How did slavery shape modern society?How did slavery shape modern society?

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pholland14 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Slavery has definitely shaped modern society.  Many of the monuments of Washington, DC, including the White House, date back to the time of slavery in America.  Slavery held back the southern United States in terms of immigration and investment before the Civil War. To this day, the South still lags behind the North in terms of wealth.  Racist attitudes still exist toward African Americans that date back to the days of slavery.  

Slavery helped to make the United States into an agricultural power.  Even without slaves, tobacco and cotton are still Southern staple crops.  Many communities in the South are devastated in the event of a bad harvest or low commodity prices.  This lack of agricultural diversification hurt the economy of these local areas in the time of Reconstruction, and, even with price supports, it still hurts local economies today.  Slavery has also affected Africa, as the slave trade made the continent easier to colonize by Europeans. To this day, Africa still lags behind the developed world in terms of life expectancy and gross domestic product.  

Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Given the tags you have included, I think you are referring mostly to slavery in the United States, which is a pretty broad topic without even getting into more ancient enslavements.  Slavery promoted colonialism in Africa, harming it in ways that are manifest today, a whole other topic, created much of the developing United States' infrastructure, provided economic development, in the South and the North, with free labor, and created what appears to be a perpetual underclass in the United States, to this day. In order to enslave people, you must regard them as subhuman, capitol, rather than people. If you look at plantation inventories, you will see that slaves are listed with monetary value, a sure sign they are not regarded as people.  That regard, sadly, seems to have carried through in many ways to the present day, still affecting at least this modern society, economically, socially, medically, and even legally, with many African-Americans coming up short in all those measures, all as a result of slavery.

Jessica Pope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chattel slavery as instituted by the European colonial powers had specific and unique influences on modern society. Enslavement and disease wiped out all of the original inhabitants of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic). North American slavery gave settlers access to free labor for their cash crops. This labor force meant that Americans could compete in the global marketplace with a huge advantage. This advantage eventually led to U.S. dominance of the global economy. The current position of the U.S. as a world superpower is intimately connected with its history of slavery.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One major way in which slavery shaped modern society by helping to make the South (though this is changing to some degree) the poorest area of the country.  Slavery caused the South to be essentially a colonial economy that was not able to industrialize and modernize on its own.  It caused the South to be an area where much of the populace was woefully undereducated.  These sorts of factors are ways in which slavery caused the South to become and remain "backwards."  This was a major way in which slavery shaped modern society.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Americans, and especially Southerners, understood that slaves made for the cheapest form of hard labor possible. Today, American businesses still use this method, relocating factories to third-world countries where workers make only a tiny fraction of America's minimum wage. It's legal, and American businesses are booming because of this terrible trend.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I am not sure which society you are talking about, but slavery shaped all modern societies because it perpetuated the idea that the strong can dominate the weak, and that some people are inferior to others. It also was based on and perpetuated racist ideas that continue to this day.