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Article

Charles Rosenberg

landowner, businessman, and state legislator, was born enslaved in Dallas County Alabama, to parents named Sarah and Pete, who had been born in South Carolina. David, like his parents, was the property of a family named Abner. There is some dispute as to his birth date—some giving 1826 and others 1838—but the most reliable date appears to be December 1820, as suggested by a letter from his youngest daughter. It is not known when David took the Abner surname for himself, a common but by no means universal practice for formerly enslaved persons. He was sent to Texas in 1843, driving a covered wagon for the newly married daughter (Thelma) of the man who held title to him.

Her father considered his new son in law unreliable and entrusted David to get his daughter safely to her new home and manage ...

Article

Asia  

James F. Warren and Utsa Patnaik

[This entry comprises two articles: a general description of slavery and other forms of servitude in the Indian subcontinent, followed by a detailed discussion of these practices throughout Southeast Asia and its environs. For discussion of slavery in East Asia,see ChinaandKorea.]

Article

David P. Johnson

Asmara is located in a highland region of Eritrea that was settled roughly 700 years ago. It is believed to have been the site of four small, feuding villages, which, under pressure from the villages’ women inhabitants, finally made peace and united around 1515. The name Asmara comes from Arbate Asmara, which in the Tigrinya language means “the four villages of those [women] who brought harmony.” Sixteenth-century Italian sources describe Asmara as a caravan trading center.

Shortly afterward Asmara was sacked by Islamic warriors and went into decline. Few historical records even mention Asmara again until the late nineteenth century, when the Italians began their colonial conquest of the region. After occupying Aseb in 1882 and Massawa in 1885, the Italians pushed into the highlands, where they encountered resistance. However, in exchange for weapons Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II signed a treaty in 1889 acquiescing to Italian control ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

The administrative, economic, and cultural center of Mali, Bamako lies on the left bank of the Niger River in the southwestern part of the country. Little is known about Bamako before the eleventh century, when it achieved prominence as a center of Islamic scholarship in the Mali empire. After the fall of Mali in the sixteenth century, the Bambara occupied the town, which became a fishing and trading center. In 1806 Scottish explorer Mungo Park estimated Bamako’s population to be less than 6,000. By 1880 the town had fallen under the domination of the Mandinka warrior Samory Touré, whose kingdom covered an expanse of territory to the south.

In 1883 French Lieutenant Colonel Gustave Borgnis Desbordes occupied Bamako and used it as a base for military campaigns against Touré Bamako took on new importance under the French who valued the town s position on the navigable ...

Article

Baptism  

Sylvia Frey

Baptism or ritual washing with water has from ancient times signified regeneration or rebirth Early purifications prescribed by Mosaic law symbolized the external washing away of internal uncleanness It is unclear when baptism became institutionalized as a sacrament but biblical scholars cite Jesus Christ s declaration to Nicodemus as the probable origin Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost he can not enter into the Kingdom of God As recorded in John 3 4 and Matthew 28 Christ commissioned his apostles to baptize By the time of Augustine the idea that salvation was the unmerited grace of God and was achieved through the sacrament of baptism was part of Christian orthodoxy The moment when God forgave original sin baptism had immediate effects including the remission of all sins and the infusion of sanctifying grace It signaled as well the entry of the recipient into the ...

Article

Mary Krane Derr

slave and later servant, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Perry Blake, a free African American, and his wife Charlotte, a slave in the household of a prominent merchant, Jesse Levering. The couple had several other children. In 1897 Jesse's daughter Sarah R. Levering published a booklet about Margaret Jane Blake's life through the Press of Innes & Son in Philadelphia. As of 2011 other sources concerning Blake s life were unknown Thus we should read this account with care recognizing that it provides only one perspective on Blake s life and that it comes from a member of the family who once owned her It nonetheless offers several insights on the life of an urban African American woman in slavery and freedom Levering designated the proceeds from the booklet s sale to a Presbyterian affiliated manual labor school for the benefit of the ...

Article

Susanne Freidberg

The city of Bobo-Dioulasso is located in one of the greener areas of Burkina Faso, and has long benefited from the fertility of the surrounding countryside. According to the legends of the Bobo people, their ancestors migrated from present-day Mali sometime between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries c.e.. and became the first inhabitants of what Bobo folk songs call “the plateau of abundance” in the southern Volta region. Over the following centuries, long-distance traders settled among the Bobo peasants on this plateau and established a community known as Sya on the banks of the Houet River. Located at the crossroads of trans-Saharan and east-west trade routes, Sya was a lively market town by the time European colonization began in the late nineteenth century. French troops, facing fierce resistance from Sya’s Zara warriors, conquered the town in 1895 They renamed it Bobo Dioulasso in Dioula house of the ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

barber and Underground Railroad station operator, was born to free parents in Virginia, where he lived until moving to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1828. Although records in Ohio do not identify his parents, it is likely that he came from the large extended family of Browns in and around Charles City County, Virginia, descended from William Brown, born around 1670, who all had the status of “free colored.” Abraham Brown, born in 1769, was a founder of Elam Baptist Church of Charles City County. There were several men in the family named John, and newborns were often named for relatives.

