Slavery has a long Human history, never very pleasant for the person on the receiving end and at times downright ugly. And although it is not openly practiced today, it is for sure, a hidden market (Wayfair, ahem).
The type of slavery practiced in the United States (from 1619 to 1865) was known as chattel slavery which referred to the treating of human slaves as property and not human beings. As long as people have been alive they have wanted to exact some sort of control over others. According to the bible [don’t lose me here] the Hebrews were enslaved to the Egyptians for 400 years and the practice got pretty ugly as the number of slaves started to increase. After all, if the slaves continue to outnumber the slave owners, that show might be over sooner than expected. Similarly, the behavior of slavers in america got pretty ugly as time went on for the same reason – Control and a lack of it.
So slavery was not a new concept in the world prior to the new inhabitants’ invasion of the Americas. They were either agreements or punishment for a period of time is how it was practiced in Africa which is where black slaves of the americas came from. Initially, whites and natives were enslaved in america, simply because they were here, but they could run away and at a time when there were little means of tracking – no cameras, videos, or the like existed yet – the further you were willing to run, the more likely you would never be found. You’d blend into whichever society you resembled the most and freedom was yours.
But in an effort to “maximize profit and minimize cost” as big business is oft to do, the idea of obtaining slaves from africa was presented. Why Africa?
Because there were no black people here; not in droves anyway. So if all of the slaves were black, then their skin would stand out if they ran away, and they could easily be spotted no matter where they ran off to. In other words, if all the black people here had to ‘belong’ to someone then even if they ran away, the likelihood of the investors retaining their profits shot upwards. Cha-Ching!
and the slave trade began.
Before the slave trade began, a group of 19 Africans was brought to america on a trial basis.
These blacks had rights though.
Because blacks were people and had rights. Even as a slave.
This meant their slavery stent would end.
This meant there were other means of removing oneself from slavery, such as marrying your slave master, for example.
Additionally, the individual was the slave, but their children were not.
Things changed but this is how it was at first.
So of course, as time went on, slave agreements would end or people would be removed from slavery in other ways and this was normal for slave ownership.
*Here is where human ‘need for greed’ creeps in. And this is still practiced today so it’s important to take note of how this works.
Businessman 1 would like to maximize profit and minimize cost.
“Ok we tried the African slave thing, it’s a’ight but eventually they get free and we gotta buy new slaves.”
Businessman 2: What if…once we buy a slave they are a slave for life so we never lose slaves, we only keep gaining? Is that possible?
Businessman 1: Anything is possible. Let me call my friend in Congress to get a law passed.
Businessman 2: How much will that cost?
Businessman 1: Don’t worry about it. It’s a done deal.
And this is the way human slavery in America progressively turned to chattel slavery (treating humans like property with no rights)
I believe all beings including animals should be free, but I digress.
So it was not that way at the start, but every time a black person sued in court for their slave stent to end or married their master or whatever other means to remove themselves from slavery, a law was passed the following year that said:
Actually, you are enslaved for life.
Actually, you are no longer allowed to marry your master.
Actually, you cannot marry any white person ever.
Actually, even your kids are enslaved as well.
Actually, they are enslaved for life as well.
Actually, you can never sue in court if you’re not treated right.
And on and on, new laws being created to progressively limit the rights of the enslaved until it turned into slaves were slaves for life, and so were their children, and they were no longer human (that was a law too).
And since their home base was a long way away, Who could they complain to?
Ahh, the devil was crouching at their door and they decided to open it and greet him with wide-open arms.
But they forgot one thing.
“They buried us but didn’t know we were seeds”
In other words, You cannot keep the human spirit down. Not for long anyway.
And that burning desire for freedom, that burning desire for justice (and in some cases retribution because let’s face it: alls fair in love and war) proved to be a tumultuous relationship between the enslavers and the enslaved.
Thomas Jefferson said it best regarding slavery: I have the wolf by the throat but I can neither sustain him nor let him go…