Wood English regarded outsiders as infidels who had

Wood explains the English slavery from
two perspectives: that of racial ideology, and that of economic demographics.
The sole reason why the slavery took place first was economic considerations. These prompted the English to disregard the common law, going on to enslave the West
Africans in different slavery systems. The first was a complex interaction of
practical and ideology concerns the second one, and the most emphasized here is
the pressing need for labor (Wood
English planters lacked the personnel to offer labor in the Caribbean. Their
motif of slavery was purely economic. The reasons the master-slave relations were severed was simply racial, but wood lays
more emphasis on economic rationality of the English. She
portrays them as economic agents who were calculating and could invest in
subjugating others for their economic gain. Although the British possessions in the Caribbean were vast, they had already
conquered North America and had founded other colonies around the world.
But this was how the English looked at the slavery. The slaves felt that
slavery was a complete loss of humanity. They felt treated as animals a concept
the English justified.

The English looked at slavery as
dependency and not necessarily as exploitation. They assumed the poverty of
their slaves made them depend on their masters and hence they had to work to
earn their daily bread, even if it meant just food to keep them alive. Their
dependence made them lose their legal rights for fair remuneration or forming
associations. They just depended on the contracts that were drawn by their masters which made it impossible for them to
negotiate their fate. The English regarded outsiders as infidels who had lost
their rights and privileges (Wood
The British population assumed an elite position and no Briton could fathom a
thought of making his countryman a slave. Chattel slavery, therefore, meant
that the masters would import or move with their slaves to new lands especially
English America. Americans resisted the idea of Britons acquiring their land,
but the British persuaded them that they would turn their vast wasteland to
commercial estates. The only missing link was the workforce. Since they could not subjugate the Americans in their
land, the Africans became the best option. This
explains the evolution of famous transatlantic slave trade that was established
to cater for social and economic forces that came with acquiring new lands and
interaction with the natives. The colonies were
given governors who spread the interests of the Crown, and therefore
even the highest echelons of the British monarchy did not have a problem with




Betty Wood is of the opinion that the
English preferred the West Africans for enslavement when they colonized North
America because they considered themselves superior to them and more civilized.
According to them, the Irish, the Scots, and the Scots were considered superior because they had embraced religion; the
Scots were Catholics, and the rest were European Roman Catholics. The English
wanted to impose their religion on specifically two groups of people they
encountered in the 16th century, the West Africans and the Native Americans
(Wood 36). The first English settlers in North America had no intention to
enslave the West Africans. They focused on the North Americans because they
considered them as primitive and backward. The racial aspect was also considered because they were dark
skinned. Both Native Americans and West Africans had a different political
organization, religious, social qualities, and of course, a different skin

The English opted for the enslavement of
West Africans since they found them legitimate candidates after basing their
theories on Africans’ primitiveness on ancient Greek and Roman writers, and the
Bible which was their main source of information. Then there was the racial
ideology that the West Africans were illiterate and therefore easy to conquer.
The sailors who went to trade to West Africa brought narratives of people
filled with a simplicity that changed the
attitude of the English towards the West Africans (Wood 41). Furthermore, they
became more prejudiced against them because of their black color which they
believed was an epitome of evil and sin. They further argued that according to
their religion, Christianity, the origin of man was perceived to be the first
parents, Adam and Eve and therefore all humanity was supposed to be uniform of
one color. The blacks were then considered lesser humans, or not humans at all
since they were not a part of the creation theory. The best explanation they
gave was that the Africans must be the cursed descendants of Ham, Noah’s son
who primitive enough to look at his father’s nakedness and make a joke out of
it. Slavery in Africans, therefore, was inevitable since it was divine
punishment for their evil behavior.

