In world history, slavery precedesracism. Slavery is a universalinstitution practiced in virtually allsocieties for thousands of years. Yetthe remarkable fact about slavery inthe ancient world is that it hadnothing to do with race. Most slaveswere the same race as their owners.Slaves were degraded because of their low social status not Gladiators = their skin color. Despite slaves. the awareness of color differences in the ancient world, nothing resembled a theory of racial superiority. Many people in the ancient world attributed differences of appearance and custom to the influence of geography and climate.
In the Americas, Spanish &Portuguese classified peopleaccording to “blood purity.” Theyregarded blackness as a visualrepresentation of tainted blood.The result was a mind-bogglingarray of potential racial categories.Even though these categories madeit possible for “Negroes” to “whiten”themselves (or in social terms, tobecome more like Spaniards) over afew generations and thus becomefree & even socially equal, thedifferent categories of color alsoreinforced negative stereotypesassociated with blackness & Africa.Moreover, these categories createda new visual hierarchy of race aswell as accompanying social andcultural expectations.Spanish Casta (Race) Painting
MulattoSlaves in Spanish/Portuguese Americahad certain property rights, couldcontract marriages, & keep their familiesintact. Baptism put them on an almostcertain path to eventual freedom due toCatholicism’s emphasis on the equalityof all Christians. Once free, they readilyintermarried with their former masters.
Racism is generallyequated with slavery today because the two practicesevolved together in British North America, and in this respect the experience of English and Africans here is historically unique.
Tobacco & SlaveryTobacco is the mostimportant crop in ColonialAmerica and is extremelylabor intensive. The Englishuse slave labor in theirCaribbean sugar coloniesbut slavery does not legallyexist in Virginia until 1661.Yet, the first cargo ofAfricans arrives in 1619. Inthe intervening years theenslavement of black peoplewas gradual. At first, bothblacks and poor whites wereunfree laborers, a.k.a.indentured servants.
Indentured ServantsUnlike slaves, indentured servants hadrights: Their terms of service would endafter 5-7 years; their servitude was notheritable by their children; they were dueland, firearms, & clothes at the end of their terms of service. Most early immigrants to Virginia were young, single males who came as indentured servants and died relatively soon after coming, either from disease or being worked to death.
Anthony Johnson is the best documented black indentured servant. He worked off his term of service & married a free black woman. He owned 200 acres in MD and had indentured servants and even one African slave working for him! His family later lost the land (and maybe their freedom) when slavery became race-based byPortrait of a Negro, by Albrecht Dürer end of the 1600s.
Why did slavery become race-based by end of 1600s?• Bacon’s Rebellion (1676) – a revolt over Indian policy inVA by a black-white coalition of former indentures led by upperclass upstart Nathaniel Bacon. White elites feared a classrevolution from below and used race-based slavery to dividepoor blacks and poor whites from uniting in common cause.• A decline in the number of white European indenturedservants due to rumors of mistreatment in America.• An increase in wars among African nations; coastalAfricans sold other African prisoners-of-war to Europeans, whofueled the demand.• Europeans perceived Africans to be “different, disagreeable,and dispensable,” which made it easy to rationalize theimmorality of slavery.
Nathaniel Baconhad arguably themost significantcase of chronicdiarrhea (dysentery)in American history.It killed him, and hisdeath brought an endto the rebellion he wasleading. Until theAmerican Revolutionstarted, Bacon’sRebellion was the mostnoteworthy challenge toroyal authority in thecolonies.
Part Two:The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the Colonial Economy of British North America
African Indigenous SlaverySlavery was widespread in Africa and had been around for thousands of years. Slaves were the only form of private, revenue-producing property recognizedunder African law; no private, personal ownership of land. African political and economic elites sold large numbers of slaves to whomever could pay for them.
All major European powers took part in the slave trade. In England, Charles II granted his friends in the Royal African Co. a monopoly that lasted until 1698. After that, the slave tradeexpanded rapidly as individual entrepreneurs entered the business.
Not until the latter half of the 1800s didEuropeans possess thenecessary technologies (e.g., quinine to fight yellow fever, steam engines, repeating rifles) that would allow them to colonize the Portuguese (Slave) interior part of Africa. Trading Post on Africa’s Gold Coast. In the 1600s & 1700s,European slave traders remained in fortified coastal trading posts,where they awaited the arrival of war captives to enslave.
King of Congo Receiving Dutch Ambassadors, 1642Africans controlled the supply side of the slave trade, and Europeans fueled the demand.
• 12 million peopleforcibly migrated; 2/3of all exported slaveswere male.• Probably another 4million died resistingor in captivity.• Notice that less than5% of all slaves werebrought directly toEngland’s NorthAmerican colonies. Itwas much more likelythat aslavewouldfirst goto oneof the Demographicsugar Impact in Africacoloniesin theWestIndies.
New England’s colonialeconomy was diverse, withmore than one strength tobenefit the British Empire.Farming, fishing, lumbering--all were mainstays. NewEngland was also thecenter of the slave trade inthe mainland colonies.Slavery existed throughoutthe colonies. In the South,fewer people owned moreslaves per capita. In theNorth, more people ownedfewer slaves per capita.Slaves in the North weremore likely skilled laborers. Slave Ship
Demographic Impact in British North America • 1700 -- 25,000 slaves in British N. America; 1/2 in Virginia. • 1760 -- 300,000 Africans in British N. America; 3/4 in the South; over 1/2 the population of South Carolina was enslaved.
