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History of the slave trade

By jardinier ·
Okay you Americans from the southern Bible belt. You are forgiven for the use of slaves by your ancestors.

After communicating with orphans in two African countries for one year, I have become so moved by the horrendous conditions that exist in most African countries that I will be building a website: thirdworldorphans.org

There will be input from actual orphans and also from my cousin Gus Nossal who for some years has been chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates' program to immunise millions of children in poor countries.

The following article is a real eye-opener to me, and I wonder who else might have something to say about the slave trade in general.

Yes it is a typical jardiner discussion which does not ask a question, put presents some information that might attract comment.


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The Arab Connection

by premdas67 In reply to History of the slave trad ...

I am puzzled that the crucial part the Arabs played in the slave-trade of old, never seem to outrage anybody. They are the party that procured the merchandise by pillage and kidnapping, that the European Americans later bought. Why are they the bad guys?

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The numbers are exagerated

by zealot144 In reply to History of the slave trad ...

After following the link in this post and reading the article, I feel compelled to point out that the numbers are horribly exagerated. The article states that between 30 million and 200 million Africans were taken by slavers. The entire population of the planet was only a few hundred million at the time. Even in four centuries of slaving, these numbers are off the charts. Not to mention, by the time slaving was finally brought to a near halt (it's not completely ended, even now), most slave owners had stopped buying long before as their own slaves were being replaced by reproduction. Indeed, many American plantation owners had a surplus that strained their resources for
housing and food.

The article also states that there were at one time 40 million Native Americans, a number at least 10 times reality. An agrarian population of 40 million simply could not exist within the boundaries of the US. Look how crowded the US is today with packed cities and food from industrial farming barely keeping up with a population of 300 million. Without highrises and a sophisticated food distribution, 40 million would have overwhelmed the land. Not to mention, the few tens of thousand of white folks who did the exterminating would have failed against such odds.

Most people ignore the reality that our planet's population did not truly begin to grow rapidly until the invention of modern pharmaceuticals about one century ago. As example, a few thousand people are killed each year in this country by influenza, mostly those who are already weakened by age or other infirmity. The influenza pandemic nearly a century ago killed tens of millions.

I believe the authors of this type of article feel that exagerating the numbers will increase the impact of the writing. I believe it does the opposite. The more common the occurrance, the more widespread the tragedy, the less culpable each participant becomes. Bigger numbers effectively diminish the sensitivity of of the reader. We, as a culture, are more horrified by a train bombing that kills dozens than we are of reports of a war that kills hundreds of thousands. If a mother kills her own two preschool children, or a couple high school kids kill a dozen or so of their classmates, the events become a national scandal and lead to the publishing of books and the production of documentaries. If an Arab despot or an African dictator murders hundreds of thousand or even millions of his own countrymen, we hardly notice.

The triangle economy of slavery has taken on a new face. Those with the money still trade just enough for a day's meal for the all day labor of less fortunate individuals. This practice is increasingly more common in
Asia today, especially India and China. A few local business people become very wealthy with million and even billions, a few western corporations thrive (think WalMart, Hewlett Packard, etc.), and the mass population of more developed countries get to buy even more stuff than before because the labor to manufacturer it was close to zero. Two dollar a day (or even less!) labor is essentially indistinguishable from slavery.

The Golden Rule: Those who have the gold, make the rules. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett dedicate billions of personal wealth to aid the health concerns of third world peoples, we as a culture smile and thank them for their largess, all the while failing to consider the human cost in cheap labor that made these men so wealthy to begin with.

Remember, the love of money is the root of all sorts of evils. Capitalism and economics in some form are ultimately responsible, implemented by the greed of those in power, for all the ills brought about by slavery. A single instance of slavery should not be tolerated, nor should it ever have been, but those with the gold have always made the rules.

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Half right, half wrong

by lfh003 In reply to The numbers are exagerate ...

The assertion of exaggerated numbers is true, in my estimation. The Seminole indians in Florida were one of the largest slave holding groups in that state. The continuing rantings of black Americans about slavery needs to come to an end. Frederick Douglass said, "...let the black man stand on his own merit." Martin Luther King even called for the black man to get up and get to work. Success is the best payback!
Wrong on the use of capitalism as an evil. The Communist in every country combat there own greed...it is inheirent in human-kind, not by policial system.

