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Africa and the Slave Trade

Arabs and their Muslim allies were the first to make use of large numbers of sub-Saharan black Africans. They developed a long-distance slave trade, which began in the seventh century and lasted into the twentieth. It delivered many millions of Africans across the Sahara Desert, Red Sea, and Indian Ocean to North Africa, the Mediterranean, and Persian Gulf. Although over a much longer period of time and comprising far more females, the number of Africans exported via these trans-Saharan or Indian Ocean slave trades probably equaled, or even outmatched, those of its transatlantic counterpart. The preexistence of these export trades facilitated Atlantic trade: systems of slave marketing were already in place. So numerous were black Africans at certain times and in certain places that they were able to launch massive slave revolts—in 869, for instance, in what is now southern Iraq, where the so-called Zanj (who came from the Swahili Coast and lands further north) worked in large gangs draining marshlands. While the Quran and Islamic law were essentially color-blind and while Muslims enslaved many so-called "white" people, medieval Arabs came to associate the most degrading forms of labor with black slaves. The Arabic word for slave, Olive green 2pc short set crop top with straps,Beautiful Steve Madden Boots,

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The Atlantic Slave System

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As slavery underwent a resurgence in southern Europe, it gradually disappeared from the northwestern part of the continent. Economic changes help to explain this development, but perhaps more important were cultural constraints. Over the course of the Middle Ages, Christians always committed awful atrocities on each other, but increasingly they avoided enslaving one another. Apparently, a sense of unity had emerged in Christian Europe that effectively barred the enslavement of those deemed fellow Europeans. Christianity's long struggle with Islam no doubt played a major role in this development. That from 1500 to 1800 Muslims enslaved well over a million Western Europeans, many of whom were subsequently ransomed and celebrated as symbols of freedom, was a major element in the growing sense that Europeans should never be slaves. Nevertheless, these so-called free labor nations would develop some of the harshest slave regimes in the Americas. As David Brion Davis puts it, "it is an astonishing paradox that the first nations in the world to free themselves of chattel slavery—such nations as England, France, Holland, and even the Scandinavian states—became leaders during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in supporting plantation colonies based on African slave labor." He likens this divide to a primitive Mason-Dixon line, "drawn somewhere in the Atlantic, separating free soil master-states from tainted slave soil dependencies" (8).

This paradox illumines the unpredictability of events in the Americas. No European nation embarked on New World ventures with the intention of enslaving anyone. They had no blueprint but rather proceeded haphazardly and pragmatically. Their first resort was to forced Indian labor (the encomiendaSteve Madden Mens Watch,

Consequently, Europeans faced a huge labor shortage. The Ottoman Turkish empire blocked access to Black Sea or Baltic captives. European nations no longer enslaved Christian prisoners of war. Some dreamers talked of enslaving the poor or other marginal groups, but the practical and principled problems of reviving European slavery were considerable. Another expedient was the transportation of convicts, but their numbers were never sufficient. Temporary bondage—indentured servitude—was the most obvious and most widely used other option, particularly in the early years, but servants, if they survived, eventually became free, and in any case most servants would not travel to the areas where most labor was needed. Thus, almost by default, African slaves proved by far the best available labor supply. Consequently, from 1500 to 1820 almost 9 million African slaves left for the New World, compared to less than 3 million whites. In terms of migration, the New World was more black than white (10).

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New World slavery's other most distinctive aspect was its highly commercial character. While it is true that plantations—that is, large agricultural enterprises, managed for profit, producing a crop for export, with a hierarchically stratified labor organization—existed outside the New World, they reached their apogee there. The economies of scale, the expansion in unit size, the almost exclusive use of black slaves, a highly regimented and commodified labor force, and a system of close management all raised profit levels significantly. Such a productive system placed enormous demands on its laborers. As early as the 1630s a visitor to a Jesuit-owned sugar plantation in Brazil vividly described the unbearable horror of what had transpired: "People the color of the very night, working briskly and moaning at the same time without a moment of peace or rest, whoever sees all the confused and noisy machinery and apparatus of this Babylon, even if they have seen Mt. Etna and Vesuvius will say that this indeed is the image of Hell" (13).

