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American Slavery


This presentation provides a general history of American slavery (with greater emphasis on its development than on its antebellum incarnation) to give students some understanding of the institution. …

This presentation provides a general history of American slavery (with greater emphasis on its development than on its antebellum incarnation) to give students some understanding of the institution. It is the fourth in a series of presentations designed for college students in a seminar on The Civil War and Reconstruction. Students will spend more time engaging antebellum slavery (the slavery that is more familiar to most Americans) in class.

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  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Orlando Patterson, “Slavery and Social Death,” in Adam Goodheart, et al, eds., Slavery in American Society, 3-4.The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Paul Finkelman, Defending Slavery, 6-7. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Paul Finkelman, Defending Slavery, 6-7. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Paul Finkelman, Defending Slavery. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Paul Finkelman, Defending Slavery. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Paul Finkelman, Defending Slavery, 10-11. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Peter Kolchin, “American Slavery and Russian Serfdom,” reprinted in Adam Goodheart, ed, Slavery in American Society, 207-216. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Accessed: 6/7/2012. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • From Time on the Cross, quoted from Darlene Clark Hine, et al, eds., African American Odyssey, 69. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Darlene Clark Hine et al eds., African American Odyssey, 60. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • “This figure shows the sharp increase in the number of African slaves brought to England’s North American colonies after 1675. Births to slaves added to the numbers of those brought from Africa so that by 1720, about 70,000 slaves lived in the English mainland colonies. The numbers suggest that births of slaves greatly outnumbered deaths, (Claiborne Carson, et al eds., African American Lives, 60).” HIS/AFS 5241/7241: American Slavery, Kidada E. Williams
  • “Between 1701 and 1780, ship captains transported about 156,000 slaves directly from Africa to colonial ports, esp Savannah, Charleston, Philadelphia, New York, Newport, and Boston. After the Declaration of Independence in 1776m many states banned the importation of Africans, thus the lower number of informing Africans in the 1770s. The disruption of seaborne traffic during the American Revolution further reduced the numbers. But after the war, slavers resumed traffic, carrying as many as 100,000 slaves to SC and GA between 1783 and 1808,” (Source, Claiborne Carson, et al eds., African American Lives, 81).
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Source: McCusker and Menard, The Economy of British America, quoted in (Claiborne Carson, et al eds., African American Lives, 78). HIS/AFS 5241/7241: American Slavery, Kidada E. Williams
  • Note: “After the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) chocked off slave importations and births to slave couples, the percentage of African-born slaves in the English colonies declined. However, this varied from place to place. SC and GA had the largest ration of African-born to North American-born slaves,” (Claiborne Carson, et al eds., African American Lives, 91). HIS/AFS 5241/7241: American Slavery, Kidada E. Williams
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • “Though the free black population more than doubled in four decades, the number of slaves, six times greater than the free population in 1820, also doubled, dwarfing the grown in free black communities (Claiborne Carson, et al eds., African American Lives, 191).” HIS/AFS 5241/7241: American Slavery, Kidada E. Williams
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War & Reconstruction
  • The Civil War & Reconstruction
  • The Civil War & Reconstruction


  • 1. The Civil War & Reconstruction
  • 2.  Get a working definition of slavery as well as a larger, global history of the institution. Develop a very general understanding of slavery’s historical trajectory and nature in the U.S.  Although more information on slavery and its role in the Civil War is provided in other presentations, students who want more detailed information should take the American Slavery seminar. Students will be reading Frederick Douglass’s A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass to develop a stronger understanding of antebellum slavery than they will get from this presentation. In the end, students should have an understanding of slavery as an institution so that they can understand its relation to the Civil War and Reconstruction.
  • 3. Slavery was essential to the making of the United States. The forced labor of at least 12 generations of black people created substantial wealth for men and women of the slaveholding class—the slaveholders and the doctors, traders, lawyers, bankers, farmers, law enforcement officers, politicians, judges, insurance agents, saloon owners, sailors, and merchants—who all contributed to and benefited from slavery. This wealth translated into significant political power.
