Slavery In America - Referat
The word “slave“ derives from the Slav races of eastern Europe who, in the Middle Ages, were kidnapped and sold in large numbers by merchants to the slave-markets of the Moslem East. Most of the Ancient Civilization of the Near East and the Mediterranean were based on slavery. They were generally taken in large numbers from lands conquered in war, or sometimes they were people who had been sold to their fellow-citizens for crimes or for being in debt.
In the 16th century the discovery and colonization of America opened up a new era in the history of slavery, just as it was dying down in Europe. The first European settlers, especially in Central and South America, made slaves of the natives in the parts they colonized, but they treated these slaves so harshly that most of them died. The need for more slaves to do the heavy work which Europeans could not do in so hot a climate was met by the slave-traders, who brought Negro slaves from the west coast of Africa. They established trading posts there and made forays into the interior to capture the wretched natives, whom they shipped across the Atlantic in dreadful conditions and sold to the colonists in the West Indies and in South and Central America. During the 17th and 18th centuries this slave-trade increased greatly with the settlement of the southern part of North America and the establishment of the large cotton plantations, which needed labourers capable o working in the hot climate. These and the sugar plantations of the West Indies were by this time under British control, so that the slaves-trade was in the hands of British merchants, mostly operating from Bristol. In Britian itself, although slavery was not supported by the law, many wealthy people kept Negro slaves as domestic servants and openly bought and sold them. In 1772, however, a famous, judge, Lord Mansfield, ruled in court that as soon as a slave set foot on English soil, he became free. Many Negroes were then cast out by their masters and took to the slums, living begging in crime. During the 18th and 19th centuries public opinion against slavery was growing fast. The slave-trade was made illegal in 1807, and in 1833, largely as the result of the efforts of men such as William Wilberforce, slavery as an institution was abolished throughout the British Empire.
This abolition did not, however, affect the United States of America, which, by this time, had broken away from Britain. There, slavery had been abolished in the cooler Northern States between 1776 and 1810, and attempts had been made to resettle some of the freed slaves in the new independent state of Liberia, in West Africa. In the hotter South, however, where slavery was much more important economically, the white landowners refused to abolished it. It was this issue that led to the American Civil War. With the victory of the North, slavery was abolished all over the United States.
In the East the greatest slave-owners have been the Moslem Arabs. Arab slave-traders not only brought slaves from Europe but themselves operated in Africa. And even after the slavetrade had been abolished by the leading nations, they continued their trade in the interior of Africa down to the present day.
Elsewhere in the world, in China and India, for example, slavery existed at various times, though serfdom, which still exists in many parts of India today, was usually more common.
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