perspectives have a great impact on the history of our nation. The debate over
slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction, a few part of our nation’s history, can
all be put in relation to international influences. The tension over slavery
held great foreign influence. Britain, Mexico, Ireland, and China all had
caused further debate over American slavery. Although some countries had less
influence than others, they all had a great impact on the tension. The Civil
War and Reconstruction period was not influenced by foreign influence as much
as the tension over slavery was, but it did influence international nations.

It is vital in understanding the effect
the Cotton Kingdom had on the expansion of slavery. The industrial revolution
which started in England spread its way to parts of the North, and caused a
rise in demand for cotton. Cotton was suited best to grow in the South because
of its climate and fertile soil. Many Americans believed that slavery would
fade away because the growth of tobacco was damaging the soil. However, the
demand of cotton caused a big expansion of slavery. Nonetheless, the rise of
cotton not only caused an immense demand from the nation, but also from Europe.
The North America was looked upon for rice, and mainly, tobacco; Cotton was
known as a crop that grew in the Caribbean, but because cotton was introduced
to North America, the United States became a part of the global economy. The
demand of cotton required a massive amount of work. Southerners saw this as a
chance to profit off of slaves by forcing them to produce cotton. In a letter
written by Fredrick Norcom, he states “I have seen a great number who came here
rich and now immensely rich […] and these were all merchants, who
without much Capitol went to speculating in Cotton” (Oakes, 211).
Norcom explains the effects the Cotton Kingdom has had on the economy. He
describes how cotton has made the rich, richer, and has brought in many
merchants to gain profit off of the cotton industry. Due to the fact that
cotton has caused a boost in the salary of many Southerners, the expansion of
slavery was inevitable. The profit that was gained from slaves was also a
reason why many Southerners were okay with slavery. They saw slavery has a
benefit for themselves.

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Mexico also had a significant impact on
the growth of slavery in the United States. Slavery itself was abolished in
Mexico in 1829 after gaining its independence from Britain in 1821. American
slaveholders viewed Mexico as another place where slavery would prosper, but
ultimately Mexico was able to abolish slavery. However, after the Texas
Revolution ended in 1836, the United States saw it as a way to expand slavery,
and congress ended up admitting Texas in 1845 which led to the Mexican War. The
war led to the Treat of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) in which Mexico ceded
California, New Mexico, and Texas territory to the United States. The Wilmot
Proviso in 1846 banned slavery from new territory acquired from Mexico
excluding Texas. The acquirement of territory from Mexico caused further debate
on slavery. The United States fought over which states should be considered
slave states and which shouldn’t. An example of the further sectional
debate over slavery would be the rise of the Free Soil Party in 1848 which was
a group of abolitionists who promoted the idea of the acquired territory from
Mexico to be free states.

            The Gold Rush had a small impact on
the sectional debate over slavery, but it resulted in making California a White
land. The Gold Rush caused a growth in Chinese immigration. The governor of
California, John Bigler, saw this growth as an opportunity to promote ideas of
racism. He stated that Europeans were “part of our own people, belonging to the
same race.” Asians “in a moral and political sense are the antipodes of our race.” The governor viewed Asians to be inferior to the European race. Norman
Asign, a Chinese naturalized American citizen makes clear of the view the
government of California holds when he stated, “You
argue that this is a republic of a particular race—that the Constitution of the United States admits of no asylum to
any other than the pale face”
(Oakes, 260). Asign points out the argument the government of California puts
forth to support racism. Also, a court case called, “The People v. Hall,” led to legal discrimination and it also led to Asians, Blacks, and
Indians to have no right in testifying in court. This can be seen as a factor
of the sectional debate over slavery. Although slavery was not allowed in
California, discrimination towards Blacks further grew to the West which still
made Blacks inferior to Whites. It allowed racist sentiments supporting slavery
to spread in the nation.   

slavery was a huge debate in the United States, there were Abolitionist
movements around the world. In 1772, Britain abolished slavery, the French
Revolution abolished slavery, and in 1838 abolition occurred in British
Caribbean colonies. However, India suffered from the debate over slavery. The
British India Society founded by British abolitionists in 1839 sought to
destroy American slavery with Indian cotton. Slave overseers from America were
hired in India, and practices of American slavery were imported to British
India. Slavery in India also further promoted and supported the idea of
slavery. Not only was slavery justified in parts of the nation, it was
justified in parts of the world, such as, India.

immigrants also had an influence on the debate over slavery. Irish immigrants
were hostile to blacks. They believed blacks caused job competition, so they
drove out blacks from the job market. The Irish believed that the abolition of
slavery was a threat to their economic status. They were afraid with competing
against millions of people who were paid with lower wages than they received. Furthermore,
a group of Irish nationalists even sought support from proslavery Americans. However,
during the Civil War there was an enlistment of Irish Immigrants. 150,000 Irish
and Irish Americans were in the Union Army. They viewed America as a refuge for
the oppressed. The enlistment of the Irish in the Union Army shows how
attitudes of immigrants toward slavery was influenced by their experiences
before immigration. The Irish caused further tension over slavery.

            Furthermore, the Civil War was
strongly influenced by foreign countries in Europe. America turned to Europe
for aid, and although some Europeans supported the Confederates, some neglected
them and decided to remain neutral. The tension over slavery and the Civil War
was not only influenced by international perspectives, they also had influenced
on them. At the start of the Civil War in 1861, Tsar Alexander II of Russia
emancipated serfs who were bound agricultural laborers. Furthermore, the “New Birth of
supported the idea for the enfranchisement of workmen in Britain. Also, there
was a growth in cotton production around the world in countries such as, Egypt,
Indian and Central Asia.

It’s important that we compare the United
States to other countries that went through the process of Emancipation, so
that we are able to see the effect slavery had on international perspectives. There
were similarities in post-Emancipation societies such as, Haiti, British West
Indies, and South Africa. These places held the same visions of former
planters, and there was also an importation of Asian workers to help with labor
shortages. The difference between the United States and these countries were
that the United States was the only country where former slaves gained
political power. Nonetheless, immigration from foreign countries influenced
ideas of equality during Reconstruction. For example, Frederick Douglass was a
supporter of equal rights for Asian Americans. He criticized discrimination
towards Asian Americans, and promoted the idea that they should hold the same
rights as Americans. He stated, “I want a home here not only for the
negro, the mulatto, and the Latin races; but I want the Asiatic to find a home
here in the United States” (Oakes, 327). This statements supports the idea for
equality for all races, and although his idea at first was viewed to be too
radical, it was accepted later on during the twentieth century.

            Learning our history through the
eyes of international perspectives is essential to actually understanding our
history. Our history is influenced by many international nations. It’s impossible to
ignore the foreign influence on the United States. The influence goes both
ways; the United States influences other foreign countries, while they
influence us. The debate over slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction are
all few examples of this influence. 


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