Slavery..How did it get it's start in North America?

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Sorry to go all "Karl Marx" on ya, but here is why slavery persisted in the South and not in the North:
In New England, there was little to no slavery because the only real tasks that a slave might do were domestic service and household labor. In the Mid-Atlantic, there was rather more that slaves might do. In the balmy U.S. South, there were a host of cash crops that a slave could do, and hence, slave labor became more fixed there. South Carolina was practically a Caribbean colony formed as an enclave of the U.S. South producing indigo, rice, etc.

During the American Revolution, some New England states abolished slavery. Mid-Atlantic States opted for a "Gradual emancipation law" like that of Pennsylvania. See here for Mount Vernon's essay on this particular practice:
Mount Vernon--PA's Gradual Abolition Act of 1780

Thus, there were people still held in bondage in Pennsylvania as late as 1841. So too New Jersey.

In the American South, political elites found that King Cotton gave slavery a new rationale and economic underpinnings. There would be no more Transatlantic Slave Trade or African Slave trade, but rather a vast reallocation of servile labor of African Americans from the "old South" to the "new South" or the Southeast frontier that arose from the crushing of Native Americans in the Creek Civil War during the American War of 1812: the so-called "Red Stick War" Horseshoe Bend in Alabama, etc. and the same author of that effort, Andrew Jackson, defeating the British "Invincibles" at New Orleans in 1815. The War of 1812--or America's Second War of Independence, if you prefer, the U.S. might have conquered British Canada. The U.S. might have lost the outlet of the Mississippi Basin, or indeed, one or another other area of the U.S. Southeast.

By 1817-1818, in a series of attacks on East Florida, Andrew Jackson hanged British agents and sent the Spanish governor packing to Cuba while he attempted to repress mixed tribal "Seminoles" and black maroons in the Florida peninsula. This strengthened the hand of U.S. negotiators in the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819, negotiated in French since the U.S. diplomats spoke no Spanish and the Spaniards no English! Spain had to worry that the United States, born of an anti-monarchical and anti-European colonial rebellion, might lend its weight to the rebel movements in Spanish America fighting for national independence. So the deal was struck, and Florida was ceded, and a fixed border with Texas established at the Red and Sabine Rivers. Immediately, Anglo-Americans who'd rather hoped to add Texas territory to the frontiers open to settlement--including the development model of cotton, sugar, etc. grown, cultivated, and processed by African American slave labor--launched the 1819 Long filibuster expedition, which failed. That followed after the Gutierrez-Magee expedition of 1812-1813 had been bloodily repulsed by royalists in service to Spain.

Southern planters dominated U.S. politics from the Virginia dynasty on, hence the 3/5ths clause, site of the nation's capital city and much else besides. Over time, they cultivated support and an economic dependency on Great Britain since they produced the leading commodity of the early 19th century: Cotton. They acceded to the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade--for the most part--but pointed to examples like Haiti's bloody slave revolt, expulsion of the French, economic collapse, and ongoing warfare with Santo Domingo and inter-ethnic civil war between blacks and people of mixed race as a dire consequence of rapid abolition. When Great Britain decided to opt for gradual emancipation of slavery in the Antilles, with final abolition slated for 1840, but called off early due to the disintegration of the system by the 1830s, there was a concomitant economic collapse that the importation of Indian and even Chinese coolies could not stave off... Here too was a lesson for those exploiting the labor of bondsmen and women. In New York, mere Irish or "Irishry" were cheap and disposable and could be hired cheaply to do grueling and irksome and dangerous tasks... Like digging the canals, for example.

As historian David Brion Davis noted in Challenging the Boundaries of Slavery (HUP, 2003), p. 62, in Philadelphia 16 Nov. 1819 free people of color--African Americans--assembled to consider the American Colonization Society plan to remove to Africa or one or another other non-U.S. locale. James Forten, a wealthy black sail-maker and veteran of the American Revolutionary War, and black printer Russell Parrot had begun to see the ACS's support by Bushrod Washington (nephew of George), Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson, etc. as a scheme to rid the USA of free blacks, particularly successful ones!, and thereby strengthen slavery as an institution in the United States. Abraham Lincoln himself favored colonization until confronted by the sheer expense and impracticality, and challenges from other abolitionists including Frederick Douglass. Historian Davis notes that the ACS appeal was rejected at Philly, and that the African American abolitionist movement mostly hewed toward emancipation from slavery and remaining within the nation they had built.

Gradual emancipation schemes were how slavery was brought to an end in much of the rest of the Americas: Brazil, with final abolition after a so-called "free womb" law and other mechanisms by 1888, Cuba, with another "free womb" law, liberty to sexagenerians, a lottery, legal avenues for setting a self-manumission-through purchase, and a host of other "suckers' games" and final abolition by 1886, Puerto Rico, where slavery ended by 1873, Venezuela, with final abolition in 1854, and so on. Only the United States attempted to have a grand compromise with slavery restricted to a particular region, and thus, while war was a factor in slavery's overthrow in Mexico (where it was a marginal system since the 17th century), Brazil (the Paraguay War), and Cuba (the Ten Years' War 1868-1878 and the "Little War" 1880-1881, it was only the United States that was rent in two and had the bloodiest Civil War in the Americas during the 19th century... Had Southern planters--the "slave power"--not dominated national politics for as long as they did, gradual emancipation might have been how slavery was abolished in our own country, rather than as a basically military measure in the shift to "hard war" against the seceding states?
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
The history of slavery, as a European institution, began with the Spanish in the 1500’s. The Dutch who settled in New Amsterdam had slaves. The Pilgrims & their descendants enslaved Indians who objected at having their land stolen. It was an Indian slave that showed Puritans how to inoculate for small pocks. Scotsmen who rebelled against the Crown & were taken prisoner were enslaved & sold off in America. The author of Game of Thrones descends from one of them. The Spanish had established missions from Florida’s through what is now Georgia. Oglethorpe came to fame raiding & destroying those missions. The priests were killed & the Indians enslaved. The first known African slaves in British North America were aboard a ship captured by pirates. From that point onward, African slaves were an integral part of North American slave-holding. By the 1780’s, slavery in North America was known longer economically viable or outlawed all together. Then Mr Whiney invented the cotton gin.

