From First Contact to Civil War
In 1619, after the forceful shipment of 20 Africans from West Africa to Jameson, Virginia African slavery commenced. They came to America to provide cheap labor across different plantations in the country. African-Americans tried to maintain their culture and traditions after their forceful shipment to America. However, Africans were forced to drop their culture and embrace a modern culture that Americans deemed superior. Significant aspects of the African-American culture played an instrumental role in facilitating their survival from the Civil War. The secret mode of communication using drums and fire formed a vital part of the African-American culture that facilitated their survival. Religion and religious practices also formed a significant part of the African culture during the Civil War. Each new day came with a high level of determination, as they desired to be free from oppression and disrespect. The Cato’s Rebellion that started in 1739 in South Carolina constituted one of the key events that highlighted the capability of free and enslaved African-Americans to get over legal limitations on their claims of self-respect and dignity. The Abolitionist Movement enacted in 1777 formed highlighted their desire for dignity and self-respect. African traditional aspects including traditional communication approaches and strong religious beliefs played a vital role in enhancing the survival of African-Americans during the Civil War. More so, two vital events including the Abolitionist Movement and the Cato’s Revolt showed the ability of African-Americans to fight for their dignity and self-respect.
Aspects of the African Culture
The first vital aspect of the African culture that survived and manifested in the daily lives of both free and enslaved African-Americans was their traditional means of communication using their native languages and drums. Slave masters put enslaved and free African-Americans under pressure to drop their cultural forms of behavior because of their perceived primitiveness. Nevertheless, they remained adamant and maintained most of their traditional forms of communication that Americans did not understand during that time. Arnold and Wiener (2011) affirm that traditional forms of communication including the use of their local languages and drums facilitated their survival during the Civil War, as they easily kept off through mutual agreement. African-Americans used drums to pass vital messages over long distances hence promoting safety of their colleagues. Slave masters and other Americans did not understand the information in the messages that these drums passed across. Therefore, survival succeeded through maintenance of traditional forms of communication among African-Americans.
Religion formed the second aspect of the African culture that facilitated their survival during the Civil War. Religion remained deeply rooted among both free and enslaved African-Americans. Their American masters denied them freedom to continue practicing the religion of their ancestors. They faced excessive pressure to abandon their religion because of its elements of witchcraft and superstition. However, they assembled and came up with a new form of religion that united them on a daily basis. Religion made it easier for them to uphold their values and keep off the tantrums of the Civil War. The African religion taught them how to be witty, as they looked forward to surviving during that difficult time. They did not have a desire to take part in what they perceived evil in the society. Thus, religion formed a vital element of both free and enslaved African-Americans because it held them together ensuring they stayed away from aggression during the Civil War. It gave them a strong sense of unity in their quest for ultimate liberation.
Events between 1619 and 1860
Several events that occurred between 1619 and 1860 demonstrated the ability of enslaved and free African-Americans to overcome the legal limitations on their claims to dignity and self-respect. The Cato’s Revolt was a significant event that demonstrated the ability of African-Americans to overcome legal limitations. The strong African leadership and promising aftermaths forms the rationale for the choice of this event. According to Du Bois (2013), Cato’s Rebellion began in 1739 and Africans from the Kingdom of Kongo played a vital role in leading it. It aimed at sending a strong message to slave masters to ensure they set enslaved African-Americans free as well as ensure they restore their dignity and self-respect. Protesting Africans moved south from the Stano River, as they kept recruiting other slaves to assert their authority without any fear. The entire rebellion led to the death of at least 21 whites and 44 blacks hence motivating the emergence of other rebellions that aimed at freeing enslaved African-Americans. A keen analysis of the rebellion forms the criterion for its choice because it forced whites to realize that slavery limits human rights. However, the rebellion led to the passage of the Negro Act of 1740 that tended to restrict meetings, education, and movements among African-Americans.
The Abolitionist Movement is the second event which illustrated the ability of African-Americans to overcome legal limitations. The rationale for the choice of this event is the massive support it had from whites, blacks, and slaves. The movement came up with the aim of liberating enslaved African-Americans and ensuring free African-Americans received a high sense of respect and dignity that had been initially lost. Du Bois (2013) affirms that this emerged in 1777 when states, such as Vermont, started restricting the importation of slaves from African countries. It focused on abolishing slavery and ensuring the dignity of African-Americans restored. Abolitionist ideas continued spreading and became more prevalent in the 1830s with the aim of liberating African-Americans and ensuring they were free. Abolitionists believed in success once slave masters accepted to respect enslaved and free African-Americans. The North continued with its fight against slavery through the movement even as the South kept resisting with allegations of continuous rebellions. Southern whites tended to restrict African-Americans from achieving this sense of dignity and self-respect.
Examine the Manner in which the Two Chosen Events Showcase the Ability of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence to Live to Their Promises
The aforementioned two events showcase the ability of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence to live up to their promises. The declaration of independence in 1776 preceded the writing of the Constitution, which did not give a clear impression on the rights of slaves. However, both of them agitated for the return of fugitives including indentured servants and slaves. More so, the Declaration of Independence led to the promotion of independence among 13 states in the U.S. Therefore, the Cato’s Revolt and the Abolitionist Movement showcase the ability of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence to live up to their promises through positive response to the existing issues. Dirck (2012) opines that the Constitution aimed at ensuring that all slaves received freedom and their rights respected in the best manner possible in the course of their work. More so, the Constitution focused on toning down emotions relating to rebellions by ensuring that slaves received some form of independence, as they continued living in the country. These events illustrate the ability of the Constitution to live up to its promise by prohibiting the importation of slaves starting from 1808. In fact, the Constitution declared slave trade a capital offense in 1819 hence ensuring that it fulfilled the desire of those who stood against it. The above events also illustrate the ability of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 to live up to its promise through the declaration of autonomy among states and individuals. For instance, Rhode Island stopped taking slaves from the colonies in 1778 after the issuance of Declaration of Independence hence illustrating the ability to live up to the promise. Both the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence remained vital in fulfilling the promise of freedom and dignity for all individuals in America including enslaved and free African-Americans.
In conclusion, slavery remains one of the most negative events in the African-American history. It illustrates people’s desire to struggle for freedom. African-Americans survived the Civil War using their traditional communication methods, such as drums and native languages, which whites did not understand. Additionally, they united through their religious beliefs.. Religion constitutes a key aspect that facilitated the survival of both free and enslaved African-Americans during the Civil War. The Cato’s Rebellion comes out as one of the key events that illustrated the ability of African-Americans to fight for their dignity and self-respect. They staged the rebellion with the aim of emphasizing their strength and ability to fight for freedom. Again, the emergence of the Abolitionist Movement ensured that African-Americans asserted their authority as they fought for the restoration of their dignity and self-respect. These events illustrate the ability of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence to live up to the promise through assurance of freedom to 13 states and the illegalization of slavery terming it a capital offense.
Arnold, J. R., & Wiener, R. (2011). American Civil War: The essential reference guide. New York: ABC-CLIO.
Dirck, B. R. (2012). Lincoln and the constitution. Boston: SIU Press.
Du Bois, W. E. B. (2013). The suppression of the African slave-trade to the United States of America, 1638-1870.. Oxford: Oxford University Press.