America is considered to be one of the worlds most mature democracies and a country that strictly observes human rights. However, the history of the United States involves many evidences of slavery and gross violation of human rights. Black people and Asians suffered from slavery for many years in the U.S, since the beginning of this tendency in 1528 (Lee, 2016). As early as 16th century, Asian slaves, sailors, and servants were brought by the Spanish trading ships to the present day Mexico, with the Spaniards having an intention to create a Pacific empire. Later, the slaves would find themselves in the United States (Seijas, 2014). Legalization of slavery in some parts of America, such as Massachusetts, , recognized the practice of effectual endeavor and resulted in captivity of Asians and blacks. Looking at the sharp contrast of the modern U.S., and the historic U.S that violated human rights, this essays attempts to explain how the nation that values human freedom so much today, supported slavery and all other forms of coercion against Asians. The essay largely implies Asian Americans, whose ancestry can be traced back to the countries in South, East, and South East Asia. The essay also aims to identify different forms of coercion and slavery that Asians have been subjected to through the past American history. The discussion examines two forms of suppression, mainly refusal to give Asian Americans American citizenship, and enactment of laws barring marriage with white race. In addition, it will come to the subject of interactions between liberty and coercion in the historic America. The next section commences with a discussion on interactions of liberty and coercion in American history.
America Revolution: The Interaction of Liberty and Coercion in the American History
A process of revolution in a country implies a shift in the way in which this country is ruled or governed. In most cases, revolution is characterized by changes from one particular political system to another, which is deemed by people to be better. According to Horne (2016), deviations or changes that result in revolution may be caused by a system, where many people are subjected to slavery. The American Revolution was largely centered on the Americans wanting to control their property. Prior to the American Revolution, slavery was a central institution in America (Horne, 2016). Many white Americans regarded slavery to be normal, with many of them terming it as a positivist movement in America.
In the American Revolution era, however, opposition to the existence of slavery only seemed to increase aggression between slaves and the whites. Although Delaware became the first state to pass laws that criminalized slavery in 1636, violation of human rights, coercion and torture of Asians and Afro-Americans continued in most parts of America. For instance, skirmishes that erupted between Tuscarora and the colonialists in September 1710 were connected with the gross violation of rights of a number of Asians and blacks (Lee, 2016). While some of the slaves took advantage of the skirmishes and escaped from their masters, others continued in slavery, with even more intensified violations of their rights.
Violation, torture and deprivation of slaves was also witnessed during the New York City slave revolt (Horne, 2016). The eruption of the revolt resulted in killing and wounding of several New York City white residents. As a result, slaves were rampantly punished. More than twenty slaves were accused of organizing and taking part in the uprising, and sentenced to death without proper hearing. An approximate number of six other slaves, some of them Asians, ended their lives by committing suicide for fear of torture by their white masters for participation in the revolt (Horne, 2016). While reacting to the New York City uprising, colonial assemblies in some states, notably Massachusetts, established laws that were intended to suppress and punish any gatherings or meetings by slaves within their territories. In todays context, laws that oppose any acts of group assembly would be regarded as violation of the rights of groups and individuals, yet this was perpetuated by a number of U.S. states during the American Revolution.
Although religious and other activist groups identified the need to stop slavery of Asians and blacks, their attempts only resulted in further aggravation of the situation. Meanwhile, slavery fired the emanation of capitalism, but for capitalism to realize its full potential, there was an eminent need to stop slavery (Horne, 2016). Only at this point of the necessity to stop slavery different religions played a crucial role, but this did not stop slavery right away. What is more, liberty in the U.S was characterized as a strange mix of issues, including religion, political associations, legal and economic partnerships; all these however favored only natives and denied the same rights to the outsiders (largely slaves). Americans in the time of revolution believed that liberty was limited, and so it was difficult for them to extend the rights and freedoms that they were enjoying to others. Moreover, Jones et al. (2014) document struggles for equality that Asian-American slaves experienced from the whites, who limited their liberty. Consequently, Asian or Afro-American slaves, despite being citizens of the United States, were denied to share political rights with the white people.
The Other Forms of Coercion that Existed in the US from 1776 to 1865
Even after passing the laws that prohibited slavery and other forms of human rights violations, other forms of coercion were still witnessed. Before highlighting different forms of suppression that continued after the American Revolution up to the mid-19th century, it is important to understand, what the coercion is. Coercion refers to an act of compelling someone to do something against own volition, mainly by the authority and without the persons consent. In most of the cases documented in the American history (Seijas, 2014; Lee, 2016), coercion occurred when the whites were threatening other races, largely Asians and blacks, in order to complete certain tasks, or to retrain them from doing certain things that they had rights to do.
Throughout the times of Asians slavery, the most common forms of coercion were blackmailing, use of misrepresentation to make slaves do what they were against of doing, denial of property rights and forced takeover of Asian properties, and denial of the right to do what people were allowed to do. Two forms of these coercions were most notoriously witnessed in the U.S between 1776 and 1865, several years after slavery was abolished. First, the state of Virginia annulled an earlier enacted legislative act that gave freed slaves the right to have the U.S. citizenship. The new legislation stated that Christian religion could not affect the slave status of the freed slaves within Virginian lands. The enacted legislations, denying slaves citizenship rights were largely considered as a way of depriving the exempt slaves of their freedoms, and using them for slavery once again (Lee, 2016). The other form of coercion, also witnessed in the early 19th century, was the enactment of laws by Virginias House of Burgesses to prevent the marriage between whites and other races. According to Horne (2016), prohibition for interracial marriage was intended to prevent freed slaves from owning property through marriage and enjoying certain human privileges. As it is customary in the nowadays U.S., decision to get married to any person is left to the individual and the law that can disallow one person to marry another is tantamount to the violation of human rights. Consequently, it is clear that the freed slaves were denied of rights to make free decisions, and therefore to be united.
Despite the recent positive contributions of Asian Americans towards the development of the United States, this group has a painful history that spans slavery and coercion. This essay has depicted different aspects of suppression and slavery that this group went through, perpetuated by white Americans. Moreover, the essays identifies two main forms of coercion; denial of citizenship and enactment of laws barring marriages between Asian Americans and whites in the early 19th century.