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Elizabeth Heath

The cultural and economic center of the Côte d’Ivoire, Abidjan surrounds the Ébrié Lagoon on the Atlantic Ocean's Gulf of Guinea. Historians are not sure when people first inhabited the area, but modern settlement dates from the early sixteenth century. Later in the century the Ébrié people selected the area as the site for three fishing villages—Locodjo, Anoumabo, and Cocody. Portuguese traders explored the area for a brief period in the seventeenth century, but Europeans largely ignored it until French Colonial rule in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1903 the French chose the settlement as the endpoint for a railway connecting Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) to the coast, and a small town soon developed around the train station. The lack of a viable port, however, initially stifled the town's growth.

In 1934 shortly after the completion of the rail link to the Upper ...



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.]


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 ...


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 ...


Kathleen Thompson

Black women have been the cultural, social, and economic support of black towns in America for centuries. There were Senegalese enclaves in Louisiana in the 1700s. In the late eighteenth century, Star Hill, Delaware, was created by free blacks on land they acquired from the Quaker community in Camden. Brooklyn, Illinois, was founded by free blacks and fugitive slaves in 1820. As early as 1830, Frank McWhorter, or “Free Frank,” had founded the town of New Philadelphia, Illinois. Sandy Ground, New York, was created by black oyster fishermen fleeing the restrictions on free blacks in Maryland.

In 1825Elijah Roberts and his wife Kessiah led a group of free African Americans, many of whom were part Cherokee, from North Carolina to Hamilton County, Indiana, to start a settlement. Many of the settlers were members of the Roberts family, which had been free since 1734 ...


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 ...



Paul Finkelman

Boston, sometimes called the “Cradle of Liberty,” was the birthplace of the American Revolution. Before the Civil War the city was home to the most radical and vocal opponents of slavery, a (usually safe) haven for fugitive slaves, and the largest city in which blacks had full political and legal equality. For blacks nineteenthcentury Boston was a place of promise and hope, but it was not always a place where promises could be fulfilled or hopes realized. Even in Boston there was racism and segregation.

The first black known in Boston arrived in 1638. Most, but certainly not all, slaves in the Massachusetts colony were urban, living in Boston, Cambridge, and Newberryport. In 1750 slaves constituted 20 percent of the Cambridge population Slave owners tended to be merchants and artisans who used slaves as laborers and skilled workmen The maritime industry was also the destination of many Boston ...



Stuart Schwartz

Of all the colonies and nations of the Americas, none was influenced by slavery more profoundly or for a longer period of time than was Brazil. From the mid-sixteenth century until the abolition of the slave trade to Brazil in 1850, about three million (some argue between three and five million) Africans were delivered to its shores, and Brazil had the unenviable distinction of being the last nation in the Western Hemisphere formally to abolish the institution, ending slavery only in 1888. During about three hundred fifty years slavery helped to shape the economy, society, and culture of Brazil.

Portuguese contact with Brazil began in 1500 but no attempt at settlement was initially attempted Instead early activities centered on the extraction of dyewood First contacts with the indigenous inhabitants especially the Tupi Guaraní speaking peoples who predominated on the coast were organized around barter Europeans provided trinkets ...



Mohammed Bashir Salau

Compared with other countries in the Americas Brazil has the largest number of people of African descent This demographic reality dates back to the era of the slave trade and it largely ensured that African cultural practices survived relatively more intact and institutionalized in Brazil than in other areas of the Americas In earlier times African Americans viewed Brazil despite its relatively longer history of involvement in the Atlantic slave trade as a desirable racial paradise where people of all colors lived together in harmony with equal opportunities This perception stemmed from several factors including the strong show of African Brazilian culture that brings Brazilians of all backgrounds together especially during carnivals The image of Brazil as a racial paradise however has been challenged and ultimately rejected by scholars who increasingly note the contradictions in Brazilian society Even though a growing number of African Americans no longer view Brazil s ...



Allen Stouffer

Canada's historic identification with the Underground Railroad has obscured slavery's earlier existence in the region. Seventeenth-century settlers in New France held native (“Panis”) and African bondsmen, even though this slavery lacked legal foundation until 1689, when Louis XIV authorized importing African slaves to stimulate the labor-starved colony's economy. Slavery never became widespread there, however, because the colony failed to develop the kind of large-scale agricultural enterprise that required forced labor in a preindustrial era. Careful scholarship has identified only 3,604 slaves—2,472 Panis and 1,132 Africans—employed mainly as domestics in urban households in Quebec prior to 1759. Along the Atlantic seaboard in the eighteenth century at least 212 Panis and African slaves, mostly domestics, existed on Île Royale (now Cape Breton Island) between 1713 and 1763, and slavery appeared in mainland Nova Scotia soon after Halifax was founded in 1749.

The 1763 peace treaty that ended ...


John W. Pulis and David Simonelli

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with the Caribbean from 1492 through 1895 The first article discusses the Caribbean slave trade the transmission of cultural identities and the Caribbean s influence on North America while the second article discusses the 1834 emancipation of slaves in the Caribbean and annual ...


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 ...



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 ...


For information on

Chesapeake region and Virginia: See Atlantic Creoles: The Charter Generations; Banneker; Richmond.