The institution of slavery that existed in 1860 was a direct effect of the cotton gin. The sudden rise in the demand for cotton meant that more & more slaves were needed to clear land & cultivate cotton. The simultaneous end of the importation of slaves doubled their value just as demand increased due to the cotton boom. Any thought that slavery would just peter out & go away was forgotten.

Slavery in the US was unique in that the demand for fresh labor was fulfilled by families rather than by importation. “Extras” from the border states kept plantations in the Deep South manned. The Virginia that RE Lee et al were always going on about was dependent on the sale of home raised human beings for its economic survival. Organized gangs abetted by local officials kidnapped blacks for sale in New York & along the Ohio & Mississippi Rivers for sale until the ratification of the 14th Amendment.

There are those who attempt to equate slave-holding on New England with Southern practices. One man on Georgia owned more slaves than existed in New York, the largest of the New England slave-holding population. In any case, slave-holding was legal & the fact that families in the North owned slaves in the South is in no way remarkable.

Until the Bolivarian Revolution, slavery was ubiquitous in the Spanish Empire. That included Mexico, which is part of North America. A curious wrinkle is the slave trade on the western coast of New Spain. The Jesuits financed their missions in Japan, in part, by purchasing Japanese orphans & selling them in the Philippines & New Spain. The girls were considered exotic & brought premium prices in the sex trade. As a result, some Mexican families have a genetic trace of the Jesuit’s trade in Japanese girls.

Long before the British established their colonies in North America, the Pope outlawed enslaving native people. That drove the Spanish. & Portuguese to begin the African slave trade. As with the continental market in Southern colonies & states, direct importation from Africa was not the norm. “Extras” from the Sugar Islands were imported rather than ferocious POW’s from the loosing side of a tribal war.

Not only was there a network of Reverse Underground Railroad active in the North until the ultimate end of slavery, a Portuguese built & outfitted slavers in New York. Their clandestine operation existed until exposed in 1863.

Hope this directly answers the question about the history of slave-holding on North America. My family held slaves from the 1600’s onward. I have made a decades long study of slave-holding in an attempt to understand my family’s history. Every sentence I have written here could be a paragraph, every paragraph a chapter in a book.
 
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FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Respectfully, slavery all but died out in Europe in the Middle Ages-- other forms of "unfreedom" like serfdom certainly did not.
Slavery persisted in the Islamic world and portions of the Mediterranean. When slavery resumed, it often entailed Italian merchants from various powerful city states buying, selling, and being middle-men in selling captives from Slavic regions like the Caucasus and Balkan Peninsula. Florence in the Renaissance had a huge, burgeoning slave market that primarily provided women from the Balkan Peninsula as domestic and household labor to buyers.

Portugal began to use the navigation school of Prince Henry the Navigator to search for the source of gold that Moors and Arab traders seemed to have ready access to. As they moved methodically down the coast of Africa, they began to engage in trade with African polities that was enormously valuable in its own right. Eventually, they founded "feitorias" or "factors" on the African coast, and populated them with LusoAfricans including Afro Europeans or Euro Africans and people who survived yellow fever and so-called "degredados" who could repay their debt to society by serving the interests of the crown. In the midst of this, they began transhipping valuable trade goods between African states. One of the commodities included enslaved people. The African polities did not discern a racial injustice, but were as different and often had as great an animosity toward rivals, just like European kingdoms where France and England fought for well over their "Hundred Years War." Eventually, the Portuguese created slave trading entrepots on islands like Sao Tome e Principe, the Cape Verde Islands, and at one or another factor on the coast. The first cargo of sub-Saharan African slaves, and thus the birth of the Transatlantic Slave Trade took place at the mouth of the Tagus River in Portugal in 1444, generations before Christopher Columbus--married to the Portuguese daughter of the governor of Madeira in the Atlantic--"discovered" the New World thinking he'd beaten the Portuguese with a quicker route to India and Cipangu/Japan. There is a description by a Portuguese chronicler of the division of these people such that Prince Henry could lay claim to his "royal fifth." It is the tragedy of slavery repeated over and over: children are separated from mothers, people are separated from loved ones, kith and kin are sold away to other buyers. The chronicler describes exasperated Portuguese attempted to hasten the division, and others viewing it with sadness and consternation--"there but for the grace of god go I..." It is a powerful and affecting description, but as a Medieval person, he is mostly just glad he's not a slave, because the status of people includes that category. He draws on the very Medieval "wheel of fate" images.

