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18th Century Commerce In The Western Hemishpere

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Colonial America during the Eighteenth Century gave people the opportunity to become land owners, explore their religious freedom, and to take part in a growing economy. Whether you were poor or rich, all free men and women had an opportunity to raise their standard of living. Along with the rise in commerce came more problems such as slavery, taxes, conflict with the natives, debt, and much more. As expressed already many positives and negatives were brought on by increased commerce in Colonial America and West Indies during the Eighteenth Century. In closing, are examples of how commerce affects Americans and others in contemporary times as well.

With a growing economy and increased production, Europeans needed a workforce but the natives couldn't withstand the European diseases. Africans of many cultures were still uncivilized and there was much war between the different nations. Prisoners of war were made into slaves and the slaves were in turn traded for European goods. The demand for slaves grew because of their immunities to many diseases, so did war and kidnapping. In the account of a minister from Germany who interviewed many slaves from different nations and tribes says, "There are almost constant internal wars. One tribe attacks another solely for the purpose of capturing men to be sold to whites as slaves... (5-5)"

Slavery was only a problem for Africans who feared losing their liberty and being taken from their homeland. Becoming a slave or being born into slavery was the worst destiny for many Africans during the Eighteenth Century. Slavery took away the hope and dignity of Africans making them feel as if they had nothing to live for or aspire towards. This was a major reason for the actions of Arthur, a boy born into slavery that ran away from home at an early age and lived a short life of crime (5-1). Arthur describes early on in his confession, " Mother being his slave... was treated very kindly by my Master; but was so unhappy... which caused me then to run away... (5-1)" Arthur lived an unhealthy life full of trouble and vices which was driven by a life of little hope. Besides just being in slavery, slaves were subject to sexual, physical and mental abuse. In the South Carolina Gazette and Virginia Gazette descriptions of run away slaves were posted in hope that they may be returned (5-4). Slaves were often branded with their owners initials and beaten badly for running away as it says in the account of Rebeccah Massey saying, "... Whoever takes her up, gives her 50 good Lashes... (5-4)"

Africans weren't the only ones who felt the grunt of increased commerce. Some colonist spent foolishly which led to their debt while still having to pay taxes. At an auction many people were posed with the question of what to do about taxes and asked for the advice of a wise man (5-2). A man by the name Abraham persuasively spoke quoting Poor Richard's Almanac, "... Beware of little Expences; a small Leak will sink a great Ship... (5-2)" After getting the attention of the people and explaining his point with many sayings from Poor



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