Historical Perspective: Slavery in America

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Historical Perspective: Slavery in America
Witness Stones Project ’23

By Aiden Gomez ’25

The enslavement of Africans was a horrible, inhumane way for America to survive, yet that’s how the United States began to flourish. Enslavement in America began near Jamestown, Va., in 1619, when the first ship from Southwestern Africa arrived carrying 20 enslaved people.

Along with the first ship came the path for the United States. Without slavery, America wouldn’t be where it is today. The economy of the nation was fueled by slavery, with food and textiles being harvested by enslaved people every day. In the years following the first ships carrying enslaved people, the South and plantation owners became very dependent on slavery, and the demand for labor was ever-increasing due to the massive profit opportunities.

Slavery continued to evolve and shape America throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, although for many years, the narrative taught was that the North was “good” and the South was “bad.” All of the United States thrived and benefited from slavery, not just the South.

Despite the common misconception that the number of enslaved people in the North was small, Connecticut had the highest number of enslaved people in New England. In addition, the treatment and living conditions of many of the enslaved people in Connecticut did not vary much from those in the South. By 1804, all Northern states had voted to abolish the institution of slavery within their borders, but Connecticut's last enslaved person was freed less than 12 years before the Civil War. The American Civil War abolished slavery in this country and put an end to a cruel and vile practice that was at the core of America.

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