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HIST321: Comparative New Worlds, 1400-1750

Unit 10: Africans in the New World   *Beginning in the Sixteenth century, Africans were brought to the Americans to serve as enslaved laborers on plantations and in mines.  However, Africans were not the first laborers to be used in the New World for that purpose.  Portuguese and Spanish colonizers had utilized indentured servitude and enslaved local Amerindian peoples.  However, when disease depleted the Amerindian slaves and indentured European servants, African laborers became a viable alternative.  Africans were accustomed to a tropical climate, were familiar with agricultural production, and seemed resistant to French West Indies, or to Spanish or Portuguese America as captive slaves.

Although African laborers were used throughout the Caribbean, mainland North American and Central and South America, the nature of enslavement and the role of African laborers in each society varied widely.  There were many reasons for this.  First, the nature of slavery depended upon the goods being produced - slavery on sugar plantations in Barbados, for example, was far different than slavery in the gold mines of Peru.  Second, New World societies often perceived slavery (and slaves) differently.  In some colonies, for example, manumission (release from slavery) was more common and accepted than in others.  And third, many New World societies were shaped by their importation of slaves from specific regions in Africa.  Rice planters in the Carolinas, for example, wanted to import African ethnic groups who had experience growing rice in Africa.

In this unit, we will examine why European colonizers turned to imported Africans as their main source of labor on plantations and in gold and silver mines.  We will also compare and contrast the slave societies that emerged in the New World between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.*

Unit 10 Time Advisory
This unit will take you 8 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 10.1: 3.5 hours

☐    Subunit 10.2: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 10.3: 2.5 hours

Unit10 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • describe Amerindian slavery in the Americas;
  • describe indentured servitude in the New World;
  • describe African enslaved labor in New World societies; and
  • analyze the shifting patterns of labor systems in New World societies.

10.1 Enslavement of Native Peoples   Note: This topic is covered in the resources for sub-subunits 10.1.1-10.1.3.
 

10.1.1 Amerindian Slavery in the Americas   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Amerindian Slavery in the Americas” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Amerindian Slavery in the Americas” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the entire text.  As you read, consider the following questions: in which regions of the Americas did Europeans rely on native slavery most heavily, and why?  How did Europeans justify native slavery, and what were the objections to it?
 
Studying this reading and answering the questions above should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
 
Terms of Use: The resource above is released under a Creative Commons Attribution License.  It is attributed to the Saylor Foundation.

10.1.2 Amerindian Slavery in the Caribbean   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Amerindian Slavery in the Caribbean” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Amerindian Slavery in the Caribbean” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the entire text.  As you read, consider the following questions: who, or which groups, protested the enslavement of natives in the Caribbean? In what ways and through what decrees did the Spanish crown address these protests? What were some of the outcomes of these decrees?
 
Studying this reading and answer the questions above should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
 
Terms of Use: The resource above is released under a Creative Commons Attribution License.  It is attributed to the Saylor Foundation.

10.1.3 Encomienda   - Reading: The Library of Congress: Rex A. Hudson’s “Encomiendas”, and Modern History Sourcebook: Henry Stevens’s ‘The New Laws of the Indies, 1542” Link: The Library of Congress: Rex A. Hudson’s “Encomiendas” (PDF) and Modern History Sourcebook: Henry Stevens’ “The New Laws of the Indies, 1542” (PDF)
 
Also Available in:
HTML (Rex A. Hudson’s “Encomiendas”)
HTML (Henry Stevens’ “The New Laws of the Indies, 1542”)

 Instructions: Read the selections for an overview of the labor
systems in the early Spanish American colonies, focusing on Native
American slavery and the *encomienda*.  As you read, ask yourself
the following questions: What is an *encomienda* and how did it come
to exist in Spanish colonies in the Americas?  What were the
responsibilities of the *encomendero*?  How did the *repartimento*
differ from the *encomienda*?  What does the king of Spain charge
his official representative, the *Audiencias*, with in the New Laws
of the Indies (1542)?  What do the laws prohibit?  What provisions
and protections do the laws offer to individuals working pearl
fisheries?  From whom do the laws take away the possibility of using
Native Americans as forced labor?  