The “Triangular Trade”*• European ships usually made voyages that consisted of three phases.• First phase -- Carry European manufactured goods--textiles, metals, guns, rum--to Africa and exchange for slaves.• Second phase (a.k.a., the “Middle Passage”) -- Take enslaved Africans to Caribbean & American destinations.• Third phase -- Exchange for sugar (molasses, rum) or raw materials from America & then go back to Europe. Textbook calls it the “carrying trade.”
Trans-Atlantic Trading Networks (“The Triangular Trade”) If it was Europeans’ good fortune to be close to the Americas, proximity proved to be a misfortune The for Africans. Middle PassageSlaves were regarded as just another commodity to be bought& sold in the colonial economy of the British Empire in the NewWorld. An empire without slavery was unthinkable until 1800s.
Lyrics to “Molasses to Rum to Slaves” from the musical 1776 (1976) Molasses to rum to slaves, oh Shall we dance to the sound of the what a beautiful waltz profitable pound You dance with us, we dance with In molasses and rum and slaves you Molasses and rum and slaves Who sails the ships out of Guinea Ladened with bibles and slaves? Who sails the ships out of Boston Tis Boston can coast to the West Ladened with bibles and rum? Indies coast Who drinks a toast to the Ivory Jamaica, we brung what ye craves Coast? Antigua, Barbados, we brung Hail Africa, the slavers have come bibles and slaves! from New England with bibles and rum Molasses to rum to slaves Who sail the ships back to Boston And its off with the rum and the Ladened with gold, see it gleam bibles Whose fortunes are made in the Take on the slaves, clink, clink triangle trade Hail and farewell to the smell Hail slavery, the New England Of the African coast dream! Mr. Adams, I give you a toast: Hail Boston! Hail Charleston! Molasses to rum to slaves Who stinketh the most? Tisnt morals, tis money that saves
Slave Coffle, Central Africa, 1866 African war captives from the interior were often marchedhundreds of miles to coastal slave-trading kingdoms--such as Ghana and Dahomey--and then sold to Europeans.
Olaudah Equiano, Children were1745-1797 frequent targets for kidnapping & enslavement. Olaudah Equiano, an Ibo who later authored a famous slave narrative about his experience in bondage & eventual freedom, was stolen & sold when he was a child.
Enslaved Africans were confined in barracoons forweeks or even months while awaiting transport across the Atlantic Ocean.
The Middle Passage• Journey across Atlantic took 4-6 weeks.• Sometimes room to sit but often shelved with only 20 inches of space.• Slave suicides; disease; filth; revolts.• Forced feedings; sick thrown overboard.• Language barriers.• It is estimated that perhaps ¼ of those enslaved in Africa did not survive the Middle Passage.
Cross-section of British Slave Ship Regulated for ‘Tight-Packing,’ 1789The horrific journey to the New World, known as the“Middle Passage,” was truly hellish. Humans were tightly packedtogether in dark, confining spaces & soon found themselveswallowing in each other’s filth & vomit; some % were sure to die.
George Morland, The Slave Trade If families had not already been separated prior to their arrivalin the New World, chances were they would be shortly thereafter.
Although slave marriages were not legally recognized, slaves got married anyway.Black family life on southern plantations was sustained despite the high possibility that a family member would be sold.
Undated (but likely c. 1800)Slaves lived their day-to-day existences at themercy of their owners’ desires and impulses.
Blacks’ resistance to their enslavement took many forms--slacking off, vandalism, theft, poisoning, murder, & of course, running away. Some runaways were able to live in ‘maroon’ communities beyond the reach of the law. A number of maroon communities existed in the Caribbean & Brazil. In N. America, maroon communities existed in northern Florida among the Seminoles and in the Great Dismal Swamp of Virginia & North Carolina.Black Resistance
George Potter & Family Served Tea by a Slave, Rhode Island, 1740. In Colonial America, slavery existed in all thirteen colonies (not originally in Georgia, but the ban there was short-lived). The hub of the slave trade in the colonies was Newport, Rhode Island.
The most significant slave uprising that took place inColonial America was the Stono Rebellion in SC, 1739.
How did the intl. slave trade end?• English anti-slavery activists like William Wilberforce are credited with bringing pressure on the British Govt. to end international slave shipments in 1807; the U.S. agrees to comply in 1808.• It will be the 1830s, however, before a real dent is made in the slave trade at the source. African rulers and merchants will have to be paid off and bound by treaties. Wilberforce• Of course, slavery still exists today (in brothels around the world, in diamond mines, on chocolate plantations, etc.).
‘Mutual Causation’ Between Racism & Slavery in British N. America In American history, racist attitudes toward Africans technically precede their enslavement, but once the economic course of plantation agriculture is set, racism (the idea that blacksare ‘natural’ slaves because they are biologically and permanently inferior) becomes an important belief system used to justify andrationalize a system of bondage that had become an economic necessity for whites.