How the war affected black slaves during the Civil War
"If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who prefer to favor freedom, and

deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain

without thunder and lightning." ~ Frederick Douglass. Slavery consists of a rigid system controlling mass behaviors of the African American race with evidence dating as far back as the fifteenth century, while slavery contributed to the buildup of the civil war, and even after the civil war resulted in the abolition of slavery; it still does not erase the racial prejudices and harsh treatment this system inflicted on blacks, as it will remain embedded in the lives of African American people (Civil War, American 2007) {Vignette, //Slavery's Effects Today//}
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The Beginning of Slavery
The effect of slavery on economic conditions has diversified over different periods in time. Slavery did not begin with blacks, rather with young white Slavic girls and women from the Balkans; that’s where the word slave derived from. By the fifteenth century the Portuguese discovered sugar plantations and recognized the economic potential; however, the growing of sugar demanded hard work and constant attention. The Portuguese became successful sugar growers, so they explored new crop land that would require more labor to maintain. They already had established a trading relationship with Africa, and re-discovered and set up sugar plantations all over the Atlantic islands; West Africans became the slave labor. Slave trading became fundamental to African society because of the revenue generated; afterwards, slavery evolved (U.S. a Narrative History p23).

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Life before the war
The life of a slave was one of the toughest things a person could endure. {**Ethical Perspectives:** Slavery--an Ethical Catastrophe} Before the Civil War, slaves would work from dawn to dusk for free, and be forced to stay in terrible living quarters with fellow slaves they probably did not like. They did not have a say in what would happen to them, what they ate, or what job they would do. They would be brought to America, put up for auction, and would be hand picked by their new owner.{Anecdote: //Live Auction//} Their new owner could do whatever they wanted, because nobody cared about the lives of slaves, because they became property instead of human beings. Families would be ripped apart, possibly never to see each other again, and if they acted up or did not do what they were told, they would be beaten or even murdered by their owners. {Anecdote: Life After The Auction} Even when they didn’t have to face their masters directly, they still felt their cruel wrath because the slaves living quarters was worse off than today’s impoverished populations. Their housing usually consist of wooden shacks built directly on the filthy ground, and their beds were made entirely out of old straw and rags. The slaves would be provided with two full sets of clothing, usually old and torn, which they would have to use for an entire year before getting a new set. They would be provided with the minimal amount of food, which was only enough to keep them from starving, but not enough to support the extensive amount of work they performed. Slaves normally were provided cornmeal with an occasional rough meat or fish. Before the Civil War slaves were treated as property and not humans; something that never should have happened, but it continued up until the war began{**Ethical Perspectives:** //Empathy Towards Others//}.

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Civil War erupts
In 1861 the Civil War began; a battle between the Confederate and Union States, over the Confederates Independence from the U.S. Around the time that the war began there were almost four million slaves located in America, which made up roughly 40% of the South’s population. Slavery was partially the reason behind the war because the North did not need slaves, while the South needed them to work in the fields for free. The war provided great opportunities for the slaves to escape from the harsh lives they had before the war, but for some it made life even worse. Those who remained on the plantations silently fought back by drastically slowing their overall production and work effort. Slaves were then used as tools in the war against the Union by building fortresses, digging, working in factories, and carrying rations and supplies to the frontlines. The slaves took a lot more abuse on the frontlines than they did back at the plantations, but they had a better chance of escaping to the North for freedom, which is the reason why plantation owners were hesitant to send their expensive human possessions to assist the war effort. Because the South used slaves in the war, Union Generals saw the slaves as “contraband” instead of property, and began confiscating slaves to give them a chance at freedom, thus slowing down the South’s progression, yet freeing slaves at the same time. Although the confiscation of slaves, there were still so many more slaves still being put to work in the South that something had to be done to stop the abuse. A solution came in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln enacted the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared freedom for all slaves, except those who were currently located in Union states (they would later be freed by Federal jurisdiction). African Americans soon rushed to enlist in the Union military all-black units to help fight the Confederates to win the freedom of every single slave that remained in the South. Just because they were free did not mean black soldiers were free of segregation and harsh treatment including reduced pay and food rations. One all-black regiment fought back by serving without pay, rather than taking the reduced wages.
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Life after the civil war
The abolition of slavery was the most significant outcome of the Civil War. Although slavery was not the only issue, it became the primary reason for it. Following the civil war it was time for blacks to gain their identity as free people. They were emotionally scared, and the transition from slave labor to free labor was very difficult. Many of the civil liberties that had been promised with the coming of emancipation did not surface, and now they were being thrown to the wolves, due to growing animosity and racial prejudice (Emancipation Proclamation 2007).

