DEFINITIONS AND HISTORICAL FOUNDATIONS
EURO-AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE: RISE AND EVOLUTION
THE ECONOMICS OF NEW WORLD SLAVERY
THE RHODE ISLAND BLACK BATTALION
In specific historical contexts, when some human societies began to accumulate surplus wealth and disperse it unequally among various class strata, slavery became possible. For hunting and gathering bands and most horticultural societies, the human needs for balanced reciprocity and generalized cooperation militated against the formation of slave relations. Nor did all state societies have slavery, but a socially stratified state society is a historical requirement for institutionalized slavery. Moreover, in early instances of localized slavery, it was not especially “racial,” because long-distance transport, globalization, alienation, and racial diversity were generally not present.
DEFINITIONS AND HISTORICAL FOUNDATIONS
Usually, slavery appears in class societies that create individuals and populations that are being punished, captured, transformed into an economic resource, or a combination of all three. Slavery always involves coercion because it is an involuntary relationship between human groups. One may gloss this relationship by defining slaves as “prisoners of war” insofar as “war” can be defined ecologically, economically, socially, politically, militarily, or on the basis of racial or ethic categories and gender. Slavery has existed for roughly 4,000 or 5,000 years under specific circumstances in which it grows, thrives, or declines.
Even when ancient slavery was institutionalized, it was usually on a small scale and practiced by high-status minority groups. Often, early slavery was closer to indenture and provisional servitude, as certain rights and responsibilities existed for slaves and slavery was not necessarily a lifetime status. As human groups moved into imperial and conquest modes, slavery increased. Indeed the Western term slave is derived from “Slavic,” the source of captives in the expanding Roman Empire. Nascent Rome first captured local rivals such as the Latins, Etruscans, and Sabines and coerced them to pay “tribute” and become subordinate “tribes” of Rome. When Rome expanded across the Adriatic Sea to the Slavic people, the subordinated status of “othered” groups became permanent. Captives from these Slavic lands entered the Roman political economy in perpetual servitude for cash exchange to work on large-scale agricultural estates and mines, in domestic service, as concubines, to provide labor on galleys or plantations, and in gladiatorial combat.
The process of “othering” slaves on the basis of their lands, language, gender, property, sexuality, or ethnicity, and later on the basis of socially constructed “race” occurs only when greater distances for slave origins become substantial factors. Slave systems that are based on “race” require not only state formation but also large-scale “globalized” states in which racio-ethnic “othering” takes place and the slave’s hope of returning to his or her place of origin is minimal at best.
In ancient Egypt, certainly by the imperial New Kingdom (1500–1000 BCE), if not much earlier, slaves were clearly “othered” in the graphic images that depicted ethno-racial plurality and in lexical references to “vile” and otherwise “despicable” Nubians and Africans who were under their colonial occupation. This important issue has been carefully explored by FluehrLobban and Rhodes in Race and Identity in the Nile Valley (2004). In Mesopotamia the cuneiform glyph for a female slave was composed of the symbol for “woman” from a “foreign land,” and the famed Code of Hammurabi indicated very specific legal rights, duties, and punishments for slaves versus free versus nobility.
An interesting instance of slavery in the Greek “Golden Age” occurs with the famed slave storyteller known as Aesop. He was expressly known as a slave of foreign rather than domestic origins who was “ugly.” His name reflects the general reference to his “Ethiopian” or Nubian origins. His death was essentially an informal lynching. In this example, one may condense the defining features of an imperial state society, including “othering” and denigrating on the basis of race.
Incidentally, the Nubian (Sudanic) word for slave was nogor, possibly the source of the Latin word “Negro.” There were other words for the color black, but this word was used just for “black people.” Even in the early twenty-first century, for example, French has the terms noir and negre, both meaning “black” but one used for the color and one for people. In American English “black” is neutral or positive but nigger is highly negative or problematic.
Certainly the Greeks were not the first in the Old World to reach this point in slave relationships, nor were the subsequent Romans. At the start of their empires, slavery was “racial” in a limited sense because the slave populations were largely of European origin, though they were distinguishable by language. When these empires reached their fullest geographical extents and conquered “racially” diverse peoples, then the coercive power of slavery could be “racial.”
Earlier areas that passed through this process included the Nile Valley, Mesopotamia, ancient China,
the Indus Valley, Europe, and the Middle East, especially the Phoenician, Greek, and Roman empires at the high points of their commercial power and military greatness. Later examples can be found in New World societies such as the Incans, Mayans, and Aztec.