  • 4. The slave trade, the strength—manpower to build and cultivate, as well as, the products produced by African slaves—cotton, tobacco, rice, grain, indigo, and sugar—provided the basis for the nation’s wealth, underwriting the industrial revolution, and allowing the U.S. to project its power onto the rest of the world.
  • 5.  When many Americans think of slavery they imagine:  Slavery as benign, as in it didn’t harm enslaved people.  Fatherly and motherly slaveholders.  Happy, ignorant, dependent slaves.  Cotton picking as the only type of work that enslaved people performed.  For some, extreme physical violence—whipping, multination, and rape—and psychological violence— social death, separation of families, etc.  Some confuse African slavery in British Colonial North America (the precursor to the USA) with indentured servitude or present day types of oppression.  This is incorrect.
  • 6.  Most Americans develop their (mis)understandings of slavery from popular culture or public history projects:  Novels—Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Gone with the Wind  Films—“Gone with the Wind,” “Roots,” “Glory,” and “The Patriot”  Documentaries—“Africans in America” and “Slavery and the Making of America”  Library & Museum Exhibits, National Parks Service sites, and Historical Reenactments. This insight gained from popular culture sources isn’t wrong, per se. However, a lot of it is incorrect or has been disproven by researchers.
  • 7. What did it entail in British Colonial North America (BCNA), or what became the United States?
  • 8. Orlando Patterson, “Slavery and Social Death,” in Goodhearted., Slavery in American Society, 3-4.
  • 9.  Chattel slavery, as it developed in BCNA, involved the outright ownership of another human being, similar to owning land, goods, etc. for the duration of their life and that of their children. The institution created a “social death” for those who are enslaved. Social death, as Patterson shows, involves not only a separation from one’s ancestral birthplace but also the stripping of basic human rights and social and legal protections enjoyed by everyone else. These two dimensions of chattel slavery are what separate it from other forms of domination, oppression, or unfree labor.
  • 10.  To enslave Africans and African Americans, as Patterson, defines it, Europeans and European Americans had to assert 3 types of power on a routine basis:  Social  Violence or the threat of violence (threat of rape, disfigurement, the lash, sale, or death to extort compliance);  Psychological  Convince someone to accept their subjugated position (often to avoid violence or death)  Natal alienation—cast enslaved people out of normal human order & its protections (life, liberty, family). Isolate them socially, refuse to acknowledge social roles, deny them the right to perform social roles & enjoy basic human protections); and  Cultural  Establish a larger power system (law and ideology) that forces compliance and protects the interests of the master. Once they have been dishonored, enslaved people have no value to society, except in relation to the master class.
  • 11.  These 3 assertions of power created “dishonored” and “socially dead” people. In BCNA, this was done primarily to people of African descent (some Native Americans were similarly enslaved but English indentured servants were not), it was lifelong, and hereditary. This treatment of slaves emerged in BCNA over time and only after colonists experimented with other types of unfree labor.
  • 12.  Most cultures over the span of human history had rulers and ruling classes who accepted that some members of their society might be deemed inferior and subjected to enslavement or oppression. Source for the next 7 slides: Paul Finkelman, ed. Defending Slavery
  • 13.  Legitimacy rested on ideas of warfare.  Enemies captured in battle could be killed or considered to be “socially” or “legally” “dead” and thereby enslaved.  They could be freed once rulers changed or if their side won a battle. Punishment for criminal behavior. Punishment for those who fell into debt (might sell self or a loved one to relieve economic burden or pay off a debt).  Any person could find themselves enslaved.
  • 14.  Prisoners of war Debtors Before the 14th century (aka 1500s) slavery was only marginally based on race or ethnicity.  Some enslaved people were from another ethnic group: Greeks enslaved Persians, Romans enslaved Carthagenians, etc. and vice versa.  Others were from the same national group: Chinese slaves in China, African slaves in different and similar African clans.
  • 15.  Manumission easier. Freed slaves integrated back into society. Slavery was never confined to one racial or one ethnic group. In earlier times, any person could be enslaved. However, in what became the U.S., only Africans and their descendants could be enslaved for life and have their children enslaved. In the U.S., only blacks could be enslaved for life and whites, no matter their religion, ethnicity, class, or national origin could be enslaved.