Economics and law of slavery in the colonies: See Slavery and Law in North America;Slavery in the United States.

New Amsterdam and New Netherland: See Atlantic Creoles: The Charter Generations.

New England and New York: See Literature, Black, in Eighteenth-Century Britain and the United States; New York, New York; New York Slave Conspiracy of 1741; New York Slave Rebellion of 1712; Salem; Wheatley;

New Orleans: See Atlantic Creoles: The Charter Generations;New Orleans, Louisiana.

South Carolina and Florida: See Agriculture, African, in the Americas: An Interpretation; Atlantic Creoles: The Charter Generations; Charleston, South Carolina; Food in African American Culture; Native Americans; Stono Rebellion.


Kate Tuttle

Conakry is on Guinea’s Atlantic coast and is the nation’s largest deep-water port. It originally comprised only Tombo Island, but today includes the Los Islands and the tip of Kaloum Peninsula, to which Tombo is connected by a causeway. The climate is tropical; much of the surrounding area is swampland.

The city’s name comes from the language spoken by the Soso ethnic group that has dominated coastal Guinea since the seventeenth century. Conakry was originally a Soso fishing village. The French chose the site for a town in 1880. The town became the capital of French Guineawhen the French declared Guinea a colony in 1891.

When the country gained independence under Sékou Touré in 1958 Conakry remained its capital and became increasingly important as a processing and trading center for the iron ore and bauxite mined in the surrounding regions Today Conakry is Guinea s ...


Paul Finkelman and David Quigley

Slavery appeared early in the history of colonial Connecticut. Records indicate that in 1639 an enslaved African was killed by his Dutch owner in Hartford. Unlike Massachusetts and Rhode Island, however, Connecticut conducted its colonial slave trade with merchants and sailors playing only minor roles.

Connecticut's African American population clustered in a few port towns. Almost one-half of all blacks in the colony in 1774 lived in the coastal counties of New London and Fairfield. In that year 49 percent of Connecticut blacks were under the age of twenty, a substantially lower percentage than that of the colony's white community. Across New England, colonial African Americans had low birth rates.

Connecticut stood apart from the rest of the New England colonies in the intensity of its restrictions on the free black community. In 1718 the colonial assembly passed a law denying blacks the right to buy land and enacted ...


Linda M. Carter

missionary and founding father of the state of Liberia, was born in Hicksford, Greensville County, Virginia, the elder son of John Day Sr., an affluent furniture maker, farmer, and landowner, and Mourning Stewart Day. The Days were free African Americans, and Day's father, as early as the 1789 election, was accorded voting status.

In an era when formal education for African Americans was rare, Day reaped the benefits of being the offspring of two prominent families. His father arranged for him to board in Edward Whitehorne's home, and Day, along with the Whitehorne children, attended Jonathan Bailey's school. While residing with the family, Day received some level of religious instruction from Whitehorne. In 1807 Day's father, who had been residing in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, purchased a plantation in Sussex County, Virginia, near the Whitehorne residence, and Day then attended William Northcross's school.

At the age of nineteen ...


Frank Towers

Delaware occupied a unique place in African American history in that it was a border slave state. The state slowly emerged from a colonial past of plantation slavery, and by 1840 the majority of African Americans were free, yet the state retained the institution of slavery and the white supremacist social order that accompanied it.

In 1639 a Caribbean slave named Anthony became the first African to arrive in Delaware. At least a hundred more Africans were later held as slaves on small Swedish and Dutch settlements in the colony in the middle of the seventeenth century. In 1664 the year that Britain took Delaware away from the Netherlands slaves made up 20 percent of the population Their concentration fell however as poor white farmers moved into the colony Seventeenth century Delaware was not a major destination for slave traders most of the colony s slaves resembled Anthony in ...



Stephanie J. Wilhelm

From its establishment as a territory through its statehood and involvement with the Underground Railroad, Michigan had an intimate relationship with the institution of slavery. The city of Detroit, specifically, was the cornerstone of antislavery activity in Michigan. Known as the gateway or door to freedom, Detroit served as a safe haven for many runaway slaves before they secured their freedom across the Detroit River into Canada. Detroit's significance as a geographical location on the Underground Railroad was further reinforced when Frederick Douglass, John Brown, and many other leading abolitionists met in the city in March 1859 to discuss possible ways of subverting the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. This meeting, along with the coordinated efforts of others who worked tirelessly on the Underground Railroad, underscores the integral role the people of Detroit played in securing the freedom of thousands of slaves.

Long before European explorers arrived ...


David Killingray

From the 16th century onwards African states sent occasional diplomatic representatives to certain European states including England. Most of these embassies were from North Africa. From the 18th century the number of African diplomats coming to Britain increased, but it was not until the 19th century that the number of African diplomats making their way to London grew in significance (e.g. Madagascar1836, Zanzibar1838 and 1842, Egypt1846, Morocco1850). A proposed Asante embassy to London in 1820 failed because the British would not provide a ship to convey the ambassadors. However, in the face of British official hindrance, an embassy led by John Owusu Ansa arrived in London in 1895, but it failed to secure Asante independence from British imperial ambitions. Also in 1895 three southern African chiefs from what is now Botswana travelled to London to try to persuade Queen Victoria ...