Browsing "Slavery Worldwide"
Jul 4, 2020 - Antebellum Economics, Antebellum Realities, Economics, Historical Accuracy, Race and the South, Slavery Worldwide    Comments Off on Feudal Lords, Modern Capitalists and the Dole

Feudal Lords, Modern Capitalists and the Dole

The feudal lord of the manor mentioned below could have been European, Asian, Arab or African owners of serfs or slaves.  A North German serf in Mecklenburg belonged to and worked the land of his lord, owning little more than his clothes and cooking utensils. But he and other serfs were essential to the lord for agricultural production, as in the American South and elsewhere in the world, and thus could not be abandoned.  

Feudal Lords, Modern Capitalists and The Dole

“The feudal lord of the manor was quite as much a property owner as the millionaire under modern capitalism. He had property rights in the tools of production, and often directed the processes of production. But unlike the man of property under modern capitalism, he could never make a decision in respect of his property rights, one of the results of which, would be widespread unemployment and destitution, for, as a practical matter, he could not expel the serf from the land or deny him the use of the land and some elementary capital for the production of food, shelter and clothing.

Modern capitalism is the first important system of property rights to allow property owners to make decisions which result in large scale unemployment. The much vaunted freedom of modern capitalism is largely a matter of the freedom of property owners from social responsibility for the consequences of their economic choices.  It is a matter of the freedom of property owners not to invest their savings if the profit incentive is not considered sufficient.

To say that it is also a matter of the freedom of the worker to abstain from work is to utter a shallow mockery of human necessity. The rich man is, in a practical sense, free to withhold his savings from investment. The poor man is never free in any but a legal sense and absurd sense to withhold his labor from the highest bidder, however low the bid, if, as the principles of sound capitalism require, so to withhold his labor is to starve.

At the present time, one of the fundamental rules of sound capitalism is being violated by the payment of the dole, which prevents a man from starving and thus enables him to withhold his labor from the highest bidder if the bid is not materially higher than the amount obtainable from the dole.”  

 (The Coming American Fascism: The Crisis of Capitalism, Lawrence Dennis, Harper & Brothers, 1936, excerpt pp. 22-23)

Jun 28, 2020 - Foreign Viewpoints, Historical Accuracy, Historical Amnesia/Cleansing, Slavery Worldwide    Comments Off on Slavery Way Up North

Slavery Way Up North

The Simcoe Compromise bill of July 1793 did not free any slaves in then-Upper Canada, but did forbid the importation of slaves into that Province. Ironically, once Michigan was incorporated as a US territory in 1805, slaves escaping from Upper Canada were fleeing across the border – by 1806 there were sufficient free blacks in Detroit to form their own militia unit, as would be the case in New Orleans and its all-black Louisiana Native Guards. Mustered into State service in May 1861, the latter was the first black unit to serve in the American Civil War.

Slavery Way Up North

“The history of legalized slavery in [Canada] stretches back to 1628, when the English adventurer David Kirke brought to New France a native of Madagascar. Kirke disposed of him quickly for a handsome profit, making him Canada’s first slave. [It is believed] that by 1760 there were approximately 1,100 slaves residing in New France, most of who lived near Montreal and were either house servants or farm hands.

In the treaty of capitulation [to Britain], 8 September 1760, clause 47 guaranteed the continued servitude of all slaves to their respective masters. This same clause was included in the Treaty of Paris, 1763, and it was left in force when French civil law was restored by the Quebec Act of 1774.

By 1784 there were more than 4,000 blacks living in the British colonies north of the United States, and among them could be counted at least 1,800 slaves. To encourage settlement in British North America, the home government passed the Imperial Act of 1790, which applied to all British subjects still resident in the United States. It allowed them to import “Negroes, household furniture . . . duty free” into the Bahamas, Bermuda, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and any other British territory in North America. [Author] Robin Winks claims that free blacks were discouraged from settling.

Slave owning was widespread among the emerging political and social elite of Upper Canada. Peter Russell, a senior member of the Executive and Legislative councils and the province’s administrator in the absence of [Lt. Governor John Graves] Simcoe, was reputed to be the owner of ninety-nine slaves. Matthew Elliot, Russell’s close friend, may have owned upwards of fifty slaves, many of whom were war trophies taken in border clashes with the Americans.

