Slavery and its Societal Impact


The social consequences of slavery are immense. Slavery transformed colonial society in every part of the colonies. The most impact slavery has made has been in the southern colonies where often slaves outnumbered the white population. Plantation slavery was common for it gave white plantation owners the opportunity to exploit slave labor for maximum profits. Of course, the social impact was that slaves took measures against the institution of slavery.

It was not considered uncommon to have slaves run away. In response, slave owners would set monetary rewards for the capture of escaped slaves. The Fugitive Slave Act was eventually passed to return runaway slaves to their masters if they escaped north. Some colonists even made a business out of capturing slaves.

Greed and Slavery

It is important to understand that people do not employ the institution of slavery for purely evil reasons—it is usually out of greed. Slavery is used for economic purposes and to create large profits at the expense of moral treatment. Slavery increases other members of society financially, but in a heavily unjust manner.

However, all though it is true that slavery had enriched the lives of those white, landowning Americans that could afford them, slaves as a whole did not let themselves be degraded without struggle. Slave uprisings occurred, especially in the south. Nat Turner’s Rebellion is an example of social affects slavery can cause. Nat Turner’s Rebellion instilled fear and retaliation against the slaves and as a result almost one hundred slaves were killed. Slave rebellions caused widespread fear in the slave society.

Slavery and the Slaves

The most lasting impact slavery had was on its own people. Slavery affected everyone who took part in the institution, whether it was the ones who participated in the slave trade or the plantation owners. But the slaves faced the worst challenges. Slavery was imposed upon Africans because they were more suited to the harsh conditions that existed in southern plantations. Native Americans could not be used due to their immune systems.

The Native American population declined with extensive colonial contact because of disease such as small pox. Africans, however, had strong immune systems that could resist much of the diseases that plagued warm climates. At the very start, Africans were forced from their land, often from the interior of Africa, and packed into ships tightly and under harsh conditions. The slaves that survived the passage were to work under inhumane circumstances on the large plantations located in the southern colonies as well as the Caribbean islands.

Racism in America

The very beginning of the institution of slavery was filled with horror. It is important to note, however, that as individuals slaves could receive different treatment depending upon their masters. Some slaves were household slaves and would work alongside their owners. The less fortunate ones would be in agricultural labor, under a cruel slave owner who would use torture as a means to keep slaves in line. Racism slowly became ingrained in the minds of white slave owners and even those who did not own slaves. Racism allowed for white slave owners to justify their desire to continue slavery in the south.