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Why we continue to talk about an issue that has been dead in America since the end of the Civil War. The answer is harsh but true – we must study the history of American slavery because it will provide a backdrop for the contemporary issue of global slavery. Indeed, as the map below indicates, in the 21st century, at least 27 million people are enslaved.
While this video shows us that contemporary slavery is certainly more prevalent in the Far East, Asia, and Africa, slavery still exists in North America.
From where did the slaves originate?
What type of culture and lifestyle did the African leave behind when he or she was forced into slavery?
From where did the slaves originate?
As the above map of “Negroland” indicates, slaves were kidnapped mainly from western Africa, or what many have called The Slave Coast – the coastal areas of present-day Togo, Benin (formerly Dahomey) and western Nigeria. In the pre-colonial time this was one of the most densely populated parts of the African continent. It became one of the most important export centers for the Atlantic slave trade from the early 16th century to the 19th century.
As the map below indicates, between 1650-1860, as many of 15 million Africans were kidnapped and forced into slavery. While the vast majority were transported to South and Central America and the West Indies, about a half million came to North America. You can see that most slaves were kidnapped from southwest Africa, where they lived largely in tropical rainforests, or areas that had no geographical similarities to where they were transported in North America.
What kind of culture and lifestyle did the Africans leave behind after being forced into slavery?
- On the coast and interior of West Africa, about 100 million people lived in hundred of individual tribal nations.
- Most nations were feudal societies based upon agriculture. African farmers were skilled and some were familiar with iron tools.
- While slavery existed within African nations, it initially was comprised of prisoners of war – not on profit or racism
- Individual tribes shared communal lands and there was little understanding of private property. Communal lands were cultivated for communal needs – not for profit.
- Large urban centers existed – especially in the northern parts of Africa – and these had well established businesses and trade routes.
- As this map indicates, Map of African empires before European colonizationsub-Saharan Africa was rich with vast and powerful empires long before the Europeans arrived. One of the biggest empires, Ethiopia, was actually and perhaps uniquely successful in resisting European imperialism.) The Songhai Empire, at its peak in the 14th century, was a global center of culture and learning, based in the still-famous mosques of Timbuktu. The map spans two thousands years from 500 B.C. to 1500 A.D., so these empires were not concurrent; some existed centuries apart.
- African nations had stable and well-defined concepts of law and order, although rivalry existed among nations.
- Muslims comprised 10-15% of all slaves brought to the “New World.”
By the time Europeans began trading in African slaves, Islam as a religion and culture was well established in West Africa. After it was initially brought to the region by Arab merchants, Africans began to spread it throughout the northern part of the continent. It gained a particularly strong foothold in the Gold Coast, Senegal, and Dahomey, what is now the Congo and Angola.
- Islamic scholars taught men as well as women, boys and girls, and peasants to read and write, so the literacy rate was much higher than in Europe. Thus, it is likely that many Muslims sold as slaves were literate. We know this because they left behind their Korans, letters, and journals.
- Muslims who were sent to America faced a harsh Christian world entirely hostile to their faith. Practicing a religion other than Christianity in the colonies was forbidden, so it was difficult for a slave to maintain his or her Islamic faith in captivity. It was especially difficult to uphold the five Pillars of Islam. Evidence does exist, however, that slaves in North America, and especially in South America, tried to upheld the first four pillars.
- This struggle has been documented by Alex Haley in Roots and we are clearly able to witness the difficulty with which Kunta Kinte tries to keep the Islamic faith alive in his family. It is especially difficult as he marries a woman who was born in America, who never experienced freedom, and is a Christian. This is one of the greatest barriers to maintaining the Muslim faith.
And what is the single identifying social, political, and economic indicator of success in all the colonies? Property.
Thus, property in slaves was highly documented from the time slaves were captured and through their transportation to America. Documentation continued from their sale and through their entire lives on the plantations where they lived.
As the chronology below indicates, slavery gradually became institutionalized in the British colonies of North America.
- 1400s The Portuguese began enslaving West Africans
- 1502 The slave trade to “New World” officially began when slaves were introduced to the Caribbean with permission from Spain.
- 1540 About 10,000 African slaves were exported annually into the West Indies.
- 1619 Slavery arrived in North America when the first Africans – 20 men from West Africa – involuntarily arrived in Jamestown on a Dutch frigate. About one million African slaves had already arrived in South America.
- 1637 The first American slave ship sailed for Africa in search of slaves. Drawing of Interior of an African Slave Ship
- 1660s The black population of the Caribbean islands outnumbered the white population.
- 1661 Virginia became the first colony to legalize slavery. Within 42 years after the involuntary arrival of Africans in North America, slavery had become an American institution – an established and accepted, as well as legal, practice in society.
- 1672 Charles II chartered the Royal African Company; between 1672 and 1731, the RAC dominated the world slave market.
- 1800 Between 10-15 million Africans had forcibly arrived in the Americas – about one-third of the original number who had been kidnapped from their homes. Of these, about 6% – or about 650,000 – actually came to North America.
- 1807 The British Parliament oulawed slavery – although in practice, slavery had been nonexistent in Britain for 200 years.
- 1808 The U.S. abolished slave trading, but the system of slavery remained legal.
- 1810 The 1.1 million slaves in the US constituted almost twice the total number of Africans imported from Africa during the preceding two centuries.
- 1860 The almost 4 million slaves in the US constituted six times the number of slaves the nation had imported.
- 1865 The U.S. abolished slavery after passing the Thirteenth Amendment.Characteristics of SlaveryThe roots of institutionalized slavery were economic. Initially, it was the economic need for slaves that led to the institutionalization of slavery – not the social need to enslave the inferior.
– By mid-1600s, the southern colonists realized that to make their crops marketable and profitable, they needed a regular supply of laborers who could be profitably obtained in large quantities.
- Enslavement gradually was seen as the perfect solution to their economic problems. Africans could satisfy their need for a cheap, reliable, profitable, and regular labor source.
- Because of the southern reliance on single crop economy – which was possible because of the weather, climate, and geography – slavery spread quickly in the south. This map demonstrates the geographical dimensions of slavery according to the second U.S. census.Map of Slave Population in No. american colonies 1800
Slave trading was also a major component of North American colonial economics. The goal became to cram as many slaves as possible into as small a space as possible to make the largest profits as possible.
Once they landed in North America, slaves were auctioned off at corporate headquarters up and down the east coast.
The slave auction was one of the first of many of the inhumane events that the kidnapped Africans were subjected to upon arrival. You can see this in this episode from Roots. www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfw9mLjh7YM
ISIS Sex-Slave Raping & Selling Girls (Full Documentary)
This documentary examines the global sex tourism industry through the eyes of working girls in Venezuela and Thailand. It reveals how sleeping with foreigners for money has become a mainstream career choice for many Third World women. At a holiday resort in Venezuela, men get to choose a girlfriend for the week from a line-up of stunning prostitutes. The men claim they are seeking companionship as much as sex, and talk about love and marriage.
But for the girls, what is the emotional cost of pretending to actually like these men?
Most horrible of all…..Published on Mar 6, 2016
In Afghanistan women are forbidden to dance in public. Local men suffer – they want entertainment and sex at any cost. RT talked to “bachas”, boys dressed as women who dance for older men at male-only parties, and “playboys”, the bosses who recruit them. A private party usually ends up with guests bidding for a night with the ‘bacha’ (a ‘boy’ in Farsi).