19th Century American Slavery

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In the United States slavery is understandably associated with the South since it was the Southern states that so vigorously defended the practice during the nineteenth century. However, to understand how slavery first took hold in the South, historians look much farther back in time, to ancient Greece and Rome and the civilizations that preceded them. In many of these societies, it was common practice to enslave peoples who had been defeated in war. Even through the Middle Ages, Moors and Christians enslaved each other and justified it on religious grounds. Difficult as it is for us to understand today, slavery was a simple fact of life throughout much of human history. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, this unquestioning acceptance of slavery combined with two other factors— Europeans’ belief in the inferiority of other races and cultures, and European settlement of the New World—to give rise to the Atlantic slave trade. According to historian James L. Stokesbury, When Europeans first made their way down the coast of Africa towards the east, and discovered the New World to the west, they still believed in slavery as an institution. Some men were free, some were slaves; God had made it that way. When the Spanish therefore enslaved the Indians, it was not to them a reprehensible act; the Church put limitations on…show more content…
Some, such as Virginia reverend Thornton Stringfellow, cited biblical passages to justify slavery in order to refute the religious arguments of the abolitionists. “In Genesis xvii,” Stringfellow wrote, “we are informed of a covenant God entered into with Abraham. . . . He expressly stipulates, that Abraham shall put the token of this covenant upon every servant born in his house, and upon every servant bought with his money.” Furthermore, according to Stringfellow, “Jesus Christ has not abolished slavery by a prohibitory

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