Reasons why slavery was considered so vital to European nations during the 18th century: economic, social and political. (Documents are used to support reasons)

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The 18th century is a period in history where people believed they were in a new age; enlightened by reason, science, and respect for humanity. Prior centuries were considered ignorant and dark, inspiring philosophers and revolutionaries to express the power of human reasoning. Yet the transition to an enlightened age caused conflict in several facets of society. Different perspective varied in accordance to the way it affected them. For example, the issue of slavery caused much debate amongst French intellectuals. The French Revolution motivated the National Assembly to implement the Declaration of the Rights of Man, beginning with the statement: "All men are born and remain free and equal in rights." The ambiguity rested on whether or not slavery abided to the concept of equal rights. The apparent contradiction for equal citizenship aroused desire for political representation. However, the French economy was greatly reliant on colonial conquests, depending on slaves for labor.

In theory, those who supported natural rights and those who were religiously affiliated condemned slavery; yet, the economic benefits became too great that it outweighed the immorality.

Post-French Revolution political system attempted to re-evaluate the stance of the class system, heading towards a more tolerant mentality. Prior to French revolution slavery was taken for granted as part of a class system where the rich dominated the poor and those of the lower class were prevented from social advancement. In spite of the old monarchy mentality, the American Revolution provided proof to the French that oppressive rulers can be overthrown with enlightenment ideals of liberty and freedom. In Document 1, Louis de Jaucourt, "The Slave," Encyclopedia, emphasizes natural rights and human dignity together encompasses the definition of liberty. Thereby, the enslavement of people for the sole purpose for cheap labor was in essence diminishing the purpose of the...