American Slavery in Comparative Perspective by Steven Mintz Of the 10 to 16 million Africans who survived the voyage to the New World, over one-third landed in Brazil and between 60 and 70 percent ended up in Brazil or the sugar colonies of the Caribbean. Only 6 percent arrived in what is now the United States. Yet byapproximately two thirds of all New World slaves lived in the American South. For a long time it was widely assumed that southern slavery was harsher and crueler than slavery in Latin America, where the Catholic church insisted that slaves had a right to marry, to seek relief from a cruel master, and to purchase their freedom.
During that century, slavery was more pervasive than ever before in terms of the number of slaves working in the Americas, while also being more vulnerable given the rise of abolitionist movements, the spread of antislavery sentiment, and the numerous military and political crises that gave slaves opportunities both to escape enslavement and to take up arms against the institution.
A comprehensive discussion of all the twists and turns in Latin American and Caribbean emancipation is impossible in these pages. Instead, this brief entry will offer a broad description of the forces that set the stage for emancipation and highlight them with specific examples from several countries, such as Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, and Jamaica.
Though there was great variation in slave regimes and in the pressures leading to slavery's destruction across this geographically, economically, and politically diverse region, one overarching typology of slave emancipation will suggest the varieties of experience: Anticolonial Rebellion and Slave Emancipation: Haiti and Spanish America African slavery was one of the central and most venerable institutions of the European empires in the Americas.
The Spanish and Portuguese had turned early to the African slave trade, already flourishing in late medieval Europe, as they staked out colonies in the New World during the sixteenth century.
While the sugar plantations of northeastern Brazil Pernambuco and Bahia were important destinations, so too were the great mining colonies of the Spanish empire, Peru and Mexico.
The Devil and the Land of the Holy Cross: Witchcraft, Slavery, and Popular Religion in Colonial Brazil (Llilas Translations from Latin America Series). Slavery was practiced in the American colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries, and helped propel the United States into the Civil War. Learn more about slavery in America. The Stop Slavery site also has information on the history of slavery as well as modern-day slavery in Latin America. Antislavery International ’s website has downloadable reports on contemporary forms of slavery in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, other European rivals forced their way into the region, particularly the Caribbean. The British and French, and to a lesser degree the Dutch, created rich plantation economies in colonies like Barbados, Jamaica, and Saint Domingue Haiti.
Spain, too, eventually turned to the production of sugar through the use of slave labor, transforming Cuba and Puerto Rico into major producers in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Slavery was thus widespread and well entrenched in the Americas by the late eighteenth century. Any challenge to the colonial status quo would thus involve some challenge to slavery as well. This nexus was immediately apparent in the Haitian Revolution. By the late eighteenth century, the French colony of Saint Domingue, on the western end of the island of Hispaniola, was the largest producer of cane sugar in the world.
A small white population, divided between great planters and smaller property owners, shopkeepers, and professionals, ruled alongside a towering slave population, largely African-born Dubois, There was also a significant population of people of color, in many cases freed by European fathers and at times well prepared to take a predominant position in the colony through education and the inheritance of wealth, though they found their prerogatives increasingly curtailed in the second half of the century.
Many free people of color were planters in their own right, though usually of coffee as opposed to sugar. They were accustomed to bearing arms and identified strongly with the dominant colonial culture. When revolution broke out in France inthe gens de coleur saw the new regime as a potential ally against the "aristocrats of the skin" who sought to disbar them from the full enjoyment of their liberty through racial discrimination, which had grown more onerous since mid-century.
By the later eighteenth century, more and more enlightened Frenchmen had come to see New World slavery as a gross injustice. They also saw it as a powder keg ready to explode at any moment. Thus, at the inception of the French Revolutionthe questions of race, slavery, emancipation, and citizenship were dramatically posed.
They were quickly defeated, horribly tortured, and executed, but new openings would present themselves as both the colony and metropolis were divided. While the dominant groups fought among themselves, slaves in the northern part of the colony apparently saw the opportunity to assert their own demands for freedom.
Inspired by diverse African and European ideas of justice and freedom, a huge slave rebellion erupted in across the hinterland of the city of Le Cap and eventually spread to other parts of the colony.
Rivals saw in this colonial unrest a chance to advance their own cause. Both the British and the Spanish dispatched large forces to the Caribbean, hoping to incorporate the rich colony into their own empires.
Ultimately, Toussaint defied his Spanish patrons. In he switched his allegiance from Spain to France in exchange for the legal abolition of slavery, ratified by the revolutionary government in France in For the next several years, he was the de facto governor of the colony, which he successfully defended for France against the Spanish and English.
In France sought to restore slavery in its colonies. Though the French were successful in their other Caribbean colonies and able to capture Toussaint, other rebel generals like Henri Christophe and Dessalines defeated a large European expedition and proclaimed the independence of the new nation, Haiti, in By there were two independent nation-states in the Americas: The fate of slavery was a crucial issue in the fight for independence and the consolidation of the new regimes.The Stop Slavery site also has information on the history of slavery as well as modern-day slavery in Latin America.
Antislavery International ’s website has downloadable reports on contemporary forms of slavery in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. us slavery compared to slavery in the americas American plantations were dwarfed by those in the West Indies.
In the Caribbean, slaves were held on much larger units, with . Slavery in what became the United States probably began with the arrival of "20 and odd" enslaved Africans to the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia, in It officially ended with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in Use our timeline to navigate a history of slavery in the.
The history of slavery spans many cultures, nationalities, and religions from ancient times to the present day. However the social, economic, demand for the labor-intensive harvesting of rubber drove frontier expansion and slavery in Latin America and elsewhere.
Daniela Thomas’s “Vazante” is a powerful new film that looks into the history of African slavery in Brazil. It opens with a string of men on horseback, carriages and loaded carts. The largest difference between slavery in the South and in Latin America was demographic.
The slave population in Brazil and the West Indies had a lower proportion of female slaves, a much lower birthrate, and a higher proportion of recent arrivals from Africa.