Slavery and Servitude in the Colonies

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Which of the original 13 Colonies first abolished slavery and which two Northern States retained it until the early 1800s?

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After the United States gained its independence from Great Britain in 1776, Vermont was the first state to abolish slavery, which occurred in 1777. By 1804, slavery had been abolished in all the Northern states, although the ending of slavery was a gradual process. The last two Northern states to end slavery were New York in 1799 and New Jersey in 1804.

The Northern states didn’t need slavery as much as the Southern states did. The Northern states were much less dependent on farming than the Southern states. The soil was not as good in the North, and the climate was less suitable for farming. The South had very fertile soil and a warm, mild climate. As a result, many industries developed in the North. These industries provided many jobs for Northerners and didn't require the use of slaves. This was very different than in the South where many people farmed for a living. As a result, more slaves were needed in the South, and the Southern states were not willing to end slavery.

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Vermont was the first, outlawing slavery in July, 1771.  New York outlawed this "peculiar institution" in 1799, and New Jersey, in 1804, was the last Northern state to officially abolish the practice.  While slavery was on its last legs in the North, however, it was on its way to a rebirth of sorts in the South.  As farms gave way to factories in the North due to industrialization, Eli Whitney's cotton gin made it possible for slaves to separate cotton from the seedpods far more efficiently than before.  Ironically enough, this invention, a product of the Industrial Age, served to cement for Southerners the agricultural way of life supported by slavery.  There was an enormous amount of money to be made selling cotton to the factories of the North and Britain, and for most Southerners, especially plantation-owning ones, any thoughts of abandoning the agricultural way of life to industrialize and "keep up" with the North, dissipated as profits skyrocketed. 

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