World of a Slave 2 volumes : Encyclopedia of the Material Life of Slaves in the United States
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Though slavery was officially abolished in the Americas in the nineteenth century, it expanded in some parts of Africa as a direct result of Euro-American abolition. Slavery and related forms of coerced labor still exist today in many countries of the world.
Women and children are especially vulnerable. Anstey, Roger. Atlantic Highlands, N. J, Blackburn, Robin. New York , The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, — London, Braude, Benjamin. Cotter, William R. Davis, David Brion. The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, — Ithaca, N. The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture. Slavery and Human Progress. Drescher, Seymour. Econocide: British Slavery in the Era of Abolition. Pittsburgh , New York, Drescher, Seymour, and Stanley L. Engerman, eds. A Historical Guide to World Slavery.
Epstein, Steven A. Finley, Moses I. Ancient Slavery and Modern Ideology. Gerzina, Gretchen. Black London: Life before Emancipation. New Brunswick , N. Hellie, Richard. Slavery in Russia, — Chicago , Karras, Ruth Mazo. Slavery and Society in Medieval Scandinavia. New Haven , Klein, Herbert S. African Slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Lewis, Bernard. Lind, Vera. Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century. Mintz, Sidney W. Patterson, Orlando. Cambridge, Mass. Peabody, Sue. Phillips, William D. Minneapolis , Restall, Matthew. Saunders, A. Cambridge, U. Shyllon, F. Black People in Britain, — Thornton, John. Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, — Toledano, Ehud. The Ottoman Slave Trade and its Suppression, — Princeton, Fact Sheet No. Geneva, June Available online at: Vitkus, Daniel J. Introduced by Nabil Matar.
Watson, Alan. Slave Law in the Americas. Athens , Ga. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. September 21, Retrieved September 21, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. The widespread enslavement of diverse peoples for economic and political gain has played a fundamental role throughout human history in the development of nations.
Ancient Greek and Roman societies operated by using slave labor, as did many European countries in the modern period. By comparison, the "slave trade" is a term which has grown to be associated specifically with the "transatlantic" or "triangular" trade that spanned four centuries roughly between and , involved three continents Europe, Africa, and the Americas , and was responsible for human suffering on an unprecedented scale.
African slaves were first brought to the New World shortly after its discovery by Christopher Columbus —legend has it that one slave was included in his original crew—and they could be found on Hispaniola, site of present-day Haiti, as early as Upon his arrival in the Bahamas , Columbus himself captured seven of the natives for their "education" on his return to Spain.
However, the slave trade proper only began in , when the first black cargo direct from Africa landed in the West Indies. He argued that the enslavement of Africans and even of some whites—proving that in the early period slavery did not operate according to exclusive racial demarcations—would save the indigenous Amerindian populations, which were not only dying out but engaging in large-scale resistance as they opposed their excessively harsh conditions.
As a result, Charles V, then king of Spain, agreed to the asiento or slave trading license , which later represented the most coveted prize in European wars as it gave to those who possessed it a monopoly in slave trafficking. The widespread expansion of the oceanic slave trade can be attributed to the enormous labor demanded by sugarcane, one of the first and most successful agricultural.
The earliest lucrative Spanish sugar plantations were in the Caribbean and West Indies on the islands of Haiti, Cuba, and Jamaica, while Portugal controlled large areas of Brazil. However, Spanish and Portuguese domination of the trade was soon challenged by other Europeans, including the British. One of their earliest adventurers, Sir John Hawkins , undertook his first voyage between and , and as a direct consequence of his gains was knighted by Elizabeth I.
By the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the Dutch had also secured prominence by founding the Dutch West India Company , taking control of northern Brazil, and conquering the slave-holding fort of Elmina on the West African coast. Among Britain's major slave-trading successes was Barbados and later Jamaica, seized from Spain , upon which sugar was cultivated by Africans imported by the Royal African Company, founded in to protect a British monopoly in the trade.
Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Britain's transatlantic slaveholding empire was unrivaled. By using vessels that embarked from the ports of Liverpool, Bristol, and London, Britain traded slaves from diverse areas of the African continent: from Senegambia south to the Gambia River as well as within Sierra Leone later a settlement of British missionaries , the Gold Coast , the Bight of Benin, and West-Central Africa. The main African tribes associated with the slave trade were the Ibo, Mandingo, Ashanti, Yoruba, and Ewe—and each responded very differently, with various consequences, to white processes of enslavement.
According to Philip Curtin, a recent statistician of the "transatlantic" slave trade, the eighteenth century both represented the height of the trade and also marked the beginnings of its decline. As far as the practice of negotiations between African and European sellers and buyers was concerned, the trade was made possible by "middlemen. The sale of weapons in exchange for slaves represented the preferred commodity of Africans, as these were needed to maintain the trade and to protect their communities from raids and incursions by illegal traders and kidnappers many of them European.
The slave trade stimulated divisions within Africa as European rivalry encouraged various nations to enslave, kidnap, or wage war on each other while—as part of its more prolonged legacy—it devastated indigenous populations and economic structures. From a European point of view, it greatly stimulated national wealth and laid the foundations for modern capitalism as, in particular, the financial infrastructures required by the slave trade inaugurated new systems of banking and insurance.
Throughout the period, the slave trade remained closely linked to advances in the sugar plantation system as, for example, major production areas were transferred from offshore African islands to northeastern Brazil by the mid-sixteenth century. As the arrival of the first Africans in Jamestown, Virginia, in attests, slave populations working tobacco crops in the British colonies of Virginia and Maryland, as well as rice plantations in the Carolinas of mainland North America , in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, could only be sustained by the transatlantic slave trade.
The major reasons for the need of a trade in slaves on such a scale can be traced to the much smaller populations of the Americas in comparison with those of the Old World. For white immigrants including paupers, criminals, and some kidnapped children who arrived in the seventeenth and eighteenth century as indentured servants, the conditions were so harsh that they were unable, and in many cases refused, to fulfill the existing labor market; they frequently opposed the renewal of their contracts or simply died out.
While the first Africans who were imported to the Americas were described somewhat euphemistically as "apprentices for life," as labor demands increased and racist rhetoric became more deeply entrenched in everyday life,. It was not long before slavery in the Americas operated according to, and was legitimated by, white racist discourses of "natural black inferiority.
Calhoun and even Thomas Jefferson , argued that slavery or the "peculiar institution," as it became known in North America served a "civilizing" and "christianizing" process the Portuguese were well known for the baptism of their slaves by educating the "heathen" and "barbarous" African while instilling both discipline and a religious sensibility.
Thus, Europeans and Euro-Americans did not try to impose slavery on the poor, on victims of war, or on those imprisoned for crimes in their own continent. Instead, they undertook extremely expensive and hazardous journeys in merchant ships to buy peoples from the African coast.
