Democracy – The long and often bloody fight for freedom – The Abolition of Slavery in the United States of America.

Democracy – The long and often bloody fight for freedom – The Abolition of Slavery in the United States of America.

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The use of slaves was widespread in America, though there were some opposition from certain groups. They were used as domestics, artisans or field workers. These Africans were imported via the Arab slave traders in what had become a lucrative trade.

With the American War of Independence slavery was maintained. The Southern States had the greatest numbers as their agricultural practices of growing tobacco, cotton and rice was very labour intensive.

In 1808 an act came in prohibiting the importation of slaves. The Northern States began abolishing slavery. In 1830 abolitionists such as John Brown favoured armed force to forment riots among black slaves. Baptists and Methodists preached for the abolition of slavery.

It all came to a head in 1860 with the civil war. The Northern States renounced slavery and the Southern States supported it. In 1863 Lincoln’s proclamation of Emancipation promised freedom for slaves. At the end of the war in 1865 the proclamation was enforced throughout America and slaves were freed.

Unfortunately that was not the end of the matter. The aftermath of slavery is still felt today with a legacy of racism that pervades many parts of the States. Up until the civil rights movements of the 1960s blacks in the South were not permitted to vote, were forced to use second rate facilities and institutions and treated as second-class citizens. The White Supremacists of the Klu Klux Klan maintained an apartheid system through force and terror.

In the modern age this racism, which still persists, is intolerable.

The hope that the election of a black president signalled the dawn of a new age is still perhaps premature. There is a way to go.

Freedom is won through the bravery of men like Medgar Evans and Martin Luther King and the determined struggle of those white and black activists and people who stood up to be counted, protested and marched despite the intimidation and threats. Many were killed in that struggle. It still is not complete.