So it was Portugal that practiced chattel slavery first--although certainly black African slaves were commonplace in the Islamic world long before (there was even a so-called "Zanj" slave revolt during the early caliphate in what is now southern Iraq)--and it was Portugal that "started" the Transatlantic slave trade. The United Kingdom made far and away the greatest profit from the system during its heyday, but many of the Caribbean colonies were enormously profitable for the colonial metropole--St.Dominge/Haiti and France for example.

Spain got into the act, and very soon 'tis true. The aboriginal inhabitants of the Canary Islands--the only Atlantic islands that were populated--known as the Guanche (thought to be like the Berber peoples the Romans called Numidians)--were enslaved and exploited and mostly destroyed in a prequel of Spanish behavior in the New World. In terms of sheer numbers of enslaved/kidnapped/war prisoners from sub-Saharan Africa transported to the New World in the "Middle Passage" far and away the largest number, like close to 44% went to Brazil. The African American slave population in British North America was under 5% of the total. As you state, the system of chattel slavery in North America relied on natural increase of the slave population within the colonies and early U.S. Republic.

You are correct that there was trafficking and sale of Japanese orphans. There were also Japanese sailors. Once a year, a galleon would cross the Pacific between Manila in the Philippines and Acapulco in New Spain. At times, the Viceroy in Mexico City actually ruled over the Philippines Islands. At first, the Spaniards called Filipinos "Philippine Indians." Oh yes. Confusing! Because the trade was limited to a single ship per year, the ship grew and grew in size. Mexican silver went to the Philippines, and thence to China. Chinese merchants would figure out how to tightly stuff silk fabric into chests that Spanish regulations designed to try to limit the trade under their arcane mercantilistic system's "requirements." At the time, in Japan, travel abroad was very much frowned upon. But there were Japanese maritime folk--fishers and sailors and pirates and so on--and many of these served on the crews of these ships. Some remained in New Spain/Mexico. The reverse is also true: There are ethnic groups in the Philippines who have New Spain/Mexican ancestry.

Simon Bolivar pledged to outlaw slavery in 1816 at Angostura thanks to the political winds of the Enlightenment, and mostly because of the aid and assistance he received from the Haitian government in the south of that land after he was literally driven from the continent. That said, slavery was not finally abolished in Venezuela until 1854. Father Miguel Hidalgo pledged the abolition of slavery in Mexico in 1811--and while Mexico had slaves, it was a "society with slaves" not a "slave society." His decree is actually very forthright and radical in comparison with many early decrees in Latin America. Of course, he was tried, condemned, excommunicated, defrocked, shot by firing squad, decapitated, and had his head put on a corner of the granary in Guanajuato, so his decree did not take hold. It was finally Vicente Guerrero--himself a "casta" of mixed race and thus Mexico's first black president--who abolished slavery based on race (not other forms of "unfreedom" like debt peonage and so on) in 1829. His execution at the hands of Mexican Conservatives shocked the early Mexican Republic, and it may indeed have had racial overtones... It must be understood, however, that at no point did the abolition of slavery in Mexico impact Anglo-American settlers in Texas. Anglo-Americans, and many of their local Tejano/Mexicano allies including Jose Antonio Navarro and others, favored replication of the Southern development model of cash crops produced by servile labor and the extension of African American slavery into Texas. So quasi-legal chicanery persisted... Like "indenturing" slaves so there was a contract to produce should a Mexican official request one... The "indenture" might have been for 99 years, but hey, there was a piece of paper!

The Solomon Northrup slave narrative--among others--and the film popularization in "12 Years a Slave" shows how prevalent kidnapping free people of color and enslaving them was. Eastern Maryland had a number of such criminal gangs engaged in this practice, but there were certainly other areas. The same thing happened in Imperial Brazil and elsewhere.

In the United States, running away to a free-labor state was comparatively easier for slaves, and so unsurprisingly, many slaves in the upper south did so. This was far less common in the deep south. There were some African American slaves who ran away and absconded to Mexico, but in smaller numbers than the "Underground Railroad" to northern states and even Canada. In Latin America, particularly Cuba, there was the phenomenon of "maroonage." "Petit-maronage" entailed temporarily leaving to go seek out acquaintances or friends or loved ones, but with an expectation that the enslaved person would eventually return. "Grand maronage" was leaving for good and living one's life as a fugitive. This was mostly in the absolute back of beyond or out in a swamp or similarly inaccessible spot, but in Brazil it would seem that there were basically urban gangs of runaways. In the case of Cuba, there really were an enormous number of often bloody revolts. Recall that the Amistad Africans went to Cuba aboard a Portuguese slaver, the Tecora, were purchased in Havana, and then were being transported across the northern coast to Puerto Principe/Camaguey to a slave labor camp/ plantation aboard the coastal schooner Amistad when they overpowered the crew and made their bid for freedom as they understood it. One can hear Yoruba spoken in Cuba and Brazil. This is because the Oyo States collapsed in terrible wars in what is now Nigeria at roughly the same time period as the Texas Revolution, the 1830s into the 1840s. Skilled warriors and trained soldiers were diverted as PoWs into the slave trade at precisely the time that coffee and sugar and other slave-grown cash crops were booming in those places. And yes, they revolted and turned their military skills against their enslavers in many instances. The century before, in Dutch Surinam and British Jamaica, rebel slaves formed inaccessible forts in the hinterland, so the Dutch and English would select "Coromantee" slave men with military experience from arriving slave ships and arm and equip them to fight the maroons---with promises of future freedom papers through fighting the rebel slaves! And it worked.