  • 16.  Enslaved people were not identified by race so there was no way to identify them by sight. Enslaved people (esp women and children) often integrated into the family of their owners. “Socially and legally dead” dimensions meant that in some places, they enjoyed few legal protections and could be killed while being punished, with impunity. In other places, including some parts of the U.S., they had a “right to life” and masters could be punished for killing them.
  • 17.  Old Testament law had rules for the enslavement of Hebrews and non-Hebrews. Rise of Christianity and Islam created a religious rational for slavery: that the slave was a non-believer, a pagan, or an infidel and was not protected by the law of God, enjoyed no protections and could be enslaved. According to Paul Finkelman, “so many Slavic people from eastern Europe were enslaved that the term slave evolved from the word Slav.” Spread of Christianity across Europe limited slavery there but Europeans purchased slaves and enslaved prisoners of war.
  • 18.  In the Americas, many Anglo-American masters believed that spreading the gospel to their slaves would force them to manumit them so many opposed the teaching and converting of their slaves. Colonial legislatures passed laws that prohibited masters from freeing slaves on the basis of their conversion to Christianity. Over time, Europeans and European Americans used Christianity to defend slavery.  They argued that slavery and Christianity “civilize” Africans and their descendants.
  • 19. Russian Serfdom American Slavery People are tied to the land  People treated as chattel Lived on ancestral land  Kidnapped & transported Families remained intact from land The same race as masters  Families ripped apart or vassals  Social death Masters rarely interfered in  Different race from master lives of serfs  A lot of master Enjoyed more social interference autonomy  Enjoyed less autonomy Cultural practices remain  Cultural practices severed intact or diluted
  • 20.  Slavery was not a permanent position in other places, as it became in the Americas. Slavery was not hereditary in other places—it was not inherited or passed down to subsequent generations, as it became in the Americas. Slavery was not based upon race, as it became in the Americas.
  • 21.  The Trade in Africans across the Atlantic system lasted from the mid 1440s until slavery ended in the Western Hemisphere when Brazil abolished slavery in 1888. See the chronology in Goodheart. The system took on what scholars have called a triangular (and sometimes rectangular character).
  • 22.  Began w/ the Portuguese & Spanish in 1400s. It was expanded by the Dutch, English, & French in the 1600s and 1700s. “Americans” aka English settlers in BCNA, become active in the late 1700s-early 1800s. The trade ends in the late 1800s, as slavery ends in the Americas.
  • 23.  Just as historians, statisticians, and economists have gone from guessing about the slave trade, it is important for students of slavery to use these research findings to educate themselves about some general issues regarding the slave trade. These include:  How many Africans were enslaved?  Where did they come from?  Where did they go?  How many came to the U.S.?
  • 24.  Scholars have gone from guessing or assuming they know how many Africans were taken from the African continent toward exploring the shipping logs, insurance claims, and other historical records on both sides of the Atlantic. Their research has revealed some general estimates of 9-14 million taken. However, this figure does not include the people who died either while they were being captured or marched to the coast nor those who were killed in the wars activated by the slave trade. See the Transatlantic Slave Trade Voyage Database .
  • 25.  Slavery, as Orlando Patterson, Ira Berlin, Peter Kolchin, Eugene Genovese, and others note, is a very old institution. It existed in the ancient world and in different parts of the pre-modern and modern world. Slavery is illegal today in many places throughout the world. So, where the institution still exists (sexual trafficking, exploitation of migrant workers, and in Mauritania), it operates differently (covertly) than it did when it was legal.
  • 26.  Slavery existed on the African continent long before the Europeans arrived and it continued after Europeans left. Africans regularly traded in slaves either for their own personal servants or selling people who were shipped north to the Mediterranean region. However, it is important to recognize that Africans were no more homogenous than Asians, Europeans, or even Americans (North, Central, and Southern) are today.
  • 27.  Africa is the 2nd largest continent on the globe. Both the continent and its people are very diverse. Moreover, Africans did not think of themselves as “Africans;” they saw themselves by their ethnic group—Ibo, Asante, etc. and their family clan.  Indeed, people from Africa today often identify themselves by nation—Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and then by ethnic group. So, when “Africans” traded in slaves, they often sold into bondage people from other ethnic groups or people who were their competitors or enemies. Africans rarely sold into slavery people from their own ethnic group or family clan.
