Slavery/Slavery term paper 11158

Slavery term papers
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Slavery The issue of slavery has been touched upon often in the course ofhistory. The institution of slavery was addressed by Frenchintellectuals during the Enlightenment. Later, during the FrenchRevolution, the National Assembly issued the Declaration of the Rights ofMan, which declared the equality of all men. Issues were raisedconcerning the application of this statement to the French colonies inthe West Indies, which used slaves to work the land. As they haddifferent interests in mind, the philosophes, slave owners, and politicalleaders took opposing views on the interpretation of universal equality. Many of the philosophes, the leaders of the Enlightenment, wereagainst slavery. They held that all people had a natural dignity thatshould be recognized. Voltaire, an 18th century philosophe, pointed outthat hundreds of thousands of slaves were sacrificing their lives just sothe Europeans could quell their new taste for sugar, tea and cocoa. Asimilar view was taken by Rousseau, who stated that he could not bear towatch his fellow human beings be changed to beasts for the service ofothers. Religion entered into the equation when Diderot, author of theEncyclopedia, brought up the fact that the Christian religion wasfundamentally opposed to Black slavery but employed it anyway in order towork the plantations that financed their countries. All in all, thoseinfluenced by the ideals of the Enlightenment, equality, liberty, theright to dignity, tended to oppose the idea of slavery. Differing from the philosophes, the political leaders andproperty owners tended to see slavery as an element that supported theeconomy. These people believed that if slavery and the slave trade wereto be abolished, the French would lose their colonies, commerce would

collapse and as a result the merchant marine, agriculture and the artswould decline. Their worries were somewhat merited; by 1792 French shipswere delivering up to 38,000 slaves and this trade brought in 200 millionlivres a year. These people had economic incentives to support slavery,however others were simply ignorant. One man, Raynal, said that whitepeople were incapable of working in the hot sun and blacks were muchbetter suited to toil and labor in the intense heat. Having a similarview to Raynal, one property owner stated that tearing the blacks fromthe only homes they knew was actually humane. Though they had to workwithout pay, this man said slave traders were doing the blacks a favor byplacing them in the French colonies where they could live without fearfor tomorrow. All of these people felt that the Declaration of theRights of Man did not pertain to black people or their descendants. All people were not ignorant, however. There was even a group ofpeople who held surprisingly modern views on slavery; views some peoplehaven't even accepted today. In his Reflections on Black People, Olympede Gouges wondered why blacks were enslaved. He said that the color ofpeople's skin suggests only a slight difference. The beauty of naturelies in the fact that all is varied. Another man, Jacques Necker, toldpeople that one day they would realize the error of their ways and noticethat all people have the same capacity to think and suffer. The slavery issue was a topic of debate among the people ofFrance. The views of the people, based on enlightenment, the welfare ofthe country or plain ignorance were tossed around for several more yearsuntil the issue was finally resolved. In the end the philosophes, withtheir liberated ideas, won out and slavery was abolished.


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