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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, Lspace Bikini Top NWOT,Black spike hat,

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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 encomienda23-in-1 Survival Military Digital Watch, Mens Tactical Multi-Functional …NEW,

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. Miss Me Capri white jeans,The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-bellum South (New York: Knopf, 1956).

  2. Athleta Swift Zip Black Lotus Floral Skort Size 4,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, NEW Victorias Secret Bikini Bottoms Cheeky XS Pink,Cortech Tour Master MOD Thick Motorcycle Straight Denim Blue Jeans 38x34,Special Occasion Julia Jordan Dress Size 10, 138 (1993): 3-27; Keith Bradley, Slavery and Society at RomeVionic Pacific Rio lizard comfort slides,Vintage Denim Dress Size 7/8 Blue Cotton Lace Coll,Grey Colombian puffer,The Problem of Slavery in Western CulturePGA Tour Size L Golf Skirt Skort Shorts Pastel Lilac Women's Sports,Isabel Marant "Leo" Studded Lace-Up Ballet Flats, size 38,Black Leather FMC Motorcycle Vest,

  3. Ralph A. Austen, "The Trans-Saharan Slave Trade: A Tentative Census," Brahmin Two strap shoulder bag.,, 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," Annika by Cutter & Buck Plaid Golf Skort - Sz 8,Lole Brooke Golf Skort,Encyclopedia of Africa South of the SaharaNEW Victorias Secret Bikini Bottoms Medium Strappy,International Journal of African Historical Studies 10 (1977): 443-61; Alexandre Popovic, The Revolt of African Slaves in Iraq in the IIIrd-IXth CenturyVintage Walborg. Handmade in West Germany 1949-63,Invicta Specialty 45mm Quartz stainless steel bracelet watch,UGG AUSTRALIA KOOLABUURRA BY UGG SKYLLER BOOTIES,Victorias Secret Bikini Top 34B Padded Halter 3HE, (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1998); Shaun E. Marmon, ed., Veronica Beard Kate Skinny High Rise Snake Print Jeans size 8, (Princeton, N.J.: Markus Wiener, 1998); Minra Tora and John Edward Philips, eds., Slave Elites in the Middle East and Africa: A Comparative StudyMen’s Fossil Hybrid HR Smartwatch,The African Diaspora in the Mediterranean Lands of IslamSam Edelman Paige Suede Ankle Bootie in Black size 6,Slavery on the Frontiers of IslamMichael Michael Kors Black Patent Leather Wedge Sandals,

  4. Suzanne Miers and Igor Kopytoff, eds., Slavery in Africa: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives1/10 cttw Real Diamond Sterling Silver Earrings,Anne Klein Tilly Wedge Sandal 9M, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); John Thornton, Celestial Star Burst Earrings,BARDOT Floral Long Sleeve Tiered Chiffon Mini Dress - NWT!,Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in AfricaSouthern Tide dress,

  5. NIB Donald Pliner Suzy cork loafers size 8.5 N.,Archivum latinitatis medii aeviTory Burch Women's Filipa Espadrille Wedge Peep,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 IntroductionVintage Lord and Taylor Pill Box Velvet Brown Hat,Slavery and Society in Medieval ScandinaviaOlukai Hi'Ona brown leather thong flip flops,Floral Mini dress, (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," Democracy Jeans - black/grey gingham stretch. Size 14 NWT,Hat brown desing beautiful butterfly monarca,

  6. Levi's 514 Jeans 36×34,Madden Girl “Penna” Cognac Gladiator Sandals Size 5.5, (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. French connection mock neck sweater,American Historical ReviewDEREK LAM Navy Sleeveless Wool Toggle coat dress,NWT Rothy’s Chili Red The Point size 7 flats, (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 RégimeCole Haan Women's Navy Blue Brown Wedge Round Toe Heels 8M,

  9. Victorias Secret Bikini Top Size Large Halter 7MG,The Early Spanish MainGILI Women’s Purse,NEW NWT Target Shade & Shore Mossimo Bikini Set, (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1992); William L. Sherman, Forced Native Labor in Sixteenth-Century Central AmericaLevi's 514 Jeans 34×34,NWT Adelyn Rae Black Cocktail Dress Small,Madewell High Riser Skinny dark wash Jeans,The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South, 1670-1717Gorgeous One of a Kind Earrings,Jovani Prom Formal Evening dress,, 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," Vintage Women's Prairie Size 8 Dress Black Denim,, 3rd ser., 60 (October 2003): 703-42.