  • 28.  These figures represent the number of people taken. 15th century (1400s) – roughly 50,000 “Africans” 16th century (1500s) – roughly 300,000 “Africans” 17th century (1600s) – roughly 1.5 million “Africans” 18th century (1700s) – roughly 5.8 million “Africans” 19th century (1800s) - 2.4 million “Africans” (most smuggled illegally after international sanctions imposed on the trade)
  • 29.  Taken from West African Coastal Area  During 1400s-1500s, 90% from region  1600s, down to 55% from region as other parts of the continent are tapped as sources for slaves  1700s, down to 37% from region  1800s, up to 48% from region Taken from the Bights of Benin  1600s-1800s roughly 35% from this region  1900s, 25% from region Taken from Southeastern Africa  Rose from 1% in the 1600s to 15% by the 1800s
  • 30.  40% - Coasts of West Central Africa  modern day Angola, Congo, Gabon 35% - Bights of Benin and Biafra  modern day Cameroon & Nigeria 10% - Gold Coast  modern day Ghana 5% - Windward Coast  modern day Ivory Coast & Sierra Leone 5% - Senegambia  Gambia, Guinea, & Senegal 5% - Southeastern Africa  Mozambique & Tanzania
  • 31.  40% (4 mil) to Portuguese colony of Brazil; 20% (2 mil) to British colonies in the Caribbean (Jamaica, Barbados); 17.5% (1.75 mil) to Spanish colonies on the mainland and in the Caribbean (Santo Domingo); 13.5 % (or 1.35 mil) to French colonies in Caribbean (Saint-Domingue, Martinique, Guadeloupe); 2.5 % (or 250,000) to Danish and Dutch Caribbean (Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, Aruba); and 6.5% (or 650,000) to Colonial North America -- including British, French, Dutch, and Spanish areas
  • 32. Destination Total Slave ImportsBritish North America 500,000Spanish America 2,500,000British Caribbean 2,000,000French Caribbean 1,600,000Dutch Caribbean 500,000Danish Caribbean 28,000Brazil 4,000,000Old World (Europe) 200,000 Source: Hugh Thomas, The Slave Trade, 804
  • 33.  Was one part of larger transatlantic system in which  Ships left Europe for Africa with European manufactured goods.  Ships left Africa with slaves and African goods and minerals.  Ships left Americas with goods produced. However, some scholars have argued the Middle Passage should also include the capture, trek to the coast, and the weeks & months spent waiting in the holding pens for ships to arrive and fill up.
  • 34. Middle PassagePhrase slave shipsailors used todescribe the centralleg of their journalfrom Europe toAfrica to America.
  • 35.  Kidnapping or Prisoner of War Trek to coast in coffles Sold to slave traders in coastal areas Holding pens (“factories”) on the coast until enough to fill ships Boarding ships Arrival in the Americas Dispersal to homes, farms, plantations, cities, businesses, factories
  • 36. Slave ShipThe length of thejourney varied byweather (hurricanesor tropical storms),maritime war, andpoint of origin anddestination.
  • 37.  Conditions varied widely per supply & demand, weather, and the timing of the trade. Mortality rates  15-20% in early trade—because of a lack of systematized method for transporting enslaved people without losing many of them to revolt, warfare, storms, illness, or suicide.  5-10% in later trade—because of better treatment to ensure more people survived. Crew’s treatment—varied by timing of the trade and the European powers doing the transporting.  Violence remained part of the process but some people tried to be more humane than others. Resistance and rebellion of enslaved people occurred frequently while at sea.
  • 38.  The drawing on the next slide was a piece of what some scholars call a piece of anti-slave trade propaganda. The drawing is of the slave ship The Brooks as it was envisioned fully loaded or “tightly packed” with slaves. Though this image did become used as propaganda, it accurately depicts some but not all slave ships. The extent to which ships would be packed to the limit would depend on the slavers, the cost of slaves, the demands of the Crown, insurance companies, etc.