Taking note of the Egyptian example, despite some protestations that it was not a slave society, there is abundant linguistic, textual, and archaeological evidence that slaves did certainly exist, especially by foreign capture when military tribute was commonly enumerated in slaves, livestock, and natural resources seized from the peripheries of their expansive empire. The same holds true for ancient Mesopotamia, whether in Assyria, Babylon, or other state formations of that region. For the relatively small-scale city-states of medieval Europe, imperial conquest could not be so easily sustained, so the status of slaves often devolved to serf and feudal servitude. During medieval “religious” and imperial crusades, slavery was restored on a grander scale both by Christian Europeans and the Muslim of the Middle East.
Among the savanna kingdoms in Africa, such as Ghana, Mali, Songhai, and the East African states of Kilwa, Zanzibar, and Mogadishu, slave raiding and trading was an essential part of the domestic and export economies. While these trades started earlier than the European slave trading of the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries and lasted longer (and even still exist), in general they were not usually linked to large-scale plantation production of cotton, sugar, and tobacco. Instead, the African and Arab experiences with slavery were more associated with domestic service, concubines, and military service. Moreover, de facto slave status gradually diminished for individuals within the incorporative nature of Islamic societies, while de jure slavery in the New World was often castelike and permanent over generations.
In the context of late medieval imperial expansion, New World exploration, Arab world circumnavigation, and religious justification, large-scale, racially based slave systems took root. The watershed year of 1492 was a tipping point in Euro-African relations with the voyages of Columbus, West African exploration, and the termination of centuries of Moorish occupation with the expulsion of Arabs and Jews from Iberia. The experimental foundation of the political economy of racially constructed slavery was put into place in the Canary Islands as early as 1441 with genocide against the native Guan-ache population and the installation of a sugar plantation economy run with slave labor. In the case of medieval Ghana, Europeans glossed this savanna kingdom as the “Land of Gold” or the “Land of the Blacks,” echoed in the Arabic term Bilad as-Sudan (the land of the blacks). To the extent that the crusading Christian worlds were warring against the “infidel” Muslim worlds, taking slave captives and other items of wealth was justified as military booty that could be used to economic advantage.
As Europeans sailed down the West African coastline, their commodity-based nomenclature gives some mute testimony to their interests with references to the “Pepper Coast” (Sierra Leone), the “Grain Coast”(Liberia), the “Ivory Coast” (still the same name), the “Gold Coast” (Ghana), the “Slave Coast” (today’s Benin and Nigeria), and the “Shrimp Coast” (Cameroon). From these places some of the human and natural resources for European and New World development could be found, along with markets for European manufactured goods such as cloth, firearms, metal ware, and alcoholic spirits.
EURO-AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE: RISE AND EVOLUTION
The one-way Atlantic crossing from Africa to the New World known generally as the Middle Passage took untold millions from African homelands to shortened lives in American mines, plantations, docks, and estates. Sometimes it was termed “the world’s longest graveyard,” because the mortality rate in the Middle Passage varied by the length of the voyage, the degree of “tight-packing” or “loose-packing,” health conditions, mutinies, and so forth. Some ships were lost altogether; others came through with cargoes largely intact. On average, scholars calculate that about one in five slaves boarded in West Africa did not reach the New World alive. Other calculations note that for every slave boarded, at least another one died in resistance to the slave raiding of Africans or Europeans. For those reaching New World markets, life was often very harsh and brutally shortened.
A great and long debate has been under way about the total number of Africans involved the Middle Passage diaspora. Probably the strongest, most defensible and conservative numbers are those offered by Phillip Curtin (1969): from 10 million to 15 million. However, for parts of this history, the Atlantic slave trade was openly illegal; hence, official records were not kept. Other records were simply lost. Given the many centuries, nationalities, and contexts involved, it is clear that the numbers were much higher, especially if the factors of mortality before boarding and the Middle Passage were included more effectively or accurately. This statistic will never be known precisely.
If the Atlantic slave trade began in 1441 when African slaves were first taken by Europeans from the area of modern Mauritania to Portugal or the Canary Islands, it was another fifty years before they crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Although the early sailors for the Spanish and English Crowns sometimes locally enslaved Native Americans, it was in 1502 that the first African slaves were brought to the New World by Spanish slavers.