Finally, Wood argues that another reason
for the English to regard the West Africans as candidates for slavery was the
social structures that they considered too primitive for humanity. They
considered them not as noble savages but barbarous people who resembled animals
more than they did resemble humans. Their physical characteristics, according
to English commentators resembled those of the anthropoid ape (Wood 47). One
commentator said that men had flat noses and were libidinous like apes and you
could not differentiate between men and women but for the breasts that hanging
down like the udder of a goat. This
ideally was the basis of the English attitude towards the West Africans and the
doubts about their humanity made them consider them as exploitation material,
and not necessarily human beings.




Peter Kolchlin
is of the opinion that America was built
on slavery. He argues that American’s liberties were a mixture of ethnic
affiliations and religion. Some native North Americans had were more privileged
than others and embraced colonialism that later became full-fledged slavery.
The dispossession for the less fortunate and the unprecedented slavery became
worse than the Europe slavery, where it started (Kolchin 1632). North Americans policies for
freedom and immigration enabled the European colonization. The Native
Northerners dealt with strangers favorably well. Forging alliances, gave asylum
to political refugees and protected those in need of land. The Europeans
arrived in droves when they found no resistance. They introduced trade and
agriculture. Unfortunately, they brought with them the disease of violence when
acquiring private property which created wars with the natives. When they could
not win these wars, they were subjugated
to slavery and them that resisted were driven from their lands and homes.

Since the land had become a bone of
contention, the new owners had to come up with ways of controlling the natives.
The British Americans had the advantage of an established government which took
care of their interests. The Native Americans did not have an arbiter who could
look after their interests. Neither did the African slaves that the English
brought along to work in the vast lands. These Africans’ liberty was curtailed and their rights to live with
freedom abolished. They could not control their destiny. Unlike natives who
could organize themselves and offer resistance and if defeated, they move to
other frontiers, the African’s resigned their fate to the hands of their
English masters and got used to forced labor.

Europeans, particularly the wealthy
Dutch, Spanish and the French, established colonies that later became the
United States of America. These were the aristocrats who owned slaves and
benefited from their free labor. The plantation owners who were the Protestant
British benefited immensely from the services of indentured servants. Religion
became the central tool for enslavement. All religions, the Catholic French or
the British Anglicans were based on
denying economic, religious and civil liberty to others. Only the wealthy could be privileged to enjoy
unparalleled freedom and liberties such as voting and running for public office
(Kolchin 1689).
To them, the only thing that mattered was whether the slaves would be resisting
the draconian rules they were proposing in their biased legislation. The history of America, therefore, is intertwined with
a lot of slavery, but if compared with the European slavery, the American
history happens to be worse when it came to how slaves were treated. Slavery as an institution had existed in Europe for
centuries, but when Americans gained their independence from Britain, the
slavery became the way of life. In fact, some states threatened to secede if
the constitution interfered with their rights of owning slaves.



in America as a Cultural Institution

The first cultural practice the slaves underwent
was the divide administrative structure where one of them was elevated to the status of a supervisor. Slaves
were mistreated depending on size and location of the plantation they were
working in, the type of work they were doing and the type of master they were
serving. Those that were directly under the supervision of their owner and were
working with him in the fields received better treatment than those working for
absentee property owners in vas plantations. Some
drivers were better known as supervisors who were responsible for a
group or a gang of slaves (Kolchin
The gang system comprised of about twenty-five slaves under the supervision of
one overseer. These drivers were known to inflict severe punishments whenever a
task was not completed or done poorly. It consisted of whipping or sometimes
denying food and the said job being repeated.

The second cultural activity was the ‘philanthropic’
distribution of clothes to the slaves by
their masters. Men were given readymade clothes twice a year and shoes once a
year. Women were never provided with
ready-made clothes. They were provided
with long clothes to sew clothes for their children and themselves. Food was
distributed weekly to families and individuals. The rations were made of cornmeal molasses and bacon or
pork. The number of calories was assumed to be adequate, but the better part of
the diet consisted of fats and starch (Kolchin 1702). Sometimes they could be supplied
with vegetables, chicken, small game or fish if the master is feeling
sufficiently philanthropic. They were housed
in semi-permanent structures that were not very far from the main house, and
the structures were extremely hot during the summer while during winter they
were freezing. More than one family used to share a tiny cabin. Marriage was
encouraged since the masters were of the opinions that couples were easy to
control and could hardly escape. Marriage ceremonies would vary from one
plantation to another. There was the famous jumping of the broom where couples
swear their commitment to one another by jumping the broom, or a simple wedding
in the main house where they would exchange their vows before their master. This did not bind the master to respect the
institution. He could as well sell a wife or a husband to a different slave
owner if he so wished.

