What Did Edmund Morgan Say About Slavery American Freedom Sparknotes

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Kamaria Browne
Professor Garland
HIS 131-IN3
3 December 2017

Book Review: American Slavery, American Freedom

The seminal book entitled “American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia” was written by notorious historian, Edmund Sears Morgan, and published in September of the the year 1975 (Butler). Morgan was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on the 17th of January in the year 1916 to Edmund Morris Morgan and Elsie Smith Morgan. Morgan’s mother, Elsie, came from a Northern family of Christian Science while his father, Edmund, taught law as a professor at the University of Minnesota (Butler). The family made several moves until they settled in Arlington, Massachusetts to allow the father to assume a new position as a Harvard …show more content…

Morgan writes that the demand for workers slightly decreased along with the prices of tobacco, but that the end of the tobacco industry’s prime did not have a restrictive impact on the number of those migrating to Virginia. The rapidly increasing population were accompanied by improved living conditions, and therefore encouraged for the residents of the colony to make Virgina their permanent place of residence. The king was not pleased with the assembly that had formed as a result of this decision, and the power of the assembly only continued over the course of the English Civil War. Parliament eventually required that all tobacco was to be sent to England so that the King would be able to collect a duty while the merchants simultaneously profited. This requirement ultimately caused for the value of tobacco to drop significantly, but maintained the high duties set in place by the king. This is when holding government offices became the primary source of profitable undertakings in Virginia, and there were less than 500 black slaves being held within the …show more content…

Morgan writes that this is when racism was introduced in the face of newly developed partnership between lower and upper class whites. He describes this as being the first spark of the revolution, as the gradual changes of Virginia’s system of labor and racial beliefs cushioned the emersion of a slave-based form of government. Morgan writes that “[t]hey converted to slavery simply by buying slaves instead of servants” (Morgan). Slavery proved to be a promising investment due to the convenience, accessibility, and fertility of black slaves. The only issue that presented itself as an obstacle was the fact that African slaves had no motivation to work or do so efficiently. This problem was then remedied by the application of violence and physical punishment to the slaves in order to establish a sense of fear and inferiority within them that would ultimately shatter the chances of rebellion or resistance. Racism was then strategically used to prevent Virginians from feeling the brunt of the ethical discrepancies in the acts that were taking place, and essentially perpetuated the institution of racism as a method justification for the cruelties of slavery. Morgan concludes that establishment of racism ultimately cultured the appearance of

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