In addition to their being subject to racist definitions of cultural differences, Africans were selected for other reasons, including the widespread belief that they were better able to withstand the climate and disease; however, it is unlikely that many Africans outlived Europeans in plantation areas of the Americas. One historian has commented perceptively that the "African slave trade appears rooted as much in cultural perceptions and social norms as in economic and demographic imperatives.
The slave trade's contribution to European and American understanding of Africans as "property" with "no rights that they were bound to respect" left behind a legacy that has continued well into the twentieth century, arguably undergirding the racial politics of the civil rights movement in North America and continuing to shape the contemporary debates concerning reparations for slavery. Despite early problems, the slave trade was enormously financially successful: Britain's colonial status was fueled by wealth from tobacco and sugar plantations in both the West Indies and mainland North America as ports in London, Liverpool, and Bristol prospered, ushering in a modern age dominated by a "plantocracy" of elite slave owners or "absentee" landlords with "interests" rarely specified abroad.
The later transatlantic slave trade complemented earlier trans-Saharan practices, which had traded primarily in men, by its demographic diversity. European traders preferred male slaves; however, despite popular belief, on the slave ships men were outnumbered by women and children, who were exported in unprecedented numbers and to such an extent that, by the end of the period, the largest numbers of slaves were children. The numbers of human beings involved are staggering: both when considered by themselves and even more so when placed within a context of earlier slave-trading practices.
For example, over the course of some twelve centuries, three and a half to four million slaves crossed the Sahara in the trans-Saharan trade of Arabic origins. However, in the transatlantic trade, which lasted less than half that time, a "conservative estimate" which significantly neglects to consider the recent statistics of Afrocentric historians suggests that as many as twelve million ten and a half million surviving were transported out of Africa between the mid-fourteenth century and , when a final slave ship arrived in Cuba with its human cargo it is likely that the last cargoes landed as lately as Statistics are almost impossible to verify but research suggests that, by the early nineteenth century, for every European who crossed the Atlantic, two Africans were exported.
Approximately one-half of the total number of Africans shipped in the eighteenth century, and onequarter in the nineteenth, was sent to the Americas. A little-discussed subject concerns the mortality rate among slaves for which statistics are not known who died in the African interior. By far the greatest "bulk" of captives for sale had traveled far across the continent, in some cases as many as "a thousand miles," previous to their departure at the Atlantic coast.
The slave trade was primarily European in character, as among those profiting in the trade were Spain, Portugal, Britain, France, and Holland; they were later seconded by Swedish, Danish, and North American participants. Much earlier—in the thirteenth century—Italy had also played an important role in the human trade; bronze sculptures dating from the medieval period and representing shackled Africans can still be found in Venice.
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While slavery did exist in Africa before slaves were traded largely as the result of internal raids and wars for "domestic" purposes , European intervention changed the face of indigenous slavery as it became systematized and organized to a previously unimaginable extent. The slave trade was.
European dominance in the slave trade also encouraged slavery within Africa itself—especially the enslavement of women—and fomented dissensions across and within different African societies while stimulating war and kidnapping between various traders as they represented conflicting national interests. European intervention into African slavery revolutionized existing systems and internal trading patterns as slave ships participated in the "triangular" trade between Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Slave captains took manufactured goods rum, textiles, weapons to Africa, which they exchanged for slaves whom they then sold in the Americas in return for raw materials such as sugar, tobacco, and later cotton, which they then brought back to Europe, completing the triangle.
In the early period of the slave trade, Europeans built medieval forts such as Elmina Castle, a Portuguese stronghold that later fell to the British and that survived as a tourist attraction until the twenty-first century. These castles functioned as "barracoons" where slaves were held under horrendous conditions until they were loaded on ships bound for the Americas.
Regardless of the fluctuations in trading routes and agreements throughout this period, one factor remained constant: the cost of slaves increased and profits soared. What was the likely destination for slaves from Africa who made the transatlantic voyage? Brazil and the Caribbean took as much as 90 percent of the slaves—where upon arrival they underwent a process of "seasoning," which even fewer survived—while the American colonies took as little as 8 percent.
Within the Caribbean and Central America , Spain dominated the early trade, while Britain, due to its improvements in maritime technology, gained prominence between the mid-seventeenth and mid-eighteenth centuries. Following the abolition of the slave trade by Britain and the United States in full emancipation was not to be awarded in the British colonies until , while the Thirteenth Amendment to the U. Constitution abolished slavery much later, in , nine-tenths of slaves were taken to Cuba and Brazil. After the above legislation, many illegal voyages took place with paradoxically greater human suffering, as they were forced to operate clandestinely.
By far the most important reason for exporting slaves was sugar cultivation; by comparison, tobacco, rice, coffee growing, and mining for precious metals accounted for less than 20 percent of Africans. Despite popular opinion, the "booming" production of cotton depended not on the transatlantic slave trade. This trade brought with it its own horrors, including not only the separation of slave families and suffering under brutal conditions on remote plantations, but also the kidnapping of free blacks into slavery and the wholesale exploitation of the black female slave for "breeding" purposes.
In , there were approximately , slaves in North America as compared to 3,, in , all of whom were indigenous rather than imported. Throughout the years of slavery in the Americas, slave resistance played a fundamental role and contributed to the abolition both of the slave trade and slavery as an institution.
The earliest recorded slave uprising took place in as slaves protested Columbus's policy of enslavement in the Caribbean. The methods of slave rebellion were various and ranged from day-to-day resistance sabotage of machinery, dissembling to avoid work to escapes involving large numbers of runaways and the establishment of maroon communities.
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Slaves on the mainland also spearheaded organized revolts such as those led by the black preachers Denmark Vesey North Carolina , and Nat Turner Virginia, Contrary to earlier scholarship documenting the slave trade, certain areas of the Americas repeatedly drew on particular parts of Africa, so that many more African cultural and social practices have survived than had been previously supposed. Often compared by historians to the Holocaust, the transatlantic slave trade and the extent to which it legitimized and endorsed the mass enforced migration of enslaved peoples nevertheless remains unparalleled in human history.
The full extent of the horrors of the " Middle Passage ," by which the transportation of slaves from Africa to the Americas is known, will forever remain insufficiently realized or understood. However, it can be said that this journey was characterized, as a minimum, by annual average losses of between 10 and 20 percent during the six-to-fourteen-week voyage.
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These deaths were due to dehydration from gastrointestinal disease known as the "bloody flux" caused by unhygienic conditions in slave ship holds, over-tight "packing" as the slaves were placed close together like "books upon a shelf," and epidemics of smallpox. Life aboard the slave ships was relentlessly oppressive: slaves were chained together, unable to exercise, fed from communal bowls, and provided with minimal sanitation.