(Slavery and Freedom in Niagara, Power & Butler, Niagara Historical Society, 2000, excerpts pp. 11-12; 18; 24-25)

Jun 24, 2020 - Antiquity, Historical Accuracy, Historical Amnesia/Cleansing, Imperialist Adventures, Slavery Worldwide    Comments Off on Slavery Way Down South

Slavery Way Down South

In the Aztec culture, war and the priesthood were the only paths “toward prestige, honors and riches,” with free land and slaves given as rewards for valor while subjugating neighbors. In the century prior to Spanish conquest, the merchant class included “slave traders whose centers of operation were in some of the large cities, but who kept purchasing bases in the furthermost cities.”

Slavery existed in all classic period Mesoamerican cultures: in Maya culture, the condition of slavery was passed down from one generation to another, often as punishment for offenses against the ruling class. “The majority of slaves, however, were prisoners of war or foreigners bought from traders. The destiny of these slaves was uncertain, and many must have ended their days as sacrificial victims.”  

Slavery Way Down South

“Aztec conquests always had religious or economic motives . . . in the principal cities of the Aztecs and their allies lived an artisan group who were in constant need of raw materials for the manufacture of consumer goods which were traded among the Aztecs themselves or exchanged for products from their neighbors and tribute-paying subjects.

Equally important was the development of the quasi-feudal system with an increasing demand for agricultural land and serfs for the benefit of the growing nobility. Last but not least was the need for slaves to be sacrificed to the gods as state and religion merged into one unified system.

In the last years of their brief history, the Aztec nation included more than 300 vassal tribes which never amalgamated into a political or administrative entity.

While Aztec merchants traveled the trade routes, transacting business and paving the way for new conquests, the warriors and governors exercised dominion by exacting tribute and gathering the designated quotas of prisoners to be sacrificed to the many gods of the Aztec pantheon.”

(Pre-Columbian Cities, Jorge E. Hardoy, Walker and Company, 1973, excerpts pp. 124; 128; 228)

Plantations of the Old World

When Christopher Columbus set sail “on his first expedition across the Atlantic, accumulated imports of Negro slaves into the Old World were probably in excess of twenty-five thousand,” and many white slaves worked the Mediterranean sugar plantations with them.

By the last half of the sixteenth century the center of sugar production shifted across the Atlantic, and by 1600, Brazil had become Europe’s leading sugar supplier. Portuguese ships brought needed labor for Brazilian plantations, slaves readily purchased from the tribes of West Africa.

Plantations of the Old World

“Slavery is not only the most ancient but also one of the most long-lived forms of economic and social organization. It came into being at the dawn of civilization, when mankind passed from hunting and nomadic pastoral life into primitive agriculture. And although legally sanctioned slavery was outlawed in its last bastion – the Arabian peninsula – in 1962, slavery is still practiced covertly in parts of Asia, Africa and South America.

One high-water mark was reached during the first two centuries of the Roman Empire when, according to some estimates, three out of every four residents of the Italian peninsula – twenty- one million people – lived in bondage. Eventually Roman slavery was transformed into serfdom, a form of servitude that mitigated some of the harsher features of the old system.

The Italians were quite active in importing slaves from the area of the Black Sea during the thirteenth century. And the Moors captured during the interminable religious wars were enslaved on the Iberian peninsula, along with Slavs and captives from the Levant [eastern Mediterranean].

Black slaves were imported into Europe during the Middle Ages through the Moslem countries of North Africa. Beginning about the middle of the fifteenth century, the Portuguese established trading posts along the west coast of Africa below the Sahara with the aim of capturing or making relatively large purchases of black slaves. Although Negroes continued to be imported into the Old World until the beginning of the eighteenth century, it was the New World that became the great market for slaves.

It was Europe’s sweet tooth, rather than its addiction to tobacco or its infatuation with cotton cloth that determined the extent of the Atlantic slave trade. Sugar was the greatest of the slave crops. Between 60 and 70 percent of all the Africans who survived the Atlantic voyages ended up in one or the other of Europe’s sugar colonies.

