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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, S409 Men's Justin Full Quill Ostrich/Leather Boots 7.5D,Tibi Oversized Mint Green Double Breasted Blazer,

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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 encomiendaKooba Yukon Crossbody Black/Ecru - 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. ALLSAINTS DORSET Biker Moto Style Leather Jacket,The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-bellum South (New York: Knopf, 1956).

  2. Youth Jordan 6 rings,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, Vintage fabric boots,NEW Open BOX LE CREUSET HEART RAMEKIN MINI COCOTTE WITH LID CERISE (RED) 8oz,Rupert Sanderson Bedfa Patent Leather Flats Sz 37, 138 (1993): 3-27; Keith Bradley, Slavery and Society at RomeBillabong Andy Irons Boardshorts Men’s 31,Preloved Miu Miu shoulder bag!,Maggy London Purple Sleeveless Silk Strapless Beaded Dress Size 4,The Problem of Slavery in Western CultureSEVEN7 Lavender Distressed Jeans Raw Hem Size 10,Over The Knee Thigh High Boot Studded,Tribe American Leather Crossbody Bag,

  3. Ralph A. Austen, "The Trans-Saharan Slave Trade: A Tentative Census," Trask “Sadler” Penny Loafer,, 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," Mens PLAYBOY Hoodie,Michael Kors Brown Python Embossed Bucket Bag,Encyclopedia of Africa South of the SaharaLong leather skirt,International Journal of African Historical Studies 10 (1977): 443-61; Alexandre Popovic, The Revolt of African Slaves in Iraq in the IIIrd-IXth Century‍♀️2021 The Main Attraction Peter Pan Ea…,Classic Rust Orange Wide Leg Slit Hem Pants Minimalist,TOD’s Tangier Moc Flats Size 8.5 Tan Comes with Box Business Casual Neutral,Kate Spade Larchmont Ave Penny satchel, (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1998); Shaun E. Marmon, ed., Nike Double Logo Hoodie Men's M (Gray/Red) sweatshirt, (Princeton, N.J.: Markus Wiener, 1998); Minra Tora and John Edward Philips, eds., Slave Elites in the Middle East and Africa: A Comparative StudyGuarnieleria Jerico Dario Agudelo Leather Hair Hide crossbody messenger bag,The African Diaspora in the Mediterranean Lands of IslamCoach Crossbody Signature Metallic Leather Bag,Slavery on the Frontiers of IslamVintage Faux Fur Trimmed Jacket Quilted Lined Denim Faded Glory 2000’s Large L,

  4. Suzanne Miers and Igor Kopytoff, eds., Slavery in Africa: Historical and Anthropological PerspectivesNEW Bolongaro Trevor Leather toiletry Bag,North Face excellent condition size XL lightweight zip up windbreaker w/hood, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); John Thornton, Madewell Cobalt Corduroy Skinny Pants in Navy Blue Women’s Size 26,Louis Vuitton Compact Zip Wallet 11564,Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in AfricaCejon Womens Black Open Cardigan Wrap Poncho New ,

  5. ❤️‍ Urban Decay Naked Honey,Archivum latinitatis medii aevi10K Gold Journey Pendant,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 IntroductionHart Schaffner Men's Chicago Fit Dress Pants,Slavery and Society in Medieval ScandinaviaSanctuary Red Utility Jacket Size Small,NWT Freedom Industries Board Short XL, (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," NWT Nautica Color Block Halter V-Neck One-Piece Swimsuit,Carmen Marc Valvo Strapless Corset Dress NWT,

  6. PEWTER BRACELET,VANS pink orchid canvas slip on shoes sneakers size 8.5 women new, (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. Coach Crossbody Shoulder Bag,American Historical ReviewBlack Ugg Boots Size 8,Carhartt Men’s Signature Blue Denim Jeans Flame Resistant, Relaxed Fit, (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 RégimeBoc Born Moto Riding Boots Black Tall Leather 6.5,

  9. UK university of Kentucky believe front door wreath elegant,The Early Spanish MainBoho Floral print palazzo wide leg zipper pants,New skirt by See by Chloe, (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1992); William L. Sherman, Forced Native Labor in Sixteenth-Century Central AmericaLevi’s 550 Relaxed Fit Jeans SZ 36,Coach Mens travel bad small zipper pocket inside & outside longer pocket,Protect A Bed Premium Terry Cloth Waterproof Mattress Protector White King NEW,The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South, 1670-1717Mauro Grifoni Embroidered Crew Neck Sweatshirt XL,Amy Kuschel Olive Wedding 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," Ted Baker Samikat High Waist Stripe Linen Shorts,, 3rd ser., 60 (October 2003): 703-42.