I am glad you acknowledge the slaveholders in your family's history! I have marked out slaveholders in my family tree that is publicly available in an attempt to aid researchers who might have some sort of connection to my ancestors. I have astonished some family history researchers who I have helped by finding one or another of their ancestors in the slavery schedules of the U.S. Federal censuses. I completely agree with you that but for Eli Whitney's cotton gin, the "peculiar institution" would not have become as solidly entrenched, and might have died a death driven by African Americans themselves and some abolitionist allies rather than through Civil War.
 
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Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I personally witnessed a community that was founded by a slave rebellion. The Northern border of the Inca Empire was the Chota Valley in northern Ecuador. I have never seen anything quite like that landscape. Imagine a wide, flat valley where prevailing winds made mountainsides parched brown or lavish green. Through the center flows a river fed by mountain snows.

On what looks like a perfectly flat expanse of brown gravel is an African town, straight out of National Geographic. At the onset of the revolution, a Franciscan hacienda received a shipment of slaves. The correspondence that ensued still exists.

You can imagine the mixture of outrage & alarm that the arrival of the losers in a tribal war directly from Africa rather than docile islanders were delivered. Because of the revolution, the good fathers had no hope of aid in controlling their recent purchases.

Popularly, the Africans roasted & ate the Franciscans before setting out in search for a warmer local at lower altitude. Apparently, the Chota Valley looked like home.

Andean people are small in stature. Imagine my astonishment when greeted by a 5’ 11” woman with tribal scars on her cheeks & filed teeth. African traditions were alive & well. That was in the early 1970’s.
 
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FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
There is the famous early modern painting about the maroon/ cimarron chiefs/caciques from Esmeraldas in Ecuador... European ruff collars, Native American/coastal South American nose ornaments, African spears, African faces. The so-called "Black Caribs" were the result of a wrecked slave ship's survivors and Carib Indians. They proved so vexing for the British in the Lesser Antilles, they were deported to the coast of Honduras in some numbers. In eastern Cuba/ Oriente there are black rural communities that research--when and if allowed--might establish cimarron/ maroon roots. The Virgen del Cobre--Cuba's patroness--is in the old copper mining town of El Cobre. At a certain point, one of the Spanish kings decided that if Peru and Mexico were the sources of silver, and to defend that silver and provide maritime resources for ship-building, Cuba was the key and site of the fortresses and bay where the entire flota would gather before heading out to Spain with the riches, then copper used for the manufacture of brass/bronze guns must similarly be vital. He declared the slaves working the copper mines to be "royal slaves" in service to the crown. As the years passed and Spain's power waned, these people became a rural subsistence farming community. With some years later, entrepreneurs proposed re-starting copper mining, and anyway, with sugar and coffee going full tilt in the west of Cuba, couldn't/shouldn't these people be re-enslaved or sold for profit? They actually managed to use the original status as "slaves of the crown" to avoid that fate and remain where they were... Strange but true.

There is ongoing research in Ecuador about maroon descendants. There are blacks on the coast who take leave by saying, basically, "Si Dios quiere" as in "As Allah wills..." instead of the "Adios," "Hasta luego," or "Dios que bendiga" God bless you, or whatever. Of course "Inshalla" became "Oxalla que" in Portuguese and "Ojala que" in Spanish due to the centuries of Muslim/Arab/Berber/"Moor" contact, so it will be a tall order to disaggregate Muslim African practices from that ...

In Jamaica, somewhat infamously, when freed people rebelled, the Crown authorities got the maroons in the cockpit country to aid them in repressing it. There are very many maroon communities to this day in Surinam and parts of rural Brazil.

Time was, maroons could be found in the continental United States: The black Seminoles of Florida and the Great Dismal Swamp between southern Virginia and the northern Carolinas offer just two examples.

As for Brazil: On the shores of the Bahia de Todos os Santos where Salvador da Bahia is located, one can visit Cachoeira. This is about as African a town as I've ever seen outside documentary films and National Geographic magazines and books and so on... The town historically provided tobacco, which was taken to Africa as a trade good. In some places like Angola, a predatory system developed where European traders and the Portuguese would trade distilled alcohol and firearms and munitions for kidnapped Africans and prisoners... This led to a situation where roving predatory war bands would mercilessly prey on the weak and sell them in a rather Hobbesian system of kill or be killed, sell slaves, buy guns or get enslaved... Some of the captives taken to Brazil simply reverted to this pattern in the New World... How are you going to keep people like that "down on the farm?" Brazil resembles the U.S. slave system insofar that the coffee boom in South central Brazil drew on slaves from the decadent Northeast, in some ways like the new U.S. south versus the old south, or from tobacco and indigo and rice to cotton, cotton, and ever more cotton.
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
I might add too that the Spaniards established a mission precisely in the portion of the Chesapeake where Jamestown was founded...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajacán_Mission

The Jesuits took a young Powhattan named "Don Luis" to Spain to instruct him in the language and faith. They took him back to Ajacan Mission, where he "went native" and helped Powhattans annihilate the missionaries. That Don Luis may be a male relative of Pocahontas' fearsome uncle Opchanacanough--others theorize that Luis was none other than Opchanacanough himself!

