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Slavery. Mapping the Spread of Slavery. “The institution of chattel slavery is older than the first human written records”. “Wherever we look, slave systems dot (and sometime dominate) the historical geography of very different regions of the globe.”.

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slavery

Slavery

Mapping the Spread of Slavery

slide3
“Wherever we look, slave systems dot (and sometime dominate) the historical geography of very different regions of the globe.”
slide4

“Between the fall of Rome and the decline of feudalism – a period of some 1000 years – slavery and other forms of bondage were as common in Europe as in other continents.”

slide5

“The Arabs and their Muslim converts were the first people to make use of millions of blacks from sub-Saharan Africa and to begin associating black Africans with the lowliest form of bondage. As many as fourteen million African slaves were exported to Muslim regions.”

slide6

“While African slaves were not part of any original European blueprint for colonizing the Americas, spatial boundaries had shifted by the 1490s in a way that would enable Europeans to draw on an enormous potential supply of African slave labor.”

slide7

“There were few states strong enough to prevent opportunistic African kings from profiting from the low cost of capturing, transporting, and minimally sustaining a captive who could be sold for highly desired commodities.”

slide8

“As the slave trade increased (dramatically after 1600) ever more Europeans sought a toehold on the coast as the best way of guaranteeing their own share of the lucrative trade across the Atlantic. . . . At the same time, newly emergent European powers began to flex their own commercial and maritime muscles, seeking a profitable share both in the trade and in the settlement of the Americas.”

slide9

“About twelve million Africans began the Atlantic crossing – the Middle Passage – by being loaded into the slave ships, but only ten and a half million lived to see landfall on the far side of the Atlantic. . . . The purpose of this violent system was profit.”

slide10

“The Atlantic slave trade thus became a massive industry. It was also an industry that spawned a complexity of other businesses and trades throughout the Atlantic world. It became, in effect, the lubricant of a huge Atlantic trading system, and it reminds us of the need, throughout, to integrate the slave trade with the wider commercial activities of which the slave trade was a critical part.”

slide11

“The Atlantic crossings constituted the largest enforced movement of peoples known to the pre-twentieth-century world. . . . It was the unique terrors of crossing the Atlantic that seem to have scarred the Africans most deeply. Not surprisingly, the Atlantic slave trade has come to symbolize the most brutal feature of the wider story of slavery in the Americas.”

slide12

“The westward drift of sugar production presented the ideal crop for New World development at a time when Western Europe was about to develop internal markets for such other luxury products as eastern spices, tea, coffee, chocolate, and tobacco.”

slide13

“Slavery had been a feature of many African societies long before the Europeans arrived by sea. It was the existence of slavery in Africa that enabled Europeans to accept Africans as slaves in the first place. In addition, the idea that slavery of other alien people was wrong was largely unknown – in Europe or Africa – in these years of colonial expansion. Africans felt no more uneasy about enslaving other Africans, from different cultures, than European traders felt uneasy when buying Africans on the coast.”

slide14

“Sugar poured across the Atlantic to Europe. Everywhere the key was the African. Europeans all agreed that Africans, later their locally born descendants, were essential to the task of converting fertile Caribbean lands to profitable cultivation.”

slide15

“There was a discrepancy throughout the islands between the numbers imported and the numbers in the population, but the explanation was simple. The sugar islands were a ‘graveyard for slaves.’ All the human data we possess were at their worst among African slaves. And these data were the worst of all among sugar slaves.”

slide16

“Until the 1720s, the black population of North America grew via imported Africans. Thereafter, it began to increase naturally rather than via the Atlantic slave trade. When the American colonies broke away from Britain in1776, they took with them half a million blacks; by 1810, that had increased to 1.4 million, overwhelmingly in the Old South. This established American slave population that was to make possible the development of the enslaved cotton revolution of the nineteenth century and the consequent westward movement of slavery from the former colonies to the new cotton frontier.”

slide17

“The association between cotton and slavery is embedded deep in US history and folk memory. The development of cotton in the South saw the emergence of a new trading axis. The net result of the cotton revolution was the transfer of slavery across huge tracts of North America.”

slide18

“At the outbreak of the Civil War, the USA was home to four million slaves. The USA no longer needed Africa. But it did need a slave trade. This was the period of heightened slave distress, when the agonies of slavery were often compounded by family separations, with families split by slave traders trawling for suitable labour to buy and move to the cotton states. The agonies wrought by this internal American slave trade were there for all to see.”

slide19

“The history of slavery is the history of slave resistance. Slaves resisted their bondage in many different ways. Most spectacular of all forms of slave resistance were slave revolts and rebellions. Only one fully succeeded in overthrowing slave society: the Haitian revolt of 1791. Most failed and were crushed, normally with a savage brutality designed to overawe other slaves.”

slide20

“Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest.”

slide21

“There were strong economic reasons for the broad reach of American slavery. Southern slave-grown cotton was by far the nation’s leading export. It powered textile-manufacturing revolutions in both New England and England. American slaves represented more capital than any other asset in the nation, with the exception of land. In 1860 the value of Southern slaves was about three times the value of the capital stock in manufacturing and railroads. The Southern ‘lords of the lash’ forged ever closer ties with Northern ‘lords of the loom.’”

slide22

“New World slavery. . .its specifically racial character. . . . slavery became indelibly linked throughout the Western Hemisphere with people of African descent. This meant that the dishonor, humiliation, and bestialization that had universally been associated with chattel slavery now became fused with Negritude. This linkage, which lies at the heart of white racism, would have disastrous consequences in nineteenth- and twentieth-century South America as well as in the United States.”

slide23

“It was only in North America that the extremely arbitrary and artificial concept of ‘Negro’ – denoting anyone with supposedly visible African ancestry, revealed by hair as well as skin color – took on the stigma of slave heritage.”

slide24

“…the profound contradiction of a free society that was made possible by black slave labor. It was the larger Atlantic Slave System…that prepared the way for everything America was to become. Thus, vital links developed between the profit motive, which led to the dehumanization of African slaves, and a conception of the New World as an environment of liberation, opportunity, and upward mobility.”

slide25

“Slavery became the dark underside of the American Dream – the great exception to our pretensions of perfection, the single barrier blocking our way to the millennium, the single manifestation of national sin. The tragic result of this formulation was to identify the so-called Negro as the Great American Problem. Hence the victims of the great sin of slavery became, in this ghastly psychological inversion, the embodiment of sin. And for some two hundred years African Americans have struggled against accepting or above all internalizing this prescribed identity, this psychological curse.”

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