They suffered from the whites' brutality including severe whippings and the rape of slave women , starvation in some cases as supplies ran out , disease, and severe psychological trauma many of them remained chained throughout the journey to those who had died. The slave-trader-turned-abolitionist-and-preacher, John Newton, as well as the former slave, Olaudah Equiano, provide moving testimony concerning its perpetual terrors during the eighteenth century and after in their written accounts of the slave trade.
John Newton described this "unhappy and disgraceful" trade as contradictory to the "feelings of humanity" and as the "stain of our national character. This is made clear in the notorious case of the Liverpool slaver, the Brookes, which is known to have carried as many as slaves on a single voyage. In the eighteenth century, British abolitionist Thomas Clarkson took a plan of this ship including the illustrations of how the slaves were to be "stowed" to Paris, where a small model was made of it which was used to convert European opinion to antislavery activism.
Faced with these conditions and nothing to lose, slave resistance aboard ships was frequent: they refused to eat so that implements had to be devised for force-feeding; they committed suicide in the mythical hope of their soul being freed upon death so that they could "return to Africa" captains cut off their heads and returned their headless bodies to Africa as proof to others that even in death they were enslaved ; and they led slave revolts against the white crews—some of which were successful, including those aboard the Amistad and the Creole Resistance was hardly an issue, however, in one of the most notorious examples of cruelty toward slaves ever recorded, which happened aboard the Liverpool-owned slave ship the Zong The slave captain decided that, in view of their unhealthy status, it would be more profitable to throw his slaves overboard and submit an insurance claim for their loss than to treat them.
The slaves' prospects hardly improved upon their arrival in the Americas; as many as one-third of Africans died within four years of landing, and few survived the "seasoning" process, as they were unable to adjust to the vast changes in climate, culture, and living conditions. In addition to the slaves placed in the holds, large numbers occupied the slightly more fortunate position of working aboard ships as sailors, interpreters, bookkeepers, and cooks the latter, with their proximity to knives, are historically related to slave revolts.
Paradoxically, however, it was the suffering of white crews—condemned by contemporaries as the "rapid loss of seamen"—which marked the beginning of the campaign for the abolition of the slave trade. While this is a subject for ongoing debate, it seems clear that the slave trade did not die out solely due to economic losses but as a direct result of a number of forces, not least of which included the escalating acts of successful slave resistance—most notably the Haitian Revolution , as well as the American, British, and French abolitionist movements.
In its enduring effects for British, French, and Dutch economies, among others, the European-engineered slave trade—described by one historian as a "corrosive commercial and human virus"—encouraged the expansion of merchant shipping, provided a market for goods produced by new industries, and supplied the capital to fund the British Industrial Revolution. Thus, steel products from Sheffield, England, for example, such as hoes and knives, equipped slaves with tools for their labor on plantations in the Americas.
By comparison, following the abolition of the slave trade, almost all African regions that had participated in the trade experienced severe financial losses, which continued to have a profound and nefarious impact upon the economic stability of the continent well into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Despite all the efforts of European and North American slave traders to suppress slave culture, enslaved Africans in the Americas nonetheless had the final word, as they developed vast networks across communities.
These resulted in rich "creole" cultures and languages as well as an inspirational legacy of art, music, literature, and history the full extent of which remains to be explored. Curtin, Philip D. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, Oxford Readers: Slavery. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Equiano, Olaudah. Martin's, Mannix, Daniel P.
New York : Viking, Newton, John. Thoughts upon the African Slave Trade. London: J. Buckland and J. Johnson, Rawley, James A. New York : Norton, Wood, Marcus. Manchester, U. See also Middle Passage ; and vol. The history of most modern societies has involved, in some form or fashion, the use of coerced labor, including the institution of slavery and the exploitation of slave labor.
And where slavery existed — defined as a system in which the production process is carried out by human beings owned by other human beings — a mechanism for supplying slaves was necessary. This mechanism is called the slave trade. While slavery and the slave trade as concepts and as practices have an ancient pedigree and global itineraries, their relationship to the history, practices, and realities of modern societies continues to stir considerable concern and controversy.
Slavery was commonplace in many ancient societies, including Greece , Rome , and Egypt. Slaves were forced to work in almost all sectors — agriculture, mining, domestic service , and even as gladiators and soldiers. Many of these slaves were captured in war, but formal mechanisms to supply slaves were also well established.
Rome drew its slaves from all over its expanding empire, for example, and at one point there were as many slaves as there were Roman citizens. The slave trade was also a prominent feature of medieval societies, with Africans being enslaved and shipped to the Muslim world across the Sahara , the Red Sea , and the Indian Ocean. Scholars have estimated that as many as 19 million people from sub-Saharan Africa were shipped to the Muslim world between and Until the fifteenth century, the major destination for the slave trade was the Muslim world, with slaves coming from Africa and from Europe.
In fact, the word slave is derived from the word slav , the name for a large ethnic and linguistic group residing in eastern and southeastern Europe, including Russians, Ukrainians, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Bulgarians, and others. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Africa became the major source of slaves, and the international slave trade was dominated by Portugal , reflecting the development of European colonies in the Americas that needed labor.
In the seventeenth century, Britain emerged as the largest carrier of slaves. There have been three waves of estimates regarding the numbers of Africans who were traded as commodities in the slave trade across the Atlantic Ocean. The first wave included estimates ventured by scholars who repeated earlier numbers gleaned mainly from popular writing and not based on systematic analysis — W. The second wave of estimates, to which Curtin contributed, was based on more extensive compilation and synthesis of available data and estimates using statistical inferences based on population changes in importing countries, but not on research into original sources.
Curtin provided an estimate of 9,, Africans between and , concluding provocatively that it was unlikely that new scholarship would alter his estimate by a number greater than 10 percent. Joseph Inikori , provided one of the earliest critiques of these census efforts. Most important was his discovery of new shipping data that provided more accurate numbers of slaves carried.
Beyond confirming that all such estimates are far from complete or final, the continuing debate underscores the centrality of intellectual history in exploring heated disagreements in historical interpretation where perspectives are shaped by the dynamics of color, class, nationality, morality, disciplinary paradigms, ideological orientations, and claims about objectivity.
With data on more than 27, slave voyages, TSTD concluded that 11,, Africans were transported from Africa between and , with 9. More than half were carried between and , and about 30 percent after the abolition of the slave trade by Great Britain and the United States in Overall, however, British citizens transported 46 percent of all Africans, followed by the Portuguese Only 2.
Up until , more Africans were transported across the Atlantic than Europeans — 8. As destinations, 41 percent of enslaved Africans were shipped to present-day Brazil , 27 percent to British America, 11 percent to French territories, and 13 percent to Spanish territories. And there was method in the madness, with European slave traders and slave-purchasing areas in the Americas showing preference for Africans from particular regions e. There have also been substantial updates to TSTD, bearing out earlier and unwelcome insistence that all such estimates were only provisional.
