Origins of Slavery


  1.  Background

    1. Long history of bound labor in European history

    2. Extensive slavery in Greco-Roman period

    3. Less in Medieval period, but serfdom stands as form of bound labor

    4. England taps into market developed by Spain and Portugal

      1. Sugar trade triggers initial expansion

      2. Middle passage

    1. includes not only the sea journey, but also capture and transport to port - whole journey averaged six months

    2. Besides miserable physical, captives removed from their language, culture, community networks

    3. About 427,000 brought to British colonies, U.S. before 1807

    4. Most went to Brazil and Caribbean

  1.   General theory on growth of slavery – Land, Labor, Staple equation

A.     Sugar, tobacco and rice provide profitable crops (staples)

B.     Land is abundant and cheap

C.     But not enough labor

D.     Hence the rise of slavery

  III. Anthony Johnson - See Carson book, opening of Chp 2.. What does his story tell us about race and slavery in the 1600s?

    IV.      Early slavery – early development in the Chesapeake, 1619-1660s

A.     Slaves grow to about 5% of the population

B.     Two key issues in this period

1.      Developing relationship between racism and slavery

2.      Steady growth of slavery

C.     Chesapeake slowly being drawn into growing Atlantic economy, fueling slavery

  V. English slave trade

  1. England does not become deeply involved in slave trade before mid 1600s

  2. Large scale colonization and farming in the Caribbean in 1640s leads to increased purchase of slaves

  3. Mainly bought from other Europeans, notably the Dutch

  4. Increasing dependence on slavery in North America also increases England's involvement in the trade

  5. After defeating the Dutch in a series of wars from 1650 to 1674, English take direct control of much of the Atlantic slave trade

     V.      Second phase – 1670-late 1700s

A.     Virginia becomes a full blown slave society – why?

1.      For one, number of indentured servants drops

a)      Fewer available

b)      Elites fearful of indentured servants after Bacon’s Rebellion

c)      Growing availability of slaves

B.     Development of a landed gentry

1.      Development of large estates

2.      Slaves essential to status

3.      Gentry often trapped by debt

      VI.      Difficulties in explaining growth

A.     In New England, the Land-Labor-Staple equation doesn’t work, but still has slavery

B.     True also in New York, Pennsylvania, but large slave numbers – 20% in NY

C.     However, does fit in South – South Carolina becomes majority slave based on rice cultivation

     VII.      Why African slavery?

A.     Long established African slave trade, both internal and external

B.     South Carolina wanted West Africans, who already had experience with rice

C.     Many cultural and religious reasons

1.      Europeans not enslaved for cultural and religious reasons

2.      Indian slavery was impractical – died from disease, easily escaped

3.      Also, Indian benefited from idea of Noble Savage

         VIII.      But everything depends on economy

A.     Slavery made possible because of developing market economy in Atlantic

B.     Will make possible the rise of cities and a colonial elite