There have been many things in the past that play importance on our world today. As the old saying says, history repeats itself, which is why it is important for us to understand history and why certain things happened and how to avoid them. Some of the things that have happened in history that have importance to me are the Atlantic Slave Trade, the Salem Witch Trials and the Boston Tea Party.
Slavery was and still is a very important issue in the United States. All though slavery is illegal now, it still takes place in every day life. The beginning of this took place back in the mid 1400’s. Between 1440 and 1505, the Portuguese brought over 40,000 Africans to perform domestic labor in Portugal and Spain. 1640-1680 was the introduction to African slave labor to the British Caribbean for sugar production. In 1794, the French National Convention emancipates all slaves in the French colonies and the United States Congress passes legislation prohibiting the manufacture, fitting, equipping, loading or dispatching of any vessel to be employed in the slave trade. May 10, 1800 U.S. enacts stiff penalties for American citizens serving voluntarily on slavers trading between two foreign countries. In 1807, the British Parliament bans the Atlantic Slave Trade and the United States passes legislation banning slave trade. In 1810, British negotiate an agreement with Portugal calling for gradual abolition of slave trade in the South Atlantic. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the British pressure Spain, Portugal, France and the Netherlands to agree to abolish the slave trade. Even though Spain and Portugal are permitted a few years of continued slaving to replenish labor supplies. September 23, 1817, Great Britain and Spain sign a treaty prohibiting the slave trade, and Spain agrees to end the slave trade north of the equator immediately, and south of the equator in 1820. British naval vessels are given right to search suspected slavers. Still, loopholes in the treaty undercut its goals. Slave trade flows strongly, 1815-1830. Slave economies of Cuba and Brazil expand rapidly. In the Le Louis case, British courts establish the principal that British naval vessels cannot search foreign vessels suspected of slaving unless permitted by their respective countries. This is a ruling that hampers British efforts to suppress the slave trade. In 1819, United States Congress passes legislation stiffening provisions against American participation in the slave trade. Britain stations a naval squadron on the West African coast to patrol against illegal slavers.
May 15, 1820, the United States makes slave-trading piracy punishable by the death penalty. In 1820, the U.S. Navy dispatches four vessels to patrol the coast of West Africa for slavers. This initial campaign lasts only four years before the Americans recall the cruisers and break off cooperation with the British. By the year 1824, Great Britain and the U.S. negotiate a treaty recognizing the slave trade as piracy and establishing procedures for joint suppression. Nevertheless, the Senate undercuts the treaty’s force in a series of amendments, and the British refuse to sign. In 1825, The Antelope case: A U.S. Revenue Cutter seizes a slave ship, the Antelope, sailing under a Venezuelan flag with a cargo of 281 Africans. The U.S. Supreme Court hears the case and issues a unanimous opinion declaring the slave trade to be a violation of natural law, meaning it can uphold only by positive law. However, the ruling sets only some of the Africans free, holding that the U.S. could not prescribe law for other nations and noting that the slave trade was legal as far as Spain, Portugal, Venezuela were concerned. So the vessel was restored to its owners, along with those Africans designated by the court as Spanish property. In 1831, a large-scale slave revolt breaks out in Jamaica, which was brutally repressed. 1833, Great Britain passes the Abolition of Slavery Act, providing for emancipation in the British West Indies which was set to take effect August 1834. In June of 1835, the Anglo-Spanish agreement on the slave trade is renewed, and enforcement is tightened. British cruisers are also authorized to arrest suspected Spanish slavers and bring them before mixed commissions established at Sierra Leone and Havana. Vessels carrying specified “equipment articles,” extra gear, lumber, foodstuffs, are declared prima-facie to be slavers. Britain invites the U.S. and France to create an international patrol to interdict slaving, but the United States declines to participate in 1837. January of 1839, Nicholas Trist, United States Consul in Havana, recommends that the administration dispatch a naval squadron to West Africa to patrol for slavers, warning that the British would police American vessels if the United States did not. In the fall of 1839, United States federal officers arrest several vessel owners in Baltimore implicated by the British as slave traders. Several schooners being built for the trade are seized as well. In 1841, Nicholas Trist was dismissed as the United States Consul in Havana because of allegations that he took no effort to suppress frequent illegal sales of the United States vessels to Spanish slave traders.
