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Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
A Nation Divided
(1840-1861)

Slave Economy



Slave Economy
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.07

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    bearable, callous, continuation, boon, labor-intensive, brutality, chattel, misery, eighteenth, shores, servitude, strife, untouched, destruction, dependent, heavily
     content words:    United States


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Slave Economy
By Mary L. Bushong
  

1     Slavery has been a fact of life throughout history, and no race has been left untouched by its shackles. When the colonies were first being settled, labor was hard to come by, and it was procured any way possible. For some, it was through indentured servitude. For others, it was through slavery.
 
2     In the early years of the United States, many people came over the ocean as indentured servants. They could not afford the money for passage on their own. Instead they would sign a contract agreeing to work a certain number of years for the one who could pay. The term of servitude usually lasted 3-7 years. While many white people came over with that arrangement, several blacks did as well. A few of the first Africans who were sold on those shores were given similar contracts. While they might be treated like slaves, it was bearable because it was for a short time. However, it was not long before all the new black arrivals were designated as slaves for life. As that changed, slavery spread to all the colonies.
 
3     The Northern states did not become so heavily dependent on slavery. The rolling, sometimes rough ground did not lend itself to large plantations. It was useful for industrialization. Hills and rivers often provided the location and power for machines to produce goods. This led to a reduced need for slave labor. As the need was reduced, so was the tolerance for slavery.

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