People's Rights

Frederick Douglass  
Frederick Douglas  

[audio]West African World Views

West African world view about the power and will of the gods

  • Humans had to understand the powers and the will of the gods (created by the creator god) and pay homage so that the natural forces would be kind and work harmoniously.
  • The social classes in West Africa consisted of nobles, non-nobles, and workers.

West African world view toward older people

  • Older people must be treated with respect so that their spirits would later provide their descendants with guidance and wisdom; if disrespected, they would cause harm instead.

Rights of African slaves

  • Similarity between slaves before and after 1400: both groups were not free.
  • Three ways that slavery before and after 1400 was different:

    Before 1400 After 1400
    Slaves usually stayed in own culture. Sent to outside cultures.
    Many races enslaved. Mainly Africans enslaved.
    Could work to become free. Unable to become free.


[audio]The European Slave Trade and Africa

  • Slave Coast: nickname for West African coastline.
  • Europeans bought African slaves from other Africans. This is how Europeans usually got slaves.
  • Four major geographical areas where African slaves were taken : Europe, North America, the Caribbean Islands, and South America.
  • The place that imported the most slaves between 1400-1700 was South America.
  • The place that imported the second largest number of slaves between 1400-1700 were the Caribbean Islands.
  • On the average, 10-20% died on a slave ship.
  • From 1450-1860:
    a. Approximately 11,700,000 people were taken from Africa.
    b. 9,500,000 Africans survived the crossing.
  • The Middle Passage was the route across the Atlantic Ocean in which slaves from Africa were brought to the European colonies in the Americas.


  • Astonishment and terror: how Equiano felt when he was taken aboard the slave ship.
  • Horrible stench under the decks: why Equiano was unable to eat.
  • He was beaten: what happened to Equiano when he refused the food.
  • Severely cut: what happened to the African prisoners who tried to jump over the side.
  • Like savages: how Equiano thought the white people acted.

[audio] The treatment of slaves

  • Intolerable stench, crowded, filth : living conditions of the Africans in the hold of the slave ship. Many Africans died from breathing the loathsome smells in the air, which created a sickness that lead to death.
  • The African prisoners jumped into the ocean because they preferred death over their life of misery.
  • The slaves who did not drown were flogged unmercifully.
  • Indentured servants: people who signed a contract saying they would work to pay back the person who paid the cost of their ship's passage from Europe to the 13 Colonies.
  • An indentured servant's chance of living long enough in the Southern Colonies to gain his/her freedom was only 1 in 5, or 20%.
  • Many died from back-breaking labor and disease.
  • Why the use of indentured servants was not a successful solution to the Southern Colonies' labor problem: many indentured servants either ran away before finishing their contract (nearly impossible to find), or left their master's plantation to start their own farm.
  • Native Americans knew the land well and could escape easily, so the use of Native Americans as slaves was not a successful solution to the Southern Colonies' labor problem.
  • A slave could not leave the field until an order was given by the driver to halt.
  • A slave is punished by whipping if they didn't pick their expected amount of cotton.
  • Primogeniture (pry-mah-jen-ih-chur): when a man died, this old British legal system stated that all his land went to his oldest son.
  • To solve the problem caused by primogeniture for younger sons, fathers bought uncultivated land in the back country and gave it to them.
  • Although the Declaration of Independence said that all men were created equal, slavery went against this belief: why many Northerners did not agree with slavery during the Revolutionary War.
  • No one thought that African Americans, free or slaves, were worthy of being social or political equals.



  • Abolitionists: throughout the United States, these were the people that wanted slavery ended immediately everywhere.

Nat Turner

  • Martyr : someone who believes in something so much they are willing to give their lives for it.
  • Nat Turner was famous for leading a rebellion against slaveholders.
  • He eventually surrendered and was tried and hung.

Frederick Douglass

  • Frederick Douglass was famous for becoming a great leader of the abolitionist movement, after escaping from being a slave for 21 years.
  • Abolitionists disliked the Fugitive Slave Act because the money it cost to recapture escaped slaves or kidnap free African Americans was paid by the federal government.

Harriet Tubman

  • Harriet Tubman was famous for being a great "conductor" of the Underground Railroad after escaping slavery.
  • The Underground Railroad was not really a railroad, but a group of anti-slavery people who used railroad terminology as a code for moving people from the south to the north.
  • Stations: houses.
  • Conductors: anti-slavery people who helped.

Harriet Beecher Stowe

  • Her book made people realize what life was like for slaves.

The Dred Scott Case

  • He was a slave who sued for his freedom (he lost).


[audio]Other Groups who had their rights violated

Native Americans

  • When too many settlers moved onto a reservation, the U.S. government tried to solve the problem by buying the land from the Native Americans and making a different treaty with them.
  • Reservations: the areas of land that were set aside for specific Native American tribes to use.
  • "One Big Reservation": Native Americans were granted all the land west of the Mississippi River (first stage).
  • "Concentration" : tribes were taken from their traditional lands and made to live within geographic boundaries drawn on a map by the U.S. government (second stage).
  • "Small Reservations": tribes were required to live on much smaller parts of the concentrated reservations than before (third stage).
  • "People's rights" were a problem for many tribal leaders.


  • Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo: Mexican citizens had the chance to become U.S. citizens.
  • How settlers got land from Mexican families : stole the land.
  • Mexican-American small farmers lost their land because they couldn't show their deeds.
  • U.S. people were taxed on how much land they owned (real property tax).
  • Mexicans were taxed on the livestock/crops produced on the land.
  • Replacing Mexican taxes with U.S. ones caused Mexican Americans to lose their land because if crops were poor, they couldn't pay.
  • Mexican American families: not familiar with U.S. legal system: lost land because: didn't have lawyers, and didn't understand rules about land distribution.