Sociology 3321F/G Lecture Notes - Moral Evil, Emancipation Proclamation

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1 Feb 2013
The United States, with more than 34 million Blacks, has the eighth-largest Black population in the
world; only Brazil, Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, and Tanzania have larger Black
populations. Despite their large numbers, Blacks in the US have had almost no role in many crucial
decisions that influenced their own destiny.
• Although most of the people brought forcibly to North America from Africa came from a limited
geographic area of the African continent, they brought with them diverse cultural experiences and
traditions. Today, we rarely remember these tribal or ethnic variations among the descendants of the
Africans in the way we customarily do among Europeans.
• For nearly half of U.S. history, slavery was not only tolerated but legally protected by the U.S.
Constitution as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court. In sharp contrast to the basic rights and
privileges enjoyed by White Americans, Black people in bondage lived under a system of repression and
• Slavery in the United States rested on five central conditions:
1) Slavery was for life
2) The status of slave was inherited
3) Slaves were considered mere property
4) Slaves were denied rights
5) Coercion was used to maintain the system
• Although slave codes varied from state to state and from time to time and were not always enforced,
the more common features demonstrate the complete subjugation of the Africans. Slaves were
prohibited from all of the following practices:
1) marrying or even meeting with a free black
2) gambling
3) buying or selling anything, except by special arrangement
4) possessing weapons or liquor
5) quarreling with or using abusive language toward Whites
6) possessing property (including money), except as allowed by his or her owner
7) making a will or inheriting anything
8) making a contract or hiring himself or herself out
9) leaving a plantation without a pass noting his or her destination and time of return
10)testifying in court, except against another slave
11)learning to read or write
• Numerous ideologies were developed to justify the enslavement of Africans. Slaves were viewed like
children that needed the guidance of their white slave owners to survive. Africans were also described
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