Slavery in America

Slavery in America

About Slavery in America

Slavery in the United States was a form of slave labor which existed as a legal institution from the early years of the colonial period. By 1804, all states north of the Mason and Dixon Line had either abolished slavery outright or passed laws for the gradual abolition of slavery. In 1787 Congress prohibited slavery in the Northwest Territory, after a proposal by Thomas Jefferson to abolish it in all the territories failed by one vote. However slavery gained new life in the South with the cotton industry after 1800, and expanded into the Southwest. The nation was polarized into slave and free states along the Mason-Dixon Line, which separated Pennsylvania and Maryland. The international import or export of slaves became a crime under U.S. and British law in 1808. By the 1850s the South was vigorously defending slavery and its expansion into the territories.

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