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Starting as early as the 1500s, European colonists began settling in modern day America. The settlers quickly realized the economic potential for agriculture in the southern colonies along the Atlantic Coast. However, to grow their crops, they needed a strong, inexpensive workforce. To satisfy this need, merchants specializing in human trade began taking Africans from their homes and shipping them as slaves to work in the New World.

For generations, these people and their children were subjected to cruel, difficult, and unfair work and life conditions without pay. Slaves were sold as property, and many people—white, slave, and free blacks—took actions to end this injustice. Despite these efforts, slavery continued for at least three centuries. Then, during the 1800s, in the southern United States, slaves and abolitionists like Nat Turner and John Brown led violent revolts against slavery. These anti-slavery rebellions further separated the ideologies of the Northern and Southern states, eliminated the chance for a peaceful resolution to slavery, and led to continued racial injustice in the 19th and 20th centuries.British colonists who settled along the Atlantic coast realized that the southern region of their colonies was extremely suitable for agriculture. While profitable, the crops grown in this region also required intense, hands-on labor.

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Eventually, the use of slaves, a workforce that could quickly and effectively harvest large quantities of crops, became essential to the economy. The slave trade itself also became an extremely profitable business. In the mid to late 18th century, the colonists’ anger with King George III’s unfair tax policies reached a breaking point, and the American Revolution entered full swing. During this period, colonists wrote the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming themselves a free nation and that “all men were created equal.” Nonetheless, after America won its independence, Africans were still enslaved, the use of slavery was thriving and almost entirely unopposed, and the slave trade continued. Slavery was deeply rooting into the economic system, and the free labor generated a lot of wealth for slaveholders. Money represented great power, and the slaveholders became some of the most respected and influential people in their communities and the new nation. The Three-Fifths Compromise of 1787 further increased their power, granting southern states more representation in Congress with each slave being an additional three-fifths or a citizen.

Even after the slave trade ended in the early 1800s, millions of slaves were still being forced to live and work in cruel conditions, but their discontent wasn’t widely recognized by whites. In the North, many religious people, the poor, and others who opposed slavery began the abolitionist movement. While the rich in the north still mostly have slaves, the anti-slavery movement began to spread. Isolated, minor slave uprisings occurred. While mostly unsuccessful, the revolts of slaves like Gabriel Prosser and Denmark Vesey demonstrated to the public that slaves were looking for change. Still, many in the south ignored these events until larger acts, such as Nat Turner’s rebellion in Virginia and North Carolina and John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry prompted significant responses in the North and the South. Nat Turner was a literate slave in Southampton, Virginia, who, in August 1831, felt compelled by God to lead his fellow slaves in a violent uprising along the Virginia and North Carolina border.

Moving from plantation to plantation, his force of almost 60 men aimed to murder as many whites as possible. They ended up killing 55-65 men, women, and children, and were eventually stopped and captured by the Virginia militias. Almost 30 years later, John Brown, a white northern abolitionist, led a violent raid on Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, with a force mainly composed of white abolitionists from the north. Funded by rich northerners, John Brown sought to incite a large slave rebellion throughout the South. While he was stopped with his men at Harper’s Ferry, his raid likely accelerated the timeline to the Civil War.Slave rebellion further separated the ideologies of the North and South, including both Northern and Southern views on slavery as a whole. Nat Turner’s rebellion instilled fear and paranoia in the South. Concerns that other slaves would revolt led to increased persecution of all slaves and free blacks, especially focused on preventing slaves from reading, writing, and gathering for religious services, traits they believed contributed to Nat Turner’s ability to revolt.

Many southern states that did not already have restrictions in place began enacting laws that prohibited assembly, education, and possession of arms for all blacks. The state of Virginia passed a series of laws directly after the rebellion, “that no slave, free negro, or mulatto, whether he shall have been ordained or licensed, or otherwise, shall hereafter undertake to preach, exhort or conduct, or hold any assembly, or meeting, for religious or other purposes, either in the day time, or at night (General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia).” Similarly, in the year follow Turner’s insurrection, Alabama enacted a statute, “making it a crime to instruct and Negro, free or slave, in the arts of reading or writing… (Bond).” Other states passed related legislation with the same intent. The North and South began blaming each other for the actions of slave rebels. The South blamed northern agitators for the rebellion of Nat Turner, and cited their support as the root cause of the revolt.

Slave holders began spreading the anti-abolitionist perspective, to the point in which, “public opinion, at least in the Piedmont and Tidewater regions, turned more firmly against abolition, equating it with northern agitation (Root).” Similarly, Northerners turned to the South as the cause of the revolt. Northerner William Lloyd Garrison published in his newspaper, “The Liberator”, “Men must be free, and whoever unjustly takes away their liberty, must expect a dreadful retaliation (Garrison).

” These more extremist positions began to displace the more common views in support of the gradual emancipation of slaves. For the next 28 years, the opposing views of northern abolitionists and pro-slavery southerners became more entrenched. In 1859, John Brown’s raid pushed the South closer to secession. Those who hated slavery defended the actions of Brown calling him, “a martyr.

Southerners, on the other hand, saw him as the monstrous leader of a violent Northern conspiracy to overthrow the South and spark a slave revolt that would result in the murder of white women and children (McGuire, Wheeler).” The ways people viewed Brown’s actions, specifically his famous Harper’s Ferry raid, in which however unsuccessful, inspired others to take action. The Northerners saw him a martyr because despite his punishment of death, he died inspiring others to take action. However, the southerners saw him as a betraying, violent leader of a fugitive uprising. Anti-slavery rebellions eliminated the chance for a peaceful resolution to slavery, eventually expediting the arrival of the Civil War. The revolts led by Nat Turner and John Brown helped establish a pattern of violence that continued led to increased militarism on both sides. In response to Nat Turner, a small group of Virginians murdered two supposedly innocent blacks. Southerner John Hampden Pleasants said in his Richmond-based newspaper, “Some of these scenes of white violence are hardly inferior to the atrocities of the insurgents… which may be productive of further outrage (Pleasants).

