Slavery Is Wrong Essay

Slavery is wrong because it violates the principles of the Declaration of Independence, which include equality, the right to life, liberty, and consent to be goverened.

First slavery violates the principles of equality by treating man like a beast. The acts against slaves made it seem as if they were worthless, which is not equality at all. In the declaration of Independence it states that “all men are created equal.” The slaves were men and yet they did not recieve that equality they right fully deserved.

Another reason why slavery is wrong is that it violates the right to life. Slavery keeps the slave from the right to decide weather they live or die. The slave’s lives were in the hands of their masters.

The right to liberty is another right being violated by slavery. Slavery takes away a person’s right to make his/her own decisions. Slavery keeps people bound and from ever becoming free. Even when they are said to be legally free, they are never free, fearing that some white man will try and claim them as their own.

Consent to be goverened is a right man also holds. This means that no one can have rule over you without your permission. Slavery abuses this concept. None of these men ever chose to be slaves. They were not asked weather or not they wanted someone to have total control over their lives and so as they pleased with it. Because of slavery families were torn apart.

So in conclusion, as Equiano said, “When you make men slaves you deprive them of half their virtues, you set them in your own conduct an example of fraud, rapine, and cruelty, and compel them, tho live with you in a state of war….”

Slavery -By Callum McPetrie

Slavery was an institution as old as humanity itself. It meant the ownership of one person by another, meaning that the slave was legal property. Often, the slave had to work constantly in bad conditions, and it was their owner who decided everything about their life. Although some owners were kind to their slaves, and gave them a certain amount of control over their lives, this was not often the case, especially in the early 19th Century when mercantilism, which propped up colonies around the world by the European powers, was in charge.

A History of Slavery

Slavery had been around for a very long time before then. Slavery was a commonplace institution in Egypt, where the pyramids were built off slave labour, and Ancient Rome, where people of conquered regions were made slaves (in fact, the word “slave” is said to have come from the word “Slav”, which was the race of people Romans made slaves most often). Slavery was also commonplace throughout the East, in China and the Indian sub-continent.

In the Dark Ages in Europe, and to a lesser extent Britain, slavery was replaced by serfdom. Serfs were similar to slaves in many ways. The Serf was tied down to a certain area of land, and worked in similar conditions to slaves who also worked on farms. Serfdom was a consequence of the feudal economic system in Europe at the time. It relied entirely upon agricultural output, so serfdom was considered inevitable. Life as a serf wasn’t easy, and many rebellions broke out because of it. Russia was the last country to abolish serfdom, which came about in 1860 under Tsar Alexander II. In most countries, however, it was abolished hundreds of years earlier.

In the 15th Century, Europe was on the rise again. As a result of the new mercantilist economic and foreign affairs policies in European countries, Europe looked for new land on which to build colonies, which led to explorers of the time like Columbus, who discovered the Americas in 1492 and carried many slaves on his ship, and Magellan. Mercantilism and colonization first became popular in Portugal, which started the slave trade, and Spain, before spreading to Britain, Holland and France.

In order to make mercantilism profitable, slavery was reinstitutionalized. Slaves were brought from Africa, both to Europe and its colonies, especially the Americas. Both the slave trade and work as a slave were brutal, and incredibly dangerous. Many slaves in the colonies did the same things that serfs did, which was to work on the land. Slaves, however, did far more dangerous work, usually on cotton plantations.

Enlightenment, Economics and Abolition

But in the 18th Century, the tide was turning against slavery. The Enlightenment was at its height, which produced many great minds dedicated to the principle of individual rights and freedom –which stood in direct opposition to the principles of slavery. Mercantilism was being attacked by the economists of the day, such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo, who promoted capitalism –the economic system that logically followed from Enlightenment principles. As well as these men, many people opposed slavery on moral grounds, such as William Wilberforce. In the 18th and 19th Centuries, the great debate of the time wasn’t capitalism vs. socialism; it was capitalism vs. mercantilism and the aristocracy, opposed to change -and pro-slavery. The latter included many of the English writers of the time, such as Thomas Carlyle and Charles Dickens. Because of the economists’ opposition to slavery, the writers called economics “the dismal science” –a modern phrase that came from the pro-slavery conservatives of the time.

Two countries took the lead in the crusade against slavery: the (northern) United States, which was very new at the time, and Britain. The northern American states became some of the first places in the world to abolish slavery outright, and the founding fathers were planning to put a clause in the US Constitution to abolish slavery, which was rejected by the south. It took a long, gruesome civil war to get the southern American states to also abolish slavery. It should be noted here that the south was agricultural, and because of this slavery was commonplace, and the south was worse off than the north.

Britain, led by William Wilberforce and influenced by the great economists of the time, abolished the slave trade in 1807. This came at great expense to the government, which happened to be fighting in the Napoleonic wars at the time, and outlawed slavery outright in her empire some thirty years later –the first country in Europe to do so.

Abolishing slavery came at great expense to Britain. But over time, their investment was paid off. Slavery prevented slaves from using their talents to the best of their ability, instead consigning them to brutal physical work. After the abolition, slaves were somewhat freer to use their talents to the best of their ability, which greatly helped the slaves and the economy as a whole. It was on this premise that the economists advocated the abolition of slavery.

Other European countries abolished slavery soon afterwards. In France, the French Revolution of 1789 helped towards this, but France soon found itself in the dictatorial grip of Napoleon. It took another revolution, that of 1848, which also took place in Austria-Hungary and Prussia to properly set things straight.

The Effects Today

Slavery affected, and continues to affect, many people in a bad way. This is why decolonization was widespread after WWII. Slavery is outlawed everywhere, except in shady countries in Africa such as Sudan, where people still own slaves.

Slavery had the effect of dividing people into races, an effect which is still felt today, although not as greatly as it used to be felt. This led most importantly to the civil rights movement in America, where race riots were common in the 1960s and 1970s. Many societies still have a degree of racial division that can trace its roots back to slavery in the mercantilist era, and some of the problems associated with race today. Even so, the average African-American has as high a per capita GDP as the average Swede –which is 1/3 lower than the total American average.

In Europe, division of races is an increasingly large problem, which occasionally breaks out in riots in France. Germany and Switzerland also have similar divisions, which are manifest in their laws, especially immigration from North Africa. Immigration is a larger problem in Europe than the US, as immigrants tend to put money into the country in the US in the form of productivity, and take money out in Europe, usually in the form of welfare benefits.

Conclusion

Slavery was a horrid institution in human society, and considered normal for most of human history. It took a revolution of thinking in the 1700s to change this, and revolutionary economics, based on man’s mind as his highest asset, not the hands he slaves with.

Modern slavery came about as a consequence of mercantilism. Although it could be argued that mercantilism has its benefits, its costs were far greater. Mercantilism was also a system of government intervention, not of free markets. The move to the free market was one of the reasons slavery was abolished.

It was the great and courageous minds of the day that had slavery abolished. For that and for other reasons, we have to thank those minds for the prosperity enjoyed in Western nations today.


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