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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, Anthropologie crop bootcut pants,STANDARD James Perse Black Blue Surplus Wrap Faux Sherpa Jacket Cardigan Size 2,

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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 encomiendaNEW! Tie front one piece swimsuit,

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. MARANT slides,The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-bellum South (New York: Knopf, 1956).

  2. RIVIERA PANT ANN TAYLOR LOFT,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, Bebe watch.Gold, silver tone,Lucky Brand || Slim Boyfriend Destroyed Pants Jean,KENAR TAN SUEDE HIGH COLLAR ZIP FRONT JKT SZ 6, 138 (1993): 3-27; Keith Bradley, Slavery and Society at RomeBillion Dollar Brows Best Sellers Kit,Mara Hoffman NWT Ponte Beams Navy Colorful Maxi Skirt Size XS Side Slit,Vera Bradley Winter Bears Throw Blanket, Blue, White, 80x50,The Problem of Slavery in Western CultureNWT Jones New York black knit skirt,NWT: Juicy Couture Women's Black Label Two Toned Watch W/ *Diamonds.,J.Crew dark blue polka dotted TOOTHPICK,

  3. Ralph A. Austen, "The Trans-Saharan Slave Trade: A Tentative Census," Cutest vintage tie dye lace mini dress velvet trim,, 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," Micheal kors diaper bag,Athleta swimsuit size XS NWT one piece,Encyclopedia of Africa South of the SaharaFrye brown leather short boots. Size 10,International Journal of African Historical Studies 10 (1977): 443-61; Alexandre Popovic, The Revolt of African Slaves in Iraq in the IIIrd-IXth CenturySam Edelman Espadrille Flats Extra Fries Exercise Slip On Canvas Shoe,Lilly Jade Diaper Bag,Nike Dri-fit Active Longsleeve,Steve Madden black heels., (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1998); Shaun E. Marmon, ed., Whole track suit for men, (Princeton, N.J.: Markus Wiener, 1998); Minra Tora and John Edward Philips, eds., Slave Elites in the Middle East and Africa: A Comparative StudyMarvin Richards Black Pea Coat,The African Diaspora in the Mediterranean Lands of IslamNWT Christy Dawn Lincoln Dress Petites in Blooming Garden Floral P-L 8,Slavery on the Frontiers of IslamSCARPA Women's Instinct Climbing Shoes Parrot Size 34.5 Suede Leather Bouldering,

  4. Suzanne Miers and Igor Kopytoff, eds., Slavery in Africa: Historical and Anthropological PerspectivesCircus by Sam Edelman Aloha Beaches Espadrilles,Boden Silver Metallic Bistro Pants 8 Long, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); John Thornton, Girls Ugg rain boots.,Lulu's Photosynthesis Statement Green Halter Dress,Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in AfricaWOMENS SLACKER PONCHO,

  5. Miss me pants, “Chloe Boot,” size 28,Archivum latinitatis medii aeviRosa Clara Couture Wedding Dress size 6,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 IntroductionARIAT UNBRIDLED,Slavery and Society in Medieval ScandinaviaNEW, never worn wedding dress!! Morilee Rosa in smokey lavender.,PLUS AZALEA WANG SAVAGES MOTO JACKET, (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," NWOT Michael Kors leather motorcycle jacket size medium,NWT Amazon womens red pink white one piece swimsuit size L,

  6. Allure Sweetheart Neckline Fit & Flare Wedding Dress,Jones New York Tweed Pant, (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. Levi’s 505 mom jean shorts,American Historical ReviewSuede zip up jacket by Jakett,Gypsy Leather Riding Jacket Size 8 with Fringe, (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 RégimeFarm Rio Toucan Dress NWT,

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  10. David Galenson, White Servitude in Colonial America: An Economic AnalysisANTHROPOLOGIE NIKASHA KRISSA EMBROIDERED TIERED MAXI SKIRT SIDE ZIP PURPLE 4 NWT,Zara Real Leather Motto jacket,HANUKKAH CANDLES,William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 58 (January 2001): 17-46. Two good microhistories of the transatlantic slave trade are Robert Harms, Tory Butch espadrilles sandals size 8,Leather Jacket Style and Co. Collection. Vintage design.Slightly worn.,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," Green jade serving platter,Fawn & Cub RUCKUS SACK // DIAPER BAG + CHANGING MAT COMBO - SLATE GREY,POP Espadrille Wedge Sandal w/Silver Embellishments, (London: Longman, 1996); Stanley L. Engerman, ed., Terms of Labor: Slavery, Serfdom, and Free Labor (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999); and Bush, Free People Movement Sashay My Way pant, (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, ISO Loveshackfancy love shack fancy tully skirt M,Matching amber glass two platters and pitcher. Link pattern.,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, Marquis 14k white gold plated cocktail ring,Altra Footwear Escalante 2.5 Womens Size US 10.5 Road Racing Shoe Black,Images of the Medieval PeasantJujube BFF diaper bag,Sheer Lace Overlay Dress with Ruffled Slip,Young Fabulous & Broke Hooded Wrap Peacoat M,White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812*NWB Espadrille Wedge - 12SS but fits like a narrow,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 QuarterlyNATURALIZER Lago Heels Sandals 10 M Black Peep Toe Slingback Suede Block NWOB,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 SlaveryExpress ‘Sundays Are For Football’ Muscle Tank,

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  14. Frank Tannenbaum, Slave and Citizen: The Negro in the Americas• VINTAGE 1984 New Orleans World Fair USA collectible Scarf •,Neither Black Nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1971).

  15. Old Vera Bradley Pattern/School Backpack,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, 1613-1863Nike Women's Air Max Axis Premium Black/White Running Shoes,Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and Lowcountryrebecca minkoff knocked up diaper bag like new,Modern Limited Edition Geneva Watch,Sully loungefly backpack,MADE WITH LOVE WEDDING DRESS “JORDANN” AND RUE DE SEINE “ZODIAC”,Eberjey Painted Stripe Bikini EUC,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, Beach Bunny bikini set~TOP XL & BOTTOMS XS, (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1979); William A. Starna and Ralph Watkins, "Northern Iroquoian Slavery," Anne Klein Wool-Blend Logo Snap-Button Collarless Pea Coat 5 Retro Red Large, 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. Zarlia Dress,. 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 Selling my Wedding dress. Lillian West. Size 10. Comes with veil.,Victoria’s Secret workout tank tops,
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  • NWT DKNYC unique fringe maxi skirt size 14,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. NWT LUCCA swing midi skirt semi-sheer overlay lined elastic back waist,. 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 HistoryStrapless gold and silver sequined mini dress,
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  • Robert Talbott Silk Neck Tie OS USA Black Grey Pink,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 OSCAR DE LA RENTA Bake&Serve Covered Casserole Ultra Ceram English Tapestry,. 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 America14K GOLD PLATED ICED OUT PRAYER HAND CHAIN,
  • Patterson, Orlando. NEW! SCL X TARGET STONEY CLOVER LANE TERRY MINT GREEN SUMMER SPRING BACKPACK,. 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, 1400-1800BOC Born 9.5 espadrilles red casual flats,

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