More prominent in American history were the events in August 1619, when twenty “Negroes” were brought to Jamestown, Virginia, as enslaved Africans (indentured servants) on a Dutch man-of-war. White indentured servitude was also legal in Virginia. English indenture obligations initially lasted four to seven years for whites or “Negroes” but was later extended to life for Africans. By 1629 Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts owned slaves, and in the chartering of the Massachusetts Bay Company, only propertied free white men were allowed to participate. From the 1630s to the 1660s there was steady privatization of Indian land in New England, where the population of Indians was steadily reduced by warfare, execution, displacement, slavery, and disease as some 20,000 English settlers arrived between 1630 and 1642. Also in this period, Scottish slaves were exiled from Scotland to the New World as the English extended their empire upon the backs of the Celtic and Pictish peoples.
In June 1636, Roger Williams founded a settlement in Providence, Rhode Island, for political opponents of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Initially, he recognized the property rights of Native Americans, who were “paid” for the privatization of their land. It appears that the Indians had a different understanding of this “transfer,” because the concepts of “private” and “perpetuity” could not easily be translated. In neighboring Connecticut in 1636 the Pequot war/massacre/ethnic cleansing took place when settlers attacked a Pequot fort; while seven Pegquot were captured, seven escaped, and more than 700 were killed. The scene of carnage was upsetting to the young English soldiers, who reported that “great and doleful was the bloody sight.” Williams wrote to Winthrop asking about what to do with captured Pequots; subsequently, some 1,400 Pequot men, women, and children were sold and exported from New England as slaves to Bermuda and the Bahamas. Williams provided key intelligence about the attack, because he was then allied with the Pequot rivals, the Narragansetts. Thus, some of the earliest racial slavery in the American colonies was based on the military subjugation, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and commercial exportation of native peoples as slaves. Some costs of financing the militias were through the sale of captives. Addressing this practice in 1641, Massachusetts legalized slavery for “lawful captives taken in just wars and such strangers as willingly sell themselves, or are sold to us.” In 1642 “man-stealing” was made a capital offense in Connecticut.
The legal and moral contestation of racial slavery existed from the start. Needless to say the slaves as well as some moral leaders were opposed to this practice, but because they were excluded from legislative bodies, their voices were muted. In 1644 eleven slaves petitioned against slavery in Dutch New York. Each was given a tract of land. In 1645 there were antislavery protests in Massachusetts. These events indicate there was a struggle against slavery the moment it was started. Despite the legal status of the institution, these were laws for a group of wealthy white men. It is factually incorrect to dismiss slavery as broadly acceptable because it was legal while various groups actively opposed it. These contradictions can be seen in the first slave ship departing directly for Africa from Boston, Rainbow, under Captain Smith, which was forced to forfeit the slaves and return them to Africa. The questionable status of slaves is also apparent when slavery was made legal in Connecticut in 1650 and in Rhode Island in 1652, but only for a ten-year period or until the slave was twenty years
old. In principle, this made slavery a temporary status, but the act was not enforced.
In 1655 the first known Dutch slave ship, the Wittepaert, imported slaves from Africa to New York. When the first Quakers arrived in Rhode Island in 1657, they were morally uneasy about slavery, yet some Friends had slaves. The legal threshold from term indenture to racially based slave systems was crossed in 1661 when the Virginia Slave Statues made slave status hereditary. In 1663 slavery was made legal in Maryland, but resistance is also clear when a Virginia slave conspiracy was broken up. Further clarification of Maryland law in 1664 said that baptism did not affect slave status, and it became illegal for white women to marry blacks. In 1665 slavery was made legal in New York.
THE ECONOMICS OF NEW WORLD SLAVERY
The heyday of American slavery was the eighteenth century with sustained imports of slaves directly from Africa or from the Caribbean for use in domestic service or plantations for the production of rum and molasses from sugar cane, for raising tobacco and cotton, and harvesting lumber, pines stores, and turpentine. This was the birth of economic globalization and the use of slaves for agricultural production was only one part of the entire Triangle Trade. In turn, this spawned maritime insurance businesses and ship handling; iron mining, forging, and iron mongering industries that produced ship hardware; cleats brackets, bands, barrel bands, anchors, chains and shackles; farming and maritime tools; and firearms and cannons.
