The Influence of Slavery in America


Unlike slaves, indentured servants could hope for an end to their labor, for when their time working was finished they were granted “freedom dues” and could become free members of the American society. Slaves, however, had no hope of an end to their suffering. Early American turned to slavery for a variety of reasons. One reason was that slaves were much more economically useful. An indentured servant, if he/she survived their term, would be granted land.

A slave required no such obligation—they could work for life without their masters granting them any pay or land. Another reason was the need for extensive labor in the colonies, particularly the southern ones like the Carolinas. Slavery was the solution to the vast amount of labor required to maintain prosperous plantations. The reason slavery took root in the new nation was because of the economic benefits.

Religious Freedom and Religious Tolerance

The early American colonies were established for a variety of reasons, one of which was the hope for religious freedom. Religion played a significant role in how the nation was formed. Throughout its history, Europe had been fraught with contrasting religious views, particularly between Protestants and Catholics. Many groups of people like the Puritans and the Quakers journeyed to America in the hope of establishing a society based upon their specific religious beliefs. Slavery was no exemption from being analyzed in religious terms.

Part of the Christian religion is to convert others to the religion. People who advocated slavery saw it as a means of bringing Christianity to a population that otherwise wouldn’t have been taught the “right way.” Americans justified the use of slaves for many reasons, the most important being that the Africans were not Christians and by being enslaved they would gain the righteous religious views that they never would have received if they remained in Africa.

Why were People from Africa used?

Africans were used because there was a widespread Christian view that one could not enslave fellow Christians. This is also a reason why the Irish were not used for slaves. Religion in the New World made significant contributions to how the new nation was to develop. Without religious justification, slavery might not have taken as strong of a hold as it had. The result of this brand of religious justification was that colonists convinced themselves that enslaving thousands of people was acceptable.