“John Brown the barber,” as he was commonly known in Cleveland, may have been related to John Brown, born in 1768, head of a Chesterfield County family of eight “free colored” people in 1810, or John Brown, born in 1764 and his ...

Article

Eric Gardner

author and educator, was born in Buffalo, New York, to abolitionist and author William Wells Brown and Elizabeth Schooner. The small family moved to Farmington, New York, in 1845. Her father, soon-to-be famous as the author of a successful slave narrative and an abolitionist lecturer, separated from her mother soon after, and moved to Boston with Josephine and her older sister Clarissa. Elizabeth Brown reportedly died in January 1851. During the years surrounding the 1847 publication of Brown's Narrative and his 1849 journey to Europe (after refusing to have his freedom purchased), the sisters stayed in New Bedford with the family of local activist Nathan Johnson (a friend of Frederick Douglass) and attended school.

Josephine and Clarissa went to London to join their father in June 1851 aboard the steamer America under the care of Reverend Charles Spear a journey they shared with ...

Article

O. Nigel Bolland

Indigenous forms of servitude in Central America preceded the Spanish conquest, but, oppressive and widespread as they were, they should not be equated with the institution of slavery introduced by Europeans between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. As opposed to earlier slavery systems, enslavement of indigenous Indians and then of Africans by Spanish and British settlers reflected demands for labor within the culture of capitalist property rights in the developing economies of the Atlantic world. The peripheral nature of the Central American colonies in the Spanish and British empires led first to the massive export of enslaved Indians, and then to the importation of enslaved Africans into the region; the latter was relatively minor in comparison with importations to other parts of the Americas. The net result was a depopulation of Central America that contributed to the region's persistent underdevelopment.

Servitude existed during the Classic period of Maya civilization ...

Article

China  

James L. Watson

Prior to the communist collectivization campaigns of the 1950s, China had an exceedingly complex system of social stratification marked by regional cultural variation and a rural-urban dichotomy. Localized forms of slavery existed in many provinces, as did systems of hereditary tenancy and debt bondage.

The best-documented cases of chattel slavery were found in southern China, notably in the provinces of Guangdong and Fujian. Two closely related forms of servitude emerged in this region, one male-specific and the other restricted to women. Most of these servile dependents were status symbols, treated much like investments in imperial degrees, stately homes, and ostentatious rituals.

Servile males were referred to as ximin literally little people or minor people they were usually purchased as adolescents from poor families who had an excess of male heirs Wealthy purchasers used intermediaries older women who also served as matchmakers to negotiate the exchange thus keeping the identities ...

Article

John R. McKivigan

Thanks to the scholarship of David B. Davis, Orlando Patterson, and others, historians acknowledge that European Christian leaders tolerated residual forms of slavery throughout the Middle Ages and sanctioned the establishment of the institution in New World colonies. While the papacy denounced the enslavement of Indians in the sixteenth century, Catholic colonists in Latin America imported millions of African bondsmen. The Roman Catholic church's influence served to ameliorate the treatment of those African slaves, although apparently not as much as historians once believed. In the British West Indies, masters minimized the potential for Anglican church interference by actively discouraging the conversion of slaves to Christianity.

In colonial North America the Society of Friends stood alone in the religious community in professing that slaveholding was antithetical to piety The ideological ferment of the Age of Enlightenment followed by the American Revolution however led many Christians to equate the slaves ...

Article

Frank McGlynn

The examination of concubinage the ownership of females by males for sexual and reproductive purposes calls forth a radical contexualization of slavery particularly domestic slavery with kinship and gender In much of sub Saharan Africa the traditional productive systems were marked by extensive hoe cultivation of slash and burn fields while the political landscape was often characterized by a checker board pattern of states with economies based on booty and trade rather than on internally generated surplus agricultural products The remaining sociopolitical blocks were kinship domains where one s opportunities and access to resources were embedded in the corporate kin group these polities external relations were grounded in the politics of ratios of persons to land The accumulation of marital ties and dependents were the capital of this kinship domain Therefore existing inequalities such as those of age and gender were reinforced by the concentration of reproductive power in the ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Revolutionary War soldier, was born in Black Horse (now Columbus) in Burlington County, New Jersey. Nothing is known of his family except that, of light complexion and likely of mixed descent, Cromwell was never a slave. He was reared by John Hutchins, a farmer. Cromwell himself worked the land until he joined the Continental army in late 1776 at the age of twenty-three, serving in the Second New Jersey Regiment, under the command of Colonel Israel Shreve.

