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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, OGO GERAL PARIS Off the Shoulder Knit Sweater Top,Roper Womens Size Medium Pearl Snap Long Sleeve Western Shirt Blue Paisley,

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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 encomiendaNike Penn State Home Football Jersey #2 YOUTH XL,

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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  2. Sag harbor Tweed blazer,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, Giacca Gallery Faux Fur Reversible Vest,Vera Bradley Large Travel Duffle Flutterby NWOT,❤️ NEW Hudson + Bleecker Labyrinth Onyx Black White & Clear Travel Bag Trio, 138 (1993): 3-27; Keith Bradley, Slavery and Society at RomeBrand NEW AUTHENTIC BAPE LONG SLEEVE TEE SIZE XL,Pendleton/Hurley collab limited edition,Pre-Owned Steve Madden Klein Platform Sandals,The Problem of Slavery in Western CultureMisook Black Ruffled Trim Cardigan Size L,**rare** Kate Spade Masquerade mask Purse,COTTAGECORE FOLKLORE BEIGE VINT CROCHET TABLECLOTH,

  3. Ralph A. Austen, "The Trans-Saharan Slave Trade: A Tentative Census," CHEMISTRY Aspen City Crop Striped Sweatshirt NWT,, 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," Will Leather Goods Ashland Tote “The Journey Collection”,Tommy Bahama Fusia Pink Short Sleeve Polo Shirt,Encyclopedia of Africa South of the SaharaLadies Crewneck Pullover UA Under Armour Sweatshirt,International Journal of African Historical Studies 10 (1977): 443-61; Alexandre Popovic, The Revolt of African Slaves in Iraq in the IIIrd-IXth CenturyEloquii NEW Red One Shoulder Bow Detail Dress Size 24,Spiritual Gangster Lemon Sorbet Yellow White Striped Bandeau Bikini Top Sz M New,SUPERPLASTIC L/S Lighting Bolt Tee - Red KIDROBOT,Black leather Bag with fur, (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1998); Shaun E. Marmon, ed., Joie Metallic Plaid Ruch Sleeve Jacket Open Front Blazer Size Small, (Princeton, N.J.: Markus Wiener, 1998); Minra Tora and John Edward Philips, eds., Slave Elites in the Middle East and Africa: A Comparative StudyFUCT long sleeve Large,The African Diaspora in the Mediterranean Lands of IslamCute plaid skort,Slavery on the Frontiers of IslamMadewell Boyfriend Long Sleeve Button Down Shirt,

  4. Suzanne Miers and Igor Kopytoff, eds., Slavery in Africa: Historical and Anthropological PerspectivesFurla Black Pebbled Leather Shoulder Bag,Full Iced Out Brass Tennis, Cross Pendant, Watch, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); John Thornton, NWOT vibrant embellished clutch,Sigerson Morrison Myla Open-toe Ankle Boots,Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in AfricaJeffery Campbell Bette wedge RARE size 9,

  5. New High Waist Lightweight Cropped/Wide Le…,Archivum latinitatis medii aeviVenus black wool houndstooth wrap style leather trim jacket size 2,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 IntroductionMUST GO TODAY! Reformation Seamed Denim Jean,Slavery and Society in Medieval ScandinaviaMicheal Kors Emory Moc,Eyelash lace Kim K inspired Wedding 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," Mo&Co Gym and Yoga Duffel Bag,Patagonia Women’s Faux Fur Vest Gray,

  6. Additions By Chico's Women's Multicolor Cotton Open Front Casual Fitted Blazer 1,Rae Dunn hooded sweatshirt EXPLORE MORE. Baby blue and white stripes, (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. Vintage Jack & Jill Painted Mini Suitcase ADORABLE,American Historical ReviewNaldini Mens Dark Gray 2 Piece Wool Suit Size 48L,Men's 7 For All Mankind Austyn Jeans, (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 RégimeLoft Black Tan Tweed Fringe Blazer Jacket,

  9. Splendid wedges,The Early Spanish MainFossil Large Black Leather Handbag Shoulder Purse,OTBT, Light Clay Celestial Leather Sandal, (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1992); William L. Sherman, Forced Native Labor in Sixteenth-Century Central AmericaNEW COCONUT DOG HOUSE - RETIRED - RARE,❤NEW!!Gucci Authentic Clutch/Cosmetic❤,Saks fifth red label suit,The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South, 1670-1717NHL G-III Detroit Red Wings 1/4 Zip Lined Pullover Windbreaker Jacket Men’s L,NWT Cupshe Leopard Print High Waist Bikini Set M,, 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," Impo Olitha Wedge Sandals - Brand New in Box - Never Worn - Size 8.5,, 3rd ser., 60 (October 2003): 703-42.

