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American Slavery American Freedom Book Review revised

American Slavery American Freedom Book Review revised - 1 A...

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1 A Review of American Slavery American Freedom By Esaias Tong This book review examines the evidence when Morgan attempts to ‘marry slavery and freedom’ 1 by examining slavery in colonial Virginia through economical, social and political lens; he succeeds in proving his point of explaining the seeming contradiction of the central paradox of American slavery and American freedom through the use of concrete and diverse evidence and citations to support his viewpoint. Morgan’s main purpose of the book was to analyze the history of slavery of early colonial Virginia as it was ‘the largest in slaveholder’ 2 in the American colony; also examining how the formation of republican equality views produced leaders of the American Revolution whose dedication to freedom was seemingly contradicted by their ownership of large amount of black slaves. This simultaneous development of American freedom and slavery is described chronologically. The author shows that in spite of the good intentions of the founders of the Virginia colony, its economic life lastly became narrowly focused on tobacco production, a crop that requires intense labor and considerable amount of land. He pointed out that although Virginians themselves noticed that they were too dependent on tobacco, ‘everyone, unfortunately, wanted to make tobacco’ 3 , because tobacco proved too profitable to them to discard, as Morgan noted ‘They still would not grow enough corn to feed themselves, but they grew tobacco as though their lives depended on that.’ 4 ,providing them with a stable economic foundation. Although there were some attempts to reform the economy, without the King’s or the English merchants’ heavy financial support, they were unable to diversify their exports to curb the expected short-term
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2 reform losses, and ultimately unable to diversify their economy. 5 The problem with only cultivating tobacco is that it required a considerable amount of manpower. The tobacco needed to purchase American freedom was produced by slave labor. As Morgan put it, ‘The Americans bought their independence with slave labor’. 6 As tobacco planters were unwilling to hard labor themselves, planters desired to get indentured servants the most in early colonial Virginia. 7 When the supply of incoming indentured servants decreased and freed servants lived longer to form a social class in colonial Virginia without property 8 , it threatened the social order and stability of early colonial Virginia. The importation of many working African slaves as a substitute for indentured servants’ labor was apparently the solution to gain freedom for these
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