4SlavAbolCivilReconstr - Slavery in the United States was a...

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Slavery in the United States was a form of unfree labor which existed as a legal institution on American soil before the founding of the United States in 1776, and remained a legal feature of American society until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1865. [1] It had its origins with the first English colonization of North America in Virginia in 1607, although African slaves were brought to Spanish Florida as early as the 1560s. [2] Most slaves were black and were held by whites, although some Native Americans and free blacks also held slaves; there were a small number of white slaves as well. [3] Slavery spread to the areas where there was good-quality soil for large plantations of high-value cash crops, such as tobacco , cotton , sugar , and coffee . The majority of slaveholders were in the southern United States , where most slaves were engaged in a work- gang system of agriculture. Such large groups of slaves were thought to work more efficiently if directed by a managerial class called overseers, usually white men. Slavery was a contentious issue in United States politics from the 1770s through the 1860s, becoming a topic of debate in the drafting of the Constitution ; a subject of Federal legislation such as the ban on the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 Abolitionist movement Through the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 under the Congress of the Confederation , slavery was prohibited in the territories north west of the Ohio River . By 1804, abolitionists succeeded in passing legislation that would eventually (in conjunction with the 13th amendment ) emancipate the slaves in every state north of the Ohio River and the Mason- Dixon Line . However, emancipation in the free states was so gradual that both New York and Pennsylvania listed slaves in their 1840 census returns, and a small number of black slaves were held in New Jersey in 1860. [64] The principal organized bodies to advocate these reforms in the north were the Pennsylvania Abolition Society , and the New York Manumission Society . The Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 declared all men "born free and equal"; the slave Quock Walker sued for his freedom on this basis and won his freedom, thus abolishing slavery in Massachusetts. Despite the actions of abolitionists, free blacks were subject to racial segregation in the North. [65] Throughout the first half of the 19th century, a movement to end slavery grew in strength throughout the United States. This struggle took place amid strong support for slavery among white Southerners, who profited greatly from the system of enslaved labor. These slave owners began to refer to slavery as the " peculiar institution " in a defensive attempt to differentiate it from other examples of forced labor.
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This note was uploaded on 12/13/2011 for the course LITERATURE 105 taught by Professor Stevens during the Winter '11 term at Mitchell Community College.

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4SlavAbolCivilReconstr - Slavery in the United States was a...

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