The Salem Witch Trials was another issue that I have found very important in the past. Salem is settled in 1629. In 1641, the English law makes witchcraft a capital crime. In 1688, after an argument with laundress Goody Glover, Martha Goodwin, 13, begins exhibiting bizarre behavior. Days later her younger brother and two sisters exhibit similar behavior so Glover is arrested and tried for bewitching the Goodwin children. Reverend Cotton Mather meets twice with Glover following her arrest in an attempt to persuade her to repent her witchcraft. After this act, Glover is hung. Mather takes Martha Goodwin into his house where her bizarre behavior continues and worsens. On January 20, 1692, eleven-year old Abigail Williams and nine-year-old Elizabeth Parris begin behaving much as the Goodwin children acted four years earlier. Soon Ann Putnam Jr. and other Salem girls begin acting similar. February of 1692, Doctor Griggs, who attends to the “afflicted” girls, suggests that witchcraft may be the cause of their strange behavior. February 25, 1692, Tituba, who had been a slave woman who practices voodoo, at the request of neighbor Mary Sibley, bakes a “witch cake” and feeds it to a dog. According to English folk remedy, feeding a dog this kind of cake, which contained the urine of the afflicted, would counteract the spell put on Elizabeth and Abigail. The reason the cake is fed to a dog is because the dog is believed a “familiar” of the Devil. Late-February, 1692, Elizabeth was pressured by ministers and townspeople to say who caused her odd behavior, calls Tituba out. The girls later accuse Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne of witchcraft. February 29, 1692, Arrest warrants were issued for Tituba, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne. March 1, 1692, John Hawthorne and Jonathan Corwin examine Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne for “witches
teats.” Tituba confesses to practicing witchcraft and confirms Good and Osborne is affiliated with her. March 11, 1692, Ann Putnam Jr. shows symptoms of affliction by witchcraft. Mercy Lewis, Mary Walcott, and Mary Warren later allege affliction as well. March 12, 1692, Ann Putnam Jr. accuses Martha Cory of witchcraft. March 19. In 1692, Abigail Williams denounces Rebecca Nurse as a witch. March 21, 1692: Magistrates Hawthorne and Corwin examine Martha Cory. March 23, 1692, Salem Marshal Deputy Samuel Brabrook arrests four-year-old Dorcas Good. March 24, 1692, Corwin and Hawthorne examine Rebecca Nurse. March 26, 1692, Hawthorne and Corwin interrogate Dorcas. March 28, 1692, Elizabeth Proctor is accused of witchcraft. April 3, 1692, Sarah Cloyce, after defending her sister, Rebecca Nurse, is accused of witchcraft. April 11, 1692, Hawthorne and Corwin examine Sarah Cloyce and Elizabeth Proctor. On the same day Elizabeth’s husband, John, who protested the examination of his wife becomes the first man accused of witchcraft and is incarcerated. The accusations just keep going on and on until everyone of the accused witches were sentenced to be hung, except for those that were pregnant. January 3, 1693, Judge Stoughton orders execution of all suspected witches who were exempted by their pregnancy. Forty-nine of the 52 survivors were released because their arrest was based on spectral evidence. In 1693, Tituba was released from jail and sold to a new master. January 14, 1694, the General Court orders a day of fasting and soul-searching for the tragedy at Salem. In 1702, the General Court declares the 1692 trials unlawful. In 1706, Ann Putnam Jr., one of the leading accusers, publicly apologizes for her actions in 1692. In 1711, the colony passes a legislative bill restoring the rights and good names of those accused of witchcraft and grants 600 pounds in restitution to their heirs.
In 1773, Britain’s East India Company was sitting on large stocks of tea that it could not sell in England. It was on the verge of bankruptcy. In an effort to save it, the government passed the Tea Act of 1773, which gave the company the right to export its merchandise directly to the colonies without paying any of the regular taxes that were imposed on the colonial merchants, who had traditionally served as the intermediaries in such transactions. With these privileges, the company could undersell American merchants and monopolize the colonial tea trade. The act proved inflammatory for several reasons. First, it angered influential colonial merchants, who feared being replaced and bankrupted by a powerful monopoly. The East India Company’s decision to grant franchises to certain American merchants for the sale of their tea created further resentments among those excluded from this lucrative trade. More important, however, the Tea Act revived American passions about the issue of taxation without representation. The law provided no new tax on tea. Lord North assumed that most colonists would welcome the new law because it would reduce the price of tea to consumers by removing the intermediaries. However, the colonists responded by boycotting tea. Unlike earlier protests, this boycott mobilized large segments of the population. It also helped link the colonies together in a common experience of very popular protest. Particularly important to the movement were the activities of colonial women, who were one of the principal consumers of tea and now became the leaders of the effort to the boycott. Various colonies made plans to prevent the East India Company from landing its cargoes in colonial ports. In ports other than Boston, agents of the company were “persuaded” to resign, and new shipments of tea were either returned to England or warehoused. In Boston, the agents refused to resign and, with the support of the royal governor, preparations were made to land incoming cargoes regardless of opposition. After failing to turn back the three ships in the harbor, local patriots led by Samuel Adams staged a spectacular drama. On the evening of December 16, 1773, three companies of fifty men each, masquerading as Mohawk Indians, passed through a tremendous crowd of spectators, went aboard the three ships, broke open the tea chests, and heaved them into the harbor. As the electrifying news of the Boston “tea party” spread, other seaports followed the example and staged similar acts of resistance of their own. When the Bostonians refused to pay for the property they had destroyed, George III and Lord North decided on a policy of coercion, to be applied only against Massachusetts, the Coercive Act. In these four acts of 1774, Parliament closed the port of Boston, drastically reduced the powers of self-government in the colony, permitted royal officers to be tried in other colonies or in England when accused of crimes, and provided for the quartering of troops in the colonists’ barns and empty houses. The acts sparked new resistance up and down the coast. This act was what marked the beginning of the American Revolution.
The Atlantic Slave Trade, the Salem Witch Trials, and the Boston Tea Party are very important to me in several reasons. One, they all play a very important role, not only in Americas past, but our present day as well. They also represent miss treatment among various groups of people, which is a major issue in today’s society in what we call prejudice. Prejudice plays an important role in my personal life, because Southerners who were brought up not believing in bi-racial relationships raised me, and my boyfriend is one of color and is from New Jersey. That is why I find these three issues to have importance.