Pathways to Freedom: Maryland and the Underground Railroad
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If slavery was so horrible, why did it ever take place?

The colonists, especially people who owned large farms or plantations, wanted enslaved people to work for them. They preferred enslaved people, whom they did not have to pay, to free workers who would receive money for their work. After the Revolution, slavery grew in the South while it declined in the North. Some Americans became very wealthy because of the work done by enslaved people whom they did not pay. Greed has made people do some awful things throughout history.

Wealth made these same men powerful. They often held high public offices and made the laws. When people tried to outlaw slavery, these men prevented it. Politicians in the South said that the North should not be able to force the South to end slavery. They pointed out that northern industries bought cotton and other products produced by slave labor. Because so much wealth and power were involved, it took the Civil War to end slavery.

What about the Declaration of Independence? It says that "all men are created equal" and that everyone has the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

How could we believe that and still allow slavery?

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