Chapter to understand the hidden origin of slavery.

Chapter 3, called “The Hidden Origins of Slavery”, in the book A Different Mirror mainly focused on the social and racial problems that happened during the beginning of a colonial establishment in Virginia. The author Ronald Takaki in this chapter describes that in the beginning the black slaves and the white servants were working together to get free. But, the rich white feared revolt from the workers so they gave harsher punishments to the blacks then were given to the white servants. The rich masters also made the laws to be unfair to the blacks and to give the whites more power and rights. When the white servants got more rights, they began separate themselves from their African coworkers. Basically, the hidden origin of slavery is an “unhappy social class built from indentured servants, slaves, and landless freemen, both white and black.” Takaki also says that the hidden origin of slavery is the change from white to black workers that worked just due to timing. In this chapter Takaki examines in depth race, historical events, ethnicity, and famous people to understand the hidden origins of slavery.

Takaki examines historical events to understand the hidden origin of slavery. Takaki starts this chapter with the stating that some of the first slaves where Indians. He then states that twenty Africans had been brought to Virginia by a Dutch. They, in fact, were more like the white indentured servants who were bound by agreements to serve a number of years and then they were free to go. After time, more slaves were brought over to the Virginia colony from Germany, England and Ireland. The same as the Africans, the white indentured servants were brought to the Virginia colonies against their will. Usually, they were of the low class of society, brutish, vagabonds, whores and cheats. (Takaki 50) (At the beginning these groups of whites and blacks shared a similar social class and saw themselves more as equals. The hidden origin of slavery occurred when things started to change for those groups.) maybe don’t need this.

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Furthermore, Takaki examines race and ethnicity to understand the hidden origin of slavery. Since the blacks and the whites were coming from different places, to the Virginias and serving as slaves and indentured servants together, they had nothing against each other. Occasionally, perhaps often, whites and blacks ran away together. (Takaki 54) Though, finally Virginia legislators spoke up and started to make good relationships between the blacks and the white come to an end. They were horribly punished if they ran away together, or if they had any kind of relationships with each other. Once they started to separate the blacks and the whites, they started treating them differently as well. The whites were not punished as harshly as the blacks were for violating the rules. Also, the whites did not have to serve for life like the blacks did. Another fact that was happening was that the Africans were being considered as a property. In order to keep the blacks socially low, masters accepted many laws restricted blacks from voting, or having the freedom of assembly or movement. These laws made the cultural gap between the blacks and the whites much larger. This lead readers to the understanding that the hidden origin of slavery is the transition from white to black workers. Black slaves became more popular when white workers were becoming freeman with the rights. The legislators separated races, and this made whites and blacks think of each other differently.  

Lastly, though the chapter and especially to the end of the chapter, Takaki talks about famous people in an attempt to understand the hidden origins of slavery. (Maybe I have to rephrase this sentence). Thomas Jefferson played an important role concerning an issue with slavery. (maybe have to rephrase) He felt guilty about the slave situation and said that he would abolish slavery once his debts were paid off. Also, he said that once slavery was abolished all of the black slaves would have to be removed from America because he believed that blacks and whites could never live alongside one another in America because of “the real distinctions” which “nature” had made between the two races (71). Moreover, there were two differences he saw between white and black people. The first is color of skin and the second was the level of intelligence. Jefferson did not believe that blacks could have an equal level of intelligence as white citizens. Jefferson thought that education would not improve the nature of blacks (74) he was unable to free himself from his belief in black intellectual inferiority.

Overall, Takaki explains the hidden origins of slavery by examining race, ethnicity, historical events and famous people throughout the chapter. Takaki’s chapter has an interesting information with the historical documents and quotes from both historians and people of the time, which really helps to understand better about the origin of slavery. Takaki’s main point appeared to be that slavery was designed to keep control of the Africans. Takaki quotes a historian that says, “the status of Negroes was that of indentured servants and, so they were identified and treated.” (Takaki 56) Basically, that means that Africans were not brought to America to just be slaves that in time blacks were on the same social level as white servants. That it was only when the rich white masters feared revolt that the differences in race was made. These actions of hidden origin of slavery may be to blame for the racist views in our society today. (maybe rephrase this one)


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