Slavery in the North, Virginia, and South Carolina

Slavery took on distinct forms in the various regions of America. In the North slavery was not as commonplace as in the South, but slavery in some areas was still the primary backbone of physical labor, and unlike the South, Northern slaves were more directly in competition with working class whites, but at the same time had more elements of their own autonomy and were often quite close to their white owners. In Virginia slavery underwent several transformations. Slavery saw its roots initially in Virginia as very similar to indentured servitude, with some slaves finding freedom after working for a master for a set number of years. The beginning years of slavery in Virginia showed a surprising degree of egalitarianism between freed blacks and whites, with some blacks becoming planters and slave owners themselves. As time went on however, and more slaves entered Virginia, the elites among the society grew upset at the idea of this near racial equality and worked to enshrine black inferiority into the laws, resulting in a vast removal of the rights of freed blacks and of those of slaves.  In South Carolina, a interesting dichotomy emerged, slaves were crucial to almost every aspect of South Carolina life, from working the fields to fighting Indians, and the slave owners profited greatly from the slaves’ skills and  labor, but the slave owners were greatly fearful of the possibility of a slave uprising, as they were outnumbered by their slaves and instituted harsh slave codes to attempt to prevent it. But in spite of this slaves had  a greater degree of cultural autonomy than within other portions of the American colonies.