Slavery Codes, which denied rights and classified slaves

Slavery equals cotton. Cotton equals money. Money equals power. Power to control an entire race and cause one of the bloodiest conflicts in American history, with death counts matching that of World War I and II combined. Slavery was fundamentally shaped through man’s desire for wealth and power. Despite this, man’s desire for human righteousness was too powerful for such a horrendous event to continue.      In the beginning, the cause of slavery sprang from the Southern need to hire cheap labor in exchange for grueling cotton field work in the sizzling Southern sun. The cotton gin made slavery spread like wildfire and the mass production of the golden white fluff expand like never before. African Americans would be rounded up from their homes and forced to make the thousand mile journey across the pond to work on these plantations. Author David Bradley attributed slavery as, “not death from malnutrition or suicide… but death itself,” describing it as something that you could never recover fully from, whether it be from physical or mental harm. Ruthless plantation owners wouldn’t bat an eye to these struggles and would auction off certain slaves based on best ‘attributes’, treating them like sheep being auctioned off based on desired plumpness. Owning slaves became an integral part of Southern society and was portrayed as an economic and status symbol to own them.      As a result, slavery was a despicable and deplorable treatment of slaves that became a relatively unnoticed norm. Slowly but surely, the slaves were dehumanized to the point of only being seen as two things: animals and monsters. The vile owners broke up families, gave little food, provided inadequate living conditions, overworked some to death, had regular beatings, and performed sexual assault just to name a few. It appeared that the US was turning a blind eye to the atrocities committed because of the economic transformation of the country, that became one of the largest exporters of textiles in the world. The South would produce heaps of cotton that would be shipped to the industrial North to be manufactured into profitable textiles. When concerns were brought to the federal government’s attention, the government would fabricate temporary solutions to the permanent problem, or in a phrase, throw it under the rug until someone was daring enough to face the issue head on. Several politicians still supported the wrongdoings in order to keep their power, as evident by the rulings in the Slave Codes, which denied rights and classified slaves as merely property to be sold and the Fugitive Slave Law, which provided for the return of escaped slaves to their owners, even if they were in the North. The complacency and compromises would ultimately be the first minuscule yet effective advance toward proper African American rights.     Under these circumstances, it provided a baseline for people to rise up for what they believed in, as evident at Harper’s Ferry, where John Brown attempted to raise an army of slaves to overthrow their owners. In the end, it was unsuccessful, but it sparked debate around the country as the North viewed Brown’s act as worthy and equal to being a martyr and the South began talks of secession. The final straw came in 1860 when the Republican nominee Abraham Lincoln won presidency, causing the split of the South from the Union and guaranteeing the power to protect slavery in the newly formed sovereign nation. A monumental step in the right direction for slaves was Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation which abolished slavery in states “in rebellion”. This act was peculiar in that it didn’t actually free any slaves, but it gave the North incentive to break into the South and strive for Union victory. In the end, the North had this new proclamation, more soldiers, and better resources that pushed them over the edge in defeating the ill-equipped South.      Overall, it marked the end of an era and rang in a new period in the form of Reconstruction. The Reconstruction was kicked off when the 13th amendment merely gave African Americans freedom, but not citizenship or the right to vote. Even with this, the content President Andrew Johnson left the future of African Americans in the hands of Southern states, falling in line with the notion that: “History repeats itself.” The government did establish the Freedmen’s Bureau which was an agency sponsoring African American relief and education, but still, Southerners were giving unreasonable labor contracts and sharecropping to new workers. These, along with the Black Codes, which ruled blacks subordinate to whites, and White Supremacy groups like the Ku Klux Klan, slowly and meticulously pointed towards the reinvention of slavery. Fortunately, Congress instituted the 14th amendment giving African Americans citizenship and the 15th amendment giving them the right to vote. Struggles for former slaves and Africans would still continue for the next century and beyond, as some still live through and witness forms of racism to this day. Luckily, millennials seem to speak out against these discriminations and African American’s rights have never been greater in America then they are today.     All in all, slavery in America was detrimental devotion to money and power that was fortunately dealt with. This want became a profitable need in Southern society that fundamentally shattered the lives of thousands, if not millions, of African Americans. The events of slave treatment as well as ineffective compromises were incidences that eventually spiraled into the Civil War. Harper’s Ferry and the Emancipation Proclamation were immense turning points of the Civil War leading the South to victory. The Reconstruction led in a new era of endeavoring that had positives in the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments granting African American’s freedom, citizenship, and right to vote. Altogether, slavery was a catalyst for power and profit that unfortunately become the main agenda in most conflicts.

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