Slavery and the American Modernization Changes

Slaveryand the American Modernization Changes

Thechanges that took place in the United States since the fifteenthcentury up to the end of the Reconstruction period marked themodernization milestones for the country. More conspicuously, theUnited States had a number of changes in the aspect slavery and slavelabor. The developments in slavery up to the end of thereconstruction period in the U.S defined the complexities that formthe American history of slave labor. Even up to the end of the civilwar, the United States was still under slavery sentiments as theperiod did not mean peace, especially in the southern states (Veltunit 7, Half a Revolution). This discussion will explore thecomplexities associated with slavery in this period to discuss howand why America modernized in the way it did.Sinceindependence, the United States experienced changes in the political,social and economic perspectives all which affected slavery. In thesocial level, the United States marked changes in the behavior,especially in regard to morality of people towards slavery. Thesocial changes were sparked off by the developments in the economy,leading to the market revolution. The market revolution led to theemergence of a consumer class, as the middle class of the time. Thesocial class divide had slaves in the bottom of the socialstratification. The changes came in the backdrop of the marketrevolution, which also marked changes in social structures. Thesocial changes in behavior were as a result of the reform effortsmarked in the second great awakening period (Velt Unit 5, ReformingAmerica’s Morals).Inthe political landscape, the changes in regard to slavery involvedthe political respect for human rights and democracy, as propagatedby the presidents that led them. America changed towardsmodernization of the democratic space since the times of GeorgeWashington. For instance, since the independence time, to the periodof the civil war, the United States had been ruled by severalpresidents who uniquely contributed to the democratic space andprocesses in the country. The presidents were elected to their officeinterchangeably, from party to party, with no order of the politicalparties (Velt Unit 2, The President’s Precedents). For instance,the growth of democracy was significant in the rule of PresidentJefferson, who promoted the respect for human rights (Video 2 Age ofJefferson, 1). In the same spirit, President Abraham Lincoln passedlaws that prohibited the importation of slaves into the UnitedStates, among other abolitionist attempts(Velt Unit 5, Introducing Mr. Lincoln).Inthe economic domain, slavery powered the agricultural sector asslaves worked on farms that produced food and agricultural rawmaterials (VeltUnit 5, Fighting Slavery).The demand for slaves was driven by the demand for food and rawmaterials needed in the growing industries. The United Statesrecorded economic developments after the independence. Leading amongthem was industrial growths marked by the consistent establishment offactories to manufacture goods and services (Coxe107).This change in the economy was powered by the technologicaldevelopments that took place in the country. The changes wereexhibited by the use of new technical practices in the factories andrelated mechanical processes (Marx 2). The technological developmentsled to the change that introduced industrialization, and drove themarket revolution in the United States (Velt Unit 4, MarketRevolution).

