Chapter 2: Drawing the Color line W.E.B. Du Bois: Points out

Chapter 2: Drawing the Color line
W.E.B. Du Bois: Points out
Americas trouble in the
Zinn asks: How does it start and
Zinn also points out that although African slaves, at this time are
considered by many to be like white indentured servants, they were
treated differently, and in fact were slaves (Zinn 23).
Virginia figured out how to grow Tobacco
Around 1617, Viginians needed laborers to grow its profitable
tobacco crops and couldn’t force Indians to work, so turned to
African slaves (Zinn 25).
Slaves were brought to America in large number and exploited for
their labor by wealthy white land owners.
Zinn Points out one ugly truth about slavery, which is that Africans were
easier to enslave given that they had been torn from their land and culture,
forced into an institution of slavery (Zinn 26).
Europeans sometimes tried to justify their slave
trade by pointing out that slavery already existed in Africa (Zinn 27).
First the Dutch then the English dominate the
slave trade.
By 1795 Liverpool had over one-hundred ships
carrying slaves. (Zinn 29)
-By 1800, 10 to 15 million blacks had been
transported as slaves to America.
-It is estimated that one in every three
blacks transported overseas died.
Slavery as an institution
Although slavery had not been legalized Africans
were treated differently under the law.
-In 1639, a law passed stated that: “all
persons but negroes were to get arms” (Zinn
-In 1640, an African women had a child by a
white man and was punished by being
whipped and having to stand in the hot sun
Zinn 30).
African and White servants began
to work together
In 1661 a law was passed which forbade
relations between black and white servants
(Zinn 31)
-In 1691 Virginia passed a law that banished
any “white man or woman being free who
shall intermarry with a negro, mulatoo, or
Indian man
or woman bond or free” (Zinn
-Slavery was not only institutionalized but it
By the 1700’s Slavery flourished in
As Plantations grew so did slavery and by 1700
there were 6,000 slaves and by 1763 the
number had multiplied almost 30 times with
170,000 slaves working, or about half the
population (Zinn 32).
-Blacks would begin to retaliate and resist,
under pain of punishment and further
The mid 1700’s saw serious signs of
resistance by the slavery
In 1729, a report released revealed that
many African slaves had planned to band
together and escape to the mountains,
taking only basic essentials and survival
equipment (Zinn 32). This attempt was
Further Rebellions would continue
and increase into the 1800’s
According to Zinn, newspaper advertisement
between 1736 and 1801 report 1,138 men
and 141 women ran away, under the threat of
mutilation and punishment (Zinn 34).
-In 1742 seven slaves were put to death for
poisoning their masters (Zinn 34).
-The misery of slave life had become so
unbearable, that Africans would rather run
away then remain beholden to racist
Racist Whites tried to create a
system of slavery but slaves
Zinn pointscontinue
out that theto
of slavery was
an: “…an intricate and powerful system of
control that the slave owner’s developed to
maintain their labor system (Zinn 35).
-Furthermore, he explains that the system is
psychological and physical. That is slaves
were taught to discipline and to know their
place (Zinn 35).
-In spite of attempts by racist whites to make
South Carolina faced its own
-In 1739, at Stono South Carolina twenty slaves rebelled, killed two guards, stole guns and
headed south killing people and burning buildings along the way (Zinn 36).
-Militia men found them and after a fierce battle about twenty five militia men were kille
and about 50 slaves died (Zinn 36).
-These rebellions were worrying signs to plantation owners and resulted in further passa
of laws regulating slaves and further divisions between Americans about the moral
implications of slavery.
New York faced its own problems
with challenges to its system of
Slaves made up 10slavery
percent of New Yorks
population, the highest in all the Northern
states (Zinn 35)
-In 1712, twenty-five blacks and two Indians
set fire to a building, then killed nine whites.
They were put on trial and executed (Zinn
Boston and New York experienced many
mystery fires, believed to be the work of
Rebellions continued across the
In New York in 1741 fires began to break out and after a trial and
episodes of mass hysteria two white women and two white men were
executed, while thirteen slaves were burned alive and eighteen were
hanged (Zinn 37).
These prosecutions were based on forced confessions and baseless
accusations and again violated the rights of the accused to due process
and other rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.
Slavery as a failed institution
There are many causes that resulted in the
forced slavery for many Africans. In Africa the
conditions for oppression were ripe for any
powerful nation to exploit. In America the
tobacco crop and other land needed slaves to
work. These forces combined to create
conditions for slavery to flourish for a short
period of time.
-As Zinn points out: “the desperation of
settlers, the special helplessness of the
Works Cited
Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United
States. New York: HarperCollins.
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