As the account of Equiano demonstrates, slavery as an institution was in trouble under the pressure of a general resistance by the slaves. These slaves were finally making breakthroughs by the late 18th century. Despite the brutal, repressive nature of slavery, the efforts of resistance by the slaves and the abolitionists proved strong enough to overcome this institution.
"The Validity of Stanley Elkin's Slavery Thesis"
one had questioned the ethics and legality surrounding it; everyone just assumed that a practice that benefitted society so greatly would never be against the law. After that historical decision was set in stone, all British slaves were considered free men and citizens of England, although society would continue to remain segregated. In America, however slavery would continue to thrive for some time. By the middle 1700’s America had refused to be ruled under the British Monarchy, during this time Britain introduced heavy taxation laws, when America refused to pay a strong conflict erupted between the two powerful countries and the Revolutionary broke out, it lasted from 1775-1781. Both nations developed strong armies; in America black slaves were not forced to join and fight, but many volunteered as they believed their participation would lead to their freedom. This was a false belief, as slavery in America would continue to exist for approximately another 80 years. After the Revolutionary War, Great Britain retreated and America was granted freedom from monarch rule, following the Declaration of Independence. The declaration states “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it” Even after this famous preamble was established, America continued to break this declaration by upholding their slave industry. The exact document that won America their independence would be persistently disregarded in relation to slavery, the memorable words would somehow overlook the inhumane practices that helped uphold America’s economy. Soon after independence the Northern States bean to industrialize and no longer relied on slavery for their prosperity, this sparked many northerners to view slavery as morally wrong, however within the South slavery was still the backbone for the economy and this meant the southerners were not about to give it up. This ethical disagreement between the North and South would become the foundations that would eventually lead to the American Civil War; a bloody battle that
echoes of the slavery thesis are very clear
held great losses for both sides. During this period the spread of the abolition movement grew, and certain individuals dedicated their time and life to fight for a cause that they strongly believed in; that slavery should cease to exist. These ‘abolitionists’ were not only African American; many powerful whites began voicing their opinions regarding human property. In 1852 Harriet Beecher Stow finished writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin; a fictional novel that exposed the horrid reality of slavery. For many it was the first time that they had been so vividly immersed in the horrific practice of slavery and eventually the beginning of abolition was on the tip of every Northerners tongue. Within the first year that it was published Stow sold 300,000 in the United States alone. It was the second most popular book that century, just following the Bible. Stow heavily expressed her opinion within the characterisation of her novel. Depicting the racial backlash that accompanied slavery, she wrote from both sides; accurately portraying the slaves and their masters. She also brought up the idea that although the North was opposed to slavery they still did not consider a black man as a free or equal man. "I've always had a prejudice against negroes. And it's a fact, I never could bear to have that child touch me; but, I didn't think she knew it." Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Pg 246. Miss
Ophelia expressing her views about the child Topsy to St. Clare. Like many northerners of this period, she did not support the institution of slavery, but was just as or more prejudice than southern slave owners.
tion-as-sexual-slavery thesis (e.g., Barry)