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Slavery in the Colonies. Overview. Slavery existed in the United States from the early 17th century until 1865, when Congress enacted the Thirteenth Amendment shortly after the Union victory over the Confederacy in the Civil War .

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  • Slavery existed in the United States from the early 17th century until 1865, when Congress enacted the Thirteenth Amendment shortly after the Union victory over the Confederacy in the Civil War.
  • By that point, more than 4 million African-American slaves lived in the United States.
  • Although their communities thrived and multiplied, these people were subject to harsh living conditions and enjoyed none of the rights or freedoms so fiercely protected by white Americans.
middle colonies
Middle Colonies
  • New Netherlands and New York
    • Slaves were used to build roads and forts (Wall Street) and clear land for agriculture.
    • By 1750, enslaved population in NYC was second only to Charleston, S.C.
    • Philipsburg Manor, Tarrytown, 23 enslaved Africans in 1750
    • 1770 – slave population in NY reached 20,000
middle colonies1
Middle Colonies
  • Slaves were preferred labor source since there was an abundance of cheap land and a lack of white indentured laborers.
  • Colonists preferred to purchase slaves who had already been living in other colonies or the Caribbean. Slaves directly imported from Africa were considered too dangerous.
middle colonies2
Middle Colonies
  • Slaves in the middle colonies worked as coopers, blacksmiths, carpenters, shoemakers, iron workers
  • Slaves faced cruel punishments including whippings, increased work, separation of families, castration and burning at the stake
  • New Jersey first passed slave codes (laws restricting slave behavior and rights) in 1704. New York in 1706
new england
New England
  • Massachusetts was first colony to legalize slavery. The first reference to the slave trade in Massachusetts comes from Governor Winthrop’s journal citing the arrival of a ship, The Desire, in Boston carrying slaves in 1638
  • First slaves arrived in Salem, MA in 1638
new england1
New England
  • Merchants in many industries profited from supporting and supplying the slave trade and the institution of slavery in the colonies and the West Indies. Ship builders built the ships headed to Africa. Brokers negotiated loans for the slaving companies. The lumber industry provided wood to the southern colonies, and farmers provided food (wheat, oats, fish, etc.) to help feed the slaves in the southern colonies and West Indies.
  • Profits from slave trade resulted in New England’s growth as a cultural, political and educational center of the colonies.
  • Slaves never reached more than 5% of the total population in the New England Colonies
southern colonies
Southern Colonies
  • Southern economy was based on cash crops grown on plantations.
  • The Carolinas developed the first economy based on crops gown by slaves including rice, indigo, tobacco and cotton.
  • By the 1750s, planters in the southern colonies depended on slave labor due to the fact that white indentured servants were dying from malaria and cholera.
southern colonies1
Southern Colonies
  • From the 1600s to the 1740s, slaves brought to the southern colonies mostly came from Sierra Leone, Ghana, Liberia, Togo and Benin
  • From 1750 -1787, slaves were brought from Senegal and Gambia to the southern colonies to help with the cultivation of indigo.
southern colonies2
Southern Colonies
  • Unlike in the Middle and New England colonies where slaves mostly lived on small farms or in individual homes, slaves in the Southern colonies often lived on large plantations. White planters often chose to live further inland, away from the swampy mosquito ridden coast, or had homes up North. They visited their plantations several times during the year. In their absence, they appointed an overseer to manage their property and their slaves.
southern colonies3
Southern Colonies
  • Large plantations often used the task system for labor. Slaves were assigned an acre or more of land that they were responsible for tending. They had to hoe, weed, plant, and harvest their parcel. When the task of the day or week was complete, they were allowed to tend their own gardens in the slave quarters. Slaves were able to supplement their diets by growing their own vegetables.
southern colonies4
Southern Colonies
  • The task system and absenteeism gave southern slaves more room to create a culture, maintain traditions, and form strong family units. Even though they did not have greater freedom, they were able to interact in a more natural and relaxed environment. However, the threat of punishment or being sold loomed large in all slaves lives.
middle passage
Middle Passage