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Slavery and the Health of African American Slaves  African Slave Trade and The Middle Passage  The Health of Slaves  The Science of Race  Healthcare.

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Presentation on theme: "Slavery and the Health of African American Slaves  African Slave Trade and The Middle Passage  The Health of Slaves  The Science of Race  Healthcare."— Presentation transcript:

1 Slavery and the Health of African American Slaves  African Slave Trade and The Middle Passage  The Health of Slaves  The Science of Race  Healthcare within Slave Communities

2 Slave Barracoon

3 Auction Block, Fredericksburg Virginia


5 The Key Players  the Portuguese (and Brazilians), the English, The French, the Spaniards, the Dutch, and the North Americans  West African coastal trading system  African slave traders were the backbone of the trade in Africa


7 North American Slave Trade  North American Slave Trade abolished in 1808  Written into U.S. Constitution  Reinforced by British Act of Parliament (1807 and 1833)  Trade continues within American South  1820-1860 - 2 million sold between states  600,000 wives and husbands separated

8 Slave Trade Statistics  Between 1492 and 1820 enslaved African migrants outnumbered European migrants 5 to 1  -few 1000 slaves brought to the Americas each year in the century after Columbus’s voyage  -by 1600 – intensive sugar cultivation – 19,000/yr  -By 18 th century, 60, 000/yr  -21 million Africans captured and sold into slavery from 1700 to 1850.  -9 million arrived ALIVE in the New World. Others, put # at 12 million.

9 Slave Mortality  Millions more died either before leaving Africa or on slave ships  Brutality of Barracoons  Mass mortality in Middle Passage  33% of African Slaves die in first year in New World



12 THE HEALTH OF SLAVES 19 th Century American South

13 Slave Demographics in the U.S. South  By 1750, 90 % of the slaves living in American south  By the American Revolution, 80 % of the North American slave population was African American – only 20% brought in from Africa  After 1808 – abolition of slave trade in U.S. – African population of slaves was tiny  by early 19 th century, gender balance in slave population  natural population growth and reduced mortality by 18 th century  i.e. 1808 and 1860, U.S. slave population more than tripled – from 1.2 million to 4 million

14 Fredericksburg, Virginia  Letters of Dr. James Carmichael and son  100 references to sick and injured slaves  Oppressive conditions of slavery  Poor sanitation on plantations, in slave quarters  Infectious diseases, Worms, parasites, etc.

15 THE SCIENCE OF RACE Racial Differences in Health

16 Black Medicine  immunity to some forms of malaria  selective genetic factors possed by 90% of West Africans and 70% of African Americans  Absence of Duffy positive cells = resistant to Plasmodium vivax  high incidence of sickle cell anemia and sickle cell trait helped African Americans build their resistance to malaria.  intolerance to Cold climates  little tolerance or resistance to respiratory infections as compared to whites.  more susceptible to TB, had higher cases of SIDS, and more infants who died from Neonatal tetanus, caused by the infection of the umbilical chord stump  In 1851, Louisiana plantation doctor Samuel Cartwright even came up with a unique psychiatric diagnosis that he called "drapetomania" to explain the trend of slaves running away.

17 Craniometry

18 The Bible versus Science  African Americans: Are they racially variant? Or, are they a different species?  Species theory = polygenism  Polygenism: human "races" were of different lineages and suggested a hierarchy outlined in the "Chain of Being" that positioned Africans between man and lower primates.  Monogenism: the belief that all human races descended from a common ancestral type. Consistent with the teachings of the bible

19 Benjamin Franklin, Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, 1751 “And while we are...scouring our planet, by clearing America of woods...why should we...darken its people? Why increase the Sons of Africa, by planting them in America, where we have so fair an opportunity, by excluding all blacks and tawneys, of increasing the lovely white and red?”

20 Thomas Jefferson “ I advance it, therefore, as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstance, are inferior to the whites in the endowment both of mind and body.”

21 Abraham Lincoln, 1858 Lincoln-Douglas Debates “There is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favour of having the superior position assigned to the white race.” “Negro Equality! Fudge!” Lincoln’s Private scribbling in 1859

22 American “Race” Scientists  Charles Pickering, Naturalist, Librarian, Curator  Samuel G. Morton, Physician  Louis Agassiz, Naturalist, Palaeontologist, Geologist  Josiah Clark Nott, Ethnographer

23 Here American physician J. C. Nott attempted to illustrate geologist Louis Agassiz’s theory, which was that each region of the world was populated by separately created sets of species, both animal and human. Such ideas about human species at the time were often influenced by western racial prejudices, as the idea of multiple, separately created races could be used to justify slavery and other forms of subjugation. Darwin disagreed, firmly maintaining that all humans were descended from the same human ancestor. Josiah Clark Nott (1804–1873). Types of Mankind.... Philadelphia: Lippincott and Grambo, 1854.

24 "Types of Mankind" by Josiah Nott and George Glidden,1854.

25 Frederick Douglass

26 Phillis Wheatley, 1753-1784

27 ‘On Being Brought From Africa to America’ 'TWAS mercy brought me from my Pagan land, Taught my benighted soul to understand That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too: Once I redemption neither sought now knew, Some view our sable race with scornful eye, 'Their colour is a diabolic die.‘ Remember, Christians, Negroes, black as Cain, May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train. Phillis Wheatley

28 Why study the science of race?  Powerful example of how science is shaped by politics and culture and economics  Equally potent illustration of the influence of science on politics, culture, and economics  Race scientists gained prominence in the scientific community by legitimizing and directly contributing to the exploitation of slaves.  SCIENCE IS NOT OBJECTIVE OR NEUTRAL


30 African American Healing Practices  The history of medical abuse and exploitation only a partial account of the medical history of slavery.  Slaves were not passive victims of medical malice and they were not helpless dependents on white health care.  slave communities had a rich health culture  KEY: African American health concerns were different than the health concerns that white slave owners had for their slaves  White concern with economics and preserving bodies  Slave health concerns focused on quality of life and community issues, as well as protecting individual slaves and slave communities from whites and blacks who wished to cause them harm.

31 Tensions over Healthcare of Slaves  Whites very suspicious of slave medicine  Slaves very reluctant to submit their bodies to their masters  As a result, constant tension between slaves and whites over health issues

32 Conclusion

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