Closely related and integrated were the diverse ship building industries of logging and milling, carpentry, planking, fittings, mast hauling, furniture, barrel-making, rope and cordage industries, canvas and sail-making. For the crews, slaves and for trade items there were victuals and supplies, such as salt fish (tons of salt cod were used a slave food), salt beef and pork, vegetables, such as potatoes, water and rum, bread and hard biscuits. Another interconnected spin-off was in various farming and agriculture activities that exported horses for plantation overseers and trade, and cheeses for trade and consumption.
One of the most deeply damaging elements of the Triangle Trade was rum. It required slave labor to grow and harvest the sugar cane and even more slave labor to crush the cane and turn it into molasses treacle. At this stage it could be barreled and shipped to Rhode Island for distillation into rum. Dozens of rum distilleries existed in this colony where about half of all production was for local consumption in homes and saloons. The other half was sent back for the export trade to exchange for more slaves according to established bartering rates. African traders also consumed part of the shipment sent from Rhode Island.
A similar tale can be told for the textile industry in New England in which local wool or slave-produced cotton was brought into the nascent mills to make cloth for Americans but also to make “Guinea Cloth” and some woolen cloth for re-export back to Africa as trade items to acquire more slaves, thus completing the circuit once again. Equally, the case of cheap metal ware such as pots, pans, tins, knives, beads and glassware stimulated local manufacture while producing surplus items for global exchange and especially brought into play for the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
RACISM AND SLAVERY
Throughout the colonies, interesting aspects of racism and slavery can be seen. In 1698 it was feared that “too many Negroes” had been imported to South Carolina but the importation of white servants was encouraged. Little effect was observed. In Greenwich, Rhode Island, the will of Giles Peace recorded that a slave, his “Negro girl,” be left to his wife. William Randall of Providence freed his slave Peter Palmer in 1702, and in 1705 sexual relations between “the races” was made illegal in Massachusetts. In short, the human relations between races under slavery ranged from compassionate, to confused, to practical, but the foundational features of slavery were still based on violent coercion or occasionally on resistance. On April 7, 1712, there was a major slave revolt in New York in which nine whites were killed; soon after, on May 3, twenty-one slaves were executed.
By 1708 the Negro population in Rhode Island was 426, of which 220 lived in Newport, where a duty tax of three pounds was placed on every Negro imported to Rhode Island. This was to raise local revenue and discourage the further growth of the Negro population. There was a refund if the Negroes were reexported. In 1714 slavery was made legal in New Hampshire, and at the same time Judge Samuel Sewell of Boston published “The Selling of Joseph,” an early antislavery tract.
By the early eighteenth century the slave population in the United States was substantial. Although it had declined in the North, it had increased tremendously in the South as “King Cotton” and interior expansion of slave plantations were actively underway. In some southern colonies the slave population greatly exceeded that of whites.
In 1715 slavery was made legal in North Carolina as cotton and tobacco production expanded and labor demands increased, but in 1716 Quakers in New Jersey condemned the slave trade. Many, but not all, Rhode Island Quakers agreed. The first abolitionist action of these Quakers was to ban members who did not free their slaves. Clearly, making slavery legal did not make it morally correct. But the wealth that could be gained from making use of slave labor made moral vision cloudy. In 1718 the first slaves arrived in Bristol, Rhode Island, directly from the West Indies. In fact, Bristol ships carried about a fifth of the slave cargoes into Charleston, South Carolina, which was closely connected to Rhode Island socially and commercially. Aside from the direct wealth in buying and selling slaves and the wealth that slave labor produced, substantial amounts of tax revenue were generated from commercial and commodity sales. In short, it was not only individuals and companies that invested but colonies and states as well.
A few headlines from the eighteenth century illustrate the contested terrain of slavery and racism: On June 13, 1727, an Indian slave named Peter, in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, was branded and whipped in Newport for firing a bullet through his master’s hat. In 1733, Elihu Coleman, a Newport Quaker, expressed his opposition to slavery. In 1735 a Negro couple in Boston saved money to sail from Newport back to Africa. In 1736 the sloop Mary owned by James Brown sailed from Providence for slaves in Africa. In 1739 the African Freedmen Society was formed in Providence. In 1741 amid fears of another slave revolt in New York, thirty-one slaves and five whites were executed. In 1748 the first cotton was exported from Charleston to England, seven bails valued at $875. In 1749 slavery was made legal in Georgia. In 1750 the Rhode Island General Assembly passed a law prohibiting slaveholders from allowing their slaves to dance or to have gaming and other diversions. The fine was fifty pounds or one month in jail. Meanwhile, Governor Robinson of Rhode Island owned twenty slaves, half of the population of Virginia consisted of slaves, and two-thirds of the population of South Carolina consisted of slaves.
