Home » Unit I: Early Injustices » Slavery in America

Slavery in America



1. Why did white farmers want to use African slaves?

2. How did Europeans get slaves from the African tribes?

3. List some of the challenges that Africans faced on the slave ships.

4. Why did Southern states continue to allow slavery after America’s

Plantations: large farms or estates, where cotton, tobacco, coffee, sugar cane, or the like is planted, usually by laborers. 
First, they forced the native people (Native Americans) to work as slaves. Then, they started to use Africans as free labor (slaves).10-12 million Africans came to the colonies to become slaves.

Captured in Africa…

Slavery happened within Africa, too. Often prisoners of war were sent to become slaves. Because trading slaves became profitable, it was difficult to stop this system.

Captured people walked together in trains for many miles.

Slaves had to stay in the hold area of the cargo ships which was dark, crowded and dirty.

The Middle Passage

The trip from West Africa to the Americas was known as the Middle Passage. (Middle of the three part/triangle trip.)

The Middle Passage took about 62 days (that’s about two months). Life on the ships was terrible. Each person only had 4-5 feet of space. Most people couldn’t even stand up straight.

Life on the Ships

The crew on the ship wanted to keep the Africans alive (no one would pay for a dead slave) so they forced them to eat, dance and sing.

Most Africans were taken from their families. People from different parts of Africa spoke different languages so many people didn’t understand each other.

Captured Africans were treated as if they were property and were given a price and then sold during auctions. Often, people didn’t buy whole families so people were split up.

Soon people started thinking Slavery was wrong…

In the 1700s people started to question the idea of slavery and think that it was wrong.

In 1808 the United States stopped importing slaves. But slaves came into America illegally anyway. Slavery continued because the childr

en of slaves remained slaves.

During the Civil War (1861-1865) the United States was divided in their opinions on slavery. The North thought slavery should be illegal. The South thought it was an economic concern and they should do whatever they wanted. In the end, President Abraham Lincoln declared all slaves to be free in the Emancipation Proclamation. But the south IGNORED this decision until the end of the war when the U.S. Constitution ended slavery

Slave Codes in Colonial America

 Spectrum:  Where does your opinion Lie?


– Yes laws are always good for everyone                                                                                                                                 – Laws do not help anyone ever

Slave codes:  laws passed to regulate the treatment of slaves. It was said that lave codes were meant to reduce the harsh treatment of slaves. In reality slave codes were designed to punish slaves and keep them in bondage. Slave codes gave slave owners near-absolute power over slaves. Slave codes dealt with the following topics, among others:

  • Runaway slaves
  • Slave rebellion
  • Personal rights like owning things
  • Status of children born of slave and slave master


 Directions: Read each slave code. Write the slave code in your own words

1. Virginia, 1705 – “All servants imported and brought into the Country…who were not Christians in their native Country…shall be accounted and be slaves. All Negro, mulatto and Indian slaves within this dominion…shall be held to be real estate.”

Restate in your own words:

2.  Virginia, 1662 – “Whereas some doubts have arisen whether children got by any Englishmen upon a Negro shall be slave or Free, Be it therefore enacted and declared that all children born in this country shall be held bond or free only According to the condition of the mother.”


Restate in your own words:

3.  Virginia, 1650 – “Act XI. All persons except Negroes are to be provided with arms and ammunitions or be fined at the pleasure of the governor and council.”

Restate in your own words:

4.  Virginia, 1705 – “If any slave resist his master…correcting such slave, and shall happen to be killed in such correction…the master shall be free of all punishment…as if such accident never happened.”


Restate in your own words:

Georgia: — “If any slave, Negro, or free person of color, or any white person, shall teach any other slave, Negro, or free person of color, to read or write either written or printed characters, the said free person of color or slave shall be punished by fine and whipping, or fine or whipping, at the discretion of the court.”

Restate in your own words:



Think back to where you placed your name on the spectrum in class about laws always being good for everyone or never being good for everyone.

1.  What law in today’s society that you think is good?

Why do you think it is good and who is it good for?

2.  What is a law in today’s society that is not so good or hurts some people?

Why do you think it is bad and who is bad for?


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