  • 39.  In the earliest parts of the trade, many enslaved people who came to BCNA first landed in the Caribbean. This is because slaveholding took off in the other parts of the Americas before it took off in BCNA. Colonists in BCNA first got slaves from the Caribbean (they were “seasoned” or already trained as slaves and spoke European language). Beginning in the late 1600s, Americans got enslaved people directly from the African continent. This continued until the U.S. ban on the slave trade went into effect in 1808. The illegal importation of slaves continued, resulting in tens of thousands of enslaved Africans being smuggled into the U.S.
  • 40.  Scholarly debate:  Moral reasons  In the late 1700s, some Englishmen became very concerned about the horrid conditions of the slave trade and this led them and their North American counterparts to push for its abolition.  The image on the next side depicts a case involving the killing of an enslaved African woman that some British activists used to argue for abolishing the slave trade (but not slavery).  Economic reasons  The British were shifting towards industrial production and did not need the slave trade. They were also focusing more on colonization.  With a thriving American born slave population and with some slave societies and societies with slaves shifting away from plantation slavery and, in the North, from slavery all together, there is less of a need for a booming slave trade.
  • 41.  The British banned the slave trade in 1807 and the Americans banned it in 1808. More than 2 million smuggled across the Atlantic to the Americas in the 1800s.  Of this, 54,000 come to the U.S. from slavers with Northeastern U.S. ties. The last documented slave ship to arrive in the U.S. was The Clothide, which landed in 1859 with 10 enslaved Africans from modern day Benin. The legal and Illegal trade in Africans continued as long as slavery existed.  Slavery ended: U.S.-1865, Puerto Rico-1873, Cuba-1886, & Brazil-1888.
  • 42. Source: Fogel and Engerman’sTime on the Cross, quoted in Darlene ClarkHine, et al eds., African American Odyssey, 69.
  • 43. Number of Enslaved people (thousands)8000070000600005000040000300002000010000 0 1701-1710 1711-1720 1721-730 1731-1740 1741-1750 1751-17601761-1770 1771-1775 Source: R.C Simmons, The American Colonies
  • 44.  Whereas there was a precedent for slavery as a type of unfree labor during the settlement of British Colonial North America, the emergence of African chattel slavery here was not predestined. Unfree labor existed throughout the world. Unfree labor included indentured servitude and slavery (however, the two are different and were treated and understood as different by people who lived in colonial North America). Women, men, and children were included in the class of unfree laborers across the world. The systems in which they were denied freedom included slavery, serfdom, and indentured servitude.
  • 45. Source: Claiborne Carson, et al eds., African American Lives, 60.
  • 46. Source: Claiborne Carson, et al eds., African American Lives, 81.
  • 47.  Unfree labor developed in BCNA in part because colonists in North America followed the quest for wealth and prosperity of their counterparts in the Caribbean and South America. Unfree labor was needed to clear land, serve households. Even more unfree labor was needed to cultivate cash crops (those for which there was a great demand and those that produced high wealthy yields) that included tobacco, indigo, rice, sugar and later on—cotton.
  • 48.  High demand for cheap and unfree labor to build the colonies and create wealth through cultivation of cash crops—namely tobacco, sugar, indigo, rice, etc. British gain control of the transatlantic slave trade— cost of slaves decreases and more colonists can purchase them. Decline in the number of English women and men who were willing to sell themselves into servitude— increases the demand for slaves.
  • 49.  Though the number of available English indentured servants declines (for a variety of reasons—war, horrible conditions in North America, greater reliance on African slavery throughout the Americas), the demand for unfree labor is insatiable. Americans cannot enslave English men and women for life because of English law. Native Americans are enslaved in some areas but their deaths from disease and war as well as their ability to wage war against colonists makes them less likely to be enslaved in all but a few places. Africans are already being enslaved in large numbers in Africa, the Caribbean, and in South America. This process began in the early 1500s, long before settlement in BCNA.