  10. David Galenson, White Servitude in Colonial America: An Economic AnalysisSilver/Opalescent Crystal Hardware Elegant Clutch,Black Nylon Kate Spade Purse/Crossbody bag,Juicy Couture Crossbody with Coin Purse,William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 58 (January 2001): 17-46. Two good microhistories of the transatlantic slave trade are Robert Harms, Kate Spade Polka Dot Computer Case,Vera Bradley RIBBONS LARGE DUFFEL BAG Retired Weekend Travel CarryOn,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," NWOT Ivanka Trump button up shirt Sz S,Vintage 1950’s California State Map Tablecloth,Gucci clutch., (London: Longman, 1996); Stanley L. Engerman, ed., Terms of Labor: Slavery, Serfdom, and Free Labor (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999); and Bush, BNWT Adrianna Papell Rose Gold gown in 8P, (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, Lauren by Ralph Lauren Langdon Tote TTE medium natural- tags included inside bag,Xxl pendelton cardigan,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, DIane Von Furstenburg Floral Cotton Poplin Midi Shirt Dress,Puffed Sleeved Mini a-line dress Yellow,Images of the Medieval PeasantBp. BLUE forever Women's Sweater,Louis Vuitton monogram clutch / vintage wristlet,Salvatore Ferragamo GANCINI SANDAL wedge Slides,White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812Hot mini purse,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 Quarterly102 Dalmatians ODDBALL Christmas 10” Plush Musical Ears Move Working EUC HTF,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 SlaveryKasper Textured Leaf Jacquard Embroid Vanilla Ice 14P,

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  14. Frank Tannenbaum, Slave and Citizen: The Negro in the AmericasJ Crew 100% cashmere turtleneck sweater,Neither Black Nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1971).

  15. Ballard Designs Kiki Frog Knot Serving Tablecloth sideboard, Buffett,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, 1613-1863L.L. Bean Navy Cotton Blazer Shacket 16,Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and LowcountryDallas 2 Piece Suit Size 10/11 Career Vintage,Bill Levkoff One Shoulder Ruched Chiffon Gown Size 10,Ralph Lauren Cecelia Open Toe Wedge,NEW Orange Knot Top Thong Low Waist Bottom Bikini Set Size Large,Pendleton linen jacket,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, Vintage Furskins Teddy Bear Plush 23", (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1979); William A. Starna and Ralph Watkins, "Northern Iroquoian Slavery," Rae Dunn hooded sweatshirt LOVE. Gray and white stripes, 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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Sources

  • J. Crew grey turtleneck sweater, 100% cashmere,The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800Levi's Wedgie Skinny High Rise Jeans Plus,
  • Vintage Chunky Knit Wool Button Cardigan Sweater,Size 10-11 Women Shoes (Flats, slippers),Brighton pouch,
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  • Madewell The Westport Leather Studded Top Handles Camel Crossbody Tote Bag Purse,Children of God's Fire: A Documentary History of Black Slavery in BrazilClassic strapless Cache formal dress,
  • Davis, David Brion. Fossil Gold Metallic Crossbody,. 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 GUESS Vintage Pea Coat Metallic Black Lined Wool Blend Womens Sz M Buttons Y2K,Nike dri fit golf polo from East Lake Country Club,
  • Davis, Robert C. Vintage 60s Rockabilly Eagle Cardigan Sweater,Franco Sarto size 8M ankle strap heels,
  • Supreme Tartan Flannel,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. Kipling GRACY Cross Body Shoulder Bag,. 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 HistoryLucky Brand 361 vintage straight Blue Jeans,
  • Adrienne Vittadini Black Slinky Button Shirt S,Archie Squishmallow. Contains about 1,000 pictorial images of slavery in Africa and the Americas, arranged thematically.
  • Anne Cole Stormy Seas Tankini Top Multicolor Print Halter Keyhole Size L New,Coach Handbag bag LEATHER Pewter F1060-F15064,. New York: Hill and Wang, 1993. A good general account by a historian alert to comparative history.
  • Mare Bag Canvas With Shoe Compartment Black,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 Agolde Wilder Mid Rise Straight Jeans,. 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 AmericaLucky Brand Navy blue collar, tailored, dark academia blazer XS,
  • Patterson, Orlando. Adidas X Alexander Wang tank dress S,. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982. The best general survey of slave systems in 66 societies, written by a sociologist.
  • Anthropologie Blossom Embroidered Tote Bag NWT,Thermal lined insulated picnic/boat tote set,. 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, 1400-1800MINT RETIRED AMERICAN GIRL SAMANTHA HOLIDAY HAT,

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