An institution that has existed long before the period in which blacks were experiencing involuntary servitude in the American South. It has existed since the formation of ancient empires (especially Egypt and Greece, of which the latter had WHITE slaves.) and still, unfortunately, exists today in small parts of the world.
Slaves weren't always forced into involuntary service and labor because of economic reasons (a primary factor with the European slave trade that lasted all the way until the early 19th Century.) but also because of "spoils of war." In ancient times, and during the rule of the Aztecs, many prisoners-of-war became slaves as a result of military defeat and surrender.
The first slaves in the Americas were the Native Americans theirselves, as a result of being conquered by the Aztec Empire. However, when the Spanish came over and successfully destroyed the Aztec military forces and took over Tenochtitlan (with the help of smallpox epidemics that wiped out over half the population of the 200,000 population capital), it was the Aztecs and other Native Mesoamerican peoples that became slaves. Unfortunately for the Spaniards, however, the Indians turned out to be of little use in the silver mines, and too susceptible to the diseases that the white Europeans brought over.
This is how black slavery began. By the late 1500s, black slaves were being brought over from western and sub-Saharan Africa to began working in all of the fields for the Spanish; they would be planting, growing, and harvesting all of the crops and valuable consumer resources that they contained, especially in the Caribbean Islands and Hispaniola. Many more black African slaves were brought over to Brazil by the Portuguese where they did similar work. When tobacco was discovered during the early 1600s by English settlers who landed at what became Virginia, more black slaves were brought over to work in the tobacco fields, which the harvests would be sent back to the Motherland for profit for the English colonists. Enslavement of black people in North America would spread as the descendants of English settlers gradually became American southerners in North Carolina and southern Virginia, even though slavery would temporarily exist as far north as New England. However, the furthest north that slavery would be present from the time just before the American Revolution to the post-Civil War Reconstruction era would be Northern Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware, even though those states (or the upper halves of these states) were technically northern.
The first true abolitionist movements in the United States began in the 1820s, but good, high momentum and consolidated efforts wouldn't show up until the 1850s, with the formation of the Republican Party (est. 1854) and the conflicts in "Bleeding Kansas". Though the Civil War was supposed to be over whether the Union would be preserved or the country split in two with an independent southern nation, as well as economic factors including tariffs that The North reasonably put on manufactured goods made from their labor that the South bought since they wouldn't or couldn't make it themselves. By 1863, following the Union victories at the Battle of Perryville, Antietam, and Stones' River in Tennessee, the Emanicipation Proclamation was issued, though there were some exceptions with who would and would not be freed within it. Directly after the war's end, however, Radical Republicans had finally freed all of the slaves, and were now getting them their first Constitutional Amendment rights during the Reconstruction era (1865-1877). Sadly, following this era were Federal troops were forced to withdraw as part of the terms with a presidential election conceding deal that put Rutherford B. Hayes into office. As a result, these Constitutional civil rights were not recognized or respected again until the late 1950s, where, once again, the Republicans stepped up alongside the black civil rights activists to help OFFICIALLY get them the equal rights they desperately wanted (and needed) so badly. With President Johnson forced to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964, finally granting blacks and everyone of other races their equal rights that would be protected and recognized by business owners, public places, and the government.
The Republican Party and abolitionists in North America and Europe did a lot to help end slavery during the 19th Century.
The Kentucky Yankee, proud UrbanDictionary user bringing you definitions about historical events, battles, and wars since August 2004.
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