 (15 minutes)  

 Terms of Use: The above articles are in the public domain.
  • Reading: Jay I. Kislak Foundation: Dr. Lynne Guitar’s “No More Negotiation: Slavery and Destabilization of Colonial Hispaniola’s Encomienda System” Link: Jay I. Kislak Foundation: Dr. Lynne Guitar’s “No More Negotiation: Slavery and Destabilization of Colonial Hispaniola’s Encomienda System” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entire article to learn about the transition from the encomienda system to the system of chattel slavery in sixteenth century Hispaniola.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

10.2 Indentured Servitude   Note: This topic is covered by the materials in the inclusive sub-subunits below.

10.2.1 From Indentured Servitude to Race-based Slavery   - Reading: PBS’s Africans in America: “From Indentured Servitude to Racial Slavery” Link: PBS’s Africans in America: “From Indentured Servitude to Racial Slavery” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire passage, which will provide you with an explanation of why many European empires turned from Amerindian slavery to African slavery in the 1500s
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Sage American History: Henry J. Sage’s “Colonial America (1607-1763), The Lives of Indentured Servants,” Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of “Atlantic Slave Trade: Carriers and Destinations,” and Antislavery.org’s “Trade Routes: Americas and the Caribbean” Link: Sage American History: Henry J. Sage’s “Colonial America (1607-1763), The Lives of Indentured Servants” (PDF), Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of “Atlantic Slave Trade: Carriers and Destinations” (PDF), and Antislavery.org’s “Trade Routes: Americas and the Caribbean” (PDF)
     
    Also available in:

    HTML (Henry J. Sage’s “The Lives of Indentured Servants)
    HTML (Paul Halsall’s “Atlantic Slave Trade: Carriers and Destinations”)

     
    Instructions: Scroll down to “The Lives of Indentured Servants”. Please read the selections for an introduction to indentured servitude and the Atlantic Slave Trade.  In what ways did indentured servants address the labor shortage in colonial America?  Why might an individual become an indentured servant?  What was the average period of service?  As you read and view the graph, ask yourself the following questions: According to the graph, which country transported the largest number of Africans in the Transatlantic Slave Trade?  Which region in the Americas received the largest number of Africans from the Transatlantic Slave Trade?  What role did the Transatlantic Slave Trade play in the expansion of American colonial economies?  What role did it play in the expansion of European economies?

    Reading these articles should take approximately 30 minutes.
     

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright status of Henry J. Sage’s “The Lives of Indentured Servants” and Antislavery.org’s “The Trade Routes: Americas and the Caribean,” both of which are used by permission.  Paul Halsall’s “The Atlantic Slave Trade: Carriers and Destinations” is in the Public Domain.

10.2.2 Slavery and Race in the Sixteenth Century   - Reading: Connexions: Dr. James Ross-Nazzal’s “Chapter 4: Slavery and Empire (1441-1770)”, and Academic American History: Gustavus Vasa’s “Middle Passage” Link: Connexions: Dr. James Ross-Nazzal and David White’s “Ch. 4 Slavery and Empire (1441-1770)” (PDF) and Academic American History: Gustavus Vasa’s “Middle Passage” (PDF)
 
Also Available in:
HTML (Connexions: “Ch. 4 Slavery ad Empire (1441-1770)”)
HTML (Academic American history’s “Middle Passage”)
 

Instructions: Please read the selections, which describe European
propaganda and attitudes towards slavery.  As you read, ask yourself
the following questions: What reasons does the author of “Slavery
and Empire (1441-1770)” give for Europeans’ preference for enslaving
Africans from the West coast of Africa?  How did the institution of
slavery and the lives of African slaves differ among the various
geographic regions of the English colonies?  What is fictive kinship
and what role did it play in slave communities?  What percentage of
British exports came from slave colonies?  In the document “The
Middle Passage: Voyage from Africa, 1756,” how does the author,
Olaudah Equiano, describe his first experiences aboard the slave
ship?  What conditions did he find?  What did Equiano learn from his
fellow countrymen also aboard the ship?  What did Equino see two
other of his countrymen do?  
    