Sugar was introduced into the Levant [eastern Mediterranean] in the seventh century by the Arabs. From the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries [Mediterranean] colonies shipped sugar to all parts of Europe. Moreover, the sugar produced there was grown on plantations which utilized slave labor. While the slaves were primarily white, it was in these islands that Europeans developed the institutional apparatus that was eventually applied to blacks.”

(Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery, W. Fogel and S. Engerman, W.W. Norton, 1974, excerpts pp. 13-17)

Jun 5, 2019 - Emancipation, Historical Accuracy, Slavery Comes to America, Slavery Worldwide    Comments Off on Servants and Slavery in England

Servants and Slavery in England

The immigrants who came to Virginia came from every county of England, and a majority of the indentured servants “hailed from sixteen counties in the south and west of England – the same area that produced Virginia’s elite.” The majority settling in the Berkley Hundred “whether sponsors, tenants at labor or indentured servants, were . . . born and bred in Gloucester.”

And it is estimated that 80 to 90 percent of Virginia’s early servants came from London’s poor. Like many other peoples and countries, the English themselves passed through a phase of slavery, serfdom and indentured servitude, on their way to emancipation and liberty.

Servants and Slavery in England

“Most of Virginia’s servant immigrants were half-grown boys and young men. Three out of four were between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four. Only 3 percent were under fifteen, and less than 1 percent was over thirty-five – a sharp contrast with Massachusetts.

More than a few of these youngsters were “spirited” or kidnapped to Virginia. Parliament in 1645 heard evidence of gangs who “in a most barbarous and wicked manner steal away many little children” for service in the Chesapeake colonies. Others were “lagged” or transported after being arrested for petty crime or vagrancy.

Virginia’s recruiting ground was a broad region in the south and west of England, running from the weald of Kent to Devon and north as far as Shropshire and Staffordshire. Its language and laws were those of the West Saxons, rather than the Danes who settled in East Anglia, or the Norse who colonized the north country, or the Celts who held Cornwall and Wales.

During the early Middle Ages slavery had existed on a large scale throughout Mercia, Wessex and Sussex, and had lasted longer there than in other parts of England. Historian D.J.V. Fisher writes that “the fate of many of the natives was not extermination but slavery.”

This was not merely domestic bondage, but slavery on a large scale. During the eighth and ninth centuries, the size of major slave holdings in the south of England reached levels comparable to large plantations in the American South. When Bishop Wilfred acquired Selsey in Sussex, he emancipated 250 slaves on a single estate. Few American plantations in the American South were so large even at their peak in the nineteenth century.

By the time of American colonization, both slavery and serfdom were long gone from this region. But other forms of social obligation remained very strong in the seventeenth century.”

(Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, Oxford University Press, 1989, David Hackett Fisher, excerpts pp. 231; 241-243)

Tampering with New England’s Slave Trade

Much of Britain’s difficulty with its American colonies came from New England smuggling and dependence upon French West Indies molasses which it distilled into rum, which in turn fueled its slave trade. In his last years, Boston’s John Adams “saw the Revolution, at least in part, as a struggle over molasses. He said “I know not why we should blush to confess that molasses was an essential ingredient in American independence.

It takes no great imagination to conclude that without British and New England populating the American colonies with African slaves, and perpetuating this into the mid-nineteenth century, the war which destroyed the American republic in 1861 might not have occurred.

Tampering with New England’s Trade in Slaves

“[The Molasses Act of 1733 enacted by the British Parliament] was introduced as a result of complaints from the British islands in the West Indies, whose economy was based on the production of sugar, against the competition of the French sugar islands – St. Dominique, Guadeloupe and Martinique. The British West Indies – Antigua, Barbados, Jamaica, Monserrat and St. Christopher – were such an immense source of wealth that they were considered at the time to be more important to the empire than the North American colonies.

Molasses, a by-product of the islands’ sugar mills, was turned into rum in New England. There were so many distilleries in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut that they were known as the Rum Coast. Rum, to a degree hard to believe in a later and much different world, was essential to the New England economy.

