Slavery existed as an institution in the United States from before the country's founding in 1776 until its prohibition by the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1865. In the New World in the 17th through 19th centuries, black people were owned as property and forced to labor without compensation on their owners' plantations. It was introduced into British North America in 1619 and remained legal after the American Revolution. It was banned state by state in the Northern states and became a major divisive issue between Northern and Southern states throughout the first half of the 19th century. When Abraham Lincoln, an opponent of slavery, was elected President in 1860, a number of slave states responded by seceding from the Union, forming the Confederate States, and starting the American Civil War. The war ended in 1865, with the abolition of slavery being a consequence.
The foregoing is true in most of Harry Turtledove's timelines with a Point of Divergence after 1865. This article is for the institution of slavery in the U.S. and its analogs, and/or the Confederate States. For slavery in other places and timelines, see the main slavery article.
Slavery in A Different Flesh
Slavery was, in effect, a two-tier system in North America and the Federated Commonwealths. Black Humans were imported from Africa to act as both domestic servants and laborers. The native sim population was tamed and used in a similar manner, until owners realized that the sims were poor domestic servants. Thus, until the early 19th century, blacks were traditionally domestic servants, while the sims were laborers.
However, the very existence of sims undermined the institution of slavery, as it became clear in time that the central axiom of slavery, the inferiority of blacks, was a falsehood. In the 1805 case of Jeremiah, a slave who had fled from Gillen Plantation in 1804, Attorney Alfred Douglas demonstrated that his client was capable of speech and literacy, unlike a sim. The court ruled in favor of Jeremiah, and slavery itself withered away within the next few decades.
Slavery in The Disunited States of America
Slavery had ended in the various states that made up the former United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. However, it was replaced in many states by a rigid social and racial hierarchy that kept blacks beneath whites, except in Mississippi, where the situation was reversed in the 1970s. There were two black revolts in Virginia prior to 2097. They became known as the First and Second Black Insurrections. Ohio encouraged another uprising to weaken Virginia during the War of 2097.
Slavery in The Guns of the South
Slavery was the primary reason for the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging's interference with the course of history, by traveling back to 1864 and supplying the Confederate Army with AK-47s, which allowed the Confederacy to win the Second American Revolution. The group also lied to the Confederate leaders, claiming that emancipation had led to disastrous consequences for whites. Robert E. Lee, himself a slave owner, but no supporter of the institution, had his doubts about the AWB's claims.
Those doubts were validated in 1867 when AWB leader Andries Rhoodie attempted to assert his will over Lee as Lee contemplated a run for the presidency. Angered by Rhoodie's presumptions, Lee became more firmly anti-slavery. Upon his election, Lee was presented with a stolen book from the future, The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War, which proved that the AWB had lied about the catastrophes which they claimed lay in wait for the South if it lost the war. He confronted Rhoodie, revealing his intentions to push for the end of slavery. In response, the AWB attempted to assassinate Lee at his inauguration on March 4. In response, the full might of the C.S. military was brought to bear against the AWB.
After the capture of the AWB's Richmond offices, Lee presented before the Confederate leadership all the historical documents that the men from the future used to inform themselves of the events of the present time. With the view of hindsight, the Confederacy saw how the issue of slavery was almost universally reviled in the original future and that, where they had hoped to be vindicated for their actions by their descendants, practically the entirety of the world viewed the American Civil War and Southern Secession to be nothing more than a crime against humanity itself. With this new information, Congress was more inclined to agree to Lee's plan to pass a bill for gradual emancipation of its entire slave population. The bill itself was modeled after a proposed act of legislation in slave-holding Brazil.
When the AWB was subdued, Lee turned his full attention to ending slavery, an uphill battle considering many in the C.S. believed that they'd fought the Revolution to maintain their "peculiar institution".
Slavery in "Hail! Hail!"
Slavery was an institution that Julius Marx and his brothers had to co-exist with during their time in the Nacogdoches and the Fredonia of 1826. They encountered it almost immediately upon their arrival in December 1826, when Adolphus Sterne invited them to his home for supper. Sterne's slave, Lemuel, cooked for them and served them. He was also required to wait until the white men present had their fill.
In mid-January, when the five rode to San Antonio to meet with Stephen F. Austin, Sterne asked Julius how man slaves he and his brothers owned Julius explained to Sterne that slavery was outlawed in the future, in part because of technology (as Sterne guessed) and in part for simple ethics. Sterne agreed with this stand in the abstract, but wondered about the "stupid" people, the "lazy" people, and the "inherently inferior" people, such as blacks. When Julius pointed out the Jews were also deemed as inferior at various time, Sterne brushed the notion aside, as Jews were still white. Julius, remembering when and where he was, let it go at that.
During the meeting with Austin, Julius described the coming Texas Revolution in 1835, the American Civil War, and the end of slavery. Austin was sickened by the prospect of "n----r equality" (although Julius privately admitted that blacks still weren't equal even after slavery). Austin decided that the future Julius described should not come to pass, and so decided to back Fredonia.
Consequently, when the Marx brothers were able to make their way back to the 20th century, they discovered their meddling in the past had created a country where slavery and violent racism continued to exist.
Slavery in "Must and Shall"
Slavery in Southern Victory
While the Confederate States were established during the War of Secession to preserve and perpetuate slavery, by the 1880s, the C.S. was finding slavery to be a liability, as their primary allies, Britain and France, had serious reservations about maintaining political ties. In 1881, those two nations agreed to support the CS in the Second Mexican War only on the condition that they abolish the practice, which was done in the years following the CS's 1882 victory. As President James Longstreet explained to General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, the second reason he agreed to end slavery (beyond the need to keep support from Britain and France) was because he saw that the world was entering into a new age of unprecedented industrialization, a new era of factories and tractors in which their country simply didn't need to rely on human slave labor as much as it once did. Although slavery was subsequently abolished in the CSA, free blacks were not full citizens, and continued to live under restrictive conditions.
Slavery in The Two Georges
Slavery was peaceably and legally ended throughout the British Empire in 1834. The freed slaves were integrated immediately into British society with many of them taking positions in the civil service. Governor-General Andrew Jackson oversaw the emancipation process in the North American Union.
Bitterness over the end of slavery was a motivating factor for many members of the Sons of Liberty. Even in the late 20th Century, many descendants of slave-holding families in the North American Union felt that they had been robbed of their rightful place in the British upper class.