as an economic institution

Slaves used to work as artisans, that
is, blacksmiths, masons, and carpenters others could work in the main house as
coachmen, tailors, nursemaids, and cooks.
These were considered to be the lucky few because the majority of the slaves
used to work in the fields for almost sixteen hours during summer and ten hours
during winter. Regardless of the task assigned to the slave, the returns
exceeded the output the slave owner was incurring (Kolchin 590).
Feeding and clothing the slaves was considered a minor expenditure, oparticularly when juxtaposed to the profits that they
generated while working for free. In the 19th century when cotton prices
increased, the prices of the slaves gradually increased but the plantation
owners found it as a worthy investment to buy them.

Secondly, the number of slaves a farmer-owned determined his financial muscle
and the social status in the community. The planter class was the reference to
elite farmers who owned more than twenty slaves but less than a hundred. They
also owned a few thousand acres of plantations. They had overseers who handled
the day to day activities of the slaves in the fields, and he only came into
contact with the slaves that could be working in the main house (Kolchin 593).
These masters were agrarian businessmen
who invested in heavy machinery and kept a strict record of market prices for
his products. The other category was the Yeoman farmers. They owned about 100
acres or less. They were small-scale farmers who grew sweet potatoes and corn
and also kept livestock. They did not own slaves and did not enjoy the
affluence of life as their elite counterparts. In fact, most yeoman farmers
leased their services to the big farms as managers or consultants




develops a that “the growth of a vast Southern empire based on slave labor
coincided with the gradual emancipation of the North’s relatively few remaining
slaves, the fate of the South became increasingly associated, both in people’s
minds and in fact, with that of slavery.” He explains the differences in the mentality
of the Northern slave owners and their Southern counterparts. The northerners
were liberal and advocated for the rights of the slaves as opposed to
southerners who became more paternalistic and rigid. The main reason why the
southerners resisted the abolishment of the slave
trade was the boom of cotton farming since the steam power made the spinning of
cotton easy which increased the demand for
American cotton. This increased the antebellum
slavery in the south. In fact, Kolchin argues that the demand for slaves
doubled in the south since almost a million slaves from Africa crossed the
Atlantic to America between 1790 and 1860. The southern states, which included
Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and
Georgia were leading in importing slaves but
after the civil war, slave trade declined tremendously albeit to the chagrin of
the southerners.

Kolchin’s main idea of slavery is that
the main motivation was not necessarily the desire to conquer and subject
people to servitude, but the economic gains associated with slavery. He quotes
verbatim of freed slaves to show how they were driven almost to the brink of
their existence for their masters to outdo each other economically. Kolchin first
explores the relationship between the slaves and their masters and gives
different scenarios of some masters that were so cruel, but most of the times
the overseers were worse than the masters (Kolchin 596). They lived in eternal fear of
lowering productivity, and maybe their position was taken by somebody else, and
they, therefore, pushed their subjects very hard to deliver a positive balance
sheet at the end of the year. When he gave
statistics, he wanted to prove that slaves made up almost a third of the
population in both north and the south. Consequently, he intented to show that
they had become an integral part of an economic driving tool for individuals
and the government. Seemingly, this was why abolishing the slave trade, and
human trafficking took longer than expected. Additionally, Kolchin is of
the opinion that slavery changed with time, and the relationship between the
slaves and their masters changed when they became Americanized. In fact, the masters
became benevolent and allowed some of them to own properties this was the
beginning of the end of slavery as more slaves became aware of their rights and
started agitating for them.


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