PUBLISHED: 07:55 EST, 12 September 2012 | UPDATED: 10:48 EST, 12 September 2012
- Slavery abolished across the whole of America after the end of the civil war between the north and the south in 1865
Musician Bob Dylan claims America will never be able to rid the shame of being ‘founded on the back of slaves’.
The outspoken singer said the stigma of slavery has ruined America and he doubts the country will ever recover from it.
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, he continued that the people of America are ‘at each other’s throats just because they are of a different color’.
Outspoken: Musician Bob Dylan claims America will never get over its past of slavery
Divided country: Dylan argues that America would be much further ahead if the end to slavery had come peacefully instead of sparking a civil war. Pictured is a battle between north and south in the battle of Spotsylvania, Virginia, in May 1864
Hard labour: Slaves working in the sweet potato fields in the Hopkinson plantation in South Carolina in 1862
A look back: A map depicts the slave and non-slaveholding states at the outbreak of the Civil War, along with the dates when each non-slaveholding state legally ended slavery
He added that ‘it will hold any nation back’ and black people know that some whites ‘didn’t want to give up slavery’.
Dylan, 71, said: ‘If slavery had been given up in a more peaceful way, America would be far ahead today.’
Slavery was finally abolished in America in 1865 after years of conflict between the north and the south over the law.
Controversial: Singer Bob Dylan made the comments in an interview with Rolling Stone
Slave labour existed in America from an early colonial period and it was not until after the American Revolution, from 1775 to 1783, that all northern states in the country abolished slavery.
But the slave trade increased in the south after the expansion of the cotton industry in 1800 and southern businessman were determined to hold on to their cheap labour.
The international import or export of slaves became illegal under U.S. law in 1807 but by the 1850s the South was vigorously defending slavery.
In 1861 eleven slave states broke away to form the Confederate States of America, leading to the American Civil War, which ended in 1865 and the slaves were freed.
Great moves have been made towards equality since then but many agree there is still a long way to go.
When asked if President Barack Obama was helping to shift a change, Dylan says: ‘I don’t have any opinion on that. You have to change your heart if you want to change.’
President Obama – the most powerful man in America – is himself believed to be descended from slaves.
Genealogists even claim that DNA analysis and marriage and property records suggest that Obama is the 11th great-grandchild of John Punch, the first black slave living in colonial Virginia nearly four centuries ago.
While it was known that Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, had European ancestors, researchers discovered she also had at least this one African American forebear.
John Punch’s story stretches back to the mid-1600s; he was working as a servant when he escaped Virginia for Maryland in 1640.
Political leader: President Barack Obama, the most powerful man in America, is believed to have descended from slaves
Before the slave trade: Obama’s ancestor John Punch was condemned to a life of slavery in 1640 for escaping a home where he worked as a servant. The sentence made him America’s first slave (file picture)
Postbellum period: Photos taken in rural Alabama in the 1890s – thirty years after slavery’s end
At work: A dutiful house servant (left) sweeps in front of an Alabama plantation, while a woman plucks a turkey in preparation of a feast to celebrate the great American holiday: Thanksgiving (right)
Once there, he was captured and put on trial with two white servants who had also escaped, but he received the severest punishment and was condemned to servitude for life.
The sentence, which came years before Virginia set laws condoning slavery, has led historians to regard him as America’s first legally sanctioned slave.
Many of America’s public figures can trace their ancestry back to the period – with as many being descended from slavers and those on the side of the southern Confederacy as those descended from slaves.
Migration: A map shows the primary trans-Atlantic routes out of Africa during the slave trade between 1500-1900
Captive: An illustration shows slave traders preparing to unload human cargo at a seemingly wealthy port