It was one of the main means of profitable exchange for furs from the Indians and slaves and ivory from Africa. Some of the greatest early New England fortunes were based on the rum trade, most of which was carried on illegally. Boston alone was said to have about fifty distilling houses. Nothing could set off a panic in New England more surely than tampering with this trade.

The trouble arose because the British islands could not supply all the molasses needed by the North American distilleries or supply them as cheaply as the French islands. The French West Indian molasses manufacture and the New England rum production were as if made for each other. By [Sir Robert] Walpole’s time, an immensely important trade had developed between the French islands and the New England colonies. Everyone benefited, except the British sugar islands.

The result was the Molasses Act, which was designed to cut off the [French-New England] trade by putting a 100 percent duty upon non-British sugar. The agent of Massachusetts and Connecticut in London foretold funereally that the act was bound to ruin “many thousand families there.” Richard Partridge, the New York agent in London, brought up the argument of nonrepresentation in Parliament to denounce the act . . .”

By passing the act, [Walpole] legally appeased the British East West Indian planters. By doing little or nothing to enforce it, he appeased New England rum merchants. Smuggling was not a particularly American vice. Even when Secretary at War he had been engaged in smuggling his wines up the Thames.”

(The Struggle for Power: The American Revolution, Theodore Draper, Vintage Books, 1997, excerpts pp. 95-96)

Apr 22, 2019 - Black Slaveowners, Slavery in Africa, Slavery Worldwide    Comments Off on The Portuguese Slave Traffic

The Portuguese Slave Traffic

The Portuguese began the transatlantic slave trade during the Fifteenth century when it was able to expand to overseas and reach Africa. There they found an already active Arab slave traffic and African chieftains eager to sell captive men, women and children to buyers.

The Portuguese Slave Traffic

“The slave-trade is still extensively carried on in the Portuguese settlements on the East Coast of Africa. The Portuguese Government, which is bound by treaty to suppress it, is generally reticent on the subject, and as we have had no Consul at Mozambique, the capital of those extensive settlements, since 1858, it is on rare occasions that the veil which covers that dark part of Africa is lifted.

The principal traffic in the Mozambique Channel still is the slave-trade, and probably the principal market beyond the sea, Madagascar. The Portuguese ministers allege that the oversea traffic cannot be large, because the seizure of their vessels is rare.

But the traffic is carried on in Arab dhows [and under the Arab flag], and when seizures take place the Portuguese escape the stigma. The following passage from the evidence of Captain Sullivan, before the Select Committee of the House of Commons, shows the working of the affair:

“Another reason why the fact of the Portuguese sharing in this slave-trade . . . they have recently adopted, the title of “free Negroes” for the slaves . . . Ask any of the ten thousand Negroes that crowd the streets of Mozambique where they come from, and the reply is the same as that of the slaves captured on board of the dhows – stolen, dragged from their homes and families, sold and bought, sold and bought again, and brought from the markets on the mainland to this place, where they are worse off than they were before.”

The Blue-Book of 1873 contains the following remarks in a paper by Captain Elton to Sir Bartle Frere:

“About Christmas 1870, a gang of about one hundred women and children were brought down from the Shire by a native chief to the town of Quiliman for sale. I arrived there from Mozambique about the 10th of January 1871, when the matter was openly talked about, and I saw a number of recently-purchased slaves.”

(The Lost Continent, or Slavery and the Slave Trade in Africa, 1875, Joseph Cooper, Longmans, Green Company, 1875, excerpts pp. 25-26)

Mar 31, 2019 - Black Slaveowners, Emancipation, Historical Accuracy, New England's Slave Trade, Slavery in Africa, Slavery Worldwide    Comments Off on Perpetuating Slavery on Mauritius

Perpetuating Slavery on Mauritius

The Dutch, French and British established state-sanctioned organizations to purchase and carry already-enslaved Africans to work their colonies. In the British American colonies and after 1789, New England was the unofficial seat of the transatlantic slave trade and profited greatly to the extent that the region’s economic prosperity was built upon that trade.

When the Mauritius planters saw the British end the slave traffic in 1834, they began importing coolies from Ceylon and India to replace the Africans.

