In a discussion of the theme African American History, the paper will seek to review two books, Sick from Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction written by Jim Downs and Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America written by Ira Berlin. The theme will be seeking to establish the African American race as a historical construction redefining it by various parties and reasons. The definition of race as objected to slavery transformed as a result of human interaction. The reality of African American slavery was different depending on the place and time. There was no similarity in slaves because there were subjected to different anomalies. Instead of examining the continuities and commonalities of slavery across space and time, the paper seeks to emphasize on the contingencies and differences.
The social change as objected to the African American life offers a historical framework of the material change to the development of African Americans providing a structure of historicizing the study of slavery. The analysis by Ira Berlin gives a detailed essential and totalizing narrative of how slavery happened concerning place and time. Ira Berlin seeks to explore economic and farming practices in the seventeenth century in Virginia by starting with an example of a Jamestown slave Anthony Johnson who gained freedom. In the early seventeenth century, Blacks and whites worked together on plantations. The owners of the farm were required by law to provide shelter and food for the workers which meant that the black and whites shared equality the quality of life. This setup made it possible for slaves ability to purchase their freedom resulting to slave-owners felling the threatened by slave independence. In the region of Chesapeake in the mid-1600s, there were small black communities who were free, and some of them owned slaves. Interracial marriage was always experienced and less stigmatized than it was experienced forty years later.
The northern colonies of United States began not as slave society but as societies with slaves. The relationship between the north and south regarding slavery differed. The arrival of the slaves in the north was fewer compared to the south and most of the northern preferred seasoned slaves. Since the northern was not indulged in the agricultural plantations, the slaves took part in the market trade. The slaves in the north of the country lived in proximity with the whites making them adaptive to the ways of European American. Though this was the case, there was a separation of the black corpses whereby the graveyards of the white and black were excluded making it the first African American institutions. Slavery in the southern region was taken to extremes because of the existence of rice cultivation. The slaves in South Carolina were excluded from their legal life. This differed with Florida where slaves were given freedom and even allowed to participate in politics and also participated in the British military. Even though this was the case, the British as for the case of military service were not willing to manumit slaves although it occurred. As the slaves continued to gain financial stability and independence, laws were enacted to try and oppress the slaves' financial independence. This started to change towards the end of the seventeenth century when new mechanization and technology inventions which called for strict regulations of slaves.
Entering the eighteenth century, slaves did not have the privileges as the previous ones had. The culture of plantation emerged holding a rigid social order where master's powers spread, and their rule of law governed the society of slaves. The masters inflicted strict laws that had absolute sovereignty over the slaves making them work more not even having time to work for themselves diminishing their economic stability. The masters worked in killing the traditions and cultures of Africans for the sake of not allowing them to unite against slavery. The demanded slavery increased and more were brought in which led to an increase in mortality rate decrease the rate of fertility. The northern region adopted the policy implementations of the south and worked to Christianize the Africans.
Jim Downs in his writing discusses the medical history of the African Americans during the civil war and refurbishments with the politics of liberation. Disease, emancipation, and health are obstinately disheveled. The blacks experienced unforeseen consequences on their health to the actions and policies of the federal government. Emancipation crossed the years from the seizure of slaves as booty to the topographically constrained Emancipation Proclamation, lastly to the social equality acts and established corrections of Reconstruction. In this procedure, as the legal and political characters of African Americans were arranged and changed, medical emergencies made deterrents to African Americans capacity to encounter freedom and autonomy. After the war, the Medical Division's deficient and interwoven reactions to these issues added to an enormous natural emergency. Recently freed slaves who "grasped their freedom with expectation and positive thinking did not expect that it would prompt affliction, disease, enduring, and death. African Americans experienced lopsidedly disease, as well as were excessively incapacitated by the absence of sufficient food, shelter, and clothing to profit by their freedom. In spite of the triumphant freedom account supported by reformers and federal officials.
The French took part in importing slaves from Africa who came to work in companies of Indies and the company of the west which were French Companies. The slaves were to replace the Europeans and natives for free labor making up the large population of labor workers in the United States of which many died as a result of diseases and starvation. The harsh treatment of slaves caused some of them to flee slavery to Marron villages known for aiding escaped slaves. The attempt by the African American towards accessing medical care was among the first revolutionary demands for their rights. After the civil war that led to the collapse of slavery, it disrupted the economic and social network which provided medical care for slaves to some extent transforming a free labor economy. The revolutionary to transform the medical care for the African Americans led to the Congress establishing United States pension system which allowed black veterans to apply for this medical cover insurance.
As slavery was oppressing the African Americans as indicated by Jim Downs and Ira Berlin, they came together and established labor movements that worked in fighting for their rights to a better life. They were privileged to get some days off which was more like a weekend. The blacks were allowed to marry and also the slave economy was encouraged. Though this was the case, there was resistance from the south on the transition of slave's freedom and abolishment of slavery. This revolution had most of its effect on the northern colonies, and many of the blacks fled to the North. The presidential contest of 1860 was primarily geared towards reforms and abolishment of slavery. Abraham Lincoln was against the continuity of slavery which the northern region supported but the southern regions were for slavery. The African Americans start to move to the north seeking freedom from slavery from south and when president Abraham Lincoln was voted in winning with 39 percent of the electoral college, he insisted on his manifesto that later let to the American civil war.
Jim Downs and Ira Berlin give accounts of the historic struggle of African Americans in line with the revolutionary impacts established to voice for the effort. Extremely inhuman race relations described the post-civil war era in the United States. It was the era of the slavery laws, particularly in the South, where the white man was lawfully better than the Black man. It was the era of isolation, obliging the division of the races in transports, inns, eateries and open housing. Racial discrimination was lawful, and many blacks lost their employments and others were moved from some area in the North. This was the era when a white man had the privilege to demand the seat of a Black man openly puts. And it was mandatory that the recently submitted. As a dark man, inability to surrender your seat to a white man on his demand would cut down the fury of the law: captures, fine and detainment.
Downs, Jim. Sick from Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering During the Civil War And Reconstruction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2015.
Berlin, Ira. Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009.
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