A new revised TSTD now includes over 34, slaving voyages. It adds 7, new voyages and provides additional information on more than 10, voyages in the database. Political economy generally denotes an approach that focuses on the relationship of economic activity — trade and commerce as well as production — and their interrelationships with the activities of government, politics, and the broader society.
This line of thinking was continued in the next century by Karl Marx , who pondered in Vol. Blaut , p. Meeting the need for labor in the Americas was essential if European nations were to realize the goals of mercantilism — favorable trade balance, increased amounts of precious metals, and the like. Therefore, beyond the issue of how many Africans were taken from the continent into slavery in the Americas — especially the horrendous treatment during the middle passage between Africa and the Americas — and who played what role in enslaving them, is the need to understand the contribution of African labor to wealth production in the various nations that were carriers of slaves and beneficiaries from the economic productivity of slave labor.
For example, Roger Anstey suggested 9. Inikori provided evidence pointing to underestimations in the number of slaves landed in the West Indies and the average price for which slaves were sold. William Darity used these corrected figures to demonstrate a plausible increase in the rate of profits from 9. Darity , Barbara Solow , and others highlighted the impact that different definitions, theoretical assumptions and economic models can have in calculating rates of profits, concluding that the slave trade was a relatively important source of industrial capital.
Substituting profits from the Caribbean trade in place of profits solely from the sale of slaves, he concluded that enough profits could have been generated to finance the British industrial revolution several times over. Importantly, this approach facilitates a sharper focus on the role of slavery and the slave trade in U. Ships in the transatlantic slave trade rarely carried Europeans and were rarely owned and operated by Africans. Even more perplexing, the slave trade and slavery were consolidated and expanded at the same time as the rise of the progressive transatlantic philosophical movement called the Enlightenment in the late eighteenth century, and such practices were enshrined and extended, not abolished, by the American Revolution and the U.
Edmund S. Ideas about abolition surfaced as early as the late s with the work of the Quakers and other religious groups, but it was not until that legislation to end the slave trade was enacted in Great Britain and in the United States. It was another eighty years before such practices were finally outlawed by all of the nations whose citizens had been involved as slavers and beneficiaries of slavery. Scholarly debates regarding the root causes of abolition and the slow unfolding of its success have been as intense as those regarding the causes and consequences of slavery and the slave trade, with some scholars emphasizing humanitarian motives and others stressing economic and political dynamics.
That the system of U. Two hundred years after the abolition of the slave trade in Great Britain and the implementation of a similar measure in the U. Constitution, the slave trade continues to rest uncomfortably in scholarship and in social memory. And there are growing contemporary movements to grapple with new forms of slavery, poverty, and economic coercion in a deepening globalized economy. Research, thinking, and writing about the history of the slave trade should provide a solid foundation for understanding and acting in the present and future.
Bailey, Ronald W. American History: A Bibliographic Review 2: Blaut, J. New York : Guilford. Curtin, Phillip. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Darity, William, Jr. Journal of Economic History 45 3 : British Industry and the West Indies Plantations. Social Science History 14 1 : New York : Oxford University Press. Drake, St. Du Bois, W. Mineola, NY: Dover. Eltis, David. William and Mary Quarterly , 3rd Ser. Eltis, David, Stephen D. Behrendt, David Richardson, and Herbert S.
Engerman, Stanley. Business History Review Greene, Lorenzo. The Negro in Colonial New England, New York: Columbia University Press. Inikori, Joseph. Journal of African History Inikori, Joseph, ed. New York: Africana Publishing. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Rodney, Walter. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Solow, Barbara, ed. Slavery and the Rise of the Atlantic System. Thomas, Hugh. New York: Simon and Schuster. Williams, Eric. Capitalism and Slavery. The buying and selling of humans for servitude was an old tradition in the Middle East as in many other parts of the world. Since antiquity, slavery was an integral part of the various societies that inhabited the Middle East. Men, women, and children were enslaved within these lands or imported into them from neighboring and faraway regions.
From the early sixteenth to the early twentieth centuries, the Middle East was part of the Ottoman Empire , in which slavery was legal and the slave trade active. The traffic in slaves was substantially reduced toward the end of the nineteenth century, and slavery died out in most of the Middle East during the first decade of the twentieth. In certain parts of Arabia , the practice lingered on well into the second half of this century, and various forms of slavery continue to exist even today.
Some attempts to answer the question "who is a slave? But in sociocultural terms, slavery sometimes meant high social status, or political power, for male slaves in the military and bureaucracy Mamluks and kuls and female slaves in elite harems. Even ordinary domestic slaves were often better fed, clothed, and protected than many free men and women. In any event, slavery was an important, albeit involuntary, channel of recruitment and socialization into the elite and a major — though forced — means of linking into patronage networks.
Slavery gradually became a differentiated and broadly defined concept in many Islamic societies since the introduction of military slaves into the Abbasid Caliphate in the ninth century. In the Ottoman Empire , military-administrative servitude, better known as the kul system, coexisted with other types of slavery: harem quite different from Western fantasy , domestic, and agricultural on a rather limited scale. While the latter types of slavery remained much the same until late in the nineteenth century, the kul system underwent profound changes. From its inception, the kul system was nourished on periodical levies of the unmarried, able-bodied, male children of the sultan's Orthodox Christian subjects, mostly from the Balkans.
The children were reduced to slavery, converted to Islam , and rigorously socialized at the palace school into various government roles, carrying elite status. However, freeborn Muslims gradually entered government service, and the kul system evolved to accommodate this change. Ultimately, the child levy was abandoned during the seventeenth century, the palace school lost its monopoly on the reproduction of military-administrative slaves, and a new, kul -type recruitment-cum-socialization pattern came to prevail.
With the evolution of the kul system, the classification of kuls as slaves was gradually becoming irrelevant. Ottoman officials of kul origins and training held elevated, powerful positions with all rights, privileges, and honors, and cases in which the sultan confiscated their property or took their life became increasingly rare.
Whereas kuls and non- kuls were subject to the sultan's "whims" to the same extent, the intimacy and mutual reliance of the master-slave relationship often provided the kul with greater protection than that enjoyed by free officials. Harem women of slave origins were in much the same predicament, playing a major role in the reproduction of the Ottoman elite. All that has led some scholars to question the very use of the term "slaves" for such men and women. In the Ottoman Middle East, and with local modifications also in other Muslim societies, there was a continuum of various degrees of servility rather than a dichotomy between slave and free.
At one end of that continuum were domestic and agricultural slaves, the "real slaves" in Ottoman society, while at the other were officeholders in the army and bureaucracy, with little to tie them to actual slavery.
