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African Americans In The New World

1236 words - 5 pages

Expanding land, growing plantations, and a sharp decline with the indentured servant brought Colonial Americas need for laborers to a peak during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Seeing that providing these needy colonies with laborers could in fact become very lucrative, European slave traders were quick with their provisions, Africans, and there was certainly no shortage of them. In fact, according to Taylor (2001, p. 323) the number of African slaves imported into the colonies during the eighteenth century alone was one and a half million, shockingly that number is more than three times that of free immigrants that landed on colonial soil during the same time frame. Whether due ...view middle of the document...

The voyage from Africa to the Americas took approximately six weeks if the winds were right making for a long horrible trip for the slaves. Fear of their future and inhumane conditions that included being crammed below the deck of the ship forced to lie on un-sanded wooden shelves with not even enough room to sit. There was very little to no light, no fresh air, and they resided in not only their own but others bodily waste for the entire voyage. Consequently with the fowl stench and no fresh air disease became inevitable and those that became sick were often thrown overboard to stop the spread. However, because the length and severity of the trip not all diseases were stopped and many live slaves found themselves tangled with the dead (Reich 2001), a fate which unfortunately some desired.Many Africans did not give into becoming slaves by actually choosing death, this was accomplished by jumping overboard when the chance presented itself or in some cases a much slower approach, starvation. Starvation was an epidemic that caught on quickly with those who desired death and the crewman of the ship had to act just as swiftly to put an end to it by beating, torturing, and force feeding them. Slaves were valuable property to the slavers so it was important they remain alive without permanent damage. While on the average twenty percent of the Africans did not live through the Middle Passage, those who did were taken and sold at auctions to the highest bidder, causing men to be separated from their wives and children to be torn from their mothers (PBS n.d.).Ultimately the majority of males, accompanied by only a few women, purchased at auctions ended up on plantations were life proved extremely harsh and compliance came from brutal punishment rather than reward. Working from dawn until dusk gang labor constituted for the majority of work and with ruthless supervisors, brutality became a common practice, as it was the owner and or his agents that dealt out punishment at their own discretion (Taylor 2001).Some plantations however, largely because of slave resistance, worked under a task system. The task system allowed the slaves time for themselves after a certain number of tasks had been completed for the day. Many tended personal gardens or to livestock they could sell to purchase necessities (Taylor 2001).Regardless of which type of plantation one was forced to work, brutality was still part of a slave's life. Among the brutality that occurred was the rape of female slaves, which other than trespassing was...

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