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John Locke-Slavery

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Autor:   •  December 20, 2010  •  863 Words (4 Pages)  •  349 Views

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The views of John Locke on the topic of slavery vary drastically from the actual events that took place in the United States. The experiences of Fredrick Douglas give truth to this statement. In Locke's Second Treatise of Government, he expresses the freedom that all men should have as long as they abide by the common rule of the society. In actuality, slaves may have done nothing wrong, but their freedom was still taken away from them. John Locke believed slavery should be a form of punishment for those who committed a crime worthy of death and anyone who committed such a crime should become a slave. Fredrick Douglas teaches us that what really took place in the United States was an unfair practice of kidnapping, then buying and selling other human beings while abusing them and separating them from their families. Slaves were used to serve wealthy white plantation owners and committing a crime had nothing to do with the reason why they were forced into this position, most of them were simply born into slavery.

Locke and Douglas possessed distinguishable perceptions of the reason for slavery. Locke believed that the purpose of slavery was to reprimand someone for committing a crime worthy of death as the punishment. He also believed that the criminal should be enslaved until the hardship of his slavery outweighs the quality of his life. At this point, it is up to the slave to disobey his master in order to be put to death. On the other hand, Douglas expresses the fact that slavery was merely to benefit wealthy white plantation owners and their families. Slaves were either used to complete manual labor in the fields of the slave owner's plantation or to complete tasks inside the home, such as cooking, cleaning and child rearing. Locke's thoughts on the purpose of slavery and Douglas's reality were drastically different.

Locke had different beliefs from Douglas about who should and who actually became slaves. Locke believed anyone who intentionally committed a crime so horrific that he or she deserved death as the punishment should be enslaved. There for, anyone could become a slave, regardless of race, gender, or ethnic background. The only stipulation was age and mental stability. Locke believed that children and the mentally disabled were unable to understand exactly what they were doing when committing a crime, and there for, should not suffer the consequences of their actions like grown adults who were able to think clearly. According to Douglas's first hand account, only male and female African Americans of various ages were subject to slavery in the United States during this time period. Instead of enslaving individuals for a specific reason, African Americans were forced into slavery based solely on the color of their skin.

Another distinction between Locke's theory and Douglas's experience was the manner in which people were enslaved. Locke believed that if a man committed a crime so horrific that he deserved death as his punishment,

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