Europeans And Slaves

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade October 2001

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In the past, African slaves and European immigrants coming to America suffered many hardships along the way. Transoceanic travel at that time was both dangerous and exceedingly difficult. Though they both came across the same ocean, the conditions they experienced were remarkably different. Whether you came over as a slave in the hold of a cargo ship, or as a poor European in steerage, there were many obstacles you had to surmount.

Both Africans and Europeans could not escape the horrors on board the journeying ships. They were both crammed into small, constricted places on the ship, although the Europeans did have a bit more room than the Africans. Both groups were given hardly edible food, which often resulted in malady after its consumption. These maladies consisted of scurvy, dysentery, and cancer. Other diseases such as seasickness, boils, and constipation also ran rampant in the filthy holds of the ship.

Whippings were not uncommon and were given frequently to ensure obedience on the ships. If anyone were to die during the voyage from disease or a severe whipping perhaps, those who ran the ship merely tossed the deceased over the side "as they would have done a brute." Although there were many similarities between the European and African voyages, some aspects remained different.

There were just as many differences as there were similarities in the journey to America between Europeans and Africans. The main difference was that the Africans were involuntarily forced into a life of servitude while for the Europeans, the voyage was an act of free will and they had a chance of being free after several years of work. This single reason affected other circumstances between the Africans and Europeans coming to America. Some African slaves heaved themselves over the edge of the ship in an attempt to end their newly discovered fate. Also, while Africans were packed tighter in the dark holds of the ship, Europeans had slightly more room, about enough to lie down. In addition, if a European parent were to die over halfway through the trip, then their offspring would have to pay off their debt. If an African parent was to die, nothing was done about it. This implies that Europeans' lives were worth more than those of the African slaves. Although both Europeans and Africans traveled across the same ocean under different circumstances, they were both forced to endure a lot of privation.

It is clear that the obstacles European immigrants and African slaves were forced to endure were unavoidable if they were to continue living. They were both maltreated throughout the entire voyage. The Europeans were in fact treated better than the African slaves due to the fact that buyers thought of the Africans as cargo and the Europeans as a labor group. Although slavery is a terrible part of our history, had it not occurred then U.S. history would not have taken the shape it has taken. Both groups suffered immensely during the voyage; however, upon arrival the European immigrants' fortunes improved, while the African slave was just beginning to encounter new horrors.

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