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Slavery Dbq

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 750
  • Category: Slavery

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In a period of 55 years, from 1775 to 1830, many African American slaves in the United States gained their freedom, while in other parts of the US slaves were rapidly increasing, faster than ever seen before. The reason for the simultaneous increase and decrease of slaver lies in the African Americans’ involvement in early American wars, the decisions of certain slave owners, and the spirit of equality among slaves and freemen alike. The cause of an expansion of slavery is due to the rapid growth of our country, as well as the sense of duty among slaves.

African American slaves played an important role in the American Revolution, fighting on both sides of the battlefield. This usually led to the freedom of slaves, as they were promised this in return for fighting. According to Lord Dunmore of Virginia, any slaves who fought for the King’s troops to suppress the rebels would be granted freedom. The prospect of freedom would certainly be an attractive option for any slave. Paul Cuffe, in his 1780 petition, stated that African Americans were not being given the liberties they deserved; however, fighting in defense of the United States was a cause that he believed would end the unfair treatment against slaves.

African Americans were also granted freedom in a different manner. Some slaves, such as Venture Smith, were able to purchase their freedom. When Smith’s master agreed to free him for a sum of money, Smith worked diligently and was eventually able to buy his freedom. Finally, as slavery grew larger, an anti-slavery movement arose. This movement worked to inform the public about the realities and cruelties of slavery, in the hopes of turning the public feeling against slavery. For all of these reasons, the number of freed slaves in the United States grew increasingly from 1775 to 1830.

In the same period of time, conversely, slavery expanded greatly, and this can be credited to several factors. In 1790, slavery was relatively widespread in the United States, which was comprised of only thirteen states, but by 1830, slavery had not necessarily grown more widespread. In fact, groups like the Vermont Colonization Society were attempting to abolish the slave trade and emancipate existing slaves. The real factor that caused the expansion of slavery by 1830 was truly the expansion of our nation; the country had more than doubled in size from 1775 to 1830. As the United States grew larger and gained more states, the need for slavery spread to these areas, increasing the total number of slaves in the country.

Even if slavery was becoming less popular, the growth of our nation required the continuous growth of slavery. Another cause of the increase in slavery is the sense of duty that remained inside slaves of the time. Absalom Jones and Richard Allen both accepted their place in society, and they were able openly express their gratitude to and dependence upon their white masters.

In a separate case, Prince Hall, an African American leader in Boston, stressed the need for African Americans to deal with the insults of white people and also to bear the burden that has been placed upon them. The sense of duty and obedience displayed in these men exemplifies how slavery could have increased in the said period of time. While new slaves were being brought in to new parts of the country, slaves that felt compliant to their masters stayed as slaves. At times, slavery was all a slave ever knew and a life different from that would be incomprehensible.

In both cases, whether freed or enslaved, African Americans responded to their challenges with great success. Enslaved Africans worked endlessly to fulfill their duties and even procure their freedom. Many African Americans formed communities together, attending events such as religious meetings. David Walker, in an appeal to all African Americans, firmly spoke out about the freedoms all Americans deserve. He said Americans will gain their liberty and equality at all costs. Freed and enslaved African Americans fully recognized the troubles of their situation and yet still they held fast to their beliefs.

The reasons behind both the increase in freed African Americans and the expansion of slavery are numerous, but more importantly, the reactions of African Americans to both events differ, and this could have also contributed to either event. Ultimately, the period from 1775 to 1830 was a crucial stage in the early years of the United States of America.

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