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Oher Essay

892 words - 4 pages

Most historians believe that the first Africans to arrive in America in 1619 were the indentured servants. The author of Beneficiaries of Catastrophe: The English Colonies in America demonstrates a far different perspective about the first Africans to arrive in America. This author believes that the first Africans to arrive in America were treated despicably and were very beneficial to the colonists in work labor; and through historical data and research historians can see how many Africans were brought to the colonies.The recent school of thought believes that, "never can the advantages it brought about compensate for the harm it has caused." (P.3) Even though the general theme of historians is that the colonial period was marked by greatness that lead to the formulation of our great institutions of today, some historians feel that the behavior which exhibited towards the first Africans was morally reprehensible. They were taken out of their environment to a new land and introduced to slavery which resulted in an overall destruction of their people as a society. Research has determined that the numbers of Africans that came to the Americas through the African slave trade was overwhelming compared to those that survived. The philosophy that "the greatest good for the greatest number," can not overcome the devastation which occurred. Many historians, today, view what transpired in early discovery of America "as a tragedy of such huge proportions that no one's imagination can easily encompass it all." (P. 4) People are now beginning to question whether the end justified the means.The author of this article believed that the African slave trade was a viable tool in America's "chronicle of progress." (P.13) Due to the availability of land in the colonies, people could obtain economic independence by using their land and knowing what crops to grow. With this cheap land, there was a need for labor and the African slave trade provided a source. In their motivation to obtain material possessions, the settlers did not consider limiting the freedom of African slaves to obtain their futuristic goals. This viewpoint that the Africans who first arrived were slaves and therefore not indentured servants, expresses an analytical and realistic view of this historical period.The article sets forth numerical data which shows that the vast majority of Africans that arrived in then to the Americas came here in chains and unwillingly. The slave trade provided an ample work force for the colonists who needed hard labor to maintain their settlements. The slaves knowledge in cultivation also was an added bonus. This historical writer believes that the vast majority of people that left...

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