In between, but close to officeholders and far from domestic and agricultural slaves, came officials of slave origins kul -type and then harem ladies of slave origins. The overwhelming majority of the slaves living in the Middle East during the Ottoman period were female, black, and domestic; they served in menial jobs in households across a broad social spectrum. A smaller number of white female slaves also worked in similar circumstances, as did a number of black and white male slaves. African men were used as soldiers in scattered instances in Yemen and other parts of Arabia, as in Egypt where the experiment of Muhammad Ali Pasha to recruit Sudanese slave soldiers failed.
Kul and harem slaves were a relatively small minority among Middle Eastern slaves in the nineteenth century. At the time, a fairly steady stream of about eleven thousand to thirteen thousand slaves per year entered the region from central Africa and the Sudan , from western Ethiopia , and from Circassia, Abkhazia, and Georgia. They were brought in by caravan and boat via the Sahara desert routes, the Ethiopian plateau, the Red Sea , the Nile river valley, the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf , the Black Sea , and the pilgrimage routes to and from Arabia. After raids, sales, and resales, they reached their final destinations in the great urban centers of the Middle East, where they were sold in markets or in private homes of slave dealers.
Whereas slaveholding was still legal at the beginning of the twentieth century, the slave trade into the region had already been prohibited by law for several decades. The traffic in Africans and Caucasians practically died down, although it would pick up from time to time on a small scale. Slavery was gradually being transformed into free forms of service-cum-patronage, such as raising freeborn children mostly female in the household, socializing them into lower- or upper-class roles — as talent and need determined — and later marrying them off and setting them up in life.
Ottoman elite culture was articulating a negative attitude toward the practice and gradually disengaging from it on moral grounds. This was a significant development, given the fact that slavery enjoyed Islamic legitimacy and wide social acceptance in the Middle East and that, except for cases of cruelty and ill-usage, it was a matter over which no serious moral debate ever arose.
The profound change that occurred was part of a major reform program introduced into the Middle East during the nineteenth century. Much of this happened during the Tanzimat loosely covering the s to the s , generally regarded as a period of change in many areas of Ottoman life, although it is not certain how deeply the reforms affected the over-whelming majority of the population or even the peripheral groups within the Ottoman elite.
Visible changes in the army, the bureaucracy, the economy, law and justice, education, communication, transportation, and public health went along with the reinvigoration of central authority. This was the work of a strongly motivated, Ottoman-centered group of reformers, who implemented their own program and political agenda and were not merely the tools of Western influence.
While the government came to possess more efficient means of repression, its reforms also sowed the seeds of political change, giving rise to a strong constitutional movement, although the extent to which Western ideas — not just technology and fashion — were assimilated into Middle Eastern culture is still under debate. Having abolished slavery by the end of the first third of the nineteenth century, the powers of Europe now turned their zeal to slavery in the Americas. But in the s, the British government and public opinion were already beginning to take an interest in the abolition of slavery in the Ottoman Middle East.
Attempts to induce Istanbul to adopt measures to that effect soon proved futile. Instead — and as an alternative method that would ultimately choke slavery for want of supply — a major effort was launched to suppress the slave trade into the region. The essence of that long-term British drive was to extract from the Ottomans, on humanitarian grounds, edicts forbidding the trade in Africans and Caucasians.
The implementation of such edicts was then carefully monitored by British diplomatic and commercial representatives throughout the Middle East and reported back to London. In turn, London would press Istanbul to enforce the edicts, and so on. This pattern yielded the prohibition of the slave trade in the Gulf in , the temporary prohibition of the traffic in Circassians and Georgians in — , the general prohibition of the African slave trade in , the Anglo-Egyptian convention for the suppression of the slave trade in , and the Anglo-Ottoman one in The campaign reached its climax in the Brussels Act against the slave trade, which the Ottoman government signed in From the mids onward, Caucasian slavery and slave trade were excluded from the realm of Anglo-Ottoman relations.
In that area, the Ottomans initiated some major changes, acting alone and according to their own views. One of the most important factors that shaped Ottoman policy toward Caucasian slavery was the large number of Circassian refugees — estimates run from , to 1 million — who entered Ottoman territory from the mids to the mids.
That Russian-forced migration contained about 10 percent unfree agricultural population, which put the question of non-African slavery into a different perspective. Increased tensions between refugee owners and slaves, at times causing violence and disturbance of public order, induced the Ottoman government in to design a special program for slaves who wished to obtain their freedom.
Using an Islamic legal device, the government granted the slaves the land they were cultivating in order to purchase manu-mission from their own masters. In , the authorities moved further in the same method to facilitate the conscription of Circassian and Georgian slaves. Such a step was necessary because only free men could be drafted into the army.
Measures were also taken from the mids onward to restrict the traffic in Circassian and Georgian children, mostly young girls. Thus, by the last decade of the nineteenth century, the trade in Caucasian slaves was considerably reduced. The remaining demand was maintained only by the harems of the imperial family and the households of well-to-do elite members. The imperial harem at the time contained about women in a wide array of household positions quite different from those consigned to them by Western fantasy. Those harems also continued to employ eunuchs, and as late as , the Ottoman family alone owned of them.
11. The Cotton Revolution
In the nineteenth century, a perceived decline occurred in their political influence, both as individuals and as a distinct corps in court politics. Whether officially abolished by the revolution, or only later by the new Turkish republic, Ottoman slavery died piecemeal, not abruptly, with the end of the empire. Except for the issue of equality for non-Muslims, the call for the abolition of slavery was perhaps the most sensitive and culturally loaded topic processed in the Tanzimat period. Although it was rarely debated in the open, this was a matter of daily and personal concern, for both the public and private spheres of elite life were permeated by slaves on all levels.
Faced with British diplomatic pressure to suppress the slave trade into the Middle East and with the zeal of Western abolitionism, Ottoman reformers and thinkers responded on both the political and the ideological planes. However, that response came when slavery was already on the wane, doomed to disappear with other obsolete institutions. Baer, Gabriel. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, New York : Oxford University Press, Peirce, Leslie P.
Toledano, Ehud R. Although one of the least developed Marxist concepts, slave mode or organization of productive relations has spawned rich intellectual debate. There are four major lines of inquiry. Must the number of productive workers be the dominant form of labor? What is the significance of surplus extraction profit through exploitation in the organization of production, and how does it define a social formation? Is there one mode of production or several competing social formations at any one time?
What was the historical evolution of the slave mode of production? The German Ideology identified the first historical form of property as communal, containing within it familial and slave relations , p. The Communist Manifesto recognized three forms of class society: capitalist and proletarian during the bourgeois epoch, lord and serf during feudalism, and master and slave during antiquity , p.
The Grundrisse described the second system of historical development as antiquity characterized by dynamic, urban, warlike conditions, with chattel-slave relations , pp. Despite these references, Marx provided little conceptual explanation for the origins and nature of slavery. In contrast to his analysis of the conditions of modern capitalism, he gave little attention to the internal dynamic of the slave mode of production and how this mode rises out of past social formations and dissolves under new historical conditions.
