How did slavery develop and change in different places and cultures?
Slavery has been around since the ancient times. Scholars believe that slavery started with farming. They believed that people gained prisoners by capturing them during war and then decided to make them help to farm their land and obviously give them no pay. The first records of slavery came from Sumeria in Mesopotamia from about 3500 BCE. It spread throughout Southwest Asia and certain parts of Europe.
Though, in the Age of Exploration, Europeans changed how they understood slavery. Because of the growing economies, the demand for cheap labor for their plantations and mines increased. They obviously needed slaves. The slavery existed until the civil war.
Their Ways of Slavery
In Southwest Asia, slavery started in Sumeria around 3500 BCE. Before long, it was practiced in Assyria, Babylonia, and Persia. Muslims continued the practice of slavery in this region. For example, in the Ottoman Empire, slaves served as soldiers, sailors, and government administrators. In fact, some scholars believe that the military and administrative slaves formed the power base for the Ottoman ruler.
In East Asia, China began to use slavery around 200 BCE. Slaves in this region were acquired through capture in war, slave raiding, and the sale of women and children to fulfill debts. By the 200s CE, Korea had a large slave population. India practiced slavery for hundreds of years, but did not keep records on the numbers of slaves. However, after the British gained control of India, they estimated that India had about nine million slaves in 1841. In addition, slavery was practiced in Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia.
In ancient Greece and Rome, slaves did a variety of work, including making crafts, mining, farming, and domestic chores. Both of these civilizations came to depend on slave labor. During the 400s BCE, slaves made up about a third of Athens's population. In Ancient Sparta, slaves constituted an integral part of the economy. In Rome, even common people owned slaves.
During the Middle Ages, serfs replaced slaves throughout most of Europe. However, in Russia, slavery began around the 800s and continued for hundreds of years. In 1720, the government converted slaves into serfs. Then in 1861, the Czar Alexander II freed the serfs. In Scandinavia, from about 800 to 1050, the Vikings used numerous slaves, which they obtained from raids throughout Europe. After the decline of the Vikings, slavery continued to exist for many years in this region.
In North Africa, ancient Egyptians owned slaves, some of which were killed to accompany their dead masters into the afterlife. In the West African kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai, about one-third of the population were slaves. However, East Africa had the largest percentage of slaves. For example, the slave population in Zanzibar and Kenya at times each reached about 90 percent.
Caribbean and North America
Before Europeans arrived, a few Native-American tribes practiced slavery. These groups included the Creek, the Comanche, and the fishing societies of the Pacific Northwest. However, after Europeans established colonies in the Caribbean and North America, the number of slaves soared. At first, the sugar plantations in the Caribbean spurred the need for slaves. The Europeans enslaved thousands of Native Americas to work these plantations, but most of them died from European diseases and harsh conditions. Plantation owners realized that black people from Africa were more resistant to disease. As a result, they began to import thousands of enslaved Africans to work their farms.
In North America, slaves were also imported from Africa to work plantations that grew cotton, tobacco, rice, and other crops. Other enslaved Africans became house slaves who did chores in the plantation owner´s home. In the United States, the slave states had about four million slaves by 1860.
Throughout the Caribbean and North America, slaves suffered harsh treatment from their owners. This treatment often involved beatings, shabby living conditions, and long work hours. In addition, in North America, slaves and the children of slave owners and their slaves had no legal rights. A former slave named Olaudah Equiano wrote an autobiography that describes the brutal conditions of slavery and the slave trade. This work became influential in the abolition movement.
Meso- and South America
In Mesoamerica, the Maya often used slaves to carry heavy loads and sacrificed slaves to their gods. The Aztecs had a milder form of slavery, which allowed slaves to buy their freedom fairly easily. However, the Aztec also sacrificed slaves.
The Spanish set up a system called encomienda. In this system, the government allowed officials to take care of Indians in certain areas in exchange for labor. The care of Indians was supposed to include looking after their physical and spiritual needs. In practice, however, the Spaniards often exploited the Indians by forcing them to work in farms, ranches, and mines. Indeed, the encomienda often became a system of enslavement. Some encomienda workers were paid salaries. The Spanish monarchs tried to end the encomienda because they did not want Spanish aristocrats to gain too much power. Eventually, the system was replaced by the hacienda system of land ownership, which was better suited to agricultural development than the encomienda. In the Spanish colonies, the Spaniards often had children with Indians and people of African descent. As a result, a colonial class system was created based on race. The people of pure Spanish descent occupied the highest class. Mestizos, people of Spanish and Indian descent, formed the second class, and mulattoes, people of African and Spanish descent, made up the next class. The lowest class consisted of African and Indian slaves. In Meso and South America, slaves also suffered abusive treatment. The Spanish missionary Bartolome de Las Casas wrote several essays and a book that exposed the horrors of slavery in the Spanish colonies. For this work, he became known as "Apostle to the Indians." It can be noted that although he did not support the enslavement of Native Americans, he was not against using those of African descent as slaves.
How did the Atlantic slave trade work?
Well, the Atlantic Slave Trade was the forced movement of enslaved Africans from Africa to the Americas for profit; it lasted from the early 1500s to the mid-1800s. Africans captured prisoners during wars and sold them to Europeans for rum, clothing, and especially guns. The trading often took place along the coastline because African leaders did not allow Europeans to move inland.
The Atlantic slave routes consisted of a triangular trade, which means that the route made a triangular shape. Two triangular routes dominated. With the first route ships from Europe sent manufactured goods to West Africa, where they were traded for slaves. Then, the slaves were transported to the Caribbean, where they were sold for a huge profit. The traders often used their earnings to buy coffee, tobacco, and sugar, which they shipped to back to Europe.
The second triangular trade involved New England traders transporting rum and other good to West Africa, where these goods were traded for slaves. After this, the slaves were shipped to the Caribbean and sold. Then, the traders use their earnings to buy sugar and molasses, which they carried back with them to New England and sold to rum producers.
What were conditions like for the enslaved Africans being transported on the Middle Passage?
The conditions of the enslaved Africans were extremely terrible. They were in a ‘tight-packing” method where they were all crammed together. They were fed very little and were forced to exercise during the day. They could die in the positions that they were in. They also got diseases, died of hunger, and even committed suicide. The ones who died would be fed to the sharks.
Why is human trafficking difficult to stop?
Human trafficking is hard to stop because many people do not know when it is even happening! The slaves blend in since they work in regular businesses. Poor people from other countries are offered jobs with high paying amounts but then when they arrive, they get their passport taken away and they get payed extremely low to pay their debt. The slaves are also taken away from their family and if they ever get caught, they are known as “illegal”.