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his357c_Midterm - HIS 357C Professor Walker TA Adrienne I A...

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HIS 357C Professor Walker TA: Adrienne I. A common question when dealing with slavery in budding Colonial America is whether slavery preceded racism or vice versa. In addition to these two choices, there is also the possibility that slavery and racism sprang up together and mutually reinforced each other. The stance that this essay will be arguing for will be in favor of the idea that racism and slavery spurred each other on during America’s controversial beginning. This statement will be supported by looking in three different areas; English precedence, the origin of slavery in the New England, Middle and Southern colonies, and the use of Colonial Virginia as a case study. There seems to be this notion that the English had no knowledge or prior encounters with the idea of slavery before their economic venture to colonial America, however by looking at a simple time line it is clear that this is not the case. The English had a good 118 years to understand the nature of slavery before a single black person had stepped foot on Jamestown soil. In 1501, slavery was introduced to Latin America and was used to exploit the area of its riches. More than one hundred years passed before the English would set up the town of Jamestown. While communication in these days was not quite as quick as it is today, there is no way that news of the institution of slavery had not reached English years over an entire century. Thus, slavery of those of darker skin was nothing new to the English, and it is impossible for them to attempt to claim innocence in the matter. In fact, one of the reasons
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the Americas were explored was to find the same economic treasures that were found in the Latin Americas, so all in all, the founding of America and the beginning of the use of slaves by Colonial Americans were economic investments. With the knowledge of slavery, the general attitudes towards those of darker skin were the same in England as they would be later in the Americas. In the video, “Son of Africa,” we see the same sort of hatred acted towards Equiano as we would find in any documentary about slaves in the Americas. Also, the same sort of social laws were put in place to keep slaves in a subordinate position, such as the taboo act of teaching a slave how to read or write. It is because of Equiano’s unknown knowledge of reading and writing that he was able to accumulate the wealth necessary to purchase his own freedom, which is more than most slaves from England or the Americas can say. Thus, in England, it is easy to see the same sort of racist ideas that permeated through all social and political norms, as well as the obviously economic interests at play with the use of slave labor. The origin of slavery in the different regions of Colonial America is interesting because through analysis of each origin, it is easy to see what role slavery played in the economy of each of the regions. Starting from the top, the New England colonies had slavery from the beginning. Although Connecticut and Rhode Island stated that there would be no slavery in
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