How Did English Colonists Create an Economy Based on Slavery? - Research Paper

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Any mention of the history of the United States would not fail to capture the concept of racism and slavery. The two concepts form an important part of the history and culture of the United States. As pointed out by W.E.B. Du Bois, the problem of the color line is still prevalent in the country even in this modern age (Zimm). One can use this concept to explain how some economies in Europe, such as that of the British were based on the concept of slavery. The following is an attempt to explain why and how the British colony was created based on the concept of slavery in America.

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Slavery in Jamestown

As pointed out in the journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, Jamestown was one of the British colonies where most English had settled in their quest for the New World. The first 12 years were full of suffering and this prompted the settlers to look for alternative ways to survive, especially in the period of the winter between 1609 and 1610 (Zimm). Corn growing was one of the ways and this also culminated in the discovery that tobacco could thrive well in those areas. Tobacco being highly profitable was highly prioritized. The first batch was sent to England and this led to a demand for the cash crop.

The increase in demand for tobacco in England prompted the need to grow more of it in Virginia. This was, however, hampered by the fact labor was inadequate. The British settlers could not force the Indians to work in the plantations as Columbus had done because of their superiority in numbers. The white servants could also not work because their contractual agreement only required them to work not in the plantations. It is for this reason that the concept of slaves emerged. Edmund Morgan in his book American slavery, America Freedom, that Blacks were the answer to this economic problem of labor (Zimm). They were naturally considered slaves naturally despite lacking the legal regulation of the slave trade institution. The success of the Spanish and Portuguese merchants in transporting over a million slaves during 1619 prompted the British to use the slaves in their plantations.

How Did Tobacco Saves Jamestown?

The profitability of using slaves in the tobacco plantations in Virginia thus led to the emergence of the slave trade. Centers such as the Port of Liverpool in the year 1795 were abounding with hundreds of ships waiting to transport slaves captured from different parts of the World to America (Zimm). This accounted for almost 50% of the slave trade conducted by Europeans (Zimm). The business was lucrative as most of the merchants were paying taxes. The returns from the tobacco plantations also added much to the English economy. Since slavery was at the center of the trade, it is thus evident that it was the main driver for the economy of the country.

How Did Slaves Resist the Demands of Slavery?

The demand for tobacco in Virginia prompted the slave trade in America and Europe. The Blacks from Africa were the main victims of this trade since it was difficult to enslave the Indians and the white servants. The manner in which the blacks were arrested was inhuman. This prompted the slaves to look for ways to resist the demands of slavery. This part attempts to look at all the defensive mechanisms that slaves used in resisting the demands of slavery, as will be seen in the paper.

One of the ways in which blacks tried to resist the demands of slavery is the attempts to escape. They were willing to die rather than continue suffering at the hands of their masters. There are cases of slaves who jumped overboard ships to drown rather than continue their suffering. As pointed out by one observer, a slave deck was so covered with blood and mucus that it resembled a slaughterhouse as the slaves tried to resist the demands of slavery (Zimm).


Despite being deemed so easy to enslave than whites or Indians, the black slaves were also the most difficult. From the beginning, most black men and women showed resistance to the demands of slavery. This have been happening until most of the resistance was controlled. For instance, there were cases when black slaves rebelled despite the harsh conditions of mutilation and death, they were subjected to in their two hundred years of slavery (Zimm). Some could run away as a way of demonstrating their resistance towards the institution of slavery. In other cases, there was also the concept of sabotage and slow-down in their work. This was an affirmation of the dignity of human beings. There are also cases such as the concept of some black slaves who were resisting the demands of slavery by inciting some of their Indian counterparts to revolt as reported in the case of the 1503 report by the governor of Hispanola who traced the revolts to some Negro slaves who were inciting the Indians (Zimm). There are cases of resistance such as the case of black slaves who could steal arms and clothes and escape into the mountainous region as a way of resisting slavery.

Works Cited

Zimm, Howard. historyisaweapon. n.d. 22 January 2016

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