Thursday, March 26, 2009

How Slavery Should Be Taught

Slavery is a subject that has a very negative connotation behind it. The word has always been revealed as bondage and cruel. I do agree, but we must give credit to the opportunities it allowed. United States was founded off of slavery and without I believe our nation would not have flourished as it is today. This helps tie in the main subject of this editorial, slavery should be taught as a multi dimensional topic. Not one sided, slavery was a very important economic process that help found the greatest nation in the world.
It was the slaves that allowed this nations to flourish as it did. An immediate example of the benefits of slavery would be the value of cotton today. Cotton is terribly important, not only to the South, but to the nation. In fact, by 1815, cotton is the most valuable export of the United States. By 1840, cotton is more valuable than everything else the United States exports put together, so the value of slaves is tremendous. By the time of the Civil War, by 1860, the dollar value of slave property is greater than the dollar value of all of America’s railroads, all of America’s banks, all of America’s manufacturing put together. Slavery was no sideshow in American society. It was very much the main event, and the cotton crop that slaves produced made America important to the world.
In “The Economics of the African Slave Trade” Anika Francis refers to a quote made by James Rawley which states "black slavery was essential to the carrying on of commerce, which in turn was fundamental to the making of the modern world" The first mention of Africans being taken away from their homes to be used as workers in Europe was in the 14th century. By the 16th century an African Slave Trade was set up, so a constant influx of slaves could be brought to Europe in order for the economy to keep growing. Africans presented able bodied people with high immunities for some diseases that Europeans were catching easily by working in the fields. By the 17th century, the slave trade was booming, and society was quickly changing its economy from mercantilism to capitalism. The slave trade thrived because of all the needed workers in European colonies, such as in Cuba, Jamaica and Guadeloupe. The local populations in these places dropped dramatically after the Europeans arrived. Cuba, for example, had an estimate of over 2 million people living there before the Europeans arrived, and afterwards only around 2,000 remained. People had died from the wars against the Europeans, who eventually conquered them. They also died from hunger, disease, suicide, or simply harsh conditions; the Europeans forced them to work long hours every day in gold mines. With most of the natives dying, Europeans needed more labor hands in order to keep profiting from the gold mines. The African slave trade provided their solution. Also stated in “The Economics of the African Slave Trade” Colbert, a Frenchman, said, "no commerce in the world produces as many advantages as that of the slave trade".Now take a look at the American dilemma during the 17th century. In the early part of the century the colonists were literally going crazy because of the need for food. They wanted so badly to make money off of tobacco, it was planted everywhere. But they didn’t remember to plant food. Even if they did remember, they didn’t know how, just like they didn’t really know how to plant tobacco. The Europeans needed people who would plant and grow corn for food, and who would grow tobacco for money. They readily accepted the idea of slavery because they didn’t know how to do it themselves. The Europeans couldn’t force the Indians to work for them because they were grossly outnumbered. This could result to a massacre. So, because the African slave trade was such an accepted thing by those days, it didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary for the colonists to use them for labor. In fact, in their eyes it was the perfect solution. Although this may not seem morally right you must ask your self if the world ran off of morals, would economy’s survive at all. I currently work at wal mart as a part time job while I matriculate through Claflin University. We were often reminded , Wal- Mart is a business and does not have feelings, there fore leave your feelings at home. This is a example of how businesses survive. Everyone will not always have an immediate benefit, in the case of slavery African Americans did not have the immediate benefit. This is why I believe that slavery should not be taught as a moral dilemma, but strictly the facts and why this awful idea thrived so.

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