Slaveryand the American Modernization

Oneof the developments in the American history that brought slavery to ahigher level was the slave trade and farming in America. Slavery wasintroduced in America because of the demand for free labor in theAmerican farms, especially in the southern states (Velt Unit 7,Fighting Slavery). This was the case because southerners weredominantly agriculturalists (Velt, Back to the Future). Since slaverystarted, America experienced the changes that strengthened the viewthat African Americans were slaves and not citizens. The mostsignificant law in this regard was the Dread Scot Case, which ruledthat slaves were not citizens of the United States (Velt unit 7, Halfa Revolution). Despite the desire by the abolitionists to eradicateslavery, the events up to the civil war still had slavery considerednormal by the white American society (Velt, Back to the Future).Inthe face of the prevailing conditions that favored slavery, the civilwar marked a significant modernization process for slaves. The civilwar fronted the antagonism between the southern states and thenorthern states, where the two sides had different views on slavery(Velt unit 7, Total War). During the civil war, the Confederacy wasforced to fund the war by increasing industrial production throughforced labor in the south (Velt unit 7, The Firestorm). Thisincreased slavery among the southerners. As slavery increased, theeffect of war had increased the cost of living and buying products,which negatively affected living standards of slaves and lower class(Vance250). Slavery increased after the Civil war, especially aftersouthern states went against the attempts by President Lincoln to endslavery (Velt, Back to the Future). However, after the civil war, theUnited States marked significant changes in slavery that marked themodernization in this aspect.Oneof the ways how the United States modernized in slavery was theestablishment of the freedmen bureau. The freedmen bureau was agovernment agency established to facilitate the transition process ofAfrican Americans from slavery to free people (Velt unit 7, Half aRevolution). The Republican leaders such as Horace Greene in SouthCaroline supported the freedmen and the Republican administration wascommitted to include them in the economy as free labor (Richardson439).Theestablishment of the freedmen bureau was a change from the past whereslaves were not necessarily recognized as part of the Americansociety. They were treated like animals, yet they claimed that theAmerican lands they had been working on is what they considered home(Bram 372). The establishment of the freedmen bureau helped in themodernization of the view of people’s perspective towards theslaves. In addition, some states such as South Carolina supportedsome constitutional changes that recognized human rights of theslaves (Richardson 440).Inaddition, the enactment of the 14thamendment was a significant, and perhaps the most important changethat marked the modernization of America in regard to slavery. Theact guaranteed equality of the African Americans before the law, justlike other citizens (Velt unit 7, Half a Revolution). However, thesedevelopments did not proceed without opposition and rejection of thepeople who sought to retain slavery. The southern states that formedthe majority of the democrats were the most vocal in the maintenanceof the status quo to maintain white supremacy over the blacks (Velt,Back to the Future). To the extreme, the democrats used violenttactics like the racist Ku Klux Clan to intimidate African Americans(Velt, Back to the Future). The Ku Klux Clan was a violent group thatused guns and pistols to intimidate and kill the African Americans atthe time (Hernades 382).Atthe same time, violence was used to stop any attempts by theabolitionists and the government to enforce laws that barred slaveryin the United States. The democrats used all the means to ensure theyfrustrate the northern legislators and leaders (Velt, Back to theFuture). They also used violence to protest and intimidate theAfrican American leaders who had been elected at the time. This ledto the restoration of white supremacy in the southern states as theywere rooting for slavery and never compromising on easing slavery(Velt, Back to the Future). The southerners won a political fight ofintimidating the northerners and the black leaders, which led to theelection of President Rutherford Hayes in 1877. This change was as aresult of a political compromise that came to be recognized as theCompromise of 1877 (Velt, Back to the Future).Thefailure of the reconstruction movement undermined the anti-slaverydevelopments that followed after the civil war (Velt, Back to theFuture). The resulting developments were against the modernizationefforts that had almost ended slavery and facilitated equal rights.Racial segregation became rampant as a result of the failure of thereconstruction period that was marked by the 1877 compromise (Velt,Back to the Future). Violent was also used by white supremacists toensure that African Americans remained not as citizens but as slaves.This led to the use of laws like the Jim Craw to intimidate AfricanAmericans towards slavery (Velt, Back to the Future).Thesoutherners ganged up against the republicans and the AfricanAmerican leaders, which promoted the white supremacy in the southernstates (Velt, Back to the Future). This led to the return of slaverysince the white masters strongly wanted to use slaves to work ontheir farms in the farms. It was not only slaves who were affectedsince some whites were demanding more land and taking land from theIndians (Harris1). The compromise of the 1877 undermined the progress that had beenmade to end slavery and guarantee equal rights to the AfricanAmericans (Velt unit 7, Half a Revolution). After the civil war, theslaves had gained little freedoms like fair treatment and living ontheir own (Velt, Back to the Future). However, these were short-livedbecause they ended after the failure of the reconstruction movement(Velt, Back to the Future).TheUnited States experienced different changes in regard to slaverysince the start of the enslavement during slave trade. The plight ofthe African Americans in the forced labor in the American farms wasat the mercy of the white masters. The attempts to end slavery camewith the passing of the thirteenth amendment and the fourteenthamendment to the United States constitution, as well as the effortsof the freedmen bureau. However, the failure of the reconstructionmovement led to resumption of slavery and the persistence of theproblem for the African Americans. This opened the door for violentcontrol and white supremacy that undermined the modernization of theAmerican society in regard to slavery. WorksCited

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