Patterns of New World Slavery

Variations over time and space existed within New World slavery. Three stand out. First, although all New World regions imported more African men than women (thereby in part explaining the harshness of New World slavery because of the policing problems associated with large gangs of men), over time the gender ratio among New World slaves became increasingly balanced. In that regard, the North American slave population is most notable, because, as its number of slave women increased the most rapidly, so it became one of the few self-reproducing slave populations in world history. This early and rapid natural increase explains why North America received such a small percentage of the overall transatlantic slave trade—about 5 percent. Second, North America was also distinctive in being much less tolerant of racial intermixture than Latin America or the Caribbean. Once again demography—particularly the ratio of white men to white women (more balanced in North America than in Latin America and the Caribbean) and the availability of black women—was a crucial part of the explanation, but also important were the role of the Church and cultural mores, based as much in Old World patterns of racial coexistence or segregation. The Spanish had mixed with Muslims for centuries; the English had created a Pale in their settlement of Ireland. Only in North America did the extremely arbitrary concept of "Negro"—denoting anyone with allegedly visible African ancestry—assume such a marked stigma. Third, the chances of gaining freedom varied from one society to the next. Except for the period surrounding the American Revolution, the North American colonies, and later the states, imposed the severest restrictions on the chances of a slave becoming free. Again, demography—the proportions of whites and blacks in the population—has some explanatory power as do economic and cultural forces (14).

North American slavery itself was hardly of a piece. The range encompasses New England's intimate "family slavery"; the Mid-Atlantic's mixed forms of slavery and servitude; the Chesapeake's patriarchal, small plantation, mixed farming and tobacco, heavily native-born form of slavery; and the low country's impersonal, large plantation, rice and indigo, more heavily African system of slavery. In addition, various borderland forms existed: from a fluid world of interracial alliances in the Lower Mississippi Valley to a flexible one of fugitives and ex-slaves in Spanish Florida to one in which Indian slaves were transformed from symbols of alliance into commodities of exchange in French Canada (15).

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  1. Vince Pink Silk Split Neck Tunic,The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-bellum South (New York: Knopf, 1956).

  2. Victoria Secret Push Up Bras,International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, ed. David L. Sills and Robert King Merton (New York: Macmillan, 1968), 14: 307-13; Finley, Ancient Slavery and Modern Ideology, reprint (Hammondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1983, 1980), 9, 96, 102, 111, 113-14; Keith Hopkins, Abercrombie & Fitch women's puffer jacket,Nino Pullover,UGG x Telfar, 138 (1993): 3-27; Keith Bradley, Slavery and Society at RomeDooney bag,Size 2 David's Bridal dress. Horizen Blue,♦️NWOT♦️CLASSIC BLAZER FROM THE LIMITED♦️,The Problem of Slavery in Western CultureBlack and Gold Lilly Pulitzer Dress,New Modelo Unknwn Cargo Pants Size: XL Color Blue,Brand New Michael Kors Wallet Wristlet,

  3. Ralph A. Austen, "The Trans-Saharan Slave Trade: A Tentative Census," Lands End Harris Tweed Scotland Wool Sport Coat Brown Herringbone Mens 46L,, ed. Henry A. Gemery and Jan S. Hogendorn (New York: Academic Press, 1979), 23-76; Austen, "The Mediterranean Islamic Slave Trade out of Africa: A Tentative Census," Set of 3 NWT Pier 1 Hammered Copper Moscow Mule Mugs,HILTL Style Dude 41480 / 5 POCKET Tobacco Brown PANTS 5 Mens Sz 40x34,Encyclopedia of Africa South of the SaharaAnthropologie Zuri Floral Maxi Dress Sz Large NWT,International Journal of African Historical Studies 10 (1977): 443-61; Alexandre Popovic, The Revolt of African Slaves in Iraq in the IIIrd-IXth CenturyZara calf leather large city bag.,Basic Stainless Steel Necklace for Men Curb Cuban,SocietyBitch original denim min dress,COPY - COPY - Starbucks Fall Floral Limited Edition 24 oz. Cold Cup Tumbler, (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1998); Shaun E. Marmon, ed., Vtg COACH 9951 Legacy Patricia Black Leather Flap Shoulder Crossbody, (Princeton, N.J.: Markus Wiener, 1998); Minra Tora and John Edward Philips, eds., Slave Elites in the Middle East and Africa: A Comparative StudyAidan Mattox Halter Cutout Column Evening Gown,The African Diaspora in the Mediterranean Lands of IslamKendall & Kylie Kimono Open Front Floral Semi Sheer Short Sleeve One Size,Slavery on the Frontiers of IslamFree People Embroidered Tye-Dye Pullover Sweater,

