Resistance to British Oppression

As someone who was born and raised in the United States of America I have learnt since I was a child that our country started because we resisted oppression first from the British, then because of slavery, and now because of skin color, gender, class, and our sexual orientation. Oppression is the cruel and unjust treatment of humans, in reference to African Americans and Native Americans, they were oppressed by Europeans. Capitalism is when all monetary business is privately owned and lead to the profit.

The slave trade was not led by any country but it led to the slave traders to make money. And for the indentured servants their passage was bought by their masters and they traded work as a way to pay it off, but in the end the servants worked longer for the masters which led to the masters to profit from it. During colonial times oppression of the African Americans and the Indentured servants was because of capitalism.

Slave traders wanted to make money and the Europeans needed slaves to do their work on the farms to help make money from crops. Indentured servants were first used to get more land, slaves were used for this too, because of the 50 acres per person rule, where the government would give the man of the household 50 acres for each person brought to the US. The indentured servants were profitable when they were brought because they were kept for a long time but later on they became less and less profitable.

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African Americans were treated horribly from the start, during the transatlantic slave trade they were given no food or later, barely taken out up to deck of the ship and so packed in at the bottom of the boat. They had to relieve themselves and lived in horrible conditions as Zinn says ‘Then they were packed aboard the slave ships, in spaces not much bigger than coffins, chained together in the dark, wet slime of the ship’s bottom, choking in the stench of their own excrement.’

In a slave narratives about the middle passage some of the enslaved African Americans were ready to kill themselves because the passage was so horrible, and they even tried to but usually failed. Once they got to the americas they were very ill treated, they worked long and hard hours and barely were fed. ‘From that point on, their lives were completely controlled by their masters, the women subject to sexual abuse, the men beaten and whipped for disobeying orders.’ If they did not work fast enough they were whipped, if they tried to run they were whipped, they slaves main form of punishment was being whipped. Women were treated even worse than the men because they were whipped, beaten, and also abused sexually. African Americans were subjected to these vile condition because they were considered property, not humans. The masters had degraded them to the lowest form anyone could.

The labeling of them as savages helped the masters show other Settlers that it was okay to enslave them, and even show the slaves that they were sinners and the only reason they were okay then is because they were enslaved. The thinking that they would be saved if they stayed slaves and served their masters allowed them to be controlled. Some ways they were brought into this thinking was because of church services were ministers would preach about how they should be grateful of their masters and that is why they were oppressed they way they were. It helped drive the pursuit of profits because if other white persons thought of African Americans not as humans they would be less likely to want to free them, which would in a way help keep the African Americans enslaved and the owners would not have to pay them or give them any type of land after like indentured servants, because they would stay slaves their whole lives. They were portrayed as savages and property to keep them enslaved.

Indentured servants were treated pretty harshly when they got to America. They had come to America for a better life but ended in a servitude where they were treated badly. Richard Frethorne discusses how he suffered a lot and how his coat was stolen from him. He goes on to discuss how on the passage over he ate food for a week that he would eat in one day back in England, ‘But I am not half a quarter so strong as I was in England, and all is for want of victuals; for I do protest unto you that I have eaten more in day at home than I have allowed me here for a week (Zinn & Arnove 64).’ When the indentured servants reached america they were treated badly too because they were worked hard as the masters wanted to get their money’s worth of how much they paid for the passages of the indentured servants they brought over. The female servants were raped, beat, and whipped and the male servants were beat and whipped for things that sometimes were not even serious as someone says in a quote from Zinn, ”I have seen an Overseer beat a Servant with a cane about the head till the blood has followed, for a fault that is not worth the speaking of. . . .(Zinn 44).” Masters would not let their servants be married or have relations because they would have sex, which could lead to pregnancies which in turn could cause the female servant to not be able to work.

Indentured servants were subjected to horrible treatment because at one time they were almost at the same level as African American slaves, they were just a body bought to do work until their time was done, but sometimes their time would be extended for the tiniest reasons like them asking for extra food or clothes. Indentured servants did reap a profit, but not as much as African American slaves because in the Indentured servitude contract they were promised food, housing and other things. And also promised a variety of things from their masters when they finished their time like land and other things. African American slaves had resisted from the beginning as Zinn says, ‘But they were still not easy to enslave. From the beginning, the imported black men and women resisted their enslavement.’ African Americans in America would run away the most, they were enslaved for 200 years and would show that they would not be trapped by escaping. They had been enslaved for too long, some African American slaves would go out and kill white persons with guns they stole and burn buildings.

Indentured servants resisted for different reasons than the African American slaves, there was one resistance in which the white indentured servants were not happy with the food and would revolt. ”get a matter of Forty of them together, and get Gunnes & hee would be the first & lead them and cry as they went along, ‘who would be for Liberty, and free from bondage’, & that there would enough come to them and they would go through the Country and kill those that made any opposition and that they would either be free or dye for it (Zinn 45).” In the end it never happened because they were ratted out by another indentured servant. There were not that many indentured servant rebellions, but some owners were still worried they could happen. Rebellion was not the only way the Indentured servants resisted, they also would try to escape just like the African American slaves. Lots of white indentured servants would try to leave, their would be enormous amounts of them trying to leave. ”The atmosphere of seventeenth-century Virginia,’ he says, ‘was charged with plots and rumors of combinations of servants to run away (Zinn 46).” If they were caught they would be brought back and whipped.

Resistance was very important for both the African Americans slaves and indentured servants because it showed they were not okay with the unfair treatment they were going through, and showing this resistance in a way helped the indentured servants have the chance to have more rights, but did not help the African American slaves too much because they would not receive any legal rights. Resistance was how the United States became the United states, the colonies resisted from British rule for one hundred seventy years until it became its own country, indentured servitude lasted until 1917 when it was then abolished, African Americans were ‘freed’ in 1865. The United States has always been one to resist and fight for their rights, all Americans no matter their color or gender. To this day there is still resistance, for the right of women to have control over their own bodies, for gender equality, for Black women and men to not be persecuted for the color of their skin, to Asian Americans being subjected to the Model Minority myth, to the LGBTQ society for their choice of sexual orientation. We as citizens of the United States have gone through so much by resisting oppression and hopefully we can live in a society where people are not oppressed because of their skin color, gender, sexual orientation or socioeconomic class.

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Resistance to British Oppression. (2021, Dec 21). Retrieved from

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