“A person who is the property of and wholly subject to another”; this is the definition of a “slave”. Over a span of 400 years 12 million Africans were captured, brought to the “New World” by approximately 40,000 ships and then enslaved. That’s 80 or more slaves per day. The perspective of white Southerners, Northerners and persons of color has evolved and are different.
The slave trade into the United States began in 1620 with the sale of nineteen Africans to a colony called “Virginia”. These slaves were brought to America on a Dutch ship and were sold as indentured slaves. An Indentured slave is a person who has an agreement to serve for a specific amount of time and will no longer be a servant once that time has passed, they would be “free”. Some indentured slaves were not only Africans but poor or imprisoned whites from England. The price of their freedom did not come free.
There were many social opinions of black people, mostly stemming from fear of the unknown. . Some of the earliest writings were by Frenchman Jean Bodin and Leo Africanus. Bodin wrote numerous books on Africa, the natives and why they should be made into slaves. The books would state that the Africans were lustful in nature and should be captured and enslaved so they wouldn’t continue to be sex crazed Africans. Leo Africanus was a native of Granada and raised in Morocco. He was best known for writing “Description of Africa”, a geographical description of North Africa, Timbuktu, Mali and West Africa. This book described the daily lifestyles, schooling, royal courts and markets. The ancient Greeks had a mythological reason people were “black”. There was a theory called “Ptolemy’s theory that there was less sun exposure to people who lived in the northern half of the world, they lived in a cooler climate and there is less sun, so they would have lighter skin. Then there was the “Curse of Ham” from an English man name George Best. His beliefs stemmed from Genesis 9, “Genesis 9:18-29 has been popularly understood to mean that Ham was cursed, and this understanding has often been used to justify oppression of African people, the descendants of Ham. Since Ham is regarded as the father of African people, this belief implies that Ham's offended his father Noah and because of this his descendants are also cursed” (Rice 1999).
The Portuguese began the slave routes. Europeans built sixty forts along the African coast for defense, trade and slavery. During the marches from inland Africa to the coast, approximately one-thousand miles, there was only a fifty percent survival rate. The slaves would be valued at: male – full price, female- half price and a child would be sold at quarter price.
The taking of Africans and the transportation to the “New World” is called the Middle Passage. This was the most cruel and tortuous trip anyone could imagine. Africans would be forced to march up to one thousand miles to the coast line. There was a fifty percent survival on...