Slaves Rights in the 17th and 18th century

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jpeter

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I just read an interesting comment in book on slavery which I will paraphrase here.

In the mid 1600s, when the Dutch governed and occupied the Manhattan area around New York City, they brought in a great number of black slaves.

However, many of the slaves were allowed what was known as "half-freedom". By that, we mean that the slaves were free to live away from their masters with their own lifestyles but were obligated to perform duties as requested by their masters.

Many, but not all, were under a type of conditional time-period for their masters much like the indentured servant which could be as much as 20 years or less, but had a distinct ending.

This type of slavery ended when the British took over occupation of New York in 1674. By the early 18th century, black codes and slavery laws were being written into legal tracts defining slavery, birth right, and other conditions.

Which makes me wonder what would have happened if the Dutch definitions of slavery had carried over into American law after the Revolutionary War. Even the Spanish and Portuguese were much more liberal with their laws of manumission by the 19th century. Much larger free black populations existed in the western hemisphere outside of the U.S. on the eve of the Civil War.

Just another "what if"
 

OpnOlympic

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There seems to have been a corolation between the treatment of slaves and the value of work. Generaly, the more money that could be made off the labor of slaves the harsher his treatment by slave owners.
In the Caribbean, where fortunes were being made from slave labor, the Duth were notorious for their treatment of slaves
 

Ellsworth avenger

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There seems to have been a corolation between the treatment of slaves and the value of work. Generaly, the more money that could be made off the labor of slaves the harsher his treatment by slave owners.
In the Caribbean, where fortunes were being made from slave labor, the Duth were notorious for their treatment of slaves
Actually the same can be said of the treatment of the Quakers and Anababtists.Hingham Mass. puritans first passed laws, against them, when the populace started not paying thier taxes.It allways seems that following the buck finds the source.
"Money often costs to much" Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
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OpnOlympic

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I am not sure I understand the comparison of persecution for ones religious(or political beliefs) and enslavement because of being born a certain race.
 

jpeter

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Personally, I believe the time-frame and location matter.

Plantation economies of cash crops, especially in island cultures, were brutal almost from the beginning no matter which European country was the host.

However, some slaves brought into Virginia shortly after Jamestown were actually able to obtain their freedom legally. One slave family was even able to pass down private property in Virginia in the 17th century. By the mid-1700s, laws were enacted in most colonies limiting their freedoms.

In the very earliest years, slaves participated more actively in the small communities growing in the Mid-Atlantic States northward (defense of Indians, etc.). This would change pretty much everywhere by the mid-1700s.

I believe the need of harsher slave treatment and control was largely a product of the cash crops grown in the South. These controls were also implemented in the north, but the numbers of slaves were so much fewer there that a more casual atmosphere existed.
 

Ellsworth avenger

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I am not sure I understand the comparison of persecution for ones religious(or political beliefs) and enslavement because of being born a certain race.
I believe slavery at that time was about the buck,and and an exploitable populace that happened to be black.The Quakers and Anababtists were tolerated until it effected the cummunal pocketbook.
"Money often costs to much"Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
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ole

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Our understanding of slavery and how it was practiced is a moving target. Seems that the first slaves on this land were owned with a sense that they were, after all, humans. As the years went by, that attitude morphed according to the society and crops dictated. From indentured servants, the slave became the equivalent of a horse or an ox.

One notable difference, and don't ask for the source, was that of the Spanish slave-holder in the Caribbean: he didn't sell his children.

Just a thought.

Ole
 

jpeter

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Our understanding of slavery and how it was practiced is a moving target. Seems that the first slaves on this land were owned with a sense that they were, after all, humans. As the years went by, that attitude morphed according to the society and crops dictated. From indentured servants, the slave became the equivalent of a horse or an ox.
Ole
I agree, and it was an even a bigger moving target BEFORE the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Many Slaves in Africa prior to the trade had their own homes. Some even had their own slaves. About the only thing they couldn't do was eat with their masters. Greeks and Romans had far less rigidity in their slave cultures than the 19th century American brand. Muslim slaves were almost always of the domestic variety. Our own Native Americans practiced slavery to help repopulate the tribes after warfare or disease had stricken, but many were freed as adults.