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I have a Gordon heelander ancestor who helped found European or "white" settlement in New Hampshire. He was a prisoner of war, captured by the Cromwellian roundheads at the Battle of Dunbar. These prisoners, highland clansmen who'd risen at the behest of their lairds at the behest of the Dumfermline-born King Charles, were treated very, very badly indeed. Many died on the march to captivity. Many died of disease in the insalubrious camps where they were imprisoned:

https://www.archaeology.org/issues/255-1705/features/5465-scotland-dunbar-battle

He was deported to the New World, and was an indentured servant. After freeing himself from that indenture, he moved to what is now New Hampshire. Many of his kin died in, or killed in Metacomets War or "King Philips War" when New England rather decidedly ethnically cleansed the area from the grandchildren and their parents of the first Thanksgiving, I'm afraid to say. I do not think that he or other Scots should properly be understood as "slaves" however. Certainly the English did enslave Irish prisoners during the Tyrone War in the late 1500s and sold them as labor. I think some may have been technically "sold" to a continental European power for use as military troops? But that is one of the main mysteries about slavery. Europeans could treat one another with considerable cruelty, sadism, barbarism, contempt, disdain and even depravity, but "enslavable" seems to have fallen out--even if the word slave/escravo/Sklave/esclave/schiavo/esclavo itself is derived from European "Slavs?"

As for Virginia Plantations, as I may have stated repeatedly in past posts, but will reiterate here: There is evidence that early on there was not much difference between indentureship and enslavement at least initially? Once a full-blown slave plantation comes on the scene by the early 1700s, one sees a transition into the sorts of "hard and fast" blackness as concomitant with slavery, slavery for life, slavery for ones descendants in perpetuity, and that sort of thing. The "slave laws" and slave codes of 1705 bear much closer scrutiny. It is there that the "ordeal of America" to use the late Theodore Allen's phrase began.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
The ways slave-holding shaped US history is impossible to exaggerate. One of the greatest left an artifact on the bank of the Mississippi River across from Saint Genevieve, MO.

Have any of you visited fort Charles Leroy? It is a stone fort that held a garrison that collected corn from Indians in the area. It looks as out of place as it could possibly be.

When the slaves in Haiti rebelled, Napoleon redirected a force of infantry to deal with it. Along with most of the white population, the soldiers were wiped out. That was when Napoleon decided to sell Louisiana.

From his point of view, Louisiana was nothing but a breadbasket to feed the slaves in Haiti. It is all but impossible to imagine US history with a garrison of French veterans in New Orleans.

In 1863, a little known attempt was made to reimpose slave-holding on the other half of the island of Hispaniola. An Imperial Spanish force burned & murdered their way ashore. Like the French, what was left of them fled to their ships & returned to whence they came.
 

LetUsHavePeace

Volunteer
Joined
Dec 1, 2018
There might be more light and less heat if we agreed to examine the origins of "slavery" in the United States as three questions:
(1) Why did people from western Africa become the first slaves in the United States?
(2) Whose money financed the slave trade?
(3) Why did Americans import, own and "farm" slaves?

A. Leon Higginbotham has the answer to the first question. Africans' black skin made them easily identifiable as chattel in a commercial world where the owners were white-skinned. For the same reason white-skinned Europeans were the preferred choice of the Turkish, Arab and Berber slave holders.
The money for the slave trade came from Bristol, London, Boston, Providence and New York.
As to why Americans took part in the slave trade and ownership of people as property, the answer is that they thought they could make money from it.

Whether they actually did is still an open question that the partisans - North and South, Edited - do their best to ignore. Nearly 170 years after the abolition of slavery in the U.S. we still have no actual balance sheet and income statement for the business itself, only enormous hypothetical models based on appallingly few actual facts.

Pop quiz: Name the top five slave trading and auction houses in the United States in 1860? I pledge to donate $50 to CivilWarTalk for each correct answer. To qualify, you have to include a link or other searchable reference for each name.

Why am I doing this? Because by 1860 we have the data for the "top five" companies in every other kind of business done in the United States - iron manufacturing, whiskey distilling, beer brewing, rice farming, etc. etc. But not for the actual business of slavery.
 
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Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
There might be more light and less heat if we agreed to examine the origins of "slavery" in the United States as three questions:
(1) Why did people from western Africa become the first slaves in the United States?
(2) Whose money financed the slave trade?
(3) Why did Americans import, own and "farm" slaves?

A. Leon Higginbotham has the answer to the first question. Africans' black skin made them easily identifiable as chattel in a commercial world where the owners were white-skinned. For the same reason white-skinned Europeans were the preferred choice of the Turkish, Arab and Berber slave holders.
The money for the slave trade came from Bristol, London, Boston, Providence and New York.
As to why Americans took part in the slave trade and ownership of people as property, the answer is that they thought they could make money from it.

Whether they actually did is still an open question that the partisans - North and South, Edited - do their best to ignore. Nearly 170 years after the abolition of slavery in the U.S. we still have no actual balance sheet and income statement for the business itself, only enormous hypothetical models based on appallingly few actual facts.

Pop quiz: Name the top five slave trading and auction houses in the United States in 1860? I pledge to donate $50 to CivilWarTalk for each correct answer. To qualify, you have to include a link or other searchable reference for each name.

