African Americans’ time in the United States came with some great adversities in their way. While a good amount of African Americans were listed into slavery due its expansion around 1775 to 1830, many still found a way to gain their freedom and leave slavery. There are several reasons which contributed in free African Americans and enslaved African Americans both existing around the same time and how the responded to their struggles. Abilities for African Americans to find freedom grew, but it did not mean they were treated with the same rights as the whites. One way blacks were allowed freedom was if they served in the British army and government (Document A). Despite being granted freedom, blacks were not able to vote and own land (Document B). They also felt is they had no say in anything at all (Document B). Even in the country’s own constitution, the rights of black men were not listed and were thus ignored. On the streets, free blacks would be insulted by the whites and black places would look less prestigious compared to white places (Document I).
The whites went as far as to consider blacks to be the “third race”. Another way African Americans could be free is by purchasing their own freedom from their slave owners (Document F). Fighting and violence was one way blacks believed freedom could be gained (Document G). Blacks often stole food from their owners, pretended to be sick and even stopped working as a way to be free. Rebellions such as Nat Turner’s rebellion, Stono rebellion and Denmark Vesey’s uprising attempted to gain freedom for blacks, but ultimately failed and resulted in deaths of many blacks. A violent overthrow of whites was also considered for the blacks (Document J). Whenever freedom was achieved for African Americans, they still had to put up with not having the same rights as others. Enslaved African Americans faced different challenges than free African Americans around 1775-1830.
By the 1820s and 1830s, slave population nearly doubled in the United States (Document C). One major reason for this was the creation of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney. Whitney’s cotton gin allowed for the widespread cultivation of short-staple cotton. Slave labor was greatly demanded due to the cotton cultivation and thus slaves were tied working with the cotton gin. Slavery was such a touchy subject and did not want to be dealt with often that the discussion of slave trade was delayed until 1808 by Congress. The Northwest Land Ordinance of 1787 did not improve situations for slaves as they were not permitted freedom from Northwest lands, however new no slaves would be allowed. The Three-Fifths Compromise did not even recognize slaves as real human beings, since they were counted as being three-fifths of a person when counted for representation. African American slaves faced a great deal of issues while being slaves. Free and enslaved African Americans sometimes generally responded favorable towards some of the things that they faced. The Second Great Awakening acted as a springboard for other reform movements to take place for African Americans (Document D).
The Second Great Awakening also allowed for blacks to get involved with the Methodist and Baptist religions. Blacks were typically grateful and pleased when they noticed a white person attempting to try to help them because it was uncommon for them to do so and it showed some whites really do care about fighting for blacks’ freedom (Document E). Anti-Slavery societies were also formed, with the first being established by the Quakers. The American Colonization Society was formed in order to send black slaves back to Liberia were they can be free, while the Vermont Colonization Society also acted in a similar way.
Eventually at some point help for the African American slaves was made and awareness of slavery was brought to attention. Free and enslaved African Americans both existed during the time period of 1775 to 1830. African Americans could be granted their freedom in different ways, but still were seen as unequal in the eyes of many whites, which resulted in rebellions and reform movements to take place. Enslaved African Americans struggled with gaining freedom and were still misused by owners. African Americans faced several challenges during the era of slavery in the United States.