  4. Suzanne Miers and Igor Kopytoff, eds., Slavery in Africa: Historical and Anthropological PerspectivesCustom Leather & Cowhide Clutch,Kate Spade Hand Bag, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); John Thornton, EDDIE BAUER WAFFLE THERMAL USA MADE XXL TALL,Express one piece perfect condition,Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in AfricaRails cargo drawstring pants,

  5. Soft Surrounding Teal Tunic,Archivum latinitatis medii aeviJ. Jill Womens 3/4 Sleeve Round Neck Dark Gray Ponte Tunic Jersey Top Size XS,L'Esclavage dans l'Europe médiévale, vol. 1, Pénisule Ibérique—France (Bruges: De Tempel, 1955); vol. 2, Italie, Colonies Italiennes du Levant, Levant Latin, Empire Bysantin (Ghent: 1977); and Verlinden, The Beginnings of Modern Colonization: Eleven Essays with an IntroductionLinked Chain Bracelet,Slavery and Society in Medieval ScandinaviaSterling Silver Topaz Infinity Bracelet,Lolita Wine Glass, (Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press, 1995); Steven Epstein, Speaking of Slavery: Color, Ethnicity, and Human Bondage in Italy (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2001); and Sally McKee, "Inherited Status and Slavery in Late Medieval Italy and Venetian Crete," Size 8 Lady Hagen golf skort,2/ Caara Short,

  6. Miss Me Off White Crossover Sweater, M,Vintage 1980’s Escada Silk & Sequin Blouse B6, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982); Hugh Thomas, The Slave Trade: The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade: 1440-1870 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997), 21-24, 48-86.

  7. Felipe Fernández-Armesto, Michael Kors Jet Set Wallet / Wristlet NWT,American Girl Felicity tea lesson outfit, hat, shoes dress,"Isabella" Lace Wrapped Skort,Alice + Olivia Classics Skort - blush pink Sz 0,FelitaMichelle Shoe Boutique,Jeans Dress,ASIA BELLUCCI Black Patent/Pony Hair Bag LIKE NEW, (San Francisco: Mellen Research University Press, 1992).

  8. American Girl Doll Felicity,American Historical ReviewStone Mountain Peach Double Zip Wallet,CAVIAR M 5627 Col. 24 Champagne Series Sunglasses, (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2003), 14; Robert C. Davis, Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800 (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave MacMillan, 2003). For more on the development of freedom and slavery, see David Eltis, The Rise of African Slavery in the Americas (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), and Sue Peabody, There Are No Slaves in France: The Political Culture of Race and Slavery in the Ancien RégimeRae Dunn His and Hers Frosted Glasses,

  9. Brighton Cher Collection Croc Leather Shoulder Bag,The Early Spanish Mainmaje Lafox Off Shoulder Cotton Flannel Plaid Top,Vintage dark gray Elliott Lucca leather bag, (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1992); William L. Sherman, Forced Native Labor in Sixteenth-Century Central AmericaPeter Millar Blue POW Plaid 100% Woo jacket,Sofra Full Coverage Jacquard Bra 6 pack,Vintage COACH Legacy Slim Duffle 9060,The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South, 1670-1717Nike Thermafit Hoodie,* Antonio Melani Coral Card Wallet,, ed. Elizabeth Mancke and Carole Shammas (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005), 75-121. For a recent discussion of Indian population decline, see David S. Jones, "Virgin Soils Revisited," LOFT Shorts...Top FREE,, 3rd ser., 60 (October 2003): 703-42.