  • 50.  Though indentured servitude and slavery are two types of unfree labor, they were different in BCNA and should be treated and understood as such. Indentured servitude  A fixed term of (mostly) voluntary service, some rights, promised wages and land on end of contract, not based on race, not passed on to children. Slavery  Lifelong involuntary service, severely constrained rights, no promised wages, status passed on through mothers, based on African heritage.
  • 51.  Wealthy colonists in BCNA originally had a need for cheap and unfree labor. They preferred indentured servants from England but increasingly they shifted toward legalized African, lifelong, hereditary chattel slavery. The historian Peter Wood has called this shift a “terrible transformation” and others have called it the “downward spiral.” This shift was very slow and as Berlin, Fogel, and Kolchin note, it took more than a century for this to occur. Indeed, as Berlin notes, the first black Atlantic Creoles are recorded as being in Florida as early as the early 1500s. However, the shift toward full African chattel slavery doesn’t occur until the late 1600s.
  • 52. Years New Mid- South British Total % of England Atlantic West African Indies Slaves in BWI1710 2,600 6,200 29,000 148,000 185,000 79.6%1730 6,100 11,700 79,200 221,000 318,000 69.5%1750 11,000 20,700 210,400 295,000 537,100 55.5%1770 15,400 34,900 406,800 434,000 891,100 48.7% Source: Claiborne Carson, et al eds., African American Lives, 78.
  • 53. Source: Claiborne Carson, et al eds., AfricanAmerican Lives, 91.
  • 54.  Before that shift occurred, wealthy (and soon to be wealthy) colonists relied on unfree labor—primarily indentured servants and some slaves—and a number of colonists also worked themselves. Slavery existed during this period, roughly from the 1500s through the 1690s, but it was only a small part of the economy, which is why Berlin describes early colonial society as the “charter generations.” During this period, most colonies are what Berlin calls “societies with slaves” or what the historian Philip Morgan calls “infant slave societies.”
  • 55.  Slavery was only a part of the economy, not the driving force; Unfree labor force was mixed—black, white, and Native American—and consisted of indentured servants&slaves; Slaves of African descent were a mix of “seasoned” slaves from the Caribbean or “saltwater” slaves directly from the African continent; Race relations were flexible—blacks, whites, and Native Americans co-exist, work alongside each other, fraternize socially, sexually, politically, legally, etc.; Acculturation or exchange of cultural practices, beliefs, and identities re: race, religion, language, culture very common.
  • 56.  Paths to freedom DID exist and were easily negotiated— unfree laborers, regardless of their racial background, weren’t subjected to unfree status for life; and Unfree laborers, again irrespective of their racial status, could  Gain their freedom and then  Become valued members of society,  Usecourts,  Buy land,  Serve in the military,  Buy slaves,  Participate in social and political system This starts to change by the mid 1600s.
  • 57. Source: James Ciment, ed., Atlas of African- American History, 371607 Jamestown founded1617 Tobacco planted1619 First Ship of “Atlantic Creoles” arrives in the colony1623 William Tucker, born in Jamestown, becomes the first African American child born in the English colonies1639 Virginia legislature enacts a law that authorizes all adult males to carry arms, except black males, (signaling the beginnings of racial distinction in law)1642 Virginia passes fugitive slave law to penalize those who aid runaways1649 Virginia’s black population reaches 3001657 Virginia law establishes a colonial militia to hunt runaway slaves (signaling the increasing importance of African slavery to the colony)1658 To encourage slave trade, Virginia lowers import duties for merchants carrying enslaved Africans to the colony1661 Virginia legislature formally recognizes slavery
  • 58. Year Crime Offender Punishment1630 Having sex w/a black servant White servant Whipped for “defiling his body by lying with a Negro”1640 Conspiracy to escape 4 white servant, 1 White servants are sentenced to extra black servant service; black servant is whipped, branded, and shackled for 1 year1641 Running away 2 white servant, 1 An extra year of service for whites, black servant lifetime servitude for black man1661 Running away in the company of White servant 2 extra years of service enslaved people1660s Maidservant becomes pregnant White servant 2 extra years of service1660s Stealing a hog White servant 1,000 pounds of tobacco or 1 extra year of service1660s 22 days absent White servant 3 months of extra service and 1 year’s worth of crop1669 Disobeying master Black slave Toes cut off1707 Killing a slave White master No penalty Source: James Ciment, ed., Atlas of African- American History, 37
  • 59.  Enslavement only happens to people of African descent. Enslavement is lifelong. Enslavement is hereditary. This is the slavery that Civil War Americans found themselves living with and fighting over regarding the expansion into the western territories. The following slides provide a survey of antebellum slavery, which is very different from the earliest part of colonial slavery.