Unlike Marx, scholars of antiquity have long debated the nature of classical slavery. According to Moses Finley, slavery was insignificant both temporally and geographically in the Greco-Roman world. On the one hand, Ellen Meiksins Wood argues that peasant-citizens rather than slaves constituted the productive basis of Athenian democracy and that forms of tenancy, leasing, and management, not slavery, formed the basis for surplus extraction , pp.
Geoffrey E. Croix agrees that non-slave producers accounted for the demographic majority during antiquity, but argues that the dominant form of exploitation was slavery because slaves provided the surplus extraction for a wealthy elite. According to Ste. Perry Anderson agrees on the importance of slave surplus extraction during antiquity, although he argues that the imperial state played a more important role in organizing the actual process of extraction , pp.
Another key question concerns the historical evolution of ancient slavery into new social formations. In contrast, Ste. Croix explains that slavery as the most efficient form of surplus extraction was transformed once Roman frontiers stabilized and the number of war-supplied slaves trailed off. The consequence was increased slave-breeding as landowners sought to maintain their labor force.
The crucial factor was female slave reproduction over slave production. To make up for the lost surplus, landowners extended exploitation to hitherto free laborers, with the result of the emergence of a uniform class of coloni whose rate of exploitation was down, but volume had expanded. Thus, the ancient world was destroyed by a social crisis from within and finished off by the so-called barbarians from without , p. Anderson agrees on the internal social crisis but pays equal attention to external factors.
When Marx was forty-two years old in , there were about six million enslaved Africans in the New World, two-thirds of whom were imprisoned in the American South. Numerous scholars have debated this duality. In contrast, John Blassingame has focused upon slave non-productive relations, especially communal and cultural formations. Other scholars insist on the centrality of productive relations.
Still others insist on the exploitative nature of slavery and the role of surplus extraction. Eric Williams argued that slavery built up capitalism, while capitalism destroyed slavery. Unlike economic arguments for the shift from antiquity to feudalism, political explanations for passages from slavery to modernity, especially slave revolts in the New World, have been persuasively made by W.
Du Bois, C.
James, Robin Blackburn, and others. The debates on slave surplus extraction, competing social formations, and historical evolution have been extended to Asia and Africa. But he goes further. In contrast to Ste. This view has been correctly criticized for downplaying the qualitative change wrought by the advent of the Atlantic slave trade. Returning to the lines of inquiry above, there are some key points. The number of productive workers does not have to be dominant.
This was as true of slaves in antiquity as of slaves in the New World. Surplus extraction is critical to particular social formations. Slaves in antiquity and the New World helped build magnificent civilizations. Slavery is a modern as well as an ancient social formation. Kevin Bales counts twenty-seven million slaves today operating as part of the global economy , p. Slavery plays a role in the historical evolution of social formations in terms of both reproduction and production.
There is no one passage from slavery into other social formations. Anderson, Perry. Geoffrey de Ste Croix and the Ancient World. Augustine, and New Orleans.
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Women often predominated in the free black population. In the upper South, they outnumbered their free male counterparts by , and in New Orleans, for instance, where women comprised about half of the population of African descent, two-thirds of them were free. Like their European counterparts, free blacks were able to pursue and protect their rights under law; they could, for instance, own property, file lawsuits, make contracts, issue wills, and sue and be sued.
Still, for mixed-race women in early America, their very ancestries meant that, while free, these women were differently marked by the legal system, and they occupied a status that differed from both their free white and enslaved black counterparts. In French Louisiana, free blacks could be returned to slavery and sold if they had been convicted of certain crimes harboring runaways and theft, for instance and were unable to pay their legal fines; in other jurisdictions, free black women were subjected to illegal trafficking.
In Pennsylvania in , lawmakers required a bond on emancipated slaves, free blacks could be required to labor without pay, and free men of color could be sold into slavery if they married white women. By the terms of an earlyth-century Virginia law, children born to free women who had themselves been bound servants were required to serve the same amount of time as their mothers. In addition, when free women of color married enslaved men, those unions challenged early American understandings of household status in ways that the reverse that is, when free men of color married enslaved women did not.
In a society in which patriarchal authority was enshrined in the law, free women of color who married enslaved men initially must have posed challenges to the logic of coverture. The need to distinguish among the various legal statuses of enslaved women, free women of color, and free women of European descent was evidenced early on in North American law. In midth-century Virginia, for instance, statutes stipulated that adult women of color were to be taxed, like all men. However, adult white women were not taxed at all, with attempts to tax indentured white women proving unenforceable.
The taxes levied on women of color reflected the assumption that, unlike their white counterparts, free women of color were suitable for physically burdensome agricultural labor and occupied a debased position across colonial America. Further non-gender-specific legal disabilities followed in the early 18th century, when all free people of color were debarred from serving as witnesses in trials, except for those of slaves. From the fourth decade of the 17th century, then, the law was instrumental in shaping the meaning and experience of freedom along the lines of gender and race.
Yet even for enslaved and free women of color, the law was rooted in time and place, in specific communities of real people. Local legal officials could and did on occasion acknowledge that marginalized individuals who, despite the seemingly strict statutory definitions of slavery and status, deserved redress in courts of law. In contrast to enslaved and free African and Indian women and their descendants, female migrants from Europe were governed by the common law of coverture, plus specific colonial statutes that defined their access to property, the nature of their labor, and the contours of their speech.
Regardless of their legal status along the continuum of enslaved and free, these women were able to use the courts to protect their interests in property as well as in attempts to safeguard their persons. While these terms are specific to English law, French, Spanish, and Dutch law all placed greater or lesser restraints on married women, who were considered to be wards of their husbands. In contrast to the British model of coverture, for example, wives in Spanish America retained property rights during marriage; they retained legal control over their property and could will it independently of their husbands.
In addition, propertied women were accorded a degree of power based upon their rank; they were able to secure legal rights to act independently of their husbands, even when their marriages had disintegrated and the law provided no options for divorce. During the colonial period, European women in America remained entitled to the legal protections provided by imperial authorities, even when they occupied unfree statuses, such as indentured servitude.
For instance, when masters or mistresses mistreated their indentured servant women physically or sexually or violated the terms of their labor contracts, the servants had a right to complain at the local court for redress; in some jurisdictions, their pleas met with remedies from the bench. Nevertheless, patriarchal models of authority prevailed, and despite their access to the courts, indentured women remained restricted by a series of laws that gave their masters extensive powers over them. They could not marry or travel while under contract, and if they ran away, became pregnant, or challenged their masters, they would be penalized with extra terms of service.
