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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, Abercrombie & Fitch vegan,BCBGeneration Double Breasted Wool Coat,

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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 encomiendaSupreme Box Logo Polartec Hat,

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. Twighlight Plum Faux Leather Jacket,The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-bellum South (New York: Knopf, 1956).

  2. Authentic Fendi zucca drawstring Backpack rucksack sling travel purse bag,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, C&C California Linen White Striped Maxi Dress,Aeyde Gina Leather Ballet Flats,Vintage USA hard plastic kitchen wall decor, 138 (1993): 3-27; Keith Bradley, Slavery and Society at RomeMy new babe just share,GUCCI Monogram Backpack,Nike Air Force 1 Premium Ostrich,The Problem of Slavery in Western CultureCustom prom dress size 2/4,Authentic Chanel Le boy Pink patent Leather bag,Vintage 1980s Banana Republic Safari & Travel Khaki Shirt, Large,

  3. Ralph A. Austen, "The Trans-Saharan Slave Trade: A Tentative Census," Disney X Coach Charter Backpack With Mickey Mouse And Friends Embroidery,, 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," Zara TWEED DOUBLE BREASTED COAT BUTTON Houndstooth,Laundry Fur Peacoat,Encyclopedia of Africa South of the SaharaLace wedding or prom dress,International Journal of African Historical Studies 10 (1977): 443-61; Alexandre Popovic, The Revolt of African Slaves in Iraq in the IIIrd-IXth CenturyTHAT NEW NEW ONLY ONE WEEK OLD NEVER WORN,New Black revelin calf Hudson England,Vintage Justin Exotic Western Boot Grey Leather and Lizard Skin Men's 10D,Authentic Louis Vuitton Montsouris PM mini backpack rucksack purse handbag, (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1998); Shaun E. Marmon, ed., Nintendo DS Bundle w/ Lots of Games more!, (Princeton, N.J.: Markus Wiener, 1998); Minra Tora and John Edward Philips, eds., Slave Elites in the Middle East and Africa: A Comparative StudyFaux leather jacket - Guess,The African Diaspora in the Mediterranean Lands of IslamWomen's Express faux leather jacket black zip front size 2,Slavery on the Frontiers of IslamNintendo Switch Red Green Switch Joysticks,

  4. Suzanne Miers and Igor Kopytoff, eds., Slavery in Africa: Historical and Anthropological PerspectivesCOACH MESSENGER BAG NYLON & LEATHER 14X10X5,Sterling Silver CZ long drop earrings. NWT unique, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); John Thornton, RED WING BOOTS Heritage 8085 IRON RANGER IN COPPER ROUGH & TOUGH LEATHER sz 14 D,Betsey Johnson bright yellow lightweight dress,Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in AfricaVintage copper ladle made in Turkey.,

  5. Reebok Workout Plus ATI 90s,Archivum latinitatis medii aeviFleurette Cream Wool Coat Sz 10 Petite,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 IntroductionTIMBERLAND X BEE LINE PREMIUM 6" WATERPROOF BOOTWHEAT & NAVY,Slavery and Society in Medieval ScandinaviaVINTAGE Women’s Black Suede Fringe Jacket (M),Kork-Ease Castaneda Ankle Boots - Size 9 1/2 M, (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," Soma off the shoulder dress white - L,Tie Dye Faux Wrap Dress, Size XS & Medium, Women's, New,

  6. Mens authentic coach leather book bag,Authentic Prada tessuto nylon velo camo camouflage backpack rucksack travel bag, (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. Chanel Boy Bag in black calfskin, silver hardware,American Historical ReviewTalbots sz large green white sleeveless fern print maxi dress,Dylan Gray Ciccolino Leather Cognac Chelsea Boots, (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 RégimeUGG Australia Boots Women’s 7 Bailey Button 1872 Krinkle Chestnut Brown Leather,