  • 60.  Slave labor cs, quarries, fisheries, factori es, naval stores  Unskilled labor (75%)  Rural-  Farm & plantation work— agriculture, tanneries, saltw cultivating crop orks, domestics  Domestic work in households, personal  Better male-female balance servants  North American births  Skilled labor (25%)  Higher than in Caribbean  Artisans (blacksmiths, carpenters, sea  Families & extended kinship mstresses), sailors, etc. networks  Rural v. Urban/Industrial  A/Am culture  Urban- sawmills, gristmills, domesti
  • 61.  New England & Mid-Atlantic  Domestics, farm hands, work in trades  Many enslaved people used in urban settings (artisans, carpenters, shipping industries, etc.)  Enslaved people’s quality of life varied by British, French, or Dutch masters. Groups are smaller, community more difficult to achieve  Nature of work (generally in a home or on a farm) meant that they lived in isolation from other black people. The rise in African arrivals in the early 1700s results in a  Rise in families and communities.  A greater sense of Africans’ diverse cultures in American life.
  • 62.  Rural Slavery  Most of these people worked on plantations & farms that were self-contained units.  Their labor can be broken down into:  House Slaves—cooks, maids, personal servants, nannies, butlers, drivers  Field Slaves (75%)—crop cultivation, processing of crops, some skilled work on plantations as butchers, blacksmiths, carpenters  Fields slaves’ labor was broken down into:  Gang style labor—on cotton and sugar plantations where they worked under a driver and/or overseer  Task style labor—in areas where they cultivated tobacco and rice. These enslaved people enjoyed more autonomy, general farm work  Some of these people were hired out to work for individuals, businesses, and governments that needed cheap laborers but who could not afford slaves or did not want to own slaves.  These were mostly enslaved men with skills in carpentry, fieldwork, etc.
  • 63.  Slavery was a highly adaptive institution in that enslaved people could be put to work in virtually in any vocation. Although antebellum slavery was generally a rural institution, there was also Urban Slavery (6% of enslaved people worked in antebellum southern towns)  There were historically large populations of enslaved people in cities but they declined over the antebellum period—perception of threat caused by autonomy, growing abolition movement.  They worked as servants, artisans, laborers, and shopkeepers.  They enjoyed more autonomy than their rural counterparts. Industrial Slavery  There were also large numbers of enslaved people employed in industrial labor. They worked in tobacco factories, quarries and fisheries; they fell trees; operated sawmills; delivered lumber; manufactured tar & turpentine; worked in chemical factories.  These people enjoyed even more autonomy and could be paid in cash, which might allow them to buy their freedom.
  • 64.  Slavery was always what Ira Berlin called a “negotiated relationship,” with mutual obligations and duties held by masters and by the people they enslaved. American masters expected to have absolute authority over the lives of the people but they often had to negotiate to extract the most amount of labor without endangering their lives or livelihoods as well as those of their slaves. Many enslaved people did not participate in slave revolts because they knew that they could not overthrow the entire institution on their own or command boats to return to Africa. Nevertheless, it is important to know that they resisted bondage in a variety of ways.
  • 65.  Purpose? Immediate relief, safety-valve. This resistance is also a tool of negotiation to get better treatment.  Withholding Labor  Negotiation between masters & slaves  Creating Families  Strong, flexible extended kinship networks  Underscoring slaves’ humanity and resistance of chattel status, of paternalism, etc.  Conjure or use herbal medicine or spells to punish master class.  “Play ole massa”-pay ignorant to avoid work or punishment.  Feign illness to avoid work.  Commit arson or destroy equipment, crops, animals, etc.  Use paternalist ideology to gain more food, privileges, prevent the sale of loved ones, etc.
