Slavery has been a huge historical landmark of the early colonial era of American society and culture. It can be said that slavery didnt start in the Americas but had a very influential impact on early colonialism that would take place in the early new age of discovery. While America was on the up and up slavery was one of the greatest sources of forced labor to exist in the age of the New world with a rapid growth in economic advancement, trade and agricultural cultivation labor that would soon lure Americans into the slave trade. Why is the slave trade so important? In why did we need slaves to begin with?
Many might be confused to such questions that still pose conflict as well as problems for some coming to grips with reality, but slavery was a huge fundamental in the growth of early America. Its often confused by many Americans that the African slaves trade was only big in the United States, but this is a very false reality because the African slave trade exist way before American ever got involved with the trade. There is very vital information that supports claims that slavery didnt necessary start in the Americas, but it definitely flourished in the Americas. Before I expound further its very vital of me to explain the economic advancements, trade and agriculture growth labor that would set the tone for slavery in American society.
Slavery has always been around throughout modern day history and African slavery can be traced back to 8th Century and the middle eastern countries, way before it reached the Americas. The early Arabs introduced modern slavery into the middle east to work on agricultural plantations, salt flats, and reclamation of marshlands as part of the Abbasid Caliphate. During this time of the caliphate it was a civil war broken out between Arabs of the Middle East and the Zanj which are an African tribe. The revolt would be devastating because the Arabs would win, and 1.5-2.5 million slaves would be executed in their revolt. Around this time period as well did you know that African slaves enslaved criminals and prisoners of war?
Probably not, but its safe to say that Africans were a prominent means to the beginning of the slave trade as well before Americas as well as Europeans countries got wind of the lucrative means of having African slave workers. It wouldnt be long though before the European Portuguese traders would arrive to trade goods with warring African tribes and become a lucrative power house in the early beginning of the Atlantic Slave trade. Regularly trading European goods like guns, textiles and finished goods for African slaves would cause many of the warring African tribes to fall into bloody conflicts for domination of the trade slaves by enslaving one another for profit.
The Portuguese would once again capitalize on this factor and would be known as the first to bring African slaves to the New World as early as 1500 to work on sugar plantations in So Tom© and Madeira, and they dominated the early trade. In with lucrative and economic power would soon come other European countries that would also want a slice of the pie which would be another European power house at that time being the Dutch in 1600 who first imported slaves regularly into North America.
In soon after this time the English would follow suit with the promise of lucrative economic success by its European counterparts by also participating in the slave trade and importing slaves on the regular bases around early 1700. Due to this new discovery of slavery came with a new trade the slave trade that would be a huge form of economic growth that many countries sought out for with the success expeditions of the Portuguese in the beginning of the new world.
The slave trade didnt get introduced to the new world into the early 1500 by the Portuguese and would be not just a great discovery but a tragedy for the African population as well. These new founded expedition by big companies and organizations were centered around the middle passage section of the triangular trade which was part of the Atlantic Trade first established by the Portuguese. Slaves were cargo and were treated as nothing more than cargo by the new slave traders of the Portuguese, English, French and Dutch. They were often crammed into ships stacked onto each other, chained together and forced to dance to prevent blood clots in their bodies from being crammed into small areas for hours out a time.
Malnutrition, overcrowding and bad sanitation would lead to many deaths on multiple expeditions. Though some rebellions would also take place on ships during expeditions were slaves outnumbered most of the crews since crew would be only about 30 men watching over 350-450 slaves would overtake the crews but would ultimately die at sea due to not knowing the proper way to navigate ships. Some slaves would often also engage in suicides by jumping out of boats and drowning because they believed their spirits would go back to Africa. Its said that 1-7 slaves (2-4 million) slaves would die of diseases like smallpox, measles, dysentery and yellow fever. Between 1640-1809, the Portuguese shipped 6 million Africans while the British and ditched imported about 3-4 million.
The expeditions were successful but also had lose as well for those that had financial funded the expeditions calling for more expeditions to Africa to bring as many slaves back as possible with their method of cramming them on board. In between 1640- 1655 African slavery among the English began primary on the islands of Barbados and Jamaica where they were used on sugar plantations. They were seasons slaved and valued more of that of saltwater slaves due to their ability to work under harsh conditions, survive and be worked harder and longer than that of saltwater slaves. By 1730 the English would import immense number of Slaves becoming the largest exporter of slaves from Africa. In this would lead up to the presence of slavery in the Americas by this vast amount of trade that would take place.
The English would soon take a lot of these African slaves and place them amongst southern colonies of American South such as Maryland, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia with slaves making up 80 percent of the southern colonies population. The slave population was higher than that of the northern colonies of America which made up maybe 15-20 percent of the population of northern cities by 1750 with 566,000 black Americans in the U.S. by 1780.
Due to their being so many slaves in the south for agricultural cultivation of tobacco and sugar and few masters over these slaves it was often that slaves on plantations would rebel and try to run away to escape their masters but would often if caught be whipped, shackled, hanged, beaten, burned, mutilated, branded and imprisoned. The north also practiced such means of torture on slaves but didnt have as many slaves, so it was unlike that slaves would try to rebel. Since slaves constantly tried to run away it was a particular place, they ran to which was Fort Mose in St Augustine which was the first black settlement in North America established in 1738 by Governor Manuel De Montiano. The promise Spain made in 1693 was declaring all runaway slaves freedom in America if they converted to Catholicism and served for 4 years in the military. The encomienda would be outlawed shortly after in 1730.
In this would be the reason why Manuel de Montiano would grant runaway slaves a black settlement since so many ran away for their freedom. Since the northern colonies didnt have the issues of their slaves running away like that of southern colonies there would be a system put in place to imposed certain slaves over others. It was a way to keep them in line by dealing out punishments and being overseers of the slave masters. During the early colonial period there was a task system slaves had their own money, family economies and ability to purchase their own freedom.
Many slaves would also use a combination of British and African dialects to make up their own pidgin languages. In the southern colonies of Louisiana creole mixtures between African slaves and French European masters would become prevalent changing the dynamics and bring about a new creole culture in the south. It often had a blend of religion as well between African religion and Roman Catholic religion creating a form known as vodou. Agricultural growth of the Americas would help expand slavery as well as bring a new cultural change in the Americas among slaves and colonizers.
The evolution of slavery in the colonial Americas was due to the hopes of economic growth, trade and agricultural cultivation labor that would be directly linked to the expansion of slavery throughout the Americans first through the Portuguese and followed suit by the Dutch, French and English. Slavery is still a very debatable subject but without slavery there wouldnt have been a cultural mixture nor would there have been a huge expansion that would obviously take place due to slavery. Slavery didnt just bring slaves but it also brought a flux of immigrants that also wanted to follow this new trend of economic growth as well as lucrative profit from the slave trade making American History what it is today. The New worlds growth was hugely distributed by an ever-growing age of colonialism and slavery was just a part of that process.
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