  10. David Galenson, White Servitude in Colonial America: An Economic AnalysisChelsea28 Easy Leopard Print One-piece Swimsuit In Beige Buff Leopard - XXL,Vintage Multi-Strand Pearl Bracelet,MK MERCER SMALL CLUTCH CROSSBODY GRAPEFRUIT,William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 58 (January 2001): 17-46. Two good microhistories of the transatlantic slave trade are Robert Harms, Rag & Bone Rosa Mid Rise Boyfriend Medium Wash Designer Denim Jeans Women's 26,COACH F79998 KHAKI SADDLE SIGNATURE LOGO PRAIRIE SATCHEL MSRP 8,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," kate spade new york Sala Satin Bow Detail Pumps,18k Rose Gold CZ Snowflake Necklace,NIB Nine West Persia Leather Lug Sole Hiker Boots, (London: Longman, 1996); Stanley L. Engerman, ed., Terms of Labor: Slavery, Serfdom, and Free Labor (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999); and Bush, [7008] Robert Rodriguez black velvet mini dress *Size 8, (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, Peter Millar Sweater Silk Cotton Cashmere EUC,Cesare Paciotti High Equestrian Rear Zip Boots,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, CUT LOOSE Size S Black Polka Dot Burn Out Velvet High Low Tunic Boat Neck Top,Vintage 1950's Monte, Sano, & Pruzan Double Breasted Womens Wool Blazer Jacket,Images of the Medieval PeasantBeautiful size 6 3/4 Sterling 925 Silver Ring,Maaji Kids Lovely Buffy Girl One Piece,Juvia's Place The Warrior Palette,White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812️3X BECCA LIMITED EDITION HIGHLIGHTER BUNDLE,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 QuarterlyVintage Chico's Embroidered Jacket Size Large,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 SlaveryEcho Brown Ribbed Knit Fringe Scarf,

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  14. Frank Tannenbaum, Slave and Citizen: The Negro in the AmericasTory Burch Triple Strand Necklace,Neither Black Nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1971).

  15. Anthro Cloth & Stone Buffalo Plaid Dress Red Black,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, 1613-1863️ Dark Roots Ombre Long Wavy Synthetic Wig,Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and LowcountryChristian Dior Bicycle Tie,Legendary Whitetails Mens Jacket Black Camouflage 1/4 Zip Stretch Tall LT New,5 ✨ NIB Sam Edelman Nude Suede Ankle Booties R14,JOSEF SEIBEL Tina 17 Leather Ankle Strap Pump 40 Black,BCBGeneration Dark Blue Vest,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, AGOLDE Jamie High Rise Classic Jeans Compass, (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1979); William A. Starna and Ralph Watkins, "Northern Iroquoian Slavery," GUCCI kids shirt, 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. Kamik Sienna Boots NIB 0,. 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 ISO authentic white gucci rubber crystal sandals,Style & Co Mid-Rise Bootcut Jeans Size 12L NWT,
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  • Duluth Blue Denim Ballroom Relaxed Fit Jeans 37x28,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. Solid & Striped | Halter Ribbed Orange One Piece,. 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 HistoryKhombu Telluride Houndstooth Thermolite Snow Boot,
  • SOFT SURROUNDINGS Grey Tatum Top 3/4 Sleeve Cotton Tiered Tunic Women's XS,Chanel patent quilted leather thong sandals size 36. Contains about 1,000 pictorial images of slavery in Africa and the Americas, arranged thematically.
  • New! Vince Camuto Bestenda Leopard Combat Boot 5M,HUDSON Sunpau Girls 6 Skinny Knit Jeans Black NEW,. New York: Hill and Wang, 1993. A good general account by a historian alert to comparative history.
  • Tory Burch Hair Comb Set,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 Genius Leather Crossbody Shoulder Bag,. 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 AmericaMM LAFLEUR Sojourner Tweed Long Blazer Jacket,
  • Patterson, Orlando. Nike Air Jordan Jumpman Air Logo Red Sweatshirt, M,. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982. The best general survey of slave systems in 66 societies, written by a sociologist.
  • Dooney & Bourke Pebble Leather Alyssa Bag,COACH F67091 MINETTA PETAL CROSS GRAINED LEATHER SMALL SATCHEL BAG,. 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, 1400-1800Madewell High-Rise Slim Crop Boyfriend Jean NEW,

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