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The Idea of Slavery in the Western World. Foundational Questions Question #1 What is slavery?

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Presentation on theme: "The Idea of Slavery in the Western World. Foundational Questions Question #1 What is slavery?"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Idea of Slavery in the Western World

2 Foundational Questions Question #1 What is slavery?

3 “Slavery is the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised.” Geneva Convention, 1954 “Slavery is the permanent, violent, domination of natally alienated and generally dishonored persons.” Orlando Patterson, 1982 Slavery Entails Both: Ownership and Alienation David Brion Davis, 2006

4 Question #2 Where and when did people get the idea of enslaving other people?

5 Answer #2 We’re Not Sure (But We Have Some Ideas)

6 First account comes for Sumer, 2000 BC Constant comparison of slaves to domesticated animals Andrapodon: “Man-footed creature” Capitale: “Chattle” and “Cattle” Same instruments of coercion: branding and whips. “The ox is the poor man’s slave” ~Aristotle, Politics

7 “Tame animals are naturally better than wild animals, yet for all tame animals there is an advantage in being under human control, as this secures their survival….By analogy, the same must necessarily apply to mankind as a whole. Therefore all men who differ from one another by as much as the soul differs from the body or man from a wild beast (and that is the state of those who work by using their bodies, and for whom that is the best they can do)—these people are slaves by nature, and it is better for them to be subject to this kind of control, as it is better for the other creatures I’ve mentioned.”

8 Question 2.a What are the implications of this historical link between domesticated animals and slaves?

9 Since there are some people out there who are beastlike, slavery is an appropriate—even beneficial—institution. And the Reverse If slavery is an essential part of our society, there must be people out there that can be legitimately enslaved. In Short The inferiority of some people justifies slavery, and the demands of slavery justify inferiority.

10 Aristotle contiued… “Assistance regarding the necessities of life is provided by both groups, by slaves and by domestic animals. Nature must therefore have intended to make the bodies of free men and of slaves different also; slaves’ bodies strong for the services they have to do, those of free men upright and not much use for that kind of work, but instead useful for community life.”

11 Question #3 Why did they enslave?

12 Communal boundaries – Slavery often exists in places that value rights of citizenship – Tupinamba A sense or prestige and honor – The negative associations of physical labor Economics

13 Question #4 How Did They Enslave?

14 BY LAW BUT HERE THE CONTRADICTIONS OF SLAVERY IMMEDIATELY BECOME APPARENT Laws agains congregating, education, conjugal unions, civic participation….

15 Question #5 How Did the Judeo-Christian Tradition Relate to Slavery?

16 Ambiguity Old Testament: Injunctions to give shelter to fugitive slaves, but also a declaration that it was acceptable to enslave. The Curse of Canaan: “Servant of Servants” (Genesis 9:25) New Testament: The Golden Rule versus Onesimus (Ephesians 6:5-9) The Two Implications of Adam and Eve

17 Question #6 What About Slavery in Medieval Europe?

18 The institution, and even the language of it, dies out in northern Europe by the 13 th century. But the idea remains very much alive in southern Europe because of its connections to a Mediterranean world in which slavery was prevalent. » Slavery as a means of conversion » Recovery of Aristotle >> Thomas Aquinas

19 Question #7 What Is the Relationship of Slavery and Race?

20 Chicken or Egg? Ancient slavery was not race based, but it was on the lookout for physical differences. Because of their work in the sun and dirt, slaves had often been associated with physical darkness. A Russian legend held that serfs had black bones! Negative Associations with Blackness in European Culture Limpieza de Sangre Africa’s own history with slavery The more conditioned one becomes to seeing a particular race enslaved, the more that status seems “natural.”

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22 Question #7 Did Anyone Raise Moral Qualms About This Practice?

23 First Public Auction, 1444 New England’s Reaction, 1646 Germantown Protest, 1688 Selling of Joseph, 1700 Black Bart,

24 These are the reasons why we are against the traffik of men-body, as followeth. Is there any that would be done or handled at this manner? viz., to be sold or made a slave for all the time of his life? How fearful and faint-hearted are many on sea when they see a strange vessel — being afraid it should be a Turk, and they should be taken, and sold for slaves into Turkey. Now what is this better done, as Turks doe? Yea, rather is it worse for them which say they are Christians, for we hear that ye most part of such negers are brought hitherto against their will and consent and that many of them are stolen. Now tho they are black we cannot conceive there is more liberty to have them slaves, as it is to have other white ones. There is a saying that we shall doe to all men like as we will be done ourselves; making no difference of what generation, descent or colour they are. And those who steal or rob men, and those who buy or purchase them, are they not alike? Here is liberty of conscience wch is right and reasonable; here ought to be likewise liberty of ye body, except of evil-doers, wch is an other case. But to bring men hither, or to rob and sell them against their will, we stand against. In Europe there are many oppressed for conscience sake; and here there are those oppossd who are of a black colour. And we who know that men must not commit adultery — some do commit adultery, in others, separating wives from their husbands and giving them to others; and some sell the children of these poor creatures to other men. Ah! doe consider well this thing, you who doe it, if you would be done at this manner? and if it is done according to Christianity? You surpass Holland and Germany in this thing. This makes an ill report in all those countries of Europe, where they hear off, that ye Quakers doe here handel men as they handle there ye cattle. And for that reason some have no mind or inclination to come hither. And who shall maintain this your cause, or pleid for it? Truly we can not do so, except you shall inform us better hereof, viz., that Christians have liberty to practise these things. Pray, what thing in the world can be done worse towards us, than if men should rob or steal us away, and sell us for slaves to strange countries; separating housbands from their wives and children. Being now this is not done in the manner we would be done at therefore we contradict and are against this traffic of men-body. And we who profess that it is not lawful to steal, must, likewise, avoid to purchase such things as are stolen, but rather help to stop this robbing and stealing if possible. And such men ought to be delivered out of ye hands of ye robbers, and set free as well as in Europe. Then is Pennsylvania to have a good report, instead it hath now a bad one for this sake in other countries. Especially whereas ye Europeans are desirous to know in what manner ye Quakers doe rule in their province — and most of them doe look upon us with an envious eye. But if this is done well, what shall we say is done evil? If once these slaves (wch they say are so wicked and stubborn men) should joint themselves — fight for their freedom, — and handel their masters and mastrisses as they did handel them before; will these masters and mastrisses take the sword at hand and warr against these poor slaves, licke, we are able to believe, some will not refuse to doe; or have these negers not as much right to fight for their freedom, as you have to keep them slaves? Now consider well this thing, if it is good or bad? And in case you find it to be good to handel these blacks at that manner, we desire and require you hereby lovingly that you may inform us herein, which at this time never was done, viz., that Christians have such a liberty to do so. To the end we shall be satisfied in this point, and satisfie likewise our good friends and acquaintances in our natif country, to whose it is a terror, or fairful thing that men should be handeld so in Pennsylvania..

25 A Different Sensibility “An Unthinking Decision” ~Edmund Morgan "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." ~L.P. Hartley


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