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Perspectives Regarding Freedom And Slavery In Colonial America History Essay

America in the eighteenth century was a crossroads of the world’s struggles, ideals, socio-economics, culture, growth and development. Each of the perspectives addressed by the authors is exemplified by a common human instinct to struggle for the betterment of one’s own situation. Each individual regarded the next as having better circumstances, and each took both the good and bad of all things which were life in the eighteenth century: religion, economies and politics and challenged the respective status quo. From the rich elite, to the most impoverished slave; the Atlantic exchange of information, goods and ideas led to the varied scope and development of freedom and slavery which defined eighteenth century colonial America.

From the top down, pseudo-American culture was representative of principal liberties and a lack of personal self-actualization. Although eventually Congregational and Anglican churches were among the most common churches and the Great Awakening occurred throughout this period; early religious organization was ultimately diverse. Religious groups and migrants tended to communize in homogeneous groups; although underlying similarities about liberty and pursuits of a better quality of life were virtually universal; things like separation of church and state and varying moral codes based in numerous separate religions were principally diverse; which equated to varying ideals regarding freedom and slavery.

The society’s elite; planters from Virginia and other major landholders of numerous slaves, great trade connections and business prowess were pre-occupied with living like the British Aristocracy. The elite matched the culture, customs, home styles, imported goods and other desires of the Brits, Anglicization; one Virginia aristocrat said, “At the end of the world,” [1] as author, Eric Foner expanded, “the sought to demonstrate their status and legitimacy by importing the latest London fashions and literature,” [2] as the Americans who controlled much of their own lives; including whether or not to work, what to do in their leisure and how the politics and economy ran; they would have rather been wealthy in the mother country of England. Their idea of freedom lay across the ocean. Their complacency and lack of efficient management of the economies led to up-risings, and various unsettling social circumstances for numerous other colonial Americans. Although their idea of freedom was clearly from another continent, and influenced predominantly by English culture, their American brethren were struggling with their own versions of freedom in other ways.

Slaves, sailors, despots, vagabonds, cheats and the like were commonly immigrants into the English colony of North America. Many European migrants were bound laborers; criminals, for example were sent as labor for tobacco farms. As indentured servants, these people worked their lives toward the belief they would once achieve their own land, liberty, freedom. Despite the existence of promises from landowners, and contracts, fellow countrymen and the mother country; many indentured servants were treated unfairly. Their time of service increased, their work and living conditions were deplorable at best. Slaves, on the other hand, had no hope of achieving freedom. The discontent with life led to revolutionary ideas and serious actions by this, motley crew. A collection of young people, African Americans, Irish, and other indentured servants, sailors and slaves; they led numerous uprisings against the establishments of both the East and the West of the Atlantic: burning ships, commandeering supplies, capturing and threatening leaders and other acts led to revolutions of thought in the way of political implications for the unlucky members of eighteenth century, colonial America.

The unlucky masses faced lack of access to land, poor and decreasing wages as well as slavery. These people fought against impressment, taxes and sought to uphold the ideals of habeus corpus. For they were the bottom of the proverbial socio-economic stratosphere, their dreams lie with a more even distribution of wealth and access to resources; due to the lack of currency, credit and so forth, the vast majority of wealth lie with a few percent of the lucky, grandfathered, planters and landholders. In their organization, this, motley crew, woke society to the, “…Ignorance of their own Power.” [3] Sam Adams, Jr., in his brief publication for these less fortunate peoples, Independent Advertiser, January 1748: “All Men are by Nature on a Level; born with an equal Share of Freedom, and endow’d with Capacities nearly alike.” [4] At the time this appeared worlds away from the truth as wealthy tobacco planters of South Carolina were gathering land and slaves by the hundreds; laws, politics and religious institutions were creating additional barriers to the freedom and liberties of these masses in the backcountry and more southern regions where land was held in larger quantities and the practice of market agriculture was widespread. At the same time, the West Indies, and places like Barbados and other South American and satellite colonial islands were absolutely defined by slavery and the obscene wealth of the few super wealthy planters. Here, the demand for slave labor increased significantly from the seventeenth to the eighteenth century; a clear distinction was to that of New England, Boston, Philadelphia and other urban centers where professionals, teachers, artisans and family farmers made up the majority of the population; this middle-class was made up of Swiss, Germans, Presbyterian Scots and well-to-do English. In contrast to the lowest social class, this group had significant advantages and optimism.

This middle-class was among the most satisfied members of eighteenth century colonial America; although, their opportunities were dwindling due to the rapid population growth, immigration from Non-English European countries and entry barriers created by social elitists; the French colony to the West, Indian presence in, ‘available’ lands, difficulty of achieving mercantile success without connections in England, and the fear of the chaotic conflicts between the establishment; Atlantic trade ships of England and others with the, “motley crew,” did put some pressure on the middle-class. Although, for the most part the colonists of this class described, “Liberty of conscience,” [5] regarding their emigration from their country of origin due to freedoms: of religious worship, available land, lack of military draft, no military draft, few if any economic restraints; low taxes, low entry costs to trades and other professions. These freedoms, many of which were either rare or completely unheard of in European countries, attracted migrants from all over Europe, one exclaiming, “…there are abundant liberties in just about all matters.” [6] The middle class had great opportunity with some luck and tremendous skill to become vertically mobile in their socio-economic situations. The economy was growing, land was available to those with ample resources and all professionals were in demand; this group experienced freedom most easily relatable to modern America; ultimately defined by hope and circumstantial satisfaction.

These stark differences in perspectives on freedom, and the varying expansion and divisions developing in slavery: from European countries where abolitionism was rapidly gaining popularity to the North where abolitionists were slowly gaining traction, to the South where slavery as an institution was becoming more solidified, South America and the West Indies, islands where African slavery had become the absolute standard were among momentous social circumstances. Defining a worldwide transition of economic functioning, political thought, revolutionary and thoughts of liberties and freedom, colonial eighteenth century America was representative of numerous cultures, ethnicities, places of origin, religions, socio-economic statuses, and circumstances that produced varying perspectives of freedom and slavery, both of which grew and developed throughout the century.

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