possess a property and even slaves.

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Depending on the arrival to the US, slaves were subjected to different treatment. Individuals who arrived before the authorization of slavery legislation were accorded the status of indentured servants where they received accommodation and supplied throughout their indenture. However, such endorsement made masters practice their privileges of owning a slave. The leader’s treatment of their subjugated parties was assisted by a set of codes passed by the Virginia defining a slave from a non-slave. Some masters whipped the slaves with the aim of starting their power. The patriarchal southern culture led to the emergence of sexual abuse of slaves that classified women as property or chattel. However, within the positions of society, slave proprietors held high esteem. Even though owning slaves was meant to be opulence, their working conditions were never improved. During the slavery time, the American society was a caste system that drove blacks to servitude and treating them as chattel. However, such a system may make people value themselves as higher stature in society. Furthermore, racism has been imbibed in social, economic, and political aspects of the country (Foster, 2015). Due to this reason, rules and regulations established during the historical period still exist in the contemporary society.

Aside from that, slavery practices abolished in the past have shown significant effects in the present political conditions of America. According to the Acharya, Blackwell, & Sen (2014), it is clear that the attitudes and perceptions of the South Americans towards African Americans have been passed on through generations. For instance, the aggravated capitalism during the time of servitude when slaves were considered as chattels shows that people have to make their ends meet by competing in jobs and resources as well. In today’s society, top executive managers and politicians are rewarded on the cost of workers and citizens. However, this assumption can be deduced from the salaries and gains earned by administrative managers of companies as well as the government officials. What is more, many people are still suffering from poverty as there are incomprehensible exploitation and waste of sources in the society. As the ancient documents, the land enclosure system introduced during the time of the Agrarian Revolution in England made many poor peasants to sell their portions to the wealthy proprietors as they could not afford to enclose them. Owing to this effect, capitalism and colonialism grew beyond expectations. The resources were subjected to a few people as the poor continued to work under similar circumstances. As such, many individuals remained in abject poverty since resources became scarce and competitive. To reduce inequality between the poor and the rich, the government ought to provide services to everyone regardless of their income status. With the current politicians, it is clear that the government has failed to perform its mandate since the members usually want to stay in power and accumulate more wealth. Therefore, the distinction between the blacks and the whites led to innumerable cases of corruption in the society (Acharya et al., 2014).

Even though slave owners in the past fed themselves with a proper diet, the condition of the southern frontier was dehumanizing to the settlers at first. However, slaves were vulnerable to ailments due to overwhelming workload, lack of healthy foods, scanty clothing, and crude cabins. Additionally, the heat and humidity aggravated their working condition. In most cases, they would even be forced to work even when sick and this led to an increase in mortality rate. However, this historical perspective can be observed in the current health care inequality. Some people cannot be insured on healthcare due to lack of a plan. Individuals from lower social-economic side usually prioritize essential needs first, such as food and shelter, thereby requiring a plan that hinders their insurance. The wealthy people are well covered whereas the poor remain ignored despite suffering from severe illnesses. Owing to this reason, inequality in health care has become a major issue within the society.

In the past, a caste system was a determinant in the education of southern colonies thus prohibiting the slaves from accessing formal learning and training. Besides, southern states did not have a heritage of public education before 1840. In fact, their children were inducted on the values of the community. Some of the slave owners also supported the system of public schools. On the other hand, slaves had to rely on the Anglican Church, though they had a fear of insurrection. Furthermore, the southerners’ deemed that empowering a captive would stage a rebel against their rulers. Due to this fear, they had to restrict the training of slaves by adopting legislation. According to O’Connell (2012), the educational facilities provided in the slavery areas were of lower quality as compared to that of the white. However, the difference between the wealthy and the have-nots is still widespread in the current population of America. For instance, the affordability of the American education system makes it inaccessible to many students, especially from low financial backgrounds despite being available to everyone. Children from affluent families can manage to study in private schools and have greater opportunities than their counterparts from the other side. As a result, poor children receive an education of poor quality. In fact, they usually study in public schools that have inadequate educational facilities as compared to private institutions. However, this reason shows the way the history of slavery has affected the contemporary society.

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As stated by Nunn and Wantchekon (2011), it is evident that there are adverse effects of the economic conditions of the country because of the presence of slave trade in the history of Africa. During the time of the slave trade, almost all captives were taken in large-scale conflicts outside the local community thereby creating an environment of extreme insecurity. The latter increased significantly within communities since individuals started to turn against each other. Furthermore, one could partly protect himself or herself by betraying others within the community. The slave trade also included the exchange of slaves for iron weapons and firearms. In fact, many slaves were captured and sold by their relatives or friends. The most common way of enslavement was kidnapping where over 40 percent individuals were taken through this manner (Nunn & Wantchekon, 2011). Owing to this effect, many people have developed less trust among themselves as they were tricked and taken by those close to them. Consequently, the historical evidence has led to a lesser degree of confidence among the natives. In the current society, this action has significantly affected the relationships between the government and the people. A mistrust of political figures may be high in the society since chiefs were also playing a role in the slave trade. Therefore, it is evident that the history of slavery has negatively affected the contemporary society due to the mistrusts developed by the people among themselves.

From the above information, it is evident that the history of slavery has brought various adverse effects to the contemporary society. The inequalities are still wide spreading, and the community is currently arranged in groups of the wealthy and the have-nots. Present schools have also adopted past resources that were of a lower quality to teach students. Besides, children from low-income families are the most affected as they cannot afford to learn in private institutions like the others from affluent parents. The available resources are also scarce, and only a few individuals can access them. Capitalism has also affected the society ever since the start of slavery because it has covered the community with inexplicable competition for rare resources. It has also encouraged massive exploitation of the environment as well as elevating struggle of classes. The political itinerary is busy looting public properties at the expense of citizens as they retain power. Besides, their salary, as well as that of company executives, is derived from exploitation and destruction of resources in the society. Therefore, slavery is alive and affecting many people the society.

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  1. Acharya, A., Blackwell, M. & Sen, M. (2014). The political legacy of American slavery. The Persistent Effects of Slavery on Political and Racial Attitudes in the American South, 1-51.
  2. Foster, G. A. (2015). American slavery: The complete story. Cardozo Public Law, Policy & Ethics Journal, 2(401), 401-420.
  3. Godreau, I.P., Cruz, M.R., Ortiz, M.F. & Cuadrado, S. (2015). The lessons of slavery: Discourses of slavery, mestizaje, and blanqueamiento in an elementary school in Puerto Rico. American Ethnologist, 35(1), 115-135.
  4. Nunn, N. & Wantchekon, L. (2011). The slave trade and the origins of mistrust in Africa. American Economic Review, 101, 3221–3252.
  5. O’Connell, H.A. (2012). The impact of slavery on racial inequality in poverty in the contemporary US south. Social Forces, 1-22.
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