Shadow of slavery still looms over African Americans
It all started with 20 enslaved people who were brought from Africa to Virginia in 1619. They were followed by hundreds of thousands of African slaves who fueled the rise of the United States – many of them whipped, raped and killed for their skin color in the process.To get more news about Shadow Slave, you can visit innread.com official website.
The majority of enslaved Africans were brought to British North America during the 18th century. At the time of the Declaration of Independence, slavery was legal in each of the newly created 13 states. Before the American Revolutionary War in 1775, slaves comprised about one-fifth of the population.
"The expansion of slavery in the first eight decades after American independence drove the evolution and modernization of the country … The South became a continental cotton empire, and the U.S. grew into a modern industrial and capitalist economy," historian Edward E. Baptist reveals in his book "The Half Has Never Been Told."
Throughout the colonial and antebellum periods, over 90 percent of African slaves lived in rural areas in the South, where they were forced to plant and pick thousands of pounds of cotton each day.
Deemed by European settlers as commodities, people were sold and bid on at auctions. Young Africans were taken from their families, pushed to the expanding territories of Mississippi and Louisiana. Women carried the burden of taking care of the families as well as spinning, weaving and sewing.
"The prevalence and long-term existence of slavery in the United States is a stain on American liberal democracy. It led to a huge division between the North and the South, which triggered the Civil War," said Wang Lixin, director of the Center for Modern & Contemporary European & North American History at Peking University.
The extreme exploitation from slavery generated huge profits for white slave owners. Before the American Civil War, cotton grown and picked by slaves in the American South became the country's most profitable export, accounting for roughly three quarters of the world's cotton supply, according to the Bettmann Archives.
"The slave trade changed the course of American history. Apart from being an important driving force behind the rise of the capitalist economy, it completely changed the demographics of the America," said Du Hua, associate professor at the School of History of Wuhan University.
Though the import of slaves from Africa was barred in 1808, domestic slave trade flourished till the 1860s, displacing approximately 1.2 million slaves.
"With the development of the industrial revolution in the 19th century, Western capitalism entered a new stage of free competition from the primitive accumulation of capital. That's one of the factors that drove out slavery," said Mu Tao, professor at the Department of History of East China Normal University.
Although slave trade promoted capitalist economy, it was destructive for Africa. The continent suffered a huge population loss following outbreaks of new diseases introduced by European slave traders, like smallpox, tuberculosis, pneumonia and syphilis.
"Europeans used guns, gunpowder, shells and luxury goods like Indian textiles and beads to exchange Black slaves, which contributed little to the local economy," added Mu, who is also vice president of the Chinese Society of African Historical Studies.
"On the contrary, many towns and villages in Africa were destroyed by guns and gunpowder used in the slave-hunting war, including Benin, a famous city-state in West Africa."