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The slave rebellion led by slave Nat Turner was a major change in relations between slaves and masters, creating a new fear on the part of the masters about what the slaves might do and so leading to more repressive measures taken against the slaves as a form of protection. Based on accounts from the period, it would seem that the white population was truly surprised at the resentment in the slave population and did not at all understand why this should be so. The slavers learned a lesson from the revolt, but not the right lesson. They did not see a need to do away with slavery or even to modify its conduct, except to make it more onerous on the slaves themselves. The seeds of revolt were clearly sown by the slave-owning population itself, and those same people did not see human trafficking as an offense and so did not change their behavior. By that time, they were themselves enslaved by an economic system that demanded cheap labor and from which they could not escape any more than could the slaves. The slaves saw no other way to make their grievances known, and they lacked the power to affect the way plantation society was formed and did business.
In the course of the nineteenth century, the European powers, especially Britain, turned against the slave trade and sought to stamp it out. In Britain, the slave trade was abolished in 1807 in the reign of King George III, the same king the colonies had fought in the American Revolution (Delderfield 112-113). This only ended British participation and in time would lead to active British efforts to stamp out the trade, but the real end of the African slave trade would not come until it had been eliminated in the New World as well. There is a popular conception regarding the cause of the Civil War, that the war was fought over the issue of slavery and that the North was battling to free the slaves. In fact, while there were some in the North who desperately wanted an end to slavery, this was not the primary cause of the war, nor was the abolition of slavery the primary purpose of the war from the northern point of view. Historians generally agree on this as they agree on many of the underlying reasons for the Civil War, reasons which were on the one hand economic, involving economic differences between North and South, and on the other political, with Abraham Lincoln pursing the war primarily to defend and protect the Union. Abolitionists developed an elaborate argument against continuing slavery. They first held that it was contrary to the teachings of Christianity because Jesus taught the doctrine of universal brotherhood and that all men are created in the image of God. These arguments are found in James G. Birney's Letter to the Ministers and Elders in 1834 and Theodore Weld's The Bible Against Slavery in 1837. Abolitionists next stated that slavery was contrary to the fundamental principles of the American way of life, which valued freedom as an inalienable right. Slavers were denied this freedom. Abolitionists further stated that slavery was economically unsound because the workers could not be expected to be efficient and because there was such a waste of physical and human resources in the plantation economy (Franklin and Moss 174). As a result, the South was turning into an armed camp where white people lived in constant fear of the uprising of the slaves, such as had occurred in the Nat Turner rebellion. This fear itself generated violence and bloodshed.
American slave-owners should have had ample warning that unrest was possible. The key historical event of the eighteenth century came near the end with the Haitian slave rebellion of 1791, a revolt against French rule and the slaveholding system. There had been attacks before that date, but the slave rebellion started with attacks by the French slaves, or maroons, that would lead to the Haitian Revolution. The system itself was unstable, and the slave rebellion destroyed the colony. The slaves wreaked great carnage in the north, showing that this was an explosion of fury from an oppressed people. The rebellion itself ultimately failed, b
Names mentioned in this term paper
a young man, Daivd Stannard, Abraham Lincoln, Vesey, Jesus, Thomas C. Gray, King George III, Raphael Lemkin, Williams, Tuner, Stuckey,
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Locations mentioned in this research material
Britain, Americas, United states, the Europeans, Haiti, Mexico, South America,
Keywords referenced in this research material
the slaves, slave rebellion, Nat Turner, Civil War, New World, Nat Turner revolt, American Revolution, slaves and masters, African slave trade, abolitionist, Haitian Revolution, human, nineteenth century, abolitionist movement, wild man, united states, King George III, human trafficking, black nationalism, human being, eighteenth century, white people, American way, human resources, European powers, black churches, Denmark Vesey, oppressed people, the revolt, a new fear, inalienable right, economic system, Raphael Lemkin, plantation economy, Abraham Lincoln, universal brotherhood, stamp, indigenous peoples, confession, cold blood, original intent, AME church, long term, wild men, the american revolution, spanish and portuguese, Christian world, South America, women and children, new nation,