Legislatures of the South took the responsibility of controlling the status of freed slaves by creating laws that would allow

unemployed blacks to be imprisoned and possibly fined for failure to fit in society. This allowed a “legal” partial enslavement

while the ex-slaves paid off their fines by working in the same field jobs they had prior to the war. However, all freed slaves

were given the same basic natural rights so they could now: learn how to read and write, marry or remarry, start a family,

choose a job they possibly enjoy and simply make the best of what life they have left to live. While some were lucky and

build themselves up enough to own land, build a family and live the remainder of their lives happily.

“Without a struggle, there can be no progress.” ~ Frederick Douglas

The thesis does not give insight of how an entire race was excluded from society, and that ultimately affects the world we

now live in; as slavery has changed the entire black culture, which is very much accepted as part of our history,nor does the

supporting information even mention the sudden shift from white indentured labor to black slavery.

“The individual slave was thus rendered psychologically defenseless and then systematically transformed into… a docile and childlike creature

who identified with the very master who was the source of his emasculation” (Slavery, Military1996). Even though some may say that slavery

started the war, the emancipation help end it. Although Abraham Lincoln despised slavery his main goal was to preserve the union. If he

could do it and free the slaves he would. He was afraid to free the slaves before the war because of the social upheaval that it might cause.

During slavery some of the things that blacks had to endure was to give up their African language. They were denied their original names and

had to accept whatever name their masters imposed upon them. They were forced into syncretism; which is the process of mixing divergent

cultural elements together to create an entirely new culture. Some of the slaves knew that war meant freedom, so they were willing to cut

back on working hard for their master to gain attention, because black slaves wanted to make it very clear that freedom was their main


Works Cited:

Berlin, Ira et al. Slaves No More. Cambridge University Press: New York, 1992.

Civil War, American. (2007). In Encyclopedia of Emancipation and Abolition in the Transatlantic World. Retrieved from

"Definition of Slavery." WordNet. Princeton. Web. 06 Mar. 2011.

Emancipation Proclamation. (2007). In Encyclopedia of Emancipation and Abolition in the Transatlantic World. Retrieved from

Franklin, John Hope. From Slavery to Freedom. New York, 1947.

Quarles, Benjamin. The Negro in the Civil War. Little, Brown and Company: Boston, 1953.

Ripley, C. Peter. Slaves and Freedmen in Civil War Louisiana. Baton Rouge, 1976.

Rozwenc, Edwin C. Slavery as the Cause of the Civil War. D.C. Heath and Company: Boston, 1963.

Slavery, Military. (1996). In The Reader's Companion to Military History. Retrieved from

"Slavery In The Civil War Era." The American Civil War Home Page. Web. 06 Mar. 2011.

"The Civil War." PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. Web. 04 Mar. 2011. <>.


Gallay, Alan. The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South 1670–1717. Yale University Press: New York.

Quotes provide by Frederick Douglass (American Abolitionist, Lecturer, Author and Slave, 1817-1895)

Pictures: (Single chained slave) (Slave auction) (Slave whipping) (Chained group) (First all-black regiment) (Escaping slave)

BY: William Mackenzie

How the War Affected Black Slaves during the Civil War Counter-Argument
By Leo Draws
Thesis: Whether or not the introduction of slavery into Americas history was meant to spark a generation of abuse towards the African American race and culture, it happened and should be accepted as part of our history, how this nation began, and even after the Civil War sparked many changes for the face of slavery, millions of people dealt with a level of hardship that we cannot comprehend today.
Four million slaves were set free from bondage in the time between the Emancipation Proclamation and the actual end of Civil War fighting. This meant that the dreams of many previous black generations had finally come true at last—freedom! Though black equality in this new society may have not been perfected by any stretch, they certainly did not have to deal with a level of unprecedented hardship as this article indicates. Many of the basic rights that we have today became immediately available. For it was after the Civil War that freedmen were able to move about the country as they pleased, so they could locate family members and reunite (Smith, 2009). Blacks finally felt the joy of their family lives essentially not being forbidden any more by their white owners. Overall, the freed slaves did face a difficult life from our standpoint today, but this life was clearly not riddled with incomparable hardships.
The most difficult hardship that blacks had to overcome in the post-Civil War era was segregation (which is not mentioned in the previous article). Segregation was not the norm in American life before the Civil War as it was not uncommon for blacks to accompany their white masters in various places. Segregation was a new idea that seemed to punish blacks for their new freedom; this was an obstacle that would have to be conquered nearly one hundred years later by the civil rights movement. Whereas segregation definitely hindered some opportunities for African Americans, it is highly unlikely that slavery would have been preferred over this situation. Given the circumstances that were in play, blacks fared more than substantially better in the years following the Civil War, especially from a human rights point of view as they would retain their freedom and never again have to deal with being considered property.
Smith, Stefany (2009). How Did the Civil War Impact Slavery? Retrieved April 16, 2011 from: