Slavery (definition) • Social institution defined by law and custom as the most absolute involuntary form of human servitude.
Slavery (definition) • Characteristics of slaves: • their labor or services are obtained through force; • their physical beings are regarded as the property of another person, their owner; • and they are entirely subject to their owner's will.
Slavery (definition) • Since earliest times slaves have been legally defined as things; therefore, they could, among other possibilities, be: • bought • sold • traded • given as a gift • willed • pledged for a debt by their owner
Natives as Slaves? • The number of Native American slaves was limited in part because the Native Americans were in their homeland; they knew the terrain and could escape fairly easily. • The settlers found it easier to sell Native Americans captured in war to planters in the Caribbean than to turn them into slaves on their own terrain.
The Slave Trade • From the early 16th to the mid-19th centuries, more than 10 million Africans were taken from their homes.
Triangle Trade • Slave ships followed a triangular trading pattern.
Triangle Trade • On the first leg of their voyage, vessels left their European home port laden with a widely assorted cargo of manufactured goods which was to be bartered for slaves and other African produce on the ship's arrival on the African coast.
Triangle Trade • The slaves were then transported across the Atlantic to the Caribbean islands or South American/North American colonies, on what became known as the notorious 'Middle Passage'.
Triangle Trade • On arrival they were auctioned like cattle, the majority becoming field hands on the large plantations. As payment the slave captains generally took on board produce such as cotton, sugar, coffee or tea before embarking on the final stage of their voyage home.
What was the experience of the Middle Passage like for the slaves taken across the Atlantic?
Slavery in the United States • In North America the first African slaves landed at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. • By 1800 some 500,000 slaves resided in the United States, of whom 50,000 lived in the northern states. The majority of slaves (more than 9.5 million) were forcibly shipped to the agricultural plantations of Central and South America and the Caribbean.
Slave Auction • This slave auction advertised slaves for sale or temporary hire by their owners. Buyers often paid $2000 for a skilled, healthy slave. These auctions often separated family members from one another, many of whom never saw their loved ones again.
Slave Distribution and Vocations • Generally, in the northern colonies, slaves were used as domestics and in trade • In the Middle Atlantic colonies they were used more in agriculture • In the southern colonies, where plantation agriculture was the primary occupation, almost all slaves were used to work the plantations.
Slave Distribution and Vocations • Slaves of the north often worked in the home as personal servants, but also in labor intensive fields such as ship builders dockworkers, lumberjacks, and trades such as masonry and carpentry work.
Slave Distribution and Vocations • Slaves of the south cultivated tobacco, grew rice and indigo, and picked cotton in the fields. On the property, slaves could be blacksmiths, carpenters, or masons. In the house, slaves often fulfilled the roles of cooks, barbers, nursemaids, and butlers.
Slave Distribution and Vocations • Tobacco in the upper South (Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina) and rice in the lower South (South Carolina, Georgia). Slaves also worked on large wheat-producing estates in New York and on horse-breeding farms in Rhode Island, but climate and soil restricted the development of commercial agriculture in the Northern colonies, and slavery never became as economically important as it did in the South.
Slave Distribution and Vocations • Most of the agriculture in the southern United States during the early 19th century was dedicated to growing one crop—cotton. Most of the cotton crop was grown on large plantations that used black slave labor.
Slave Life • The first provision was that black slaves, and the children of slave women, would serve for life. By the 1770s, slaves constituted about 40 percent of the population of the Southern colonies, with the highest concentration in South Carolina, where more than half the people were slaves.
On the Plantation • As slavery grew, so too did its diversity. Slavery varied according to region, crops, and size of holdings. On farms and small plantations most slaves came in frequent contact with their owners, but on very large plantations, where slave owners often employed overseers, slaves might rarely see their masters.
On the Plantation • Most slaves on large holdings worked in gangs, under the supervision of overseers and slave drivers. Some, however, especially in the coastal region of South Carolina and Georgia, labored under the task system: they were assigned a certain amount of work to complete in a day, received less supervision, and were free to use their time as they wished once they had completed their daily assignments.
Slave Treatment • The character of such care varied, but in purely material terms such as food, clothing, housing, and medical attention, it was generally better in the pre-Civil War period than in the colonial period.
Slave Treatment • Clothing and housing were crude but functional: slaves typically received four coarse suits (pants and shirts for men, dresses for women, long shirts for children) and lived in small wooden cabins, one to a family.
Slave Treatment • Although young children were often malnourished, most working slaves received a steady supply of pork and corn, which if lacking in nutritional balance provided sufficient calories to fuel their labor. Slaves often supplemented their rations with produce that they raised on garden plots allotted to them.
Slave Treatment • Masters intervened continually in the lives of their slaves, from directing their labor to approving or disapproving marriages. Some masters made elaborate written rules, and most engaged in constant meddling, directing, nagging, threatening, and punishing. Many took advantage of their position to exploit slave women sexually.
Slave Treatment • Slaves could not leave their master’s property without permission, nor board ships or ferries. Slaves could not own property, carry canes, disturb the peace, read, write, or communicate with slaves on other properties. • Punishments included whipping, banishment to the West Indies, and death
Slave Treatment • The security and stability of these families faced severe challenges: no state law recognized marriage among slaves, masters rather than parents had legal authority over slave children, and the possibility of forced separation, through sale, hung over every family.