Before the civil war, there were nearly 4 million black slaves in the South. Slavery in America began in 1619 when the first African slaves were brought to Virginia. Slaves were mostly used in the fields to speed up the production of things like cotton and tobacco. They were owned by a small group of the wealthiest and most powerful whites.
Laws were created to enforce their low status. There were slave auctions were owners would bid for a slave they had interested in. In order to have more control over the slaves, some slave codes were created that forbid slaves to do certain things. Slaves had no right to property, wages, vacations, and learning to read or write. A consequence for learning to read was having your thumb cut off. The most important code was generational slavery which meant that children born to a slave were automatically a slave. Slaves were considered another man’s property, not a human being.
They could not do anything about their mistreatment because it was against the law. Many slaves had the will to keep going because of their religion. In the south, 1/3 of the population were slaves in the 17th century. Music was very important to them because they would listen to it on the fields as a way to pass time.
Slaves would wear slave tags as well as a slave collar that was equipped with bells. Some slaves resisted by doing things such as escaping or intentionally doing their job wrong. Over 100,000 slaves were able to escape to the North and Canada with the help of Harriet Tubman and other guides. The biggest slave revolt was in Virginia were Nat Turner led 70 slaves to kill 55 men. After being captured they were all hanged.
They had a way of communicating with between them by using coded messages. In the years 1861 to 1865 Americans fought in the civil war looking for a stop to end slavery. It was not until January of 1863 when President Lincoln stated that he would end slavery when signing the Emancipation Proclamation.