During the early Republic and Antebellum periods, slavery in America was characterized by economic, social and political features which were unique. Most of them though were not any different from those in other areas of the world. These included the placement of the slave population, in large economic units called plantations, and the physical and mental or psychological torture. This inflicted among the slaves to put them in their place as being servants (Lovejoy, 2011). The uniqueness was in the manipulation of race to control the slave population and economic rationalization. Socially, slaves were used for domestic and sexual exploitations by the masters. They also depicted a sign of wealth and power, especially, where only a few people owned slaves.
This was largely because it was considered extremely expensive to buy slaves. The bigger the number of slaves one had the more prestige and honor one received, and the more a person was recognized by the community. In this regard, slavery was a minor feature in the community as it was relied upon as was the case, when slaves were used for production purposes. Slavery was regarded as an institution in places, where it was used for production. This was because it was economical and, thus, was much needed unlike socially. Politically, slaves were used in administration and for military purposes that are in the army
Slavery took many different forms. This was because there were many different ways, in which slaves were acquired and the fact that they were used for different purposes and in different set up. The different forms included the following. Chattel slaves were considered as property of the masters and, thus, could be bought or sold at the owners’ free will. They did not have any rights and, thus, were at the mercy of their masters. They were expected to perform labor for their masters that included sexual favors at their command. Debt bondage was another form of slavery that was particularly common (Lovejoy, 2011). This was where a person owed another a debt, which they were unable to pay. Thus, they were forced to work for those people they owed the debt, until they could recover the amounts in full. It was not easy to escape this kind of slavery as other costs would incur during the period which continued to increase the debt.
These costs included food, clothing and shelter and, thus, the slaves were forced to stay indefinitely. In America, criminals sentenced to hard labor were rented out to governmental or private groups and money the fetched would go to the government. This was referred to as criminal peonage. Forced labor, otherwise referred to as ‘unfree labor’, was the other form of slavery. The slaves were subjected to labor by use of threats of violence on them or their family members. Those, who were supposed to work for a given time, were unable to escape and as such, were left with no choice than to serve as slaves.
The ban of the international slave trade led to an increase in trade between states. The ban prohibited the importation of slaves from Africa, thus, to replace the labor that had been set aside for slaves from Africa; there was the need to trade with the slaves that were already in the country. This saw an increase in the trade of slaves between the states. For instance, in Mississippi, a court held that the law against the slave trade was put in place to regulate the flow of capital and not to stop the slave trade. Therefore, one could not import slave not because it was illegal but because it shifted capital from the state to other states.
The conspiracies were a revolt, developed by slaves to prove a point, as they did not have facts but only memories of what had happened to them. Some slaves alleged rebellion in some towns. For example, the Charles town as there was no more conspiracies. The Stone rebellion was similar to the Nat Turner uprising in the Southampton county Virginia, especially in 1831. Vesey and his friends planned the rebellion to execute their enslavers. Two of the slave friends were opposed to the idea and, thus, exposed it to the authorities of the Charles town. All those, involved in the rebellion, were convicted, including Vesey. Nat Turner’s rebellion took place on August 1831 (Lovejoy, 2011). The rebel slaves went on a mission, killing any whites they came across and were able to kill 50-60 of the white men.
This came to be known as the biggest rebellion of the slaves. Unlike Vesey, Turner was not captured immediately and survived for more than two months after the rebellion. In both cases, the white men retaliated, causing wide spread fear among the black community of slaves. The leaders of both the rebellions were killed in these retaliations, and both were stopped even before they covered any ground.
The 1960 elections, which were won by Abraham Lincoln, a strong slavery abolitionist, led to the secession of eleven southern American states from the Union. This was the first significant, crucial step which led to the abolition of slavery. In 1862, through an executive order president Lincoln made the emancipation declaration, which declared slavery illegal to the states that had a session from the union. The declaration turned the civil war into a race war. This prevented the southern state from getting support from France, Britain and Spain, strengthening the union war. Most of the soldiers in the southern army were from families that owned slaves (Formby, 2010). They considered slavery a vital ingredient to the survival of their states, since most of the southerners practiced plantation farming and slavery was a cheaper source of labor, the union states, on the other hand, favored industries and most of the populations in these states lived in urban areas.
The civil war to the northerners was a nationalist issue and a moral affair since most of them considered slavery immoral. This meant that the union soldiers were highly motivated, and their morale contributed substantially and helped them win the war. In addition, the freed slaves were joining the union soldiers, boosting their numbers. The union soldiers also had tactical advantage, when they blocked the Southern ports, which curtailed the trading of goods and supply of war equipment from the southern states and destroyed their currency, depleting their ammunition and food supplies, two vital ingredients for the war.
Lincoln, before he was elected as the president, like most republicans, believed that slavery could be easily abolished if its expansion was stopped. He was opposed to new territories that allowed slavery being formed. Their view was that if the curtailed the spread of slavery this would end it. Lincoln was among those who strongly believed this was a way to end slavery and in 1858, he expressed this opinion in a speech. Lincoln election as the president caused secession of the southern states and the civil war began. The southern slavery supporters were well aware of his antislavery stand and felt he would push for slavery abolition. In 1962, when he declared the emancipation declaration, the civil war was turned into a moral war (Holzer, Medford, & Williams, 2006). The declaration simply freed all slaves from the eleven states that had rebelled. This meant that in states, where owning slaves was still legal, and they were part of the union, the slaves were not free. So slaves in the eleven states could only be free, if the union won the civil war. His emancipation proclamation was only applicable to the states that had seceded, thus, it was limited in addressing the issue of slavery. The slaves, who were liberated by the union army, were allowed to join the union army and fight the southerners. This implied that oppressed slaves were liberators of yet to be freed slaves.
The emancipation proclamation left slavery untouched in states that had not seceded and those that were liberated from the confederacy. Although the proclamation was limited to the southern army controlled states, it captured the spirit of the wars for the northern. Initially, the war was about keeping the union together. The proclamation turned the war from one of unification to a war on freedom and morality. Lincoln declared the proclamation in order to prevent the southerners getting support from Britain and France (Holzer, Medford, & Williams, 2006). Its implementation was crucial and strategic. It also allowed the freed slave to join the union army, essentially increasing the number of union soldiers and potential recruits and volunteers.
The proclamation also strengthened the political cohesion of the unions, which enabled the union army to get supplies and volunteers easily. Long before the war, the slaves were already fighting for their freedom and abolition of slavery. The proclamation of emancipation declared all men free, thus, fighting for their liberty. The freed slaves were also allowed to join the army, marking the first steps in starting to be treated equally.
One of the effects that the emancipation proclamation had on the war was that it increased the number of soldiers for the union army; an estimated seventy thousand former slaves joined the union forces. These former slaves played a crucial role in winning the war. It also gave the union a moral cause for the civil war winning the hearts not only of their citizens but also international support. This was demonstrated by the fact that Britain and France did not join the war despite their trade with the southern trade being curtailed. The emancipation proclamation also changed the purpose of the war from that of unification to a fight for freedom and liberty (Holzer, Medford, & Williams, 2006). This won the heart and minds of the union soldiers, increasing their morale and motivating them to fight to the end.
The southern soldiers were, on the other hand, fighting for personal reasons since most of the soldiers in their army were from families that owned slaves. In addition, the southern states were against state unions; therefore, they did not have the political goodwill that the union states had. This implied that the proclamation strengthened the union politically and in terms of the military might. As noted earlier, the proclamation also prevented the southern army from being supported by Britain and France; this meant that it gave the union an advantage in terms of weakening its adversary potential strength.