Price of Progress

There are many examples of when the price of progress is too high. The progress or movement that comes to my mind most often would be the Transatlantic slave trade.

Price of Progress by Jacob Johnson
Whitney Plantation in Wallace, LA

From some of the first colonist in 1617 to the end of the Civil War in 1865, the United States of America had made so much progress in developing as a nation. We learn about how great the founding fathers were and the wonders of the American Revolution, but this was during a period of great controversy and suffering. During the early and mid-19 century, slavery was a part of everyday life especially in the south. Europeans had traveled to Africa to capture and bring slaves to America to have them work on their farms and pick cotton.


One author that can enlighten us on this is Frederick Douglass. He was a runaway slave, who escaped to freedom in 1838. He left for Britain while a couple of his friends bought his freedom. When he returned to America, he personally helped President Lincoln in the Civil War as well. He advised Lincoln to add African Americans to the Union Army. For Douglass this was only the beginning of the fight for equality in America. He dedicated his entire life to justice for his enslaved people.


We can see in many contexts that slavery might not seem like a big deal to some people, but to the slaves themselves life was horrible. Douglass experiences as a slave were also used when it came to abolishing slavery. When he was young, he wanted to learn but slaves weren't allowed to read. Slaves weren't allowed to have basic human rights. As people of different skin African Americans were treated like different animals living in the wilderness. When Douglass went to Britain, he said he was shocked about how normal it was for a person of color to be free. It's fascinating to think that the place where the slave owners came from would be a safer place then the land of the free and home of the brave.


The United States has progressed greatly since the days of the first settlers. Many people have paid the price and sacrificed their lives for this county. Even though we’re about 160 years removed from the atrocities of slavery, African Americans still feel the impact from its systems, philosophy and inhumanity today.

“Without a struggle, there can be no progress.” ― Frederick Douglass