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Slavery in the U.S.A

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The practice of people owning other people is called slavery. Enslaved people have to work for the owners, doing whatever the owners ask them to do. In the past many societies had slavery. Now almost all societies consider slavery to be wrong. They consider personal freedom to be a basic human right.

In the United States, as opposed to undentured servants, enslaved people usually stayed enslaved forever. They could not own any property. Slaves weren’t allowed to marry, although many did, and their families could be broken up at any time.Enslaved people got no pay, had no choice of jobs, and were not allowed to quit. Slaves tried to keep their own culture alive. They created gospel music by mixing traditional African rhythms with Christian themes. They told stories and made art.

Part 3: Working conditions

Most of the slaves brought to America lived in the South, many of them on plantations. Field hands worked long hours under hard conditions on the plantations. Household slaves had it better. They cooked, cleaned, sewed, and kept the gardens. Some slaves learned trades, such as carpentry or tanning. Some slave owners were kind, but many were very cruel and ruthless. In other words, enslaved people did a variety of jobs. Most worked on farms. Many did cooking, cleaning, child care, and other household services for the families that owned them. Others worked to make money for their owners.

Europeans brought slaves to the New World. Many of these slaves were kidnapped by African slave traders. The terrified men, women, and children walked hundreds of miles across Africa to the Gold Coast in north-western Africa. They were then chained and loaded so tightly onto boats that they could barely move. As many as 25 percent – approximately 2 million Africans – died during the voyage. Many became sick and died from disease. Others jumped overboard.

Part 2: Slavery in the U.S.A.

In North America the first enslaved people from Africa arrived in the English colony of Virginia in 1619. Plantation owners in Virginia and other Southern states originally used indentured servants to work in the fields. Thus, plantation owners realized that freed indentured servants posed a risk. They began importing slaves from Africa to work on their plantations.