  • 66.  Purpose? Immediate relief, safety-valve.  Theft  Of time, money, food, or goods for personal use or to sell on the slaves’ economy.  To alleviate hunger and deprivation, to defiantly take back goods, food, or money that their unpaid labor had created or purchased.  Running Away—relief, visit kin, seek freedom  Murder of master, mistress, overseer, masters’ children— relief from or retaliation for abusive treatment.  Commit suicide, infanticide, abortion—to escape the horrors of slavery or to spare loved ones the horrors. Everyday resistance is the most common form of resistance in U.S. because enslaved Americans were outnumbered and outgunned.
  • 67.  Rebellion—the highest form of resistance. Purpose? Throw off the shackles of slavery & use violence--the weapon of the master class--if necessary to achieve it. Rebellions are rare in BCNA because of the larger white population, controls of population, resident masters, militia, bans on arming blacks (in comparison to the Caribbean). The very possibility of them terrified the master class and all white Americans.
  • 68. Eugene D. Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll, 594
  • 69. Source: James Ciment, ed., Atlas of African- American History, 651663 Enslaved Virginians join white servants in a planned revolt. Plot discovered, black conspirators beheaded & their heads displayed in village square.1712 21 enslaved people executed in New York City for their alleged role in an uprising.1739 50-100 enslaved people at Stono, SC, flee south with stolen arms heading toward Spanish Florida. They kill whites who interfere, are captured and executed.1741 31 enslaved people are tried on sketchy evidence for burning down several NYC buildings and executed.1741 Enslaved Bostonians caught trying to escape to Florida in a stolen boat.1800 Enslaved man Gabriel plans an attack on Richmond. Most enslaved people in the region know about the plan, someone informs authorities, Gabriel and several conspirators are tried and executed.1811 Enslaved people in Orleans Territory engage in the largest revolt (re: participants). They kill 2 white men before officials put down the revolt. They late try and execute participants.1822 Denmark Vesey, a free black man, plots to attack Charleston, SC. When plot is discovered, Vesey and more than 40 others are executed.1831 Nat Turner, an enslaved Virginian, leads a group of conspirators to strike at slaveholders in Southampton County. Turner et al kill more than 60 whites before the rebellion is put down. Whites retaliate by killing more than 100 blacks.
  • 70. Claiborne Carson, et al eds., African American Lives, 191).
  • 71.  Anne Bailey, African Voices of the Atlantic Slave Trade Vincent Caretta, Equiano: The African (author discovers new evidence that forces us to rethink Olaudah Equiano) Philip D. Curtin, Atlantic Slave Trade (Curtin was one of the first to attempt a “headcount”) Basil Davidson, The African Slave Trade Adam Hochschild, Bury the Chains (study of the campaign to end the trade) Herbert Klein, The Atlantic Slave Trade Marcus Rediker, Slave Ship: A Human History (excellent analysis of the ships, the slaves, the crews, and captives) Stephanie Smallwood, Saltwater Slavery (great study on the cultures of African captives) Hugh Thomas, The Slave Trade
  • 72.  Ira Berlin et al eds., Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation; Families & Freedom; Free at Last: A Documentary History David Blight, Race & Reunion & American Oracle; W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction; Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering & Mothers of Invention; Don Fehrenbacher, The Dred Scott Case; Eric Foner, The Fiery Trial; Free Soil, Free Labor and Free Men; & Forever Free; Gary Gallagher, The Union War & The Confederate War; Henry Louis Gates, Lincoln, Race & Slavery; Peter Kolchin, American Slavery; Leon Litwack, Been in the Storm So Long; Chandra Manning, What This Cruel War was Over; Stephanie McCurry, Confederate Reckoning; James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom; Allen Ward, The Slaves’ War.
  • 73.  Slave Coffle: Abolition of the Slave Trade in England: slave-trade-and-the-civil-war/ Slave Ship Description: ce%20and%20friends.htm Triangular Trade Map: Rice and Indigo Plantation: Transatlantic Slave Trade: Interior of Slave Ship:
  • 74.  The Sectional Crises Why A Lincoln Presidency Meant War Confederate Ascendancy