However, the country is also commonly referred to as a ‘melting pot’ because of its habit of mixing people together who are of all nationalities and races. This concept is usually thought of when one is thinking of people from other nations who have come to America voluntarily, seeking a better lifestyle for themselves and their children. This mixing of people and cultures has not always been as easy or as smooth as it sounds, though. The blending of cultures implied in the phrase melting pot has often not been complete as immigrants of a given nation tended to settle in communities of their own kind and the best properties always seemed to go to the whites. It many instances, the mixing has involved a great deal of violence as these various communities battled for their rights to live the way they saw fit. Mixing has also often not been voluntary on either side. An investigation into the history of African Americans on this continent reveals some of heat that has occasionally caused America’s ‘melting pot’ to boil and ultimately bring about a more even blending.
In the initial phase of slavery in the New World (1519-1580), colonies were being formed on both the North and South American continents and the trade of slaves was somewhat limited. From 1580 to 1650, the slave trade from Africa soared because of massive Native American deaths due to disease, the growth of the economy in the colonies and the unification of the Portuguese and Spanish governments (Palmer, 1976). The early era of colonization in the New World was a time of enormous changes as “the native Indian populations were decimated by disease and increasingly dominated by the Spanish social and economic structure” (Meyer, 2003). However, slavery declined steadily during the years between 1650 and 1827. “From New England to Virginia to Jamaica, the English planters in seventeenth-century America developed the habit of