Ragged Road To Abolition Summary

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In The Ragged Road to Abolition, Gigantino redefines the concept of slavery in New Jersey by describing how, despite being a northern state, slavery remained and expanded as their economy grew. He proves throughout his writing that slavery was always prevalent and prevailed over time despite abolitionist efforts. By doing so he shows how slavery evolved to fit the needs of the New Jersey’s growing industrial and international economy. Because of this new need for slaves performing a different type of labor, slavery continued into the early nineteenth century. New Jersey’s geographical location allowed slavery to expand over many years because of the transformation of their economy from being solely agricultural to industrial, overall with a …show more content…
So now the once heavy agricultural economy is being overshadowed with a new type of labor which is also heavily dependent on slaves. These now bound laborers reflect “the precise timing of its (the North’s) shift to a capitalistic system of exchange” 132. So now jobs such as blacksmiths, ship building, and carpentry are becoming very popularized. In the north, these now became the common jobs which replaced the need to rely solely on agriculture. However the misconception that often arises is that these jobs were usually done by free blacks. Historian Allan Kulikoff calls this the “process of proletarianization” which “made free blacks a cheap labor force to fuel the growing manufacturing industry” 32. Although these blacks could have been freed or are promised freedom, their work and treatment is no different from a slave in the sense that they were often overworked and barely paid. We often hear how blacks from the south often move to the north for in order to have this sense of freedom. But most of the time this is not true to say that Northern states were more free than in the South. In reality both used the bondage of slaves to their benefits but in different contexts. Thus, the labor prevalent in the North is usually performed by unpaid black laborers who, in hopes of gaining their uncertain freedom, work …show more content…
Although abolitionist efforts were more prevalent in the north, they failed to produce a more rapid change due to the economic benefits that came with slavery. This is shown with the actions of Quakers who in ideals supported the abolition of slavery but in practicality did not. They instead manipulated the term slavery as “parental guidance” to counter the fact that they were using slaves for their own benefit. They also supported gradual abolition instead of instant manumission because they could not adjust financially to the absence of slaves. Slavery in the north soon expanded even further with their booming industrial economy. Now there are more labor options and more opportunities to exhaust the slaves they already owned. This trend of black laborers became even more beneficial once they began to trade internationally. By not paying their laborers, the white owners profited from both the free labor and goods produced for the oversea markets. In New Jersey, their use of black laborers provided whites with even more economical gains which is why abolition was even further

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