Why am I doing this? Because by 1860 we have the data for the "top five" companies in every other kind of business done in the United States - iron manufacturing, whiskey distilling, beer brewing, rice farming, etc. etc. But not for the actual business of slavery.
1. Native Americans were the first slaves in North America.

2. The triangular trade of British ships that brought goods to the West Coast of Africa to trade for slaves; traded the slaves for molasses in the Sugar Islands or Charleston & returned to Britain to convert the cargo into money financed the slave trade.

3. After emancipation on the Sugar Islands & the Constitutional ban on importation of slaves, the U.S. slave population was self generated. "Extras" from the slaveholdings in the border states filled the ever increasing demand for labor fueled by the cotton boom.

Since there was no sales tax or other public reporting regulations, the gross sales value or volume of various slave jails is only an educated guess.
 

LetUsHavePeace

Volunteer
Joined
Dec 1, 2018
1. Native Americans were the first slaves in North America.

2. The triangular trade of British ships that brought goods to the West Coast of Africa to trade for slaves; traded the slaves for molasses in the Sugar Islands or Charleston & returned to Britain to convert the cargo into money financed the slave trade.

3. After emancipation on the Sugar Islands & the Constitutional ban on importation of slaves, the U.S. slave population was self generated. "Extras" from the slaveholdings in the border states filled the ever increasing demand for labor fueled by the cotton boom.

Since there was no sales tax or other public reporting regulations, the gross sales value or volume of various slave jails is only an educated guess.

I was wrong in writing that the "money for the slave trade came from Bristol, London, Boston, Providence and New York"; that answer left out the largest sources of the capital - London and Amsterdam - and the serious participation of the French. Mea culpa.

https://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ports-of-transatlantic-slave-trade
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I was wrong in writing that the "money for the slave trade came from Bristol, London, Boston, Providence and New York"; that answer left out the largest sources of the capital - London and Amsterdam - and the serious participation of the French. Mea culpa.

https://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ports-of-transatlantic-slave-trade
That is all in the amateur ranks compared to the Spanish, Portuguese & trade from the Horn of Africa. It was vast, it was world wide.
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Eric Eustace Williams (1911-1981), historian and 1st Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago:
"slavery was not born of racism: rather, racism was the consequence of slavery."

The three monotheistic faiths emanating from the Middle East all mention slavery in their respective "good books." Co-religionists/ Fellow believers are supposed to be accorded better treatment than heretics and heathens and non-believers. Non-believers can be treated rough, because they are enemies of the "true faith."

Edward B. Rugemer, Slave Law and the Politics of Resistance in the Early Atlantic World (HUP: 2018),

1681 from Jamaica to South Carolina: "white" supplanted "Christian"

"After all, if 'Negros' could also be 'Christians,' the distinction between Africans and Europeans might begin to lose its potency. The use of 'white' as a racial descriptor is evident in various writings from England's colonial Atlantic ..."

Christopher Tomlins, "Transplants and Timing: Passages in the Creation of an Anglo-American Law of Slavery"

So, cue the title of the late Winthrop D. Jordan's book, White over Black... Or the title of the late Theodore Allen's two-volume work:
The Invention of the White Race.
https://www.jeffreybperry.net/attachments/allen_summary1.pdf
https://www.jeffreybperry.net/attachments/allen_summary2.pdf
https://www.jeffreybperry.net/attachments/allen_on_roediger.pdf

W.E.B. DuBois The Souls of White Folk 1910, David Roediger The Wages of Whiteness, etc. etc. Why, those people are the descendants of Ham... Science proves ... "Our" church ..."Our" community ... "Our" fellow whites ... "Our white race."

Frederick Douglass--"The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro" 1852

David Firestone, "Identity Restored to 100,000 Louisiana Slaves" NYT 30 Jul 2000:
https://www.nytimes.com/2000/07/30/us/identity-restored-to-100000-louisiana-slaves.html
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
That is all in the amateur ranks compared to the Spanish, Portuguese & trade from the Horn of Africa. It was vast, it was world wide.
The UK is hardly an amateur? Spain's decline continued from the 17th C. until well into the 20th... As for Portugal?

Victor Kiernan "The Old Alliance: England and Portugal"
file:///C:/Users/dc36088/Downloads/5357-Article%20Text-7256-1-10-20090318.pdf

University College of London--Legacies of British slave-ownership: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/project/details/

Barclays Bank? https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/2146643749

https://www.mackseyjournal.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1123&context=publications

"The banks are made of silver... With a guard at every door..." http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/abolition/building_britain_gallery_02.shtml


Britain had Liverpool, France had Nantes https://memorial.nantes.fr/en/, and the US had Providence, RI:
https://www.brown.edu/Research/Slavery_Justice/documents/SlaveryAndJustice.pdf
https://www.brown.edu/Research/Slavery_Justice/documents/memorials.pdf

available at https://www.brown.edu/Research/Slavery_Justice/
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Last edited:

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
The UK is hardly an amateur? Spain's decline continued from the 17th C. until well into the 20th... As for Portugal?

