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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, Moschino Couture Bullseye Target Star Jacket,MINT Lululemon Oxford Commission 11” Inseam Shorts Mens 33 Gray Qwick,

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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 encomiendaSpiritual Gangster Cream Ribbed Midi Tank Dress,

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. Chanel Fantasy Tweed jacket - Spring 2018,The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-bellum South (New York: Knopf, 1956).

  2. Maeve Camellia Drop Waist Dress,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, Chanel Fantasy Tweed Jacket - Spring 2014,Vintage suit jacket blazer by Paulette 1960's,Versace Couture 100% Silk Suit with Amazing Goldtone Buttons, 138 (1993): 3-27; Keith Bradley, Slavery and Society at RomeRuffles dress with matching cropped leggings.,Moschino Cheap Chic Black White Red Peplum Jacket,Beautiful silvertone aromatherapy necklace,The Problem of Slavery in Western CultureVTG 80s Club Classic Cream Angora Lambswool Blend Pearl Cable Knit Cardigan M,Torrid Skull Floral Microfiber Back Smoothing Bra,Caslon Lillie Blue White Striped Thermal Tee,

  3. Ralph A. Austen, "The Trans-Saharan Slave Trade: A Tentative Census," Anthropologie Elevenses First Mate Navy blazer,, 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," LULULEMON Men’s Athletic Shorts XL,Women's Express Cropped Skinny Mid Rise Jeans,Encyclopedia of Africa South of the SaharaCeline Green & White Stripe Slip On Sneaker 8,International Journal of African Historical Studies 10 (1977): 443-61; Alexandre Popovic, The Revolt of African Slaves in Iraq in the IIIrd-IXth CenturyJenny Yoo Bridesmaid Dress/Gown,Toddler UGG Fluff Slide 8T,Boutique dress size xl. It is a high low and very flattering.,Ann Taylor Loft Modern Sexy Boot Gray Jeans, (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1998); Shaun E. Marmon, ed., Bridesmaid dress worn once!, (Princeton, N.J.: Markus Wiener, 1998); Minra Tora and John Edward Philips, eds., Slave Elites in the Middle East and Africa: A Comparative StudyNomadic Traders Silk & Angora Mock Neck Sweater - Size Large,The African Diaspora in the Mediterranean Lands of IslamHANDMADE KNIT OPEN SHORT SLEEVE LONG VEST AUTUMN COLORS,Slavery on the Frontiers of IslamJUICY COUTURE CLUTCHE,

  4. Suzanne Miers and Igor Kopytoff, eds., Slavery in Africa: Historical and Anthropological PerspectivesNWOT Mack Weldon 4 Way Active Shorts Gray XL Nylon Stretch 8" Chino Casual,Silver Embroidered Mazy Slim Crop, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); John Thornton, Black outdoor Jacket,Dolce & Gabbana • Authentic Women's Cropped Pants,Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in AfricaCoach Open toe wedge sandal,

  5. Unique Cut-Out Star Rhinestones Necklace Chain,Archivum latinitatis medii aeviChanel Fantasy Tweed jacket - Spring 2013,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 IntroductionRiver Island Nushu Mini girls nude sneakers EU 21.5 US 4.5-5,Slavery and Society in Medieval ScandinaviaTheory Black Cropped Jacket 3 Button,Soft Surroundings Moonshadow Sweater Top Size L, (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," ALCHEMY GOTH | Round Black Leather Pentagram Bag,Women’s long feather bridal robe,

  6. M Gemi platform nude shoes - worn twice. Size 38,Kate Landry Leather Wallet Wristlet / Crossbody, (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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  9. Lululemon Double Tap Bra II Dark Adobe / Black,The Early Spanish MainBlue knee- length Jacket.,Madewell Large Epperson T Shirt Casual Mini Dress, (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1992); William L. Sherman, Forced Native Labor in Sixteenth-Century Central AmericaGreen Blazer with Pockets,Zara Lace Dress,Zara Red & White Gingham Flare Cropped Pants,The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South, 1670-1717Tiffany & Co. Heart Charm Sterling SilverNecklace,NFL Houston Texans Gray/White L/S Shirt X-Large,, 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," Kate spade Holly Brown&Tan,, 3rd ser., 60 (October 2003): 703-42.

  10. David Galenson, White Servitude in Colonial America: An Economic AnalysisNWOT Nike SB Sunday Floral Graphic Skate Shorts 2XL XXL Gray Blue Casual,NWT Brunello Cucinelli Nappa Single Breasted Blazer Leather Jacket size 38 Small,Unbranded beautiful hand bag,William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 58 (January 2001): 17-46. Two good microhistories of the transatlantic slave trade are Robert Harms, Beautiful yin and yang necklace,Star Wars one of a kind custom dress,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," Cold Shoulder Backless Lace Midi Dress,Vintage Diamond Tea Blue Velvet Robe,Lot of 4 Zara long pants & Jeans Size 3-4, (London: Longman, 1996); Stanley L. Engerman, ed., Terms of Labor: Slavery, Serfdom, and Free Labor (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999); and Bush, Eiderdown 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, Beautiful black beaded stone lace choker necklace,Mother Mid Rise Dazzler Ankle Blue Denim Jeans Sz 24 Pardon My French Ankle Fray,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, Gianni Vintage Mustard & Black Blazer & Shell Top,Eileen Fisher Textured Stretch Rib Tapered Ankle Pant L,Images of the Medieval PeasantTWO eberjey robes NWT,High Low Dress by Material Girl !!,Savage X Fenty - robe tutti frutti lingerie set,White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812Perfect condition. Multi color slip on vans,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 QuarterlyAdidas Ultra Boost OG Beyoncé Ivy Park Ivy Heart,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 SlaveryVintage Nike UT longhorns 2005 championship T xl/xxl,

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  14. Frank Tannenbaum, Slave and Citizen: The Negro in the AmericasMatilda Jane teal & burgundy color block dress,Neither Black Nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1971).

  15. J.Crew High Rise Crop Flare Jeans Size 29,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, 1613-1863Kendal + Kylie Black Cotton Laser burnt Holes Long-sleeve Top in Black NEW,Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and LowcountryNicole Miller Evening Dress- Like New,Vintage Ed hardy screaming eagle v neck,Nike Golf Tour Performance Gray Pinstripe Pants Size 30x30 Mens,Antique Style owl rhinestone necklace,* New Teri Jon rickie freeman Swiss dot blazer bxj,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, Toddler Jordan 4 Bred, (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1979); William A. Starna and Ralph Watkins, "Northern Iroquoian Slavery," Biya Johnny Was Turquoise/Cream Cardigan, 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. 5153 Chadwick's white with red stripes stretch cotton blazer jacket 18 NEW,. 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 J.Crew Girls’ Runaround Stretchy Jeans,Ralph Lauren Sport brown corduroy equestrian Y2K blazer jacket size 6,
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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 Victoria Secret/ Pink Lingerie and sport bra,. 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 AmericaVineyard Vines Tee NWT,
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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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