“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”
Slavery in America stems well back to when the new world was first
discovered and was led by the country to start the African Slave Trade-
Portugal. The African Slave Trade was first exploited for plantations
in that is now called the Caribbean, and eventually reached the southern
coasts of America (Slavery Two; Milton Meltzer). The African natives were
of all ages and sexes. Women usually worked in the homes, cooking and
cleaning, whereas men were sent out into the plantations to farm. Young
girls would usually help in the house also and young boys would help in
the farm by bailing hay and loading wagons with crops.
Since trying to capture the native Indians, the Arawaks and Caribs,
failed (Small-Pox had killed them), the Europeans said out to capture
They were shipped from Africa by the Europeans in what was called
The Triangular Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. This was an organized route
where Europeans would travel to Africa bringing manufactured goods,
capture Africans and take them to the Caribbean, and then take the crops
and goods and bring them back to Europe. The African people, in order to
communicate invented a language that was a mixture of all the African
languages combined, called Creole. This language now varies from island
to island. They also kept their culture which accounts for calypso music
and the instruments used in these songs.
Slavery was common all over the world until 1794 when France signed
the Act of the National Convention abolishing slavery. It would take
America about a hundred years to do the same (Slavery Two; Milton Meltzer).
George Washington was America’s hero. He was America’s first
president. He was a slave owner. He deplored slavery but did not
release his slaves. His will stated that they would be released after
the death of his wife (The Volume Library; 1988). Washington wasn’t
the only president to have slaves. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “All men
are created equal” but died leaving his blacks in slavery.
In 1775 black Americans were sent to fight in the revolutionary
army. The British proposed that if a black man was to join their army,
they would be set free afterwards. America originally planned not to let
the blacks fight in the army, but when hearing this, let them enlist.
Only Georgia and South Carolina refused to let them enlist, but paid for
their racism when each lost 25,000 blacks to the British. The slaves
returned on an honourable discharge after securing America’s freedom,
but not their own (Software Toolworks Encyclopedia; 1992).
Slavery continued and so did the numbers of slaves trying to escape
to the free states or into Canada. A runaway slave would be found by
bloodhounds, trained to find black slaves. Then the slave, upon returning,
would be executed or severely whipped.
The “Underground Railroad” was a project that helped black slaves
escape into Canada, especially Amherstburg. The system involved 3,000
white helpers and freed an estimated 75,000 people after the civil war.
Slavery in the middle of the 1800’s was abolished except for the
rebellion states in the south. In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation
was issued which made slavery illegal in the states that had rebelled
and allowed black slaves to serve in the army and get other jobs, or
continue to work on the plantations, as employees making money.
The nightmare of slavery was over but a new one was to begin.
One that was worse for it was prevalent but was secret and silent. One
that exists today. One that does not shrink but rather grows. Racism
was and is upon us.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a
nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the
content of their character” (Martin Luther King Jr.)
Ku Klux Klan. Neo Nazis. The Aryan Nations. The American Nazi
Party. What are these groups? Why are they present in a land of supposed
equality of all men? They are there because there are millions of
Americans that believe in their message of white pride.
The African American population is growing and Americans are now
a mixed group of people. Black people are white people’s neighbours,
doctors, friends. With a growing unity between the two