The statutory language is clearly indicative of class-based notions of dissolute sexuality. Indeed, the statutes enacted across imperial North America, like those iterated above, were devoted to creating and enforcing differences among women on the basis of not only race but class as well. Native Americans understood a range of conjugal unions, only some of which paralleled the Western concept of marriage. Particularly, before contact with Europeans, when Native American law held sway, polygyny—the marriage of one man to several women—was a normal feature of many Native societies across the Americas, practiced mostly by elites.
Most individuals in Indian communities engaged in monogamous unions with other individuals, but these could be dissolved at the discretion of either party. These marriages forged kin and clan associations, social bonds, and diplomatic alliances. However, where European trade networks, expansion, and settlements penetrated existing Native American communities, the colonizers attempted to align Native marital practices with their own laws.
Marriage was central to European social and religious order, and in New England, New France, and New Spain, for instance, missionaries worked earnestly to persuade their converts of the superiority of European marriage; indeed, Native conjugal practices were a central institution that Europeans sought to control.
In many cases, European and Indian conflicts over marriage reshaped gender roles of Native men and women. From the colonial southeast, across the continent, and in the southwest, marriage among Native Americans was a central instrument in brokering and fostering intercultural alliances. On imperial frontiers, for instance, intermarriage between European men and Indigenous women cemented diplomatic and economic alliances between Indigenous communities and European traders.
Like their male counterparts, women indigenous to North America who married Europeans held a unique status, simultaneously within and outside the European legal systems. In a later period, some European men took advantage of this extralegality to dissolve these relationships when it suited them, something that would have been nearly impossible in marriages among whites. Marital unions of enslaved men and women in British North America proceeded according to custom and generally carried no legal protections. However, in other European jurisdictions, marriages between slaves carried legal recognition.
In 17th-century New Amsterdam, for instance, a group of enslaved men petitioned their owner, the Dutch West India Company, for their freedom and that of their wives. Their request was granted, but it came with significant qualifications and did not reflect the status of all New Netherland slaves. In addition, some enslaved women in New Netherland appear to have been successful in their requests for free status because of the value that whites placed on their domestic labor.
In French and Latin America, slaves were often granted a limited legal personality with regard to marriage. While practices varied, several types of legally recognized marital arrangements seem to have been possible within and across the status of enslaved and free; occasionally, they were racially exogamous as well. Moreover, the legal recognition of marriages among slaves and between enslaved and free persons had the backing of ecclesiastical courts and the Catholic Church: depending upon jurisdiction, enslaved people could successfully sue masters who threatened to separate couples or families, for cruelty, and as well as to protect their property rights.
Evidence from Latin America and French and Spanish Louisiana testifies to some official recognition of unions between slaves as well as between enslaved and free blacks, and, occasionally, between whites and blacks. When courts—usually ecclesiastical jurisdictions—ruled in favor of enslaved couples over masters, they upheld the legal primacy of marriage over slavery. In addition, in some jurisdictions marriage provided an avenue out of slavery. Despite its ban on interracial marriage, an early version of the Code Noir stipulated that concubines bearing children to unmarried free men would gain their freedom if the couple married.
Although a later revision of the Code eliminated the legality of sex across the color line, interracial unions occurred, and some were sanctioned. Moreover, in comparison to English jurisdictions, the manumission policies under both the French and Spanish regimes were more liberal and defined for ex-slaves and free people of color. This accounted for half of all manumissions after the assumption of New Orleans.
The conditions and legal regimes in Spanish settlements created a society in which racially mixed unions were tolerated and in which free blacks, and particularly the women who predominated among that population, enjoyed the possibilities of legal, social, and economic standing.
Despite French and Spanish hostility towards free blacks, the imperial powers left unscathed many of their rights as subjects. The situation across colonial British America could not have been more different. Colonial statutes almost always proscribed marriage and sex between Europeans and African- or Indian-descended people, often under penalty of banishment.
Extralegal, if locally recognized, unions seem to have predominated in regions such as the Chesapeake as well as colonial Louisiana and Florida and resulted from various causes, among them uneven sex ratios, the initial legal indeterminacy between slavery and servitude, religious attitudes, economic and political instability, and the mixing of Africans, Europeans, and Native Americans. If free African- and Indian-descended women were able to marry under these terms, they could not expect that marriage would guarantee the protections and disabilities of coverture as their European counterparts did.
Marriages between two enslaved spouses were denied legal protection altogether in British North America. Throughout the early modern Americas, political authorities tailored legal regimes, including the legalities of marriage, to reflect both imperial inheritance and the realities of New World settlements.
Free black men in late colonial and revolutionary New England, for example, sought to exploit these competing tensions to their advantage. These legal strategies employed by plaintiffs set coverture against slavery and used the legal subordination of wives to husba claims that met with some success in the lower courts. Coverture positioned wives and husbands differently in marriage, of course. In lateth-century New England, for instance, the rules of coverture were used to limit the rights of enslaved and free women. In mixed-status marriages in which wives were free and husbands were enslaved, however, women could not consistently claim rights as heads of households and were forced to balance their rights as heads of households with their subordination as wives.
Free women of color would need to carefully navigate the competing aims of masters, local courts, and statute law in order to keep their families intact. They would need to develop their skills as litigators and their legal acumen if they were to survive the shifting legalities of marriage and race occurring all around them. Although the association between women and the crime of witchcraft looms large in the contemporary imagination of early North America, women were far more likely to be accused of slander or defamation, sexual crimes, or running away than of felony witchcraft.
In all of these cases, the crimes and their punishments intersected with and varied according to race and status under the law. Where women were the targets of defamation, for instance, the offending words typically cast aspersions on their sexual reputations and could also extend to accusations of interracial liaisons. For women, gossip was a way not only to judge others but also to enforce collective values. Slander was a major mechanism for women to exercise power in early modern America, a classic weapon of the weak; women had few other means to attack their enemies.
Fornication outside marriage and bastardy, or out-of-wedlock pregnancy, predominated as crimes for which free women were prosecuted in early North America. This was one of the few official functions of women before the colonial courts, one that recognized their legal expertise. Prosecutions for fornication and bastardy occurred in the North American colonies throughout the colonial period. Some urban centers, such as Philadelphia and New Orleans, exhibited a relative tolerance for a range of sexual behaviors outside of marriage and an acceptance for unofficial marital practices; both of these spanned across class and race.
In the former, a double standard—or the drive to hold women alone accountable for sexual infractions, rather than alongside their partners—emerged by the 18th century. Extramarital sex was punished with whippings or fines, even when the offending couple married, and, particularly in the early years of settlement, required public penance as well.
Where servants were numerous, such as in the Chesapeake, lawmakers evidenced a concerted drive to prosecute their sexual crimes. Here, too, men were prosecuted alongside women; while the latter bore the brunt of punishments, the courts were interested in determining paternal identity in order to secure support for the child.
