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The Slave Trade in Colonial America Name HIST101 – American History to 1877 26 June 2011 The Slave Trade in Colonial America Slavery has played a large role in shaping the history and economy of colonial America. The use of free labor had allowed America to garner large profits from its slave-dependent industries…
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The Slave Trade in Colonial America
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Download file to see previous pages Slave traders, nevertheless, justified slavery, using British common law, some Christian beliefs, and natural rights philosophy, where these sources promoted slavery through racism. These sources stressed the inferiority of other races and the supremacy of the white race and culture, as well as the authority of Catholicism.1 For centuries, slavery progressed in Colonial America, but not without resistance from abolitionists and slaves themselves2. This paper describes the history and important events during the slave trade in Colonial America. It no longer deals with the abolition of slavery, but focuses on the economic aspects of the slave trade. The Beginnings of Slavery The history of slavery does not begin in colonial America but centuries before that, and it is said to have started in Europe. Booker T. Washington said that slavery of Africans began in A.D.990.3 The Moors who did not have “curly hair” also actively traded slaves in various countries in Europe and the Middle East.4 The Arabs even brought their “black ivory” to Cyprus and distributed them across Europe.5 The Portuguese, however, were attributed to be the originators of slavery in Christian Europe.6 Prince Henry, the Navigator (1394-1460), third son of King John I of Portugal, established a navigation college at Sagres on Cape Saint Vincent in 1419, because he wanted to discover new lands and convert the heathens into Catholics.7 All non-Christians were then called as “heathens,” a pejorative word for people considered as uncivilized. During this time, the world was divided between the Portuguese and the Spaniards, the two Catholic powers with naval capabilities. The British wanted to emulate these old superpowers and explored North America as its colonial territory. From here, they brought and traded slaves, who sustained their new economy.8 The first group of English people sent to the Americas in 1590, the Roanoke, was not a success; they mysteriously disappeared and were never found again.9 Still, this did not dent the English from pursuing the colonization of America. In 1606, a group of English investors had created the Virginia Company.10 They recruited people who were willing to be the new settlers in America. These new settlers did not originally conceive the need for slavery in their blueprint, because they focused on freedom and the opportunity to own land. Later on, it became clearer that in order to become rich, it was crucial to have the necessary labor to conduct economic activities competitively.11 This “peculiar institution” of slavery expanded as part of the plantation systems, first in sugar plantations, and then to tobacco and cotton plantations.12 The slaves are then called “black gold” because of trading profits and plantation profits. One scholar stressed that slavery is not based on color alone, but more for economic reasons: “The reason for Negro slavery is economic, not racial…[it has more to do with] the cheapness of labor. As compared with Indian and white labor, Negro slavery was eminently superior…”13 Slavery spread deeply and widely in South, where slave trading generally became predominant. Slave Trade in Colonial America The exact time and place of when and where the slave trade began in America is still debatable. One source ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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