As our history class progresses further into history, we begin to learn more about social issues in the early 19th century, one of which is slavery. For the past weeks we have been looking into slavery and asking ourselves three questions: “How did slavery become economically entrenched in American society by the early 19th century?”, “How does a system of slavery based on race affect human dignity?”, and “What human characteristics does such a system tend to ignore?”.
Upon analyzing a secondary source entitled Cotton is King, we discovered that in the late 18th century, people actually thought that slavery was declining due to the fact that many slaves were able to escape their masters, and 10,000 slaves were freed in the ten years after the enactment of a law allowing private manumissions in Virginia alone. However, slavery was about to receive a boom in society due to the invention of a machine called the cotton gin. Invented by Eli Whitney, the cotton gin was a machine that made it easier to separate seeds from cotton. However, it increased slavery because while it was easier to remove the seeds from the cotton, it required two people to operate it, causing a boom in slavery. This aided in entrenching slavery in society because the cotton gin, being operated by two people, caused a boom in slavery, and further making it necessary to society.
In early 19th century America, the race-based system of slavery greatly altered society’s idea of human dignity. It made whites completely disregard that blacks were in fact human as well. Those who fought against slavery while not slaves were ostracized from society, being labeled as criminals while they were simply nonconformists.
While slavery is no longer present in the U.S., the long standing menace of racism still stands. While progressing towards tolerance of all races in the U.S., we must continue to make progress in the fight against racism.