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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, IRO Sohak Elastic Sandals,TOM FORD Last Dance Eyeshadow Quad,

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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 encomiendaCARMAR Dark Skinny Size 26-27,

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. Patagonia 90's Vintage Blue Green Zip Windbreaker Hooded Jacket Multi Pocket L,The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-bellum South (New York: Knopf, 1956).

  2. Morcon New Self Conforming Off White Glazed Straw Western Hat size 6 7/8,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, Rare Gray Plaid Super Skinny Jeans,Valentino Smoking Slippers / Loafer,Likely Red Strapless Jumpsuit, 138 (1993): 3-27; Keith Bradley, Slavery and Society at RomeNWT Kate Spade Margaux Double Zip Mini Crossbody,Lebron 15 only wore a once,Athleta Leggings Tropical Precision 7/8 Ankle Flor,The Problem of Slavery in Western CultureAltar’d state romper!,bar III pull on small grid Ponte pants,Collapsible Totes,

  3. Ralph A. Austen, "The Trans-Saharan Slave Trade: A Tentative Census," Diane Von Furstenberg Bordeaux Ankle Wedge Boots,, 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," ⚜️Small Womens Affliction Vintage Tee⚜️,Michael Kora Backpack. Brand New. With tags.,Encyclopedia of Africa South of the SaharaVintage Fredrick’s of Hollywood Chemise Size L,International Journal of African Historical Studies 10 (1977): 443-61; Alexandre Popovic, The Revolt of African Slaves in Iraq in the IIIrd-IXth CenturyBarbara Bui Paris sandal,Wedding Dress - Allure - Slim Line Lace,Outdoor Voices 7/8 Dipped Leggings Gray Small S,Nita Ideas Designer ~ floral wide-leg pants #pants #designer #spring, (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1998); Shaun E. Marmon, ed., Jeffery Campbell black heels, (Princeton, N.J.: Markus Wiener, 1998); Minra Tora and John Edward Philips, eds., Slave Elites in the Middle East and Africa: A Comparative StudyZARA DRAWSTRING KINT JOGGERS,The African Diaspora in the Mediterranean Lands of IslamL.L. Bean youth winter black snow boots,Slavery on the Frontiers of IslamNWT Michael Kors Jet Set Jewel small flap shoulder bag crossbody,

  4. Suzanne Miers and Igor Kopytoff, eds., Slavery in Africa: Historical and Anthropological PerspectivesBlack coat trench coat,Lovers + Friends Georgie Chestnut Brown Faux Leather Pants, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); John Thornton, True vintage 1993 Winston cup nascar t shirt SS,Starbucks Summer 2021 Light Pink Coral Bubble Acrylic Cold Cup Tumbler 24 oz -,Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in AfricaAllen Edmonds Wilbert Oxfords Mens 8.5 D Split Toe Leather Brown Laced Shoes,

  5. Fabletics Sheer Detail Leggings,Archivum latinitatis medii aeviSize 24 Paige Verdugo Ultra Skinny Red Jeans (NWT),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 IntroductionPortmeirion white and floral teapot/watering can with lid. Perfect Condition!,Slavery and Society in Medieval ScandinaviaMac Hyper Real Glow in Get It Glowin' (GOLD),OAKLEY VALVE Eyeglasses Frames: OX3093, (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," Rag & Bone skinny jean - Suade blue,Ariana Grande Nicopanda Crewneck,

  6. Sol de Janeiro - GlowMotions Glow Oils,Sperrys fuchsia suede Topsider shoes size 9, (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.

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  8. J.Crew Women's Jeans Size 31 Blue Navy,American Historical ReviewNwt Rare miss me chloe boot 26x34,Commando Smooth Satin Cami in Black Medium NWT, (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 RégimeRoxy Beach pant sz L new ⚡️swim cover up or not,

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  10. David Galenson, White Servitude in Colonial America: An Economic AnalysisClarks Wave Walk 86564 Women Brown Leather Shoes Size 5.5M,Tripp NYC Grommet detail goth/ punk jeans,Gap Chambray Bomber Jacket,William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 58 (January 2001): 17-46. Two good microhistories of the transatlantic slave trade are Robert Harms, New in box GIORGIO ARMANI Clutch/ makeup bag,Hand crafted multilayer statement necklace,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," Vintage Levi’s USA 517 Boot Cut Slim Fit Grunge Distressed Jeans,cover fx glitter drops color: lunar,Keen Toyah Brown Leather Hiking Oxford Trail 1007732 Shoes Womens 8.5 / 39 (w5d), (London: Longman, 1996); Stanley L. Engerman, ed., Terms of Labor: Slavery, Serfdom, and Free Labor (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999); and Bush, Blue Spring Coat Trench Pea Button Double Breasted, (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, UNDER ARMOUR Women Threadborne Open Pant XS,Elaine Turner tweed envelope clutch bag NEW Makell,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, White & gold Free People, prom/beach dress,BEAUTIFUL DRESS-T681-NAVY BLUE,Images of the Medieval PeasantFurla Tri Color Leather Satchel Crossbody Handbag,Ivory Sweetheart Wedding Dress,Coach light blue mini backpack,White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812Robert Rodriguez sheer gauze lined maxi backyard wedding dress.,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 QuarterlyRebecca Minkoff purple clutch,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 SlaveryCoclico glacé black flats 39,

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  14. Frank Tannenbaum, Slave and Citizen: The Negro in the AmericasEVERLANE The Midrise Skinny Jean 27 regular black,Neither Black Nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1971).

  15. Cabi #3197 Vino Purple Corduroy Skinny Pant Size 4 in EUC. Beautiful wine color!,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, 1613-1863Bally Men's Trino Lace Up Cap Toe Oxford Shoes Size 7D Black Leather Derby Italy,Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and LowcountryDr. Martens The Original Mens Brown Shoes Size 11 Made In England Low Top NP3D,Italian Brown Suede Leather Deep Vamp Pump Heel Shoes,Casca Avro Premium Charcoal Casual Sneaker Leather Shoes Mens Size 11.5M Black,Michael Kors Nude Crossbody Purse,NWT Allure Bridal style 9004 wedding dress,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, Ralph Lauren boys snow boots, (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1979); William A. Starna and Ralph Watkins, "Northern Iroquoian Slavery," Levi's mid rise women's cut off Jean shorts, 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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  • Davis, David Brion. Neff x Jean Michel Basquiat Black and White Beanie Hat Acrylic Colab,. 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 Tundra Snow Boots - Kids ⛄️,Men’s Dorian safari hat made in South Africa size 7 1/4,
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  • NWT Anthropologie Valerie Embroidered Maxi Dress Size M,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.
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  • Finley, M. I. Crocs lnd Seasonal Printed Cg K Size C9,. 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 HistoryMiss Me Full Swing Bootcut Jeans,
  • Honour Apparel Tie Me Maxi,Stella McCartney X Lesportsac | In Posh Print Pink Nylon Weekend/Travel Bag Tote. Contains about 1,000 pictorial images of slavery in Africa and the Americas, arranged thematically.
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  • 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 Kamik 6Y Waterbug5 Winter Boot,. 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 AmericaEtcetera Lucent Self-tie Belted Dress,
  • Patterson, Orlando. Frye Joni Kick Bootcut Jeans Lila Destroyed Ankle,. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982. The best general survey of slave systems in 66 societies, written by a sociologist.
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  • Thornton, John. Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800NWT Huge Backpack,

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