Perpetuating Slavery on Mauritius

“Mauritius was discovered by the Portuguese in 1505 and continued in their possession until 1598, when it was ceded to the Dutch, who gave it the name by which it is now known. The Dutch finally abandoned it in 1710 when the island was taken over by the French.

Under the French, the island was considerably developed, especially during the second half of the eighteenth century, and this new step, as the majority saw it, necessitated the introduction of [African] slavery. During the Napoleonic Wars, Mauritius was captured by England and was formally ceded by France in 1814.

The significance of the Negroes in Mauritius, however, dates from the year 1723 when the East India Company of France, in order to promote agriculture in the Island, sanctioned the introduction of slaves, whom they sold to the inhabitants at a certain fixed price.

The slave trade, at this period, was principally in the hands of those pirates who had formed a settlement at Nossibe (Nosse Ibrahim) on the northeast coast of Madagascar . . . they excited a war between the tribes of the interior and those inhabiting the seacoast, and purchased the prisoners made by both for the purpose of conveying them for sale to Bourbon or Mauritius.

If the prisoners thus obtained proved insufficient to the demands of the slave market, a descent was made on some part of the Island, a village was surrounded, and its younger and more vigorous inhabitants were borne off to a state of perpetual slavery.

[Of] every five Negroes embarked at Madagascar, not more than two were found fit for service in Mauritius. The rest either stifled beneath the hatches, starved themselves to death, died of putrid fever, became the food of sharks, fled to the mountains, or fell beneath the driver’s lash.

[Mauritius Colonial Governor] Mahe de Labourdounais was not the founder of slavery. The institution preceded his arrival. Slavery existed in Mauritius even under the Dutch regime. From first to last Mauritius has been the tomb of more than a million of Africans. Many became fugitives . . . in order to check the fugitive slaves, Labourdounais employed their countrymen against them, and formed a mounted police who protected the colonists from their incursions.

The first attempt to emancipate the slaves was made by the leaders of the French Revolution, who, while they professed to discard Christianity as a revelation from God, deduced the equality of all men before God from the principle of natural reason.

The prohibition of slavery was rendered null and void by the planters of Mauritius and the members of the local government, all of whom were slaveholders and opposed any change.”

(The Negroes in Mauritius, A.F. Fokeer, Journal of Negro History, April 1922, Volume VII, No. 2, excerpts pp. 197-201)

Feb 26, 2019 - From Africa to America, Historical Accuracy, Slavery Comes to America, Slavery in Africa, Slavery Worldwide    Comments Off on Slavery and a Superabundance of Land

Slavery and a Superabundance of Land

Writing in 1857, author Guy Stevens Callender observes below that the discovery of America made the slave trade from Africa inevitable, as Europeans were too few to cultivate such a vast wilderness. The cheapness of land made slave labor necessary, and the willingness of Africans to sell their enslaved brethren ensured a large labor supply for the New World.

Slavery and a Superabundance of Land

“The serfdom of the Middle Ages was for all Europe, what it is for Poland and Russia still, a kind of slavery required by the small proportion of people to land; a substitute for hired labor, which gradually expired with the increase of population, as it will expire in Poland and Russia when land shall, in those countries, become as scarce and dear as it became in England sometime after the Conquest.

Next comes the institution of slavery in America by the colonies of nations which had abolished serfdom at home; colonies in whose history, whether we read it in Raynal, or Edwards, or Grahame, we find the effect and the cause invariably close together; the slavery in various forms of bondage, growing out of superabundance of land.

It was the cheapness of land that cause [Bartolome de] Las Casas to invent the African slave trade. It was the cheapness of land that brought African slaves to Antigua and Barbadoes . . . it was the cheapness of land that caused the introduction of Negroes into Virginia, and produced the various forms of bondage practiced by all the old English colonies in America.

At the epoch of the discovery of America, the population of Europe was small, and it could make only scanty contributions of people to the New World; and as it was just itself emerging from a state of barbarism, it could not extend into new regions any elevated or enlightened civilization.