THE REVOLUTIONARY ERA
Not surprisingly, a black Boston seaman and whaler, Crispus Attucks, forty-seven years of age, was the first to die in the growing protest against the British. Attucks was a runaway slave in Massachusetts and may have been part Native American. All of the first citizens killed were workers. The seeds of the future revolution were planted, and issues of class, race, and slavery came to the fore during these revolutionary times.
Another explosive moment occurred on June 10, 1772, with the burning of the British customs ship Gaspee in Narragansett Bay. The American attack was led by John Brown, a leading maritime merchant and slave shipper. His slave, Aaron Briggs, helped row out to the grounded ship to sink it and wound the British captain. The Brown rebel group was annoyed with British taxes and interference with their commerce in slaves and rum. Also of note, on August 23, 1772, a legal marriage took place between a slave called “Mingo” belonging to Colonel Silas Niles and “Dinah” belonging to Jeremiah Niles in South Kingston.
Against this turbulent backdrop, on April 20, 1773, Peter Bestes, Sambo Freeman, Chester Joie, and Felix Holbrook circulated a petition against slavery in Boston. At last, on June 28 no Rhode Island Quakers held slaves, and on November 10, 1774, Moses Brown freed his remaining slaves to join the Quakers. Brown and Samuel Slater turned to the textile business, but even so they processed slave-grown cotton from the South, and “Guinea cloth” was used for clothing and trading for slaves. Samuel Hopkins launched plans to missionize and colonize Africa; he was joined by Dr. Ezra Stiles, a Congregationalist of Newport. Following intense lobbying by the Quakers, slave imports were officially restricted in Rhode Island. Jacob Shoemaker willed his six Negroes to the town of Providence. The census in 1774 indicated 16,034 blacks were living in New England, both slave and free.
The revolutionary storm gathered strength and on April 14, 1775, another abolitionist group formed in Philadelphia. On April 19, 1775, white and black Minutemen fought the British at Lexington and Concord, and again on June 17, 1775, at the Battle of Bunker Hill. The black population (slave and free) of the colonies was at least 20 percent, but by this time 90 percent of the black population was living in the South. Black enlistment in the Revolutionary army was opposed, but the need for soldiers prevailed. On November 7, 1775, the British Lord Dunmore offered freedom to slaves if they would fight for the British. Pressure mounted on reluctant George Washington to muster black troops, both slave and free, to fight on the American side. Approximately 5,000 blacks fought on the American side. with many recognized for bravery.
When the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed on July 4, 1776, the armed struggle against British colonialism was irreversible. The fifty-six signers of the Declaration were all white men, including twenty-five lawyers, eight merchants, six physicians, and five wealthy farmers. In the first draft of the Constitution, slave plantation owner Thomas Jefferson abolished the slave trade, but the final draft omitted this reference. The struggle for freedom and democracy was for a wealthy, male, white minority group; the majority voices of women, free and enslaved blacks, Native Americans, and indentured whites had little expression. In various respects, some of these contradictions are still with America in the early years of the new millennium.
While the war unfolded, in 1777 Vermont became the first colony to abolish slavery, while some slaves in New Hampshire and Connecticut petitioned for their freedom to their legislatures. Rhode Island officially banned the exportation of slaves from the colony. The human and legal struggles were clearly intensifying. A case in point is the Black Battalion in Rhode Island.
THE RHODE ISLAND BLACK BATTALION
Out of military necessity, on January 19, 1778, General Varnun asked permission of General George Washington to use slaves in the army. By February 2, legislation was passed to raise the Rhode Island Black Battalion. On July 6 the first call-up took place for the Black Battalion, and on July 28 the Black Battalion was sent to Providence to serve under General Sullivan. By August 24, 1778, 755 blacks were under the direct command of George Washington. Some of these slaves were actually purchased by the colony treasury from their owners with the possibility that they would be returned to slave status when the conflict was resolved. However, in a remarkable case of combat courage and holding the line, on August 29 the Black Battalion defeated Hessian mercenary troops at Bloody Run Brook in Portsmouth, or the Battle of Rhode Island. Inevitably, the struggle of wealthy white men led to the sacrifices of enslaved blacks.