From what I've read, very few slave cultures - perhaps only the Roman Empire to a degree - had widespread agricultural slavery with high slave-to-master ratios. The cash crop plantation slavery that was evident in the Trans-Atlantic trade required much more severe controls. In places like Jamaica, there were times when black-to-white ratios were 10-to-1 and fear of uprisings were a major concern.

It shouldn't be surprising that South Carolinians exhibited far more interest in slave controls than other states.
 

OpnOlympic

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Historically, 'rights' are notable for how often they have to be forced, rather than freely given up, from those who possessed them, in the first place. Seldom is Power relinquished voluntarily, it usually has to be taken.
Power feeds the ego of man and there is no limit to how much power man feels he needs. As enlightenment spread, the harder slave owners resisted it(power corrupts; abolute power corrupts absolutely).

P.S. Not only was slavery pernicious to the slave, it was as harmful in its debilitating effects on the societies that were based on the slave. .
 
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ole

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Worth pursuing, Opn. Did slavery turn its proponents into beasts, as has been proposed by various writers?

Ole
 

jpeter

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Worth pursuing, Opn. Did slavery turn its proponents into beasts, as has been proposed by various writers?
I've always said if the social battle is ethics vs money, you can pretty much bet on money (in this case "property") to come out on top of any argument.

The early English abolitionists may be an exception to the rule as they had almost nothing to gain, but I personally don't see history marking time with too many of those.
 

Freddy

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Massachusetts was the first colony to legalize slavery. Here are some laws concerning slavery in MA.

"A Massachusetts law of 1641 specifically linked slavery to Biblical authority, and established for slaves the set of rules "which the law of God, established in Israel concerning such people, doth morally require." When two Massachusetts slave merchants joined with London slave raiders in a massacre of an African village in 1645, the colonial government registered its indignation, because the two men were guilty of the Biblical crime of "man-stealing" (kidnapping Africans instead of acquiring them in the approved way, in exchange for rum or trinkets) -- and because the slaughter of 100 or so villagers had taken place on a Sunday. Nonetheless, because of its Scriptural foundation, Massachusetts' attitudes toward slaves in some ways were more progressive than those of other colonies.

Like Connecticut and Rhode Island, however, Massachusetts had a problem with masters who simply turned out their slaves when they grew too old or feeble to work. Unlike the later Southern system, which took pride in its paternal care for slaves in their old age, Massachusetts masters had to be forced to keep theirs by a 1703 law requiring them to post £50 bond for every slave manumitted, to provide against the slave becoming indigent and the responsibility of some town. There are also instances on record of slave mothers' children given away like puppies or kittens by masters unwilling or unable to support them. There was no law against this.

Boston, which had the largest slave population, also had its own layer of controls, on top of the province-wide ones. In statutes enacted at various times between the 1720s and 1750s, slaves in Boston were forbidden to buy provisions in market; carry a stick or a cane; keep hogs or swine; or stroll about the streets, lanes, or Common at night or at all on Sunday. Punishments for violation of these laws ranged up to 20 lashes, depending on aggravating factors.

Black slaves were singled out for punishment by whipping if they broke street lamps, under a law of 1753, and a special law allowed severe whippings for any black person who hit a white one (1705-6)."

http://www.slavenorth.com/massachusetts.htm
 
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OpnOlympic

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IMO< Slavery, at the least, tends to harden masters hearts to the fact of the slaves humanity and, at its worst, did made some masters act like beasts. But in reference to its debilitating effects, I was referring more to the pervasive harm it did to the slave holding society, as a whole. Particularly in its stultifying effects on almost all aspects of advancing those aspects most commonly associated with what is commonly described as civilization; education, economy, politics, religion, intellect, etc.
 

matthew mckeon

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Anyone, no matter how admirable otherwise, can look good while they are doing the things that make slavery work. Forced labor, whipping, pursuing runaways, selling people, sexually exploiting women, crushing people into a life a hopeless drudgery, well that's most of the founding fathers, let alone Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.

The problem isn't the adverse affect on the personality of the slaveowners, or the economic repercussions of a slaveowning society, its the tremendous, daily damage done to the enslaved people themselves.
 

jpeter

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The problem isn't the adverse affect on the personality of the slaveowners, or the economic repercussions of a slaveowning society, its the tremendous, daily damage done to the enslaved people themselves.
Sometimes we gloss over that don't we.
 
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