The Morality of Slavery

        "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains." – Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Slavery has been around for thousands of years. Slavery was a way of life to many indigenous people in America and around the world. You can trace slavery back to pre-historic times and its end in the mid 19th century. Throughout the ages, people have debated over the morality of slavery. Many say that it is an important part of everyday life. Others state that it is wrong and unlawful. Rousseau nails the point right on the head. His quote is a very powerful statement. No matter where you look, someone is under some form of enslavement. Statistics say that nearly four million slaves valued at more than four million dollars lived in the United States before the Civil War ever began. But slavery was not just in the United States, like in Rousseau’s case. Rousseau knew about slavery and its impact first hand. He was a philosopher whose political theology helped spark the historical French Revolution. Another famous theologian and politician who knew about slavery was our nation’s founding father, Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson personally owned slaves. He was considered by many, including himself to be an avid abolitionist, even though he owned many slaves. Jefferson gained rights to his slaves by mortgages and debt. He was not allowed to release and free his slaves until he was debt free, which never happened. In Jefferson’s most famous piece of work throughout his long political career, Jefferson wrote about the morality of men, whether free or enslaved. His document, The Declaration of Independence, was based on the morals he was taught, including those about equality. Although there are many arguments concerning the morality of slavery, things such as the demoralization of the person, the forceful work without benefits, the religious aspect of ownership, and the governmental view seem to be the forerunners.

        In Thomas Jefferson’s The Declaration of Independence, he makes the statement,” We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life , Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”. Jefferson’s quote stirred many arguments around the world. He thought that it was self evident, or obvious, that a person is no greater or less than the others around him. When we were born, according to Jefferson, we were given three rights: Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. If you enslave a person, whether they are black, white, Spanish, or Indian, it denies them the three rights that we were born with. Our inalienable rights are what make our nation so great. When a person is enslaved, they are demoralized. Enslaving another human being is considering yourself and your family to be superior. You completely disregard that person’s life and inalienable rights. When they are enslaved, they no longer have control over who they are, what they do, and who they become. You have now just made a person into your own marionette. There are very few occasions where an enslaved person can have the ability to pursue happiness. Enslaving a person has just made them into an animal, not a living, breathing human being. A human should be allowed to do whatever they choose, not have a master do all their decision making for them. The demoralization of a slave now makes them a victim of fear. Their master is now in control of their every being. When a person looks at the demoralization of the human slave through the eyes of the slave instead of the eyes of the beholder, a new perspective comes into view. Living in fear for your life and your family’s life is not the way we were intended to live on this earth. Slave owners saw no wrong in splitting a family up. Some even considered it humorous to make families as miserable as possible. When looking on this side of the fence, the slave feels less than dirt. To the slave owners, the slave was just another piece of property. The slave was a legal piece of property. A slave owner had written documents and paid money just to have another human being do his work. Buyers would even talk about which slave family was best at what part in the fields.  It was more like buying and selling items of use to a friend. In today’s time, this would be like giving your own body up for prostitution. Your rights no longer belong to yourself, but to your “employer”. Being sold and bought without any say is the same situation that the slaves went through. Jefferson said that all men are equal. That means all men are to be considered the same, whether you are a king or a peasant, or even someone in between, we are all the same. Skin color, height, weight, and age should never make a person any different than another. When you enslave someone for their race, you not only put them below yourself, but also disgrace your own race. When a white male buys an African American slave, he puts the African race below his. He considers himself to be superior and a godlike figure just because the pigment in his skin. This demoralization has thankfully come to an end and is no longer seen on American soil.

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        Slavery never provided benefits for those that worked. A person who was enslaved never received proper treatment. After a slave was bought, the master made his new work hours and gave him his necessities. Most of the time, slaves were given very little to eat and drink. They would work out in the fields for more than twelve hours, never receiving payment for the duty. The only thing a slave received would be punishment. Normally, a person who worked twelve hours a day would receive a good lump sum of cash at the end of his work week. For slaves, ...

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