Servant women who bore children out of wedlock in the time of their servitude were saddled with a year or two of extra service in order to pay for their misdeeds. Statutes in particular indicted the character of servant women who bore children out of wedlock. Authorities also enacted particular punishments for white women who engaged in interracial sex, selling them into long-term labor contracts. Prosecutions of sex crimes before the courts were shaped by racial considerations from nearly the beginning of settlement, and by the early 18th century some British colonial jurisdictions had written race-specific statutes punishing bastardy.
In Virginia, mixed-race offspring of white women and men of color were sentenced to thirty years of service; similarly, the out-of-wedlock offspring of free women of color who had been servants in Virginia, for instance, were often bound over for similarly lengthy terms of service, typically thirty to thirty-one years. In the upper south, these laws effectively shaped the household polity for free blacks, creating a bound system of mixed-race, if nominally free, laborers. Many free mixed-race children became servants for at least the first three decades of their lives.
As had been the case in England since the enactment of the 16th-century Statute of Artificers, it was perfectly acceptable to compel free individuals, if they were poor, to labor. Keeping family members together was less important to the law than forcing the poor to work.
Unlike their free counterparts, enslaved women could not legally be construed to be mothers, because the legal status of slavery for the most part negated prosecutions for fornication and bastardy. In another point of contrast, enslaved women were subjected to plantation justice as well as the criminal justice system that lawmakers erected specifically for slaves. When they stood before the court as criminal defendants, African and Indian slaves and servants were more likely to be convicted than their European counterparts.
Enslaved women were subjected to all manner of private punishments meted out by their masters or mistresses or, if tried in the separate slave courts established in Virginia and other slave colonies, they were convicted in a summary justice system and endured far more severe punishments than their free and European counterparts. Some evidence from after the period of the American Revolution suggests that local communities mitigated these punishments or more actively sought redress for enslaved women who had been convicted of crimes.
In these cases, the abstraction of the law could be undercut by the concrete knowledge of communities, and cases, even those involving slaves, could hinge on local knowledge. Historians of early American women have argued for some time that the Revolution did not substantially alter the legal status of free women. The Revolution did not challenge coverture or alter the law of domestic relations, and, in fact, female subordination may have even been strengthened in the landscape of the early Republic. Legal changes in the wake of the Revolution did, however, liberalize complete divorce in the United States.
While colonial statutes had allowed partial divorces in the form of legal separations a mensa et thoro , only a few jurisdictions had offered absolute divorce a vincula either through the courts, as in Connecticut, or through private legislative act. Making divorce, albeit on the premise that one party was at fault, more widely available carried fairly radical implications for marriages involving free women. The Revolution did, however, alter the landscape of slavery in the new United States. Northern states, where slavery was never as directly central to the labor system as it was in the south, began enacting gradual emancipation statutes in the wake of the American Revolution.
Although in the southern colonies the earliest codes defining racial slavery were elaborated throughout the colonial period and remained in place through the Civil War, a wave of manumissions in the upper south followed in the wake of the American Revolution, when legislators briefly liberalized emancipation statutes. In the north, free women of color became involved in antislavery work; in the south, they became active petitioners and litigants in court, seeking to maintain or secure the freedom of themselves and their families. Yet, while slavery may have been dismantled or compromised in some jurisdictions, that did not quell racism.
In contrast, the U. Manumissions were restricted to those above the age of thirty, and newly freed individuals were ordered to leave the territory. Marriages across status between enslaved and free people were outlawed, as were interracial unions. The lines of legitimate inheritance, previously much more expansive in Louisiana, were changed to strictly follow marriages.
In addition, while Pennsylvania repealed its ban on interracial marriage in , existing and new statutory laws against interracial marriage and sex were strengthened and spread through much of the new United States. Some Indian nations also enacted prohibitions against intermarriage with African Americans. The altered landscape of slavery in the aftermath of the American Revolution had some liberatory consequences for women of color, but its more repressive features are the ones that truly mark the institution through the eve of the Civil War.
The earliest studies of women and the law in early America include Richard B. A renewed concern for the topic remerged alongside feminism in the s, and by the early 21st century the intersection of gender and the law had become an established subfield of both U. One early expression of the need to consider the gendered politics of law can be seen in Linda K. Kerber, et al. See for instance Barbara S. Their work evidenced a concern for the larger implications of legalities for power relations in society, with work on the Chesapeake and New England still predominating.
Wulf shifted attention to the legal status of unmarried women in mid-Atlantic Philadelphia. A growing literature on Indigenous women has provided a much-needed corrective to the predominance of Anglo America. Even more importantly, this material has fundamentally altered the geographical scope of early American history.
Similarly, the literature on enslaved and free women of color, both within and outside of British North America, has measurably deepened in recent years. Jennifer L. In many cases, the laws and statutes for various imperial colonies across North America and the Caribbean have been published in multiple volume sets over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Many are now available electronically through Google Books, the Internet Archive, or legislative, state library, and university websites. Salinger, eds. To best view the law of race and gender in application and experience, early American scholars often turn to judicial records of local, provincial, notarial, and imperial jurisdictions across and outside of the United States.
Unlike the statute collections listed above, comparatively few court records have been published or made available digitally, but this is changing; some of the printed compilations are available via the Internet Archive or Google Books. However, students should bear in mind that printed compilations may exclude court papers that accompanied the cases, and so checking against unpublished archival materials still remains essential for in-depth legal history. Students would also do well to consult the websites of state libraries or governments in order to see which of their collections have been digitized.
What follows is a representative but by no means exhaustive list of primary sources, and, as can be seen, English sources for New England and the upper south are overrepresented. For Louisiana, the Caribbean, and New France, there is less republication of original sources, although that is changing. In consulting archives, early Americanists should move beyond strictly legal sources.
As historians have demonstrated, legal handbooks, church and probate records, diaries of planters, and accounts of guardians of the poor, for instance, can be used fruitfully, augmenting legal sources by providing evidence of the law in action. For New England and northern colonies, see J. Hammond Trumbull and Charles Hoadly, eds. Noble, ed. Ames, ed. MacIlwaine, ed. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, —. Article published January 6, New Orleans: Bradford and Anderson, Reuben Gold Thwaites; available and fully searchable through the Internet Archive. I, —, ed. Barr, Julianna. Find this resource:.
Block, Sharon. Rape and Sexual Power in Early America. Brown, Kathleen M. Kerber, Linda K. Morgan, Jennifer L. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, Norton, Mary Beth. New York: Knopf, Plane, Ann Marie. Snyder, Terri L. Spear, Jennifer M. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, Wulf, Karin A. In addition to these monographs, two edited collections are indispensible to any consideration of women, race, and the law in early America:.
Grossberg, Michael, and Christopher Tomlins, eds.