Slavery, A World History Essay

1327 words - 6 pages

A labor system that had previously existed throughout history, in many instances and most countries is known as slavery. So what exactly is it? How did slavery begin? And what does it mean in our world today? These are complex questions that are often asked and, possibly, by understanding the forms it takes and the roles such slaves perform. What daily life is like for those enchained and what can be done to end this demeaning practice may help in answering those questions. It is known that slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought, sold and are forced to work. It is also known that slavery was established in the history and economy of most countries. Even though it prospered during some periods and abstained in others, human bondage for profit has unfortunately, never been completely removed. Author Milton Meltzer, in his book “Slavery, A World History” follows this practice from prehistoric hunting societies; through the development of slave trading in the United States prior to the Civil War, of which, it disturbingly reached a total of four million slaves. He continues through the forced labor applied under the Nazi establishment and in the Soviet prison camps. And he concludes with the broad practice of slavery in many of the countries today, examples include, women sold into prostitution in Thailand and the debt bondage that minors endure in Brazil.
Many are often shocked to learn that historians have considered slavery as a step forward in the development of civilization. From the earliest times, it was customary for primitive people to kill the warriors they defeated in battle. Hunting was the way of life in these societies and there was nothing left over to feed their captives, simply because they were only able to kill enough for themselves. The variations of slavery, in form and degree developed out of several sets of circumstances. Politics, the environment and the way a society or community lived, all affect the particular course that slavery takes. In any society, slavery can’t avoid the influence of the given culture. The culture itself is the mold in which slavery is formed. The author points out the plain fact of life, of which slavery was universally practiced. There were many slaves held in bondage through warfare, piracy, kidnapping and shipwreck. The idea that “natural slavery” was obviously absurd. Bondage was, therefore, not identified by color. Slavery at that time was seen to rest on nothing but preferred force. As a result, a significant aspect of slavery in ancient times was the absence of a color line. Even though most of the slaves were foreigners, there was no slave race or social class. Slaves came from people and races living outside the Greek world. It was believed that being born a non-Greek made a person by nature, a slave.
As many are aware, the Romans main source of slaves was due to war, but this could not be counted on as a reliable one. Though there were many wars during...

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