On September 23rd, 1862, Abraham Lincoln provided our wonderful nation with The Emancipation Proclamation. This speech declared all slaves free in those states still in rebellion against the United States on January 1st, 1863. The statement only applied to the states which, after that date, were under the military control of the Union Army. It did not apply to those slave states such as Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, some parts of Virginia, and Louisiana, that were already occupied by Northern troops.
It was not until 1865, when the Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution had been passed that slavery was finally abolished everywhere in the United States.
The Thirteenth Amendment states Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
During the time when slavery was still legal, it has been calculated that nearly eighty eight percent of America’s slave-owners owned twenty slaves or less.
The death rate in slaves was extremely high and to replace their loses, the women slaves were encouraged and at times forced to begin having children around the age of thirteen. By the age of twenty, it was expected for each one to be the mother of at least five children. Most owners promised women slaves their freedom after they had produced the large amount of fifteen children.
Many slaves were treated poorly and beat, sometimes for no apparent reason.
These two factors motivated a large number of slaves to runaway. At this time there was a Fugitive Slave Law saying that anyone suspected of being a runaway slave could be arrested without warrant and turned over to a claimant with nothing more than his word of ownership. A suspected black slave could not even ask for a jury trial. Anyone caught aiding a runaway slave by providing shelter, food, or any other form of assistance was liable to six months’ imprisonment, a $1,000 fine, or both.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn deals clearly with the social issue of slavery. The main character, Huck, is best friends with Jim, a runaway slave. While Huck enjoys being friends with Jim and loves going through life with him by his side, he also knows that aiding a runaway slave is a serious crime. Throughout the book, Huck debates the idea of whether or not he should turn Jim in.
All in all I would have to say that the issue of slavery has evolved completely over time. Many people have benefited from its change and there are not many negative aspects of it (depending on your point of view). Yes, there still are quite a few people in the world who believe in slavery, but luckily, our society has matured enough to ban it and treat all people as they should be treated-equally.