Victor Kiernan "The Old Alliance: England and Portugal"
file:///C:/Users/dc36088/Downloads/5357-Article%20Text-7256-1-10-20090318.pdf

University College of London--Legacies of British slave-ownership: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/project/details/

Barclays Bank? https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/2146643749

https://www.mackseyjournal.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1123&context=publications

"The banks are made of silver... With a guard at every door..." http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/abolition/building_britain_gallery_02.shtml


Britain had Liverpool, France had Nantes https://memorial.nantes.fr/en/, and the US had Providence, RI:
https://www.brown.edu/Research/Slavery_Justice/documents/SlaveryAndJustice.pdf
https://www.brown.edu/Research/Slavery_Justice/documents/memorials.pdf

available at https://www.brown.edu/Research/Slavery_Justice/
Strange as it may seem, the entire world did not wait for Bristol merchants to discover that the world is round.
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
I know that that is a joke, and it is funny. Apologies for being pedantic. As you know, mariners long understood that the world was round. That is why Christopher Columbus gambled that if he was willing to sail due west into uncharted territory, he'd make landfall in Asia. He'd get to be the "Admiral of the Ocean Sea" and get the kinds of status and privilege and remuneration his long association with the Portuguese had failed to produce... The Portuguese were taking their sweet time incrementally moving too and fro down the African coast. The sailors were wary because things were just a bit different in terms of navigation the farther south one sailed. They'd gotten all the stolen and hijacked maps and navigational aids, astrolabes and so on from their ceaseless conflicts with the Moors. They--the Portuguese crown--sequestered all that stuff and kept it at the half-English/ half-Portuguese Infante Henry's navigational school as a "state secret." The first time Portuguese mariners made their way past the Cape Bojador in sub-Saharan Africa, they were utterly unable to return, given the prevailing winds. Terrified, they literally had the crew pull the ship by ropes along the shore until they cleared the cape! One result was the conclusion to sail further away from the coast...

There is even some evidence that given the Catholic predilection for not consuming meat on Fridays, that the bacalao or salt cod for which the Basques were instrumental in providing had resulted in a situation where the Basque fisherman were exploiting the shoals of cod fish off northeastern Canada and New England long before Columbus' voyage... Not like they'd give up the secret to their favored fishing spot, right? So at least one implication is that the New World was understood by some people, it just awaited a guy with no scruple and a "portfolio" to come along and make outlandish self-aggrandizing claims about the place--Enter Columbus! Later of course, enter Amerigo Vespucci and "America."

Spain looted the Mexica/Aztec empire, exploited the remnants of the "Empire of the Triple Alliance" as "New Spain" and the Inca "Land of the Four Quarters" Empire... They exploited Indian and some African labor to capitalize the modern world with the silver of Potosi and Guanajuato... Some scribes assert so much silver was mined, it could have built a bridge to Europe had they so desired. It is certain that during religious processions in Potosi, the streets were paved with silver ingots for the ceremony. Brazil was the leading source of gold in the world before the strikes in South Africa in the late 19th century... And this was carried out by slaves--with "Mina" slaves from the "Gold Coast" preferred--in placer mining camps much like the "conflict diamonds" in Africa today... So why then is it not the case that Spain and Portugal are vastly wealthier than Britain? Why didn't "great power" status and empire and industrialization "take off" there?

The point about Great Britain is to indicate that it was the leading great power of the age. It was at the summit of the early capitalist system. It's first empire crashed and burned with the American Revolution, and it emerged from that and the Napoleonic Wars even mightier and with an even vaster dominion. During the apex of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, it was she that sold the most slaves. It was she that derived the greatest profit. Britain totally outstripped and superseded the role of Spain and Portugal. Admittedly, the first to start it, namely the Portuguese and Spaniards were also the last... Brazil and Cuba.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I know that that is a joke, and it is funny. Apologies for being pedantic. As you know, mariners long understood that the world was round. That is why Christopher Columbus gambled that if he was willing to sail due west into uncharted territory, he'd make landfall in Asia. He'd get to be the "Admiral of the Ocean Sea" and get the kinds of status and privilege and remuneration his long association with the Portuguese had failed to produce... The Portuguese were taking their sweet time incrementally moving too and fro down the African coast. The sailors were wary because things were just a bit different in terms of navigation the farther south one sailed. They'd gotten all the stolen and hijacked maps and navigational aids, astrolabes and so on from their ceaseless conflicts with the Moors. They--the Portuguese crown--sequestered all that stuff and kept it at the half-English/ half-Portuguese Infante Henry's navigational school as a "state secret." The first time Portuguese mariners made their way past the Cape Bojador in sub-Saharan Africa, they were utterly unable to return, given the prevailing winds. Terrified, they literally had the crew pull the ship by ropes along the shore until they cleared the cape! One result was the conclusion to sail further away from the coast...

There is even some evidence that given the Catholic predilection for not consuming meat on Fridays, that the bacalao or salt cod for which the Basques were instrumental in providing had resulted in a situation where the Basque fisherman were exploiting the shoals of cod fish off northeastern Canada and New England long before Columbus' voyage... Not like they'd give up the secret to their favored fishing spot, right? So at least one implication is that the New World was understood by some people, it just awaited a guy with no scruple and a "portfolio" to come along and make outlandish self-aggrandizing claims about the place--Enter Columbus! Later of course, enter Amerigo Vespucci and "America."

Spain looted the Mexica/Aztec empire, exploited the remnants of the "Empire of the Triple Alliance" as "New Spain" and the Inca "Land of the Four Quarters" Empire... They exploited Indian and some African labor to capitalize the modern world with the silver of Potosi and Guanajuato... Some scribes assert so much silver was mined, it could have built a bridge to Europe had they so desired. It is certain that during religious processions in Potosi, the streets were paved with silver ingots for the ceremony. Brazil was the leading source of gold in the world before the strikes in South Africa in the late 19th century... And this was carried out by slaves--with "Mina" slaves from the "Gold Coast" preferred--in placer mining camps much like the "conflict diamonds" in Africa today... So why then is it not the case that Spain and Portugal are vastly wealthier than Britain? Why didn't "great power" status and empire and industrialization "take off" there?

