Slavery in American Literature Essay

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Pages: 7

Slavery in the United States was a form of unfree labor which existed as a legal institution in North America for more than a century before the founding of the United States in 1776, and continued mostly in the South until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1865. Most slaves were black and were held by whites, although some Native Americans and free blacks also held slaves; there were a small number of white slaves as well.
. Slavery spread to the areas where there was good-quality soil for large plantations of high-value cash crops, such as tobacco, cotton, sugar, and coffee. By the early decades of the 19th century, the majority of slaveholders and slaves were in the southern United States,
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"We don't own your laws; we don't own your country; we stand here as free, under God's sky, as you are; and, by the great God that made us, we'll fight for our liberty till we die."
- Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Ch. 17

"A day of grace is yet held out to us. Both North and South have been guilty before God; and the Christian church has a heavy account to answer. Not by combining together, to protect injustice and cruelty, and making a common capital of sin, is this Union to be saved,--but by repentance, justice and mercy; for, not surer is the eternal law by which the millstone sinks in the ocean, than that stronger law, by which injustice and cruelty shall bring on nations the wrath of Almighty God!"
- Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Ch. 45

Mark Twain
The most important work on Amrerican slavery after the War was Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn (1884), viewed by many as the greatest American novel. Huck's developing relationship with Jim and wrestling with his conscious is one of the great struggles in American literature. A much shorter opiece by Twain often forgotten is "Pudin Head Wilson" a brilliant short story on slavery and still relavent today as an indictement of racial prejudice.

The theme of slavery is perhaps the most well known aspect of Huckleberry Finn. Since it's first publication, Twain's perspective on slavery and ideas surrounding