Only one adequate plan has ever appeared in the world, and that is the Christian dispensation.
John Jay - First US Supreme Court Chief Justice
Wednesday's Word: A bit of African History: The beginnings of slavery

Wednesday's Word

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Saturday, March 08, 2014

A bit of African History: The beginnings of slavery



Historians normally date the start of slavery in the North American colonies to 1619. That year, a Dutch ship carrying African slaves docked at Point Comfort. Most of the slaves were taken first to the Caribbean. Where many became ill because they lacked immunity to diseases such smallpox and other intestinal disorders. They died in large numbers. Most slaves were sold at public auctions or at private wharves. Those not healthy enough to be sold were left to die.

They were seen as an investment to generate profit, like cattle. As they became cheaper, which they did throughout most of the century, the treatment worsened. The price of sugar continued to increase. Between 1700 and 1730, for example, Barbados imported over 80,000 slaves. Only 4,000 were born on the island.

Conditions in North America were better than the West Indies and slaves had a different experience with better opportunities for developing societies of their own. The most challenging aspect of forming a slave society was negotiating a wide range of cultures; such as Angolan, Igboo, Jamaican, and Congo. Some slaves had been “seasoned” in the West Indies before coming to North America, while others came directly from Africa. There were many cultural differences to be negotiated.

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