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Forgot password? Don't have an account? With the end of the allotment program, tribes began to draw attention to violations of those treaties and other unauthorized seizures of tribal land that had occurred before Lone Wolf. One can thus anticipate that the consistent pattern of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century white settlers depriving tribes of their land may actually help tribes retrieve some of that land.

One of the. Two dominant themes of American history from the colonial years to the outbreak of the Civil War involved the subjugation of ethnic minorities within the American population. The legal and social treatment of American Indians and African American slaves in America was unique. Other nations, all over the world, have histories that include the subjugation and exploitation of aboriginal peoples and the legitimation of the institution of slavery.

Only the United States, however, forged its identity as a nation devoted to the natural rights principles of liberty and equality while treating its Indian and African American residents as unequal persons ineligible for the full range of liberties. Finally, slavery had become a controversial sectional issue, with some northern states considering the emancipation of slaves.

None of those characteristics of American slavery were fully present in its earlier history. The practice of slavery was not controversial in any of the colonies before the eighteenth century. Slavery was universally accepted among the nations that participated in colonial settlement, which included some African kingdoms as well as those in Europe.

Slavery was a status traditionally associated with being a captive in war, and the slave populations on the American continent were American Legal History. Eventually, American colonies would equate slave status with African descent, but that process did not get under way until the eighteenth century. Bondsmen, as slaves were originally called, were just one group of persons with servile status in the American colonies. Although 90 percent of the slaves in America from the opening of the eighteenth century to independence resided in southern.

In both the North and the South, similar restrictions were placed on other persons with servile status and on members of marginal populations, such as American Indians. Law and African American slavery to be held in slavery and regulated the conduct of masters and other members of the white population, setting terms for the emancipation of slaves and providing penalties for people who encouraged slaves to escape or sheltered those who did.

American History a Very Short Introduction

In some colonies, slave codes were not employed. When slave populations in a colony grew to a critical mass, that colony typically enacted a slave code and created special slave courts where offenses by slaves could be tried.


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Although enslaved persons were not typically permitted to testify in the ordinary courts of a colony, their testimony was permitted in the slave courts. In most cases, it was disadvantageous to slave-owners to have their slaves executed for crimes—masters were typically entitled to compensation when that occurred—or to have them incarcerated for long periods. Thus, one of the functions of slave courts was to impose punishments other than death or extended incarceration.

Between and , the number of slaves in colonial America grew from approximately 30, to approximately ,, with 90 percent residing in southern colonies. Slave patrols American Legal History. Such papers were routinely inspected by slave patrols. Importation of slaves into those colonies continued at a rapid pace, and slave-owners encouraged procreation among their slave populations to add to their stock of slaves. Staple-crop plantation agriculture, which relied on the use of slave labor to plant, harvest, and process crops such as tobacco, rice, and indigo for domestic and European markets, became the principal form of economic activity in these colonies.

Plantations became self-sufficient economic units that used slave labor in a variety of capacities, ranging from domestic tasks to handicrafts. A slave auction in the South. In exchange, they imported luxury goods from Europe, which they paid for with credit that European merchants advanced them on the basis of their projected seasonal crop outputs.

Slave labor was thus the economic basis of plantation life. By the outset of the Revolutionary War, the stage was set for a potential reexamination of slavery in the new American nation. In those colonies, plantations based on slave labor had become less ubiquitous. Meanwhile, the war created incentives for both sides to recruit African Americans to their causes, and emancipation became a way of attracting potential recruits. Finally, the natural rights ideology that helped propel American independence provided an obvious contrast with the practice of slavery.

Thomas Jefferson recognized that contrast in an omitted section of the draft of the Declaration of Independence. Perhaps Jefferson intended to blame the British, who had abolished slavery in England, for tempting American colonials to become slave-owners. If so, his effort failed. The differing regional trends affecting slavery in the years after independence set the stage for the eventual treatment of slavery by the framers of the Constitution. After the Revolutionary War ended with the Treaty of Paris in , the British relinquished all their claims to land east of the Mississippi, which became territory owned by the new government of the United States.

In , the Articles government enacted the Northwest and Southwest Ordinances, which divided the former British territory into two portions, with the Ohio River serving as a boundary, and provided rules for the portions. The Northwest. Law and African American slavery Ordinance abolished slavery in territorial lands north of the Ohio River; the Southwest Ordinance was silent on the subject. Article VI of the Northwest Ordinance provided that any runaway slaves captured north of the Ohio River would be returned to their masters. There matters stood when the delegates at the Philadelphia convention drafted the Constitution of the United States, replacing the federal government created by the Articles of Confederation with a new one.

If a power was not expressly given to the federal government, it remained in the states. But a clause in the Constitution provided that the federal government could determine the status of slavery in federal territories that had not yet joined the Union. The other references to slavery in the Constitution involved the international slave trade. This would reduce the aggregate number of slave state representatives in Congress and increase the aggregate number of free state representatives.

Law and African American slavery out sometime in the future, but that the timing and consequences of this event were unpredictable and potentially calamitous for some states in the Union. Consequently, the increasingly contentious issue of slave ownership was propelled into the center of American politics. The territory of the American nation vastly expanded between and By purchasing or conquering territory from Spain, France, Mexico, and Great Britain, the United States more than doubled its size in that time period.