” The white southern population began violently attacking black people in the south. The population continued this pattern of violence that began from some of the first slave revolts. Pleasants is showing that the response of more violence will only continue the pattern, which eventually culminated in the Civil War.Unlike Turner’s rebellion, Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry was seen as a “northern invasion”.

A majority of participants were white northern abolitionists, and the raid was funded by six wealthy northerners, known as “The Secret Six”. The perspective in the South viewing the raid as a “northern invasion” led to an increase in militias across the South and increased the likelihood of secession in certain states. The South no longer considered abolition as a viable solution but instead began spreading ideas of secession. Less than two years later, North Carolina stated in their declaration of independence, “the people of North Carolina, do hereby dissolve the political bonds which connected us to the Government of the United States of America… which shed inhumanly the blood of Southern Patriots at Harper’s Ferry.

” North Carolina emphasized that the murder of Southern patriots at Harper’s Ferry was inhumane and an important factor in their decision to secede.John Brown believed violence was the only answer to resolve slavery. After John Brown’s raid, he was sentenced to death. Brown said in a note he had with him on the day of his execution, “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land can never be purged away but with blood (Hinton).” Influential people, like John Brown, agree that the only achievable resolution was violence. After the division of the North and South, Brown believed that there was no return without bloodshed.

Anti-slavery rebellions led to continued racial injustice in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the post Civil War period, pro-slavery revisionist southerners began spreading ideas that the institution of slavery was not cruel, but rather that the African race was better off as slaves in America. In 1900, William S. Drewry published his book, The Southampton Insurrection, which described Nat Turner’s revolt as an act that negatively impacted the slave population. He says, “They, too favored the greater leniency of their owners, had advanced in intelligence, morals, and manners.” He and fellow revisionists spread these ideas that the institution of slavery was not wrong, and that the paternalism of the slave owners to the slaves was actually beneficial. These ideas allowed southerners to justify policies and practices of racial discrimination into the 20th century.

In addition, by making the education of slaves illegal in response to Nat Turner’s rebellion, many now freed slaves were illiterate and unable to secure good jobs. This allowed southern lawmakers to institute restrictions that minimized the effect of the 15th amendment granting black male citizens the right to vote. By implementing literacy tests, black people could not vote because many were incapable of passing the test.

Poll taxes also disproportionately affected poor blacks. This allowed southern government officials to maintain white supremacy in their political structures.Southern government officials began institutionalizing racial segregation and discrimination through separate but equal laws. In the Supreme court case of Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896), the Supreme Court ruled these separate but equal laws to be constitutional, and determined that victims of racial discrimination could not turn to the Supreme Court for relief, but rather had to seek redress from state governments. Unfortunately, state governments were the source of the problem, and they continued passing laws of racial discrimination. Blacks were legally allowed to be racially discriminated against through the ploy of separate but equal. Anti-slavery rebellions had significant impacts on individuals, communities, and the nation.

Before Nat Turner’s Rebellion, almost all Americans recognized that slavery was incompatible with the American infrastructure. The idea of gradual emancipation, freeing slaves slowly, over time, was generally accepted, even in the south where slavery was deeply rooted in everyday practices. Even before Nat Turner, small groups of slaves attempted to revolt, with very little success. Events like this were almost never acknowledged by the communities because they had little impact.

However, Nat Turner’s Rebellion was one of the first large scale, public revolts that made it into the news and spread quickly. Because of this, its impact was much greater. Turner’s uprising gave extremists on both sides, North and South, a voice.

The event acted as support for both those who wanted immediate emancipation in the North, and those who saw revolts as support for secession. Immediately after the rebellion, southern legislatures met and began instituting more restrictions on blacks, free and enslaved, to prevent more uprisings. Turner struck fear into the southern government bodies, and ultimately lead to restrictions on education, religion, and assembly.Later, after John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry, the fear of revolt rekindles. The south fears that Northern abolitionists, like Brown, and invading the south and hoping to spark rebellion.

Brown’s actions drive the South away from ideas of abolition, and emphasizing support for secession. States like North Carolina even cite Brown’s raid as a leading cause in their secession. Southern states fear that people they view as extremists will continue raids and rebellions. Post Civil War, the effects of slave uprising lingers. Laws established after Nat Turner’s Rebellion to persecute slaves create difficulties for the now free black citizens.

Many cannot read and write and are incapable of passing the new literacy test that white supremacists required before voting. Other southern extremists, known as revisionists, minimize the evils of slavery in writing. Legislatures use these writings as defence for Jim Crow laws and other laws restricting the freedoms of African American citizens in the South. Pro-slavery culture continued in the fore of segregation and legal restrictions for decades. In conclusion, slave rebellion forced great changes onto the surface of our nation for years. African Americans suffered the fate caused by restrictions and lingering racism ultimately caused by slave uprising.

The North and South became separated by the conflicts between the slaves and owners of the south. Rebellion forced the nation into a violent Civil War, and rushed the nation through to immediate emancipation. Slave rebellion escalated tensions between the North and South, eliminated the chances of peaceful resolution to slavery, and cemented racial injustice in the future. To this day, racism lingers that was sparked by southern extremists after slave rebellion. Still, our nation overcame the great obstacles created by Jim Crow Laws and legal restrictions upon African Americans.

Conflict between slaves and their discontent with their lives demonstrated and forced the nation to immediate resolution. The North and South had to compromise, and established the Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves and restore tensions after the Civil War that were caused by slave rebellion and raids.


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