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The Social Significance of the Blues and its Impact on Jazz To understand the part played by the blues in American society we need to consider what psychological imprints the blacks inherited from the years of slavery as well as what cultural and artistic forms existed during those times The spirituals plantation songs work songs banjo music fiddle tunes and dances All these elements were present and to understand how and why the blues emerged at the end of the nineteenth century we must first look at the society of slavery In 1661 the colony of Virginia legalized slavery and the other colonies soon followed At the time of the American War of Independence 1775-1783 the Northern states declared slavery illegal but the South did not The wealth of the Southern land owners depended on it as did the prosperity of the slave traders of Bistrol and Liverpool When the slave trade was officially abolished in 1807 the Southern states virtually ignored it and illicit trade continued The ban had the effect of increasing the value of slaves and breeding was intensified It was the American Civil War of 1861-1865 which finally dealt the death blow to slavery in the South Torn from their own environment terrified and bewildered the survivors of the Atlantic crossing brought with them what little they could of their own way of life But for the majority of the Africans their culture was rapidly suppressed 2 Tribes were deliberately split up their religious practices banned and the majority of
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