Monday, February 28, 2011

Term Paper on Slavery

Research Paper on Slavery

What is slavery? How did it get so deeply rooted in America? Who would stop the spread of slavery in America? Slavery had many protestors, but one man stood out in the 1858 Illinois senatorial campaign against the expansion of slavery and that man was Abraham Lincoln.

Slavery is defined as submission to a dominating influence. Which alone cannot be fully understood as the traumatic lifestyle in which a person is entrenched. To enslave someone is to take away their self worth, to strip away their identity, as they know it, and label it for economic gains. “Their labor or services are obtained through force; their physical beings are regarded as the property of another person, their owner, and they are entirely subject to their owner’s will (Nettels 98).”


The practice of slavery has been in existence since prehistoric times, although advancements in agriculture made it an institution in early historical times. Slaves were needed for “various specialized functions (Nettels 98)” in these societies and were obtained through raids or “conquests of other people or within the society itself, when some people sold themselves or their family members to pay debts or were enslaved as punishment for crimes (Nettels 98)."

The first African slaves that came to America landed at Jamestown, Virginia, In 1619. The number of slaves imported to the colonies was relatively small at first. Not until the development of the “plantation system” in the southern colonies in the later half of the seventeenth century, did the importation of African slaves greatly increase. By the time of the American Revolution, about 22 percent of the total population were African slaves, amounting to about 500,000 people. With the influx of the slave population came about the antislavery movement, as shown by the actions of the Methodist Episcopal Church which suspended one of its bishops for refusing to emancipate slaves he had inherited through his wife, in 1894. Southern states with economic interest justified slavery and were willing to fight to protect what they considered was their right. The northern states, not being so economically dependent on slavery easily could see the moral dilemma that slavery brought about. The south, however, with to much to loose put economic values ahead of moral ones. Not wanting to loose the South to succession, congress came to an agreement with the Missouri Compromise in 1820, which regulated the expansion of slavery in the United States for three decades until repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.

With the repeal came debate in Congress as to how the federal government should handle this issue of slavery, the northern states wanting to abolish it all together and the southern states wanting to keep what they felt was their rights, along with states rights alive.

There was one leader who stood out in this time against the expansion of slavery and that man was Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, in a log cabin that his father built in Hodgewville, Kentucky. He was pushed by his stepmother to learn how to read and write at an early age, and learned the Bible well, which would show in his later writings like the “Gettysburg Address” and his “Second Inaugural Address”. The Lincoln’s moved to Illinois in March of 1830, and it was there that Abraham Lincoln’s political career began. In the spring of 1832, Lincoln ran for a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives, Which he later lost, but it gave him ties to the Whigs party, to which he would remain faithful until he left over the question of slavery in the 1850’s.

Two years later, Lincoln would later run for representative to the Illinois legislature in 1834, this time winning. It was during this time Lincoln also studied law, and in 1836 he became a licensed attorney. He was noted for his “shrewdness and practical common sense” and also his “invariable fairness and utter honesty (Gwinn 369).”

Lincoln’s first public stand on slavery was in 1837, when the Illinois legislature voted to condemn the activities of the abolition societies that wanted “an immediate end to slavery by any means (Gwinn 369).” Lincoln declared that slavery was “founded on both injustice and bad politics, but the promulgation of abolitionist doctrine tends to rather to increase than abate its evil (Gwinn 370).” Lincoln wanted to end slavery but also wanted to stay within the constraints of the Constitution in doing so.

After Lincoln served on the seat for three consecutive terms, He became disillusioned with politics, and in 1838 went back to practicing law where he became a prominent lawyer.

In 1854, congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, and stated that “each territory could be admitted as a state “with or without slavery, as their Constitution may prescribe at the time of their admission (Gwinn 370).” With the passing of this act Lincoln’s interest in politics was rekindled and he became a forceful spokesman for the anti-slavery movement.

During the 1858 Illinois Senatorial campaign Abraham Lincoln ran for the Republican party against the author of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Democratic senator Stephen A. Douglas. With the breaking apart of the Whig’s party and becoming what is now known as the republican party Lincoln in his acceptance speech for the seat said “A house that has divided against itself cannot stand, this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free (Cuomo 93).” Douglas accused Lincoln as being a radical, saying that he threatened the stability of the Union. Lincoln responded by challenging Douglas to a series of seven debates largely concerning the expansion of slavery. It was in these debates that Lincoln’s view on slavery was fully understood. Lincoln did not want slavery expanding into the new territories and would write that “I, too, believe in self-government as I understand it; but I do not understand that the privilege one man takes of making a slave of another, or holding him as such, is any part of self government (Cuomo 92).” Lincoln wanted to keep slavery in the south where he hoped it would die out naturally.

He debated Douglas on issues of expansion and morality, arguing against the proposition “that the slave holder has the same political right to take his Negroes to Kansas that a free has to take his hogs or his horses (Cuomo 92).” As Lincoln continues, “this would be true if Negroes were property in the same sense that hogs and horses are. But is this the case? It is notoriously not so (Cuomo 92).” He also said on the issues of morality that “if the Negro is a man, why then may ancient faith teach me that all men are created equal; and that there can be no moral right in connection with one mans making a slave of another (Sandburg 74).”

Lincoln’s view on slavery was clear to all that heard these debates, and brought him national recognition. Even though he lost the election that year, he still clearly fought to stop the expansion of this evil institution called slavery with his great literary sense. If Lincoln did not stand against the expansion of slavery in the 1858 Illinois Senatorial campaign, he might not have been able to win the presidency in 1860, and eventually put an end to what he thought was a moral wrong- slavery.

Warning!!! All free sample term papers and college term paper examples on Slavery topics are plagiarized and cannot be fully used in your high school, college or university education.

Order Custom Term Paper on Slavery
If you need a custom written term paper, research paper, essay, dissertation, thesis paper or any other homework on your topic, will write your academic term papers from scratch. Starting at $12/page you can get 100% custom written papers online. We work with experienced PhD. and Master's freelance writers to help you with writing any papers in any discipline! High quality and 100% non-plagiarized term papers guaranteed!