Slavery was one of the established systems of that period, and the holding of heathen slaves enjoyed the full sanction of the church. And it had so happened, that the value of the Negro in the condition of servitude had been long tried, especially in Spain and Portugal, and was well understood.

What has occurred in America, was, under the circumstances, inevitable. Incalculable resources existed in the mine and in the soil, but by whose hands could they be developed? Where it was practicable to enslave the native people of the country, their physical organization was unequal to the forced labors imposed upon them, and they perished speedily from the earth.

The people who could subdue and cultivate the New World existed only in Africa. Their number was definitely large; and not only did no existing moral and religious scruples forbid their coerced appropriation to that work, but it was considered rather to be in the safe line of religious duty, to subject the Negro heathen to Christian baptism and Christian masters. It is oftentimes loosely said, that America has been settled by the European races . . . The truth really is, that America, including its islands, has been settled chiefly from Africa.”

(Origin of Slavery in the New World, 1765-1860, Gibbon Wakefield; Chapter XV, The Economics of Slavery; Selections From the Economic History of the United States, Guy Stevens Callender, excerpts pp. 745-749)

The Economic Custom of Slavery

To find those responsible for African slavery and its perpetuation, one must first look to the African tribes themselves who enslaved their brethren captured in warfare, and sold many to Europeans in search of cheap labor for their colonies. Next would be King Ferdinand of Spain, who in the early 1500s had already had deported substantial sections of Jews and Moors from his realm as well as approving slaving expeditions for Caribbean Indians to work his colonies. It was also Ferdinand who granted licenses for those carrying slaves to the Americas. This begs the question: had African slaves not been eventually carried to North America in the bottoms of British and New England slave ships, would North and South still have separated into two countries for the same pecuniary reasons, but without the lame New England excuse of slavery being the cause of war?

The Economic Custom of Slavery

“It is strange that it should never have come into the head of philosopher or philanthropist to ascertain the causes of the revival of slavery by all the modern nations of Europe which have engaged in colonization. Political economists were bound to make this inquiry; for without it their science is incomplete at the very foundation; for slavery is a question of labor, “the original purchase of all things.”

Philanthropists, however, have treated it as a moral and religious question, attributing slavery to all times and places, but especially in modern America, to the wickedness of the human heart. [The immediate cause of slavery] is not a wicked or infernal spirit. Neither communities nor individuals keep slaves in order to indulge in oppression and cruelty.

Those British colonies – and they are many – which would get slaves tomorrow if we would let them, are not more wicked than we are: they are only placed in circumstances which induce us to long for the possession of slaves notwithstanding the objections to it.

They are not moral, but economic circumstances: they relate not to vice and virtue, but to production. They are the circumstances, in which one man finds it difficult or impossible to get other men to work under his direction for wages. They are the circumstances . . . which stand in the way of combination and constancy of labor, for which all civilized nations, in a certain stage of their advance from barbarism, have endeavored to counteract, and have in some measure counteracted, by means of some kind of slavery.

Slavery is a make-shift for hiring . . . [and is] on the whole much more costly than the labor of hired freemen; and slavery is also full of moral and political evils, from which the method of hired labor is exempt. [But] when slavery is adopted, there is no choice: it is adopted because at the time and under the circumstances there is no other way of getting laborers to work with constancy and in combination.

It happens wherever population is scanty in proportion to land [and has] never existed in very populous countries, and has gradually ceased in the countries where whose population has gradually increased to the point of density. Of plentifulness of labor for hire, the cause is dearness of land: cheapness of land is the cause of scarcity of labor for hire.

The ancient Greeks were themselves colonists, the occupiers of a new territory, in which for a time every freeman could obtain as much land as he desired: for a time they needed slaves; and the custom of slavery was established.

The Romans, it the early stages of their history, were robbers of land, and had more land than they could cultivate without slaves: it was partly because of slavery that they at last grew to be so populous at Rome as to no longer need slavery, but to ask for an agrarian law.”

(Origin of Slavery in the New World, 1765-1860, Gibbon Wakefield; Chapter XV, The Economics of Slavery; Selections From the Economic History of the United States, Guy Stevens Callender, excerpts pp. 742-745)

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