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Blog Post for 9/2

Zinn’s chapter “The Color Line,” begins describing the first slave ship to the colonies in 1619. This slave ship, the White Lion, was technically a ship bringing over “servants” from Africa. Rather quickly however, these “servants” became known as slaves instead. I find it very interesting that when these Africans were brought over on the ship, the captain and other colonizers onboard, and waiting on land called these even began by calling them servants. This is interesting to me because Zinn specifically states that the Africans were treated differently and much more harshly than the actual indentured servants from Europe, or the white servants from the moment they arrived. Thus, why even try to consider them servants? The colonizers knew exactly why they were bringing over Africans, but lied to themselves, but why?

Another point Zinn brings up that I never considered is that even though the Europeans were much more technologically advanced than the indigenous people and the Africans they brought over; they could not do the simple tasks needed to survive. They needed the Africans to do their work for them or they would all die, but why then did they treat them so poorly? I believe some of the maltreat came because the colonizers were scared and intimidated by not only the indigenous people (very apparent), but by the Africans as well. The Africans were knowledgeable in agriculture, but also had a great sense of community and grit, this is what the colonizers feared most.

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4 Comments

  1. Zachary Andrews Zachary Andrews

    I too found it interesting that the colonies within Virginia were made up of people who simply did not want to do work. These people had little to know skills or knowledge of agriculture. For that reason, the colonists needed to bring in another source of labor that could be used to grow crops and other sources of food. They ended up choosing and enslaving African people and using them for labor. If we put the intimidation factor aside, why was it that the Africans and the colonists not get along? The colonists were gaining food from the labor that the Africans were doing. In my opinion, the slaves should not have been slaves. Instead they should have been paid for their work, thus pushing society towards advancement and achievement. In this case scenario, it would have been a win-win for both the Africans and the colonists. The Africans would have made money and the colonists would have gained a source of food.

  2. Annie Waters Annie Waters

    I was also very struck by the idea of the unequal treatment towards the black slaves and the white indentured servants. Especially considering the legal action taken to ensure that slave rebellions wouldn’t gain power through collaboration between these two groups. For example, white servants were allowed to own guns and were given land at the end of their terms of service while black slaves continued to be denied similar rights. Looking at this, I wonder how effectively this appeased white servants–did they receive their new freedoms joyfully and without question of their intentions, or did they recognize the superiority that was being established for them over black slaves?

  3. Morgan Crocker Morgan Crocker

    I agree that the colonizers knew exactly what they were doing by bringing Africans over, and they knew the Africans weren’t just going to be servants but the colonizers slaves. Why do you think the colonizers did not just ask the indigenous or the Africans to teach them the basics of surviving? Why do you think they decided to take the easy way out and just capture Africans and force them to do all the hard work?

  4. Julia Leonardi Julia Leonardi

    I also agree with you. They were all men of leisure or men of craftsmanship. It was said that the natives would laugh at their lack of ability to tend to the land. Technology doesn’t mean anything when you can’t even feed yourself. There was a quote in the reading that said the europeans massacred the natives out of spite because they wanted to prove a point.

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