 (20 minutes)  

 Terms of Use: Ross-Nazzal and White’s “Ch. 4 Slavery and Empire
(1441-1701)” is released under a [Creative Commons Attribution
3.0](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/) license.  Academic
American History’s “Middle History” is in the public domain.

10.3 Africans in New World Societies   Note: This topic is covered in the resources under sub-subunits 10.3.1-10.3.4.

10.3.1 Africans in Spanish America   - Reading: National Park Service’s “African American Heritage and Ethnography”: “Africans in Spanish America” Link: National Park Service’s “African American Heritage and Ethnography”: “Africans in Spanish America” (PDF)

 Also available in:  

[iBook](http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/HIST321-10.3.1-Africans-in-Spanish-Ameri-Author.epub)  
    
 Instructions: Please read the entire article to get a sense of the
role of African slaves in Spain and Spanish America.  Use the “next”
link at the bottom of each webpage to move to each subsequent page
until you reach the webpage with the “Conclusion” section.  
    
 Terms of Use: This material is part of the public domain.
  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Making of the Atlantic World” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Making of the Atlantic World” (PDF)

    Instructions: Please read the selection for an overview of Africans in the Atlantic World.  As you read, ask yourself the following questions: What various roles did Africans play in the Atlantic system? What conditions occasioned Africans to be captured and transported to Spanish America?

    (10 minutes)

    Terms of Use: The resource above is released under a Creative Commons Attribution License.  It is attributed to the Saylor Foundation.

10.3.2 Africans in Portuguese America   - Reading: Mediations: Emilio Sauri’s translation of Dr. Luiz Felipe de Alencastro’s “Brazil in the South Atlantic, 1550-1850” Link: Mediations: Emilio Sauri’s translation of Dr. Luiz Felipe de Alencastro’s “Brazil in the South Atlantic, 1550-1850” (HTML or PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire journal article for a good overview of Brazil’s role in the slave trade, the development of the plantation complex, and the rise of African slavery.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

10.3.3 Africans in French America   - Reading: National Park Service’s “African American Heritage and Ethnography”: “Africans in French America” Link: National Park Service’s “African American Heritage and Ethnography”: “Africans in French America” (PDF)

 Also available in:  

[iBook](http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/HIST321-10.3.3-Africans-in-French-Americ-Author.epub)  
    
 Instructions: Please read the entire webpage to get a sense of the
system of slavery in French colonies in North America, particularly
in Louisiana.  
    
 Terms of Use: This material is part of the public domain.

10.3.4 Africans in British America   - Reading: Sage American History: Henry J. Sage’s “Life in Colonial America”, and “Virginia Slave Laws” Link: Sage American History: Henry J. Sage’s “Life in Colonial America” (PDF) and Henry J. Sage’s “Virginia Slave Laws” (PDF)
 
Also Available in:

[HTML](http://www.academicamerican.com/colonial/topics/coloniallife.html)
(Henry J. Sage’s “Life in Colonial America”)  

[HTML](http://www.academicamerican.com/colonial/docs/vaslavestatutes.html)
(Henry J. Sage’s “Virginia Slave Laws”)  
    
 Instructions: Scroll down to “Slavery in the Colonial World”.
 Please read the selections for an overview of the processes of
enslavement in colonial America.  As you read, ask yourself the
following questions: How and why did the institution of slavery come
to consist of lifetime slavery in British North American colonies?
 Besides the slave trade, what accounts for an increase in the slave
population?  According to the Virginia Slave Laws, which parent
determines the status of a child born in the colony?  What effect
does Christian baptism have on a slave’s status?  What
justifications do the laws provide for corporal punishment of
slaves?  

(15 minutes)  
    
 Terms of Use: The use of the articles above is by the kind
permission of the author, please respect their copyright and terms
of use.