  10. David Galenson, White Servitude in Colonial America: An Economic AnalysisRose Gold Plated Heart Hinge Cuff Bracelet,Sofra Full Cup Plain Lace Bra 6pack,COPY - Starbucks Gold Polka Dot 24 oz. Cold Cup Tumbler. Christmas 2020,William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 58 (January 2001): 17-46. Two good microhistories of the transatlantic slave trade are Robert Harms, 24"Rope Chain + Silver Finish Jigsaw,Pandora camper van charm pink enamel,The Two Princes of Calabar: An Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Odyssey (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004).

  11. David Eltis and William G. Clarence-Smith, "White Servitude," NWT Ruby Rd. Red & Blue Print Knit Ruched Tunic Top 2X,Auth-Valentino-mesh-tote-with-floral-embellishmen,Heron Preston Justin Timberlake tour tee, (London: Longman, 1996); Stanley L. Engerman, ed., Terms of Labor: Slavery, Serfdom, and Free Labor (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999); and Bush, Winter Coat, (Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2000).

  12. Frank M. Snowden Jr., Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1970); Snowden, Anthropologie Akemi + Kin Plaid Tunic Top,BCBG MaxAzria- One Shoulder Dress,The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004); Jean Devisse and Michel Mollat, eds., The Image of the Black in Western Art, vol. 2, Lilly Pulitzer dress size 8,Vintage black/gold Elliott Lucca pebbled leather bag,Images of the Medieval PeasantMikasa Whole Wheat Pattern 4 Dinner Plates E8000 Stoneware Made in Japan 1970s,Desigual Woman Long Wallet Tribal Zip Around Beige Color Desing Details g10,SO&CO New York Women's SoHo Quartz Pink Quilted Leather Strap Watch,White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812Ana Short Set,Race: The History of an Idea in the West (Washington, D.C.: The Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 1996); the essays in "Constructing Race: Differentiating Peoples in the Early Modern World," William and Mary QuarterlyLevi's 511 Hand dyed basic pink 29,The Curse of Ham: Race and Slavery in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2003). The best account is David Brion Davis, "The Origins of Anti-Black Racism in the New World," chap. 3 in Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of New World SlaverySuede Gucci loafers with signature silver horsebit chain,

  13. Hayden-Harnett dark brown shoulder bag,EUC, kate spade wallet, (New York: Norton, 1989); Schwartz, ed., Natural tone gemstone beaded bracelet,, 3.

  14. Frank Tannenbaum, Slave and Citizen: The Negro in the AmericasLightweight Shirt Jacket,Neither Black Nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1971).

  15. J Brand pink stretchy straight leg jeans size 32,Black Yankees: The Development of an Afro-American Subculture in Eighteenth-Century New England (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1988); Graham Russell Hodges, Root and Branch: African Americans in New York and East Jersey, 1613-1863Nightway Gown,Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and LowcountryLarge green handbag with large flower,Tangerine Tieks 7,Buffalo David Bitton Driven Basic Jeans Men's Size 30/34,Strapless striped dress with tie in back.,North face Winter jacket,William and Mary Quarterly 3rd ser., 60 (October 2003): 777-808. To this list might be added other forms of aboriginal slavery: see Theda Perdue, 18k Gold Filled Miami Cuban Link Chain 4mm Thickness Unisex Curb Link Chain, (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1979); William A. Starna and Ralph Watkins, "Northern Iroquoian Slavery," 2 Uranium Vaseline Twisted Braided Chevron Pattern Stemmed Glasses Brandy, 38 (Winter 1991): 34-57; and Leland Donald, Aboriginal Slavery on the Northwest Coast of North America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997).