Paul Cuffe, son of a slave father and a Native American mother from Cuttyhunk, Massachusetts, rose to major commercial success as an owner of a fleet of five coastal cargo ships. He was a supporter of the back-to-Africa movement. Inspired by the revolutionary principles of “no taxation without representation,” on February 10, 1780, Cuffe, with his brother John Cuffe, and five others petitioned the General Court in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, with this complaint: If they could not vote as black people, then they would not pay taxes. These glaring contradictions were addressed when slavery was abolished in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
On February 13, 1784, the Rhode Island Assembly passed a law, the Gradual Abolition Act, that all children of slaves born after March 1784 were considered free. It was followed on February 23 by the Negro Emancipation Act. The law was further clarified on March 1, when the General Assembly passed a law that all slaves were free at age twenty-one for males and eighteenfor females.
In 1789 the Providence Abolitionist Society was formed and Benjamin Franklin helped to create the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery. The Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, a former slave, was published to support the abolitionist cause.
In 1790 an Anti-Slavery Society was founded in Connecticut. Antislavery societies were founded in New Jersey and Pennsylvania the following year. In 1793 the Fugitive Slave Law was passed. The invention of Eli Whitney’s cotton gin increased cotton production and the demand for slaves.
By 1800 the U.S. slave population reached one million, and there was a slave revolt in Virginia that year. In 1831 Nat Turner of Virginia led the most violent of Northern American slave revolts, which took the lives of some fifty-five whites. Ex-slave Denmark Vesey of South Carolina made plans for a massive uprising in 1833 but the plot was discovered and he was hanged in 1832. It is estimated that more than 250 insurrectionary efforts by slaves were made between 1700 and 1860. From 1830 forward an abolition movement involving whites and northern free blacks attempted to use nonviolent means to end slavery. Outstanding among the many antislavery workers were William Lloyd Garrison, the editor of the Liberator, and Frederick A. Douglass, ex-slave, master orator, brilliant polemicist, and founding editor of The North Star. Primary subscribers and supporters of these two newspapers were members of the black communities.
In 1857 the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Dred Scott v. Sanford attempted to settle the question of the legitimacy of slavery and the status of free blacks. In this case, Dred Scott and his family were taken from the slave section of southern Missouri to the free state of Illinois as a possession of a U.S. military officer. When Scott was returned to Missouri, hisabolitionist lawyers sued for his freedom, on the ground that Scott’s residence in a free state had nullified his slave status. The Court attempted to address major constitutional issues regarding slavery in the United States. It held that the management of slaves was a state matter, that the Founding Fathers never intended the Constitution to be extended to persons of African descent, and thus, that Scott had neither legal standing nor any other rights American citizens were bound to respect.
Within three years, however, the issue of slavery over-ran the judicial system and split the nation with the Civil War. After four years of bitter fighting and 600,000 casualties, the war ended on the side of black freedom. On December 18, 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment was adopted, legally ending the enslavement of some 4 million blacks, including the 140,000 ex-slave soldiers who took part in America’s war of emancipation.
Slavery ended in Haiti in 1803 for 500,000 blacks after two large contingents of Napoleon’s finest troops were defeated. Slavery ended peacefully in Brazil in 1888, with the emancipation of 730,000 enslaved Africans, the remnant of a much larger number. Between 1542 and 1888, nearly 8 million slaves had been imported to Brazil, which to this day contains the largest African-descended population in the Western hemisphere. With Ethiopia being the last African country officially ending slavery in 1936 and Saudi Arabia in 1962, nowhere on the globe is there now legal support for the institution of chattel slavery.
It is undeniable that slavery played a deep role in with the creation of the United States. The complex efforts to negotiate, legitimate, adjudicate, mediate, moralize, and justify it were doomed to fail as long as a political metaphor of freedom and equality was discernable in religious and political thought. To the extent that racism lubricated the repressive ideology, political economy, and practices of slavery in the Americas, one can conclude that slavery and racism in America were entwined. The residual features of this deeply rooted interplay are being processed as travels on this troubled and twisted road continue.
SEE ALSO Abolition Movement; American Anti-Slavery Society; Dred Scott v. Sandford; Emancipation Proclamation; Language; Plantations; Slave Trade Ideology.
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