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The Inhumane Treatment of African Slaves

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Susan Hall

February 2nd, 2017

DBQ Slavery Prompt

The Inhumane Treatment of African Slaves

There is no doubt that the period of African slavery in America is one of, if not the most, dark and sinister parts of the country's history. Although the Encomienda System that came before the African Slave trade was brutal on American Indians, African slavery made the Encomienda system look like a walk in the park. From 1620 to 1865 were the years where it was legal to enslave Africans and force them to perform massive loads of work. The black men women and children that were imported from Africa to America were made to be less than human in a multitude of vile ways. The animalistic treatment of African Slaves is evidenced through the clear political, social, and economic divides that were drawn between the whites and blacks and enforced for almost three hundred years.

Slaves were not considered humans per say, but property. Obviously this differentiation between a person and a machine establishes a political divide between the whites, who were considered people, to blacks, who were seen as productive objects. The slaves had legally no political rights, because why would someone who was viewed as less than human have political rights? This idea can be corroborated by the law, that at the time said that a white master could kill his slave and not be found guilty because “it cannot be presumed that prepensed malice should induce any man to destroy his own estate” (Document 2.13). Just this law alone articulates that Africans were not politically thought of as the same class or even the same strain because of the fact that whites could legally kill blacks, but blacks could not kill the white and whites could not kill other whites without consequences. The Africans were actual human beings that white men OWNED. They were “[bought] and [sold]” (CAP pg 8) like commodities. They had lives in Africa: Strong communities, religion, “family and friends” (CAP). All of those precious things that should have been a right for them were taken away as they were captured and thrown into the bottom of slave ships. Some of these Africans had previously been Princes and Kings and were therefore used to being treated as such, but the colonists did not care one bit what status they were in Africa… They were now their slaves and basically had no status or rights. Nobody cared about their feelings or their mental health, they just saw them as easy targets and a way to increase their workforce. They were a different race than the whites, but the whites seemed to think that they were a whole other species.

If anything could ever prove that slaves were dehumanized in the new world, it would be the slave ships because of their less than livable conditions. They

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