  9. red dress gown prom quince sweet sixteen,The Early Spanish MainDIESEL WOVEN STRALL MESSENGER BAG,Set of 2 home decor vases/pots/ginger jars/urns. Elephant themed, (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1992); William L. Sherman, Forced Native Labor in Sixteenth-Century Central AmericaBadgley Mischka Wool, Leather & Lace Detail Jacket,EUC Stetson Harness Cowboy Boot~Snip Toe~12-020-6104-0100~MEN'S SIZE 9.5~Saddle,PACIFIC INTRECCIATO NAPPA SMALL OLIMPIA BAG,The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South, 1670-1717Prada Men’s Brixxen Brown Leather Lug Sole Boots,Vintage Pendleton Cream Wool Swing Coat,, 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," 3DS Xl very good condition,, 3rd ser., 60 (October 2003): 703-42.

  10. David Galenson, White Servitude in Colonial America: An Economic AnalysisSouthern Living at Home Metal Wall Hanging Wall Art Decor Perfect Condition,Coach Men's Messenger Bag,Gibson Latimer Floral Sleeveless Maxi Dress Orange,William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 58 (January 2001): 17-46. Two good microhistories of the transatlantic slave trade are Robert Harms, Red Wing Iron Ranger 8111 6" Boots Amber Men's Size 10.5 Wide EE Factory Seconds,Drop earrings with stones,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," Off the shoulder plus size prom dress,Vintage Brass Dollhouse Miniature Furniture Made in India,CLARKS Ashland pine dark brown leather, (London: Longman, 1996); Stanley L. Engerman, ed., Terms of Labor: Slavery, Serfdom, and Free Labor (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999); and Bush, Jovani Navy Blue Prom Dress Size 2, (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 women’s dress!,Nintendo DS launch edition,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, Kaktus sz large maxi dress blue yellow floral dress,Red Leather Jacket Direct from Italy,Images of the Medieval Peasant1960s Vintage Fur and Suede Midi Knee Length Coat size 8,Navy Blue Halter Neck Ruffle Trim Maxi Dres,I am selling two Nintendo Ds with any games you would like.,White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812Hot pink strapless prom dress with slit,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 QuarterlyPrimitive green glazed ceramic pottery art piece.,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 SlaveryJ Crew Leopard Print Calf Hair Boots Size 9,

  13. Genuine Fore Opal set in sterling silver earrings,Vintage 14K Gold Filled locked necklace, (New York: Norton, 1989); Schwartz, ed., Nintendo DS lite in Pink! 2 games & case.,, 3.

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

  15. NWT Gucci Black Mini Marmount 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, 1613-1863Wrangler WB Masterson Special Vintage Lizard Western Leather - Men's 8.5 - 7462,Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and LowcountryRocket's Zapdos - 145 Holo Gym pack Vtg star card.,Coach Men's Tote Bag,Vintage Green Leather Blazer,Sony PSP,W & K Halter Sleeveless Floral 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, Like new NINTENDO DSi., (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1979); William A. Starna and Ralph Watkins, "Northern Iroquoian Slavery," Revue fuzzy brown jacket, 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. Authentic Fendi Pink shearling convertible backpack rucksack travel tote purse,. 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 MUSICAL CERAMIC STEIN WITH LID VINTAGE,Cole Haan Grand Chelsea Boot,
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  • Finley, M. I. Agazo Collection Floral Embroidery Jean Maxi Dress,. 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.
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  • FOSSIL Leather Estate Brown Unisex Bag Messenger Laptop Crossbody Purse MBG9091,Dr Martens, 1460 Pascal Camo Lickwax Boots NWT, Size 9. Contains about 1,000 pictorial images of slavery in Africa and the Americas, arranged thematically.
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  • Go Gamer Portable 220 High Resolution Ready to Play Video Games,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 Red Wing Classic Chelsea Boots 3191 Ebony Harness Men's 9 D Factory Seconds,. 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 AmericaChanel Canvas Graffiti Art School CrossBody Rare,
  • Patterson, Orlando. Kate Spade jacket.,. 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, 1400-1800AUTHENTIC DIOR PINK HANDBAG COLLECTION,

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