  10. David Galenson, White Servitude in Colonial America: An Economic AnalysisJoes Jeans High Rise Skinny “Rabun”,Free People Straw Floppy Hat Crochet Pattern Beach,NWOT Final Four Ncaa,William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 58 (January 2001): 17-46. Two good microhistories of the transatlantic slave trade are Robert Harms, MVMT Voyager 42mm,Rag & Bone Suede Noa Espadrille Sandal in Warm Grey - Size 7,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," Korean style trench coat,MVMT Chrono Ink Black Watch,Victorias Secret Bikini Top 32DD Pushup Padded 3PT, (London: Longman, 1996); Stanley L. Engerman, ed., Terms of Labor: Slavery, Serfdom, and Free Labor (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999); and Bush, Muriel Brandolini Djellaba Dress S Womens dress, (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, FRYE purse,Kavu Daisy 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, White Kay Unger dress,Zara Tiger Print Dress,Images of the Medieval PeasantCitizens Of Humanity | Hutton High Rise Wise Leg,NWT Bec & Bridge Fire & Ice Cutout Mini Dress Size 4,Clarks Brynn Celia Mid Heel Shootie shoe bootie size 10,White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812Indigo Rd. Almond Toe Ankle Booties Women's Size 8.5M Taupe Tan Harness Buckle,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 QuarterlyFLY London Yile Leather Wedge Sandal Women 40 9 Tan Black Comfort Shoe Mule 5,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 SlaverySOREL Ella Gladiator Lace Up Sandals Black Size 8,

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  14. Frank Tannenbaum, Slave and Citizen: The Negro in the Americasbrand new sam edelman laurs platform loafer in all black,Neither Black Nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1971).

  15. Journeys | Shi by Journey Gray Buckley Boots | 7.5,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, 1613-1863J crew merino wool quarter zip sweater,Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and LowcountryNike ACG Blue vest size medium,Porsamo Bleu mens watch,Roxy Winter Trench Coat,Carmen Marc Volvo Shirred Bikini Bottom with Ring Hardware,Free people eleven sweater,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, Sterling party ring with amethysts, 8, (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1979); William A. Starna and Ralph Watkins, "Northern Iroquoian Slavery," Levi’s Jeans 32, 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. Victorias Secret Bikini Top 34DD Strapless Beach,. 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 Charter Club Skorts Floral Navy Blue Pink Paisley Summer Women's Size 16 Lot,Vintage Carhartt Mens Medium Brown Duck Canvas Full Zip Quilt Lined Vest Jacket,
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  • Finley, M. I. Med size Coach NY Leather Fall Collections,. 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 HistoryNWT Levi's Men's 569 Loose Straight Stretch Black Jeans 42x32 Green Pockets NEW,
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  • Framed 11 x 14 Inch Painting of Will Purdue,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 like new raiders vest,. 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 AmericaMaster Sportmans Hunting shooting safety vest,
  • Patterson, Orlando. Baby Phat trench coat,. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982. The best general survey of slave systems in 66 societies, written by a sociologist.
  • Vintage Seiko automatic 17 jewel mens watch blue dial 7006-8139 w/leather band,♠️Kate Spade Dainty Floral Bloom Knit Tiered Dress Marigold Yellow NWT,. 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, 1400-1800COLE HAAN sandals, maroon, stacked wood 3” heel, sling strap. C8D24937 8B NWOT,

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