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The numbers

by jardinier In reply to The numbers are exagerate ...

The article states:

"Estimates of the total human loss to Africa over the four centuries of the transatlantic slave trade range from 30 million to 200 million."

The population of the world in the 15th Century is estimated at 500,000. In 1800 -- 1 billion; 1850 -- 1.2 billion; 1900 -- 1.6 billion; 1950 -- 2.5 billion.

The current population of Africa is 800 million, so the estimate of "30 million to 200 million over four centuries sounds quite reasonable, especially if you note the lower estimate of 30 million.

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And you are SERIOUSLY wrong about the number of Native Americans

by jardinier In reply to The numbers are exagerate ...

Excerpt from Wikipedia:


"Estimates of how many people were living in the Americas when Columbus arrived have varied tremendously; 20th century scholarly estimates ranged from a low of 8.4 million to a high of 112.5 million persons. Given the fragmentary nature of the evidence, precise pre-Columbian population figures are impossible to obtain, and estimates are often produced by extrapolation from comparatively small bits of data. In 1976, geographer William Denevan used these various estimates to derive a "consensus count" of about 54 million people, although some recent estimates are lower than that."

While these figures represent the total for both North and South America, the highest estimate could easily allow for 40 million in North America.

Please read the whole article which clearly demonstrates that disease was the major cause of the de-population of American Indians.

And here is a link to some skulduggery on the part of European colonists:


And a figure from this website:

"Population studies show between seventy-five to one-hundred forty-five million inhabitants in North and South America."

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Nobody thought it was wrong at the time

by jevans4949 In reply to History of the slave trad ...

Slavery as a concept goes back to the earliest civilisations - and probably pre-civilisation. Although many religions deprecated enslaving your "brother", as far as I am aware, except for a few isolated voices, nobody condemned the practice in general until the mid-1700's.

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what about the jews and even white slavery today in the us

by ojpetho In reply to History of the slave trad ...

what about the jews and even white slavery today in the us

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What about 2006

by afmustang In reply to what about the jews and e ...

There are more slaves in the world today than in the entire 4 centuries of the Atlantic slave trade. Boys are being sold for about $12.00 to work in plantations and labor and the girls about age 12 are sold into prostitution for about $10.00. It is still rampant in Africa. I do not see Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton screaming that Africans are selling their own people. Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. I also find it ironic that most Americans today (about 80%) can trace their ancestors coming to American after 1880. Our ancestors came from Europe, Slavic countries,etc. They were not involved in the slave trade to America, nor the Civil War.

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So you are not guilty?

by zealot144 In reply to What about 2006

Your post implies that those of us who's ancestry goes back to the time of slavery are more culpable. My ancestry predates the American Revolution. Many of my ancestors owned slaves. But that does not make me or anyone of similar ancestry guilty of slavery.

Indeed, the United States was the first world government to Constitutionally institute the allodial system of property ownership, which gives the titled owner true ownership of the land. (Although he Anglo-Saxons had dabbled with the concept in limited terms as far back as the eleventh century, this was not something to be enjoyed by the common man). That is, up until the government condemns it for "greater public good" by use of imminent domain. This theory of property ownership is now the dominant one in the civilized world.

Your ancestors in Europe did not own the land they lived on. Use of the land, but not ownership, was granted to them by the ruling power, usually either a monarch or the dominant church. Even the Lords and other high-ranking citizens occupied their lands at the sufferance of their King or Church. We usually think of the feudal system of the dark ages and refer to tenant farmers, but even the barons and other royalty were ultimately tenants on their "own" property. Actual land ownership was very rare in Europe at the time slavery was flourishing in America.

So, your ancestors were effectively all slaves. And their kings, the greatest slave owners ever. How better to control someone than by having the power to evict them at will?

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Strange reasoning

by neilb@uk In reply to So you are not guilty?

So, everone who lives in a rented apartment is a slave to their landlord (hmmm, Good name!) and so on up the food chain.

Your ancestors may have defined a more equitable process for their ownership of the land they stole from the natives but they still took a very long time to recognise that a more equitable system for the ownership of other human beings was required.

As for the alloidal system; I read no further than the wiki article which suggests that, far from being the "dominant one in the civilized world", even in the US it's relatively rare. It's also totally meaningless as other checks and balances within our legal system render true land ownership mostly academic.

How better to control someone than by owning them, body and soul?

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