The point about Great Britain is to indicate that it was the leading great power of the age. It was at the summit of the early capitalist system. It's first empire crashed and burned with the American Revolution, and it emerged from that and the Napoleonic Wars even mightier and with an even vaster dominion. During the apex of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, it was she that sold the most slaves. It was she that derived the greatest profit. Britain totally outstripped and superseded the role of Spain and Portugal. Admittedly, the first to start it, namely the Portuguese and Spaniards were also the last... Brazil and Cuba.
Not to be pedantic, but the slave trade from the Nile Valley westward was significantly longer & larger than the trade with the Sugar Islands & continental America. Dinka people in particular were highly prized.

They are both the tallest & blackest population on the planet. I can attest to the fact that they are striking looking people. Indian rulers created slave military units & the eunuchs were in great demand.

The African bodyguard of a Jesuit became a samurai. It was Portuguese ships that eventually dominated that trade. Then the Pope gave Spain half the world, but that is hardly on topic here. Trade with the Indian subcontinent & China dwarfed that of sparsely populated America... you could say that they were the wrong kind of Indians.
 

LetUsHavePeace

Volunteer
Joined
Dec 1, 2018
I know that that is a joke, and it is funny. Apologies for being pedantic. As you know, mariners long understood that the world was round. That is why Christopher Columbus gambled that if he was willing to sail due west into uncharted territory, he'd make landfall in Asia. He'd get to be the "Admiral of the Ocean Sea" and get the kinds of status and privilege and remuneration his long association with the Portuguese had failed to produce... The Portuguese were taking their sweet time incrementally moving too and fro down the African coast. The sailors were wary because things were just a bit different in terms of navigation the farther south one sailed. They'd gotten all the stolen and hijacked maps and navigational aids, astrolabes and so on from their ceaseless conflicts with the Moors. They--the Portuguese crown--sequestered all that stuff and kept it at the half-English/ half-Portuguese Infante Henry's navigational school as a "state secret." The first time Portuguese mariners made their way past the Cape Bojador in sub-Saharan Africa, they were utterly unable to return, given the prevailing winds. Terrified, they literally had the crew pull the ship by ropes along the shore until they cleared the cape! One result was the conclusion to sail further away from the coast...

There is even some evidence that given the Catholic predilection for not consuming meat on Fridays, that the bacalao or salt cod for which the Basques were instrumental in providing had resulted in a situation where the Basque fisherman were exploiting the shoals of cod fish off northeastern Canada and New England long before Columbus' voyage... Not like they'd give up the secret to their favored fishing spot, right? So at least one implication is that the New World was understood by some people, it just awaited a guy with no scruple and a "portfolio" to come along and make outlandish self-aggrandizing claims about the place--Enter Columbus! Later of course, enter Amerigo Vespucci and "America."

Spain looted the Mexica/Aztec empire, exploited the remnants of the "Empire of the Triple Alliance" as "New Spain" and the Inca "Land of the Four Quarters" Empire... They exploited Indian and some African labor to capitalize the modern world with the silver of Potosi and Guanajuato... Some scribes assert so much silver was mined, it could have built a bridge to Europe had they so desired. It is certain that during religious processions in Potosi, the streets were paved with silver ingots for the ceremony. Brazil was the leading source of gold in the world before the strikes in South Africa in the late 19th century... And this was carried out by slaves--with "Mina" slaves from the "Gold Coast" preferred--in placer mining camps much like the "conflict diamonds" in Africa today... So why then is it not the case that Spain and Portugal are vastly wealthier than Britain? Why didn't "great power" status and empire and industrialization "take off" there?

The point about Great Britain is to indicate that it was the leading great power of the age. It was at the summit of the early capitalist system. It's first empire crashed and burned with the American Revolution, and it emerged from that and the Napoleonic Wars even mightier and with an even vaster dominion. During the apex of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, it was she that sold the most slaves. It was she that derived the greatest profit. Britain totally outstripped and superseded the role of Spain and Portugal. Admittedly, the first to start it, namely the Portuguese and Spaniards were also the last... Brazil and Cuba.
Can I agree with your broad statement in the last paragraph but disagree with your statement that "its first empire crashed and burned with the American Revolution"? A very good case can be made that the American Revolution gave the English and the Scots and Irish at home who agreed with them the idea of having an Empire. In having Parliament cut off continuing funding for the Army's campaign against the 13 rebel colonies, the Whig Party gave themselves the perfect political platform - yes, for foreign wars we can win and are worth the cost; and no, for trying to conquer a backwards territory that has never turned a profit and never paid its taxes. The surrender at Yorktown had no effect on the English drive to dominate the Caribbean and conquer India.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Saintes
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
My point was more about what historians refer to as Great Britain's "informal empire" versus the pink-shaded portions of the old Atlas of the "formal Empire" on which the sun never set...

All of post-independence Latin America and imperial Brazil formed key portions of the "informal empire." A good deal of Southern planters also hewed toward England in the antebellum...
 
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