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Sources

  • Mulberry- vintage baby blenheim shoulder bag,The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800Lucky Brand | 361 Vintage Straight | 30 x 30,
  • Mikasa Whole Wheat Pattern 5 Salad Plates E8000 Stoneware Made in Japan 1970s,Set of 4 Seasonal Whispers Rose Gold bangles,Nike Golf Blue Sweatshirt,
  • Tory burch clutch,Unchained Voices: An Anthology of Black Authors in the English-Speaking World of the Eighteenth CenturyBrooks Brothers Madison Cashmere Blend Brown Blue,
  • Tropical Woven Drawstring Handbag,Children of God's Fire: A Documentary History of Black Slavery in BrazilAnthropologie —> Greylin Teal Jumper,
  • Davis, David Brion. New Our Generation Girl 18" Doll Berry Nice Salon Rare Pink Cart Hair Products +,. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2003. The first short essay in the volume is a superb introduction to the origins of New World slavery, but it should be complemented by a number of other books by this great historian of New World slavery. I particularly recommend his Ramy Brook Cassandra Wrap Blouse Flared Sleeves Waist Tie Faux-Wrap,Black Michael Kors wristlet,
  • Davis, Robert C. Large Gucci Tote,Handmade crochet bag,
  • Tan Herve Leger Round Neck Dress, Size XS,A Historical Guide to World Slavery. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. A useful reference work that covers most regions where slavery was important, together with topical examinations of the subject.
  • lululemon sports bra,The Rise of African Slavery in the AmericasLuLaRoe Perfect T Tee T-Shirt Shirt Tunic Blue,
  • Vera Bradley Turquoise Sea Hadley Qulited Satchel,Colorful Pashmina Scarf,Polo t-shirt bundle,
  • Juicy Couture Handbag with Flowers NWT brown only available,Macmillan Encyclopedia of World SlaveryBlue V Neck Cashmere Sweater,
  • Finley, M. I. Crown Royal Whiskey Rocks Low Ball Cocktail Drinkware Barware Set Of 4,. Reprint. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1983, 1980. An exploration of the emergence, functioning, and decline of the slave societies of classical Greece and classical Italy, with comparisons to New World slavery, by the greatest historian of ancient slavery.
  • Fredrickson, George M. Racism: A Short HistoryDesigual Woman Long Wallet, Stamped Flowers V17,
  • Vegabond Suede Boots in Dark Brown,Brooks Brothers Men's Casual Straight Leg Jeans 34 X 34. Contains about 1,000 pictorial images of slavery in Africa and the Americas, arranged thematically.
  • Anthropologie Rifle Paper Co. Holiday Mug Nutcracker Ballet NEW,NWT Mens Nike Jordan 23 Engineered Cargo Pants Size Large Smoke,. New York: Hill and Wang, 1993. A good general account by a historian alert to comparative history.
  • Loungefly Disney Stitch wallet vampire,Race and Slavery in the Middle East: An Historical Enquiry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. A good survey of slavery and the evolution of racial prejudice in the Islamic world.
  • Miers, Suzanne, and Igor Kopytoff, eds. Slavery in Africa: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1977. The long introduction on slavery as an "institution of marginality" is a classic, and many of the individual essays on particular regions and groups are stimulating.
  • Miller, Joseph. C., ed. Slavery and Slaving in World History: A Bibliography, 1900-1996. 2 vols. Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, 1999. The most comprehensive work of its kind. Annual updates are available in the journal Michael Kors Signature Jet Set Travel Tote,. The entire bibliography is being prepared for Internet access as a searchable database by the Virginia Center for Digital History at the University of Virginia.
  • Morgan, Philip D. "African Americans." In A Companion to Colonial AmericaVera Bradley Canyon Sunset Hadley Quilted Satchel,
  • Patterson, Orlando. Gianni Bini Olive V-Neck Dress with ruffle sleeve,. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982. The best general survey of slave systems in 66 societies, written by a sociologist.
  • The Simple Black Dress,Size 5.5 red Ferragamo shoes,. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985. A useful account that focuses on slavery in medieval Europe, the world of Islam, and the rise of the Atlantic slave system.
  • Thornton, John. Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800Red Adidas Hoodie,

Philip D. Morgan is the Sydney and Ruth Lapidus Professor in the American Revolutionary Era at Princeton University. He is the author of Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and Lowcountry (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998) and coeditor (with Sean Hawkins) of Black Experience and the Empire: The Oxford History of the British Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). He would like to acknowledge in particular the assistance of David Brion Davis, who generously sent him two early chapters from his forthcoming manuscript, "Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of New World Slavery."

Authored by

  • Philip D. Morgan
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    Princeton, New Jersey