The service of Oliver Cromwell in the American Revolution as a free black from New Jersey is well worth noting. Although black men, both free and slave, such as Prince Whipple and London Dailey served in relatively high numbers in New England regiments such was not the case for regiments raised in the middle and southern colonies In New Jersey blacks were generally forbidden to serve and in one location Shrewsbury ...

Article

Barry Higman

Slave populations were never truly separate from the free populations within which they existed. The number and proportion of persons in a society who lived as slaves depended on a variety of factors, some internal and some external to the enslaved population. Growth in slave populations resulted from the external processes of enslavement, forced migration, and changes in the status of individuals within societies, and from the internal process of fertility (although some of the fathers of slave children were free persons). Population decrease resulted from changes in the status of the enslaved class at large—abolition and partial abolition—or in the status of individual slaves (through manumission, coartación or maroonage from forced migration and from mortality These events and processes linked enslaved and free people in complex ways In some cases slaves were able to exercise a degree of control over the demographic events whether by acts of resistance ...

Article

Jane Turner Censer

The concept of domestic slavery customarily included household servants rather than skilled craft and industrial workers or agricultural laborers. Existing from ancient times, domestic slavery in North America dated almost from the beginning of African bondage there in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. In the nineteenth century, U.S. slaveowners referred to domestic slavery to characterize their entire institution and to create the argument of slavery as a positive good. With this focus on domestic slavery, they compared the Southern slave-holding household to an extended family.

In many societies domestic slavery was an urban phenomena but in North America it came to be important on farms and plantations as well as in cities Domestic service involved a multitude of possible posts ladies maids and housemaids valets cooks butlers housekeepers dining room servers carriage drivers coachmen laundresses and ironers and nursemaids While gardeners dairymaids seamstresses and spinners produced goods they too ...

Article

Tom Stephens

farmer and businessman, was born at Indian Queen Tavern in Danville, Kentucky. Doram was a son of Lydia Barbee, a free black woman, who had been a slave of the Revolutionary War General Thomas Barbee. According to family tradition, Barbee was Doram's father and that of his siblings. Lydia and her six children were the first people mentioned in Barbee's will, which freed her and provided for the emancipation and education of the children.

When Boyle County, Kentucky, was formed in 1842 Doram was already a leading figure in the community and, by 1850, was considered “the wealthiest member of his race” in the county (Brown, 427). His business concerns included the local Caldwell School for Women and a rope factory, in addition to his growing and selling hemp. The county's 1850 tax list shows Doram as the owner of 215 acres along Dix River ...

Article

Ann T. Keene

frontiersman and interpreter, was known as “Teat,” or the Wasicun Sapa (Black White Man), among the Sioux of Dakota Territory. Nothing is known of his life before he entered the territory as a young man around 1850. He is thought to have been an escaped slave who fled to the wilderness to avoid capture. Sioux tribal history records his presence in their midst from that date. He became known to white settlers in 1865, by which time he had become fluent in the Sioux dialect. About this time he married a Sioux woman and built a log cabin near Fort Rice, in Dakota Territory, not far from present-day Bismarck, North Dakota. For a while he earned a living cutting wood for the fort and for a trading firm, Durfee and Peck.

In November 1865 Dorman was hired by the U S Army to carry the ...

Article

Michael Berthold

backwoods legend, was born on Sourland Mountain, New Jersey, the daughter of Cuffy Baird, a Revolutionary War fifer who may have seen action at the battles of Trenton (1776) and Princeton (1777), and Dorcas Compton. Although they had different masters, both of Dubois's parents were slaves. Dubois may in part have inherited her own ferocious desire for freedom from her mother, who tried repeatedly but unsuccessfully to buy her own freedom. Dubois was owned by Dominicus (Minna) Dubois, a strict yet accommodating master much more congenial to Silvia than was his wife, who beat Silvia badly. Aside from Dubois's memories of moving as a young girl to the village of Flagtown and as a teenager to Great Bend, Pennsylvania, where her master kept a tavern, little biographical information exists about her childhood.

An imposing physical presence the adult Dubois stood approximately 5 10 ...

Article

Richard H. Steckel

The agenda for research on many topics in studying slavery in the United States was established during the nineteenth century. The charges and countercharges of the pre–Civil War debate over slavery and abolition left a residue of ideas condemning the “peculiar institution.” Hinton Rowan Helper argued that inefficiencies inherent in slavery retarded Southern economic growth, while Frederick Law Olmsted maintained that slave labor was less productive than free labor and that investments in slaves were generally unprofitable. By the twentieth century, themes of growth retardation, inefficiency, nonviability, unprofitability, and the harshness of slave life often appeared in works on antebellum Southern history. Thus when Alfred Conrad and John Meyer in 1958 published their famous paper ushering in the new economic history, they confronted widely held views and ways of thinking about slavery and the Southern economy.

Work conducted in the decade or so following the paper by Conrad and Meyer ...