Slavery is a social state defined by law and customs as the most absolute involuntary form of human servitude. A slave is characterized because his work or his services are obtained by force and his physical person is considered as property of his owner, who disposes of him at his will.

Essay about slavery history

From the earliest times, according to the thesis statement about slavery, the slave was legally defined as a commodity that the owner could sell, buy, give away or exchange for a debt, without the slave being able to exercise any right or personal or legal objection. Most of the time there are ethnic differences between the slave trader and the slave, since slavery thesis statement is usually based on a strong racial prejudice, according to which the ethnic group to which the trafficker belongs is considered superior to that of the slaves. It is very rare that slaves are members of the same ethnic group as the owner, but one of the few exceptions occurred in Russia during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The practice of slavery dates back to prehistoric times, although its institutionalization probably occurred when agricultural advances made possible more organized societies that required slaves for certain functions. To obtain them other peoples were conquered; however, some individuals sold themselves or sold their family members to pay outstanding debts; Slavery was also the punishment for those people who committed some crime.

Antiquity thesis about slavery

Slavery was an accepted and often essential situation for the economy and society of ancient civilizations. In ancient Mesopotamia, India and China slaves were used in households, in commerce, in large-scale construction and in agriculture. The ancient Egyptians used them to build royal palaces and monuments. The ancient Hebrews also used slaves, but their religion forced them to release those of their own people on certain dates. In the pre-Columbian civilizations (Aztec, Inca and Mayan) they were used in agriculture and in the army. Among the Aztecs, practitioners of various trades bought slaves to offer them in sacrifice to their patron god.

In Homer’s epic poems, slavery, as a thesis on slavery, is the logical fate of prisoners of war. Greek philosophers did not consider slave status morally reprehensible, even though Aristotle proposed freeing faithful slaves. In ancient Greece, slaves, with rare exceptions, were treated with consideration. However, the helots of Sparta (descendants of a people conquered and forced to work hard in the countryside and fight in the Spartan armies) were treated with great severity, mainly because their population was greater than that of their rulers.

In general, slaves were used as domestic workers, in urban and field jobs, in the navy and transport. Domestic slavery, in general, was less harsh, since the treatment they received was usually very familiar. Roman slavery differed from Greek slavery in several aspects. The Romans had more rights over their slaves, including life and death. Slavery was much more necessary in Rome for the economy and the social system than in ancient Greece, especially during the Empire. The well-off Romans, who owned large mansions in the city and in the countryside, depended on a large number of slaves to maintain their homes and agricultural properties.

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The imperial conquests decimated the Roman armies, so that it became necessary to import a large number of foreign slaves to carry out the work of the field. The main source of slaves was war: tens of thousands of prisoners were taken to Rome as slaves; however, all those convicted of serious crimes and debtors, who sold themselves or sold their family members to pay their debts, became slaves.

Middle Ages

The adoption of the Christian religion as an official religion by the Roman Empire and its later spread during the Middle Ages in Europe and part of the Middle East, was an attempt to improve the conditions of slaves, but failed to eliminate the practice of slavery. After the fall of the Roman Empire, during the barbarian invasions between the 5th and 10th centuries, the institution of slavery became a less binding system: serfdom. Islam in the seventh century recognized from its origins the institution of slavery, although the Prophet Muhammad exhorted his followers to keep a correct deal with them. In general terms, the slaves of the Arabs, who mostly carried out domestic work, were treated with greater respect.

Slavery and Freedom

The exploration of the coasts of Africa, the discovery of America in the fifteenth century and its colonization in the following three centuries boosted considerably the modern slave trade. From the mid-fifteenth century until the 1870s, between 11 and 13 million Africans were exported to America; between 15 and 20% died during the voyages and around 10 million were enslaved in the countries of destination. Portugal, which needed workers for the countryside, was the first European country to cover its demand for work with the importation of slaves. The Portuguese started this practice in 1444, and in 1460 each year they imported 700 to 800 slaves from different parts of the African coast. These were captured by other Africans and transported to the west coast of Africa.

Soon Spain imitated this practice, although for more than a century Portugal continued to monopolize trade. During the 15th century, Arab traders from North Africa sent slaves from central Africa to the markets of Arabia, Iran and India. In the sixteenth century, the Spanish conquistadors forced the indigenous youth to cultivate large plantations and work in the mines. The Indians were not used to living as slaves and could not survive in these conditions, partly because of their lack of immunization against European diseases and harsh working conditions.

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The collapse of the indigenous populations, total in the Antilles and partial in the American continent, caused the increase in the number of slaves. There were many indigenous young people who died because of the rudeness of the work, so it was decided to import to the Spanish colonies African slaves that were believed to be better able to withstand forced labor. The King of Spain Carlos I established in 1517 a system of concessions to individuals to introduce and sell African slaves in America. In the mid-sixteenth century, indigenous slavery as a legal institution disappeared in New Spain. Other modalities emerged, such as indebtedness or encomienda. Slavery thereafter would affect only African blacks.

As we can read in essay about slavery and freedom, the massive arrival of African slaves in Brazil began in the second half of the sixteenth century, but already in 1501 their presence was recorded in Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Jamaica, where about 4,000 Africans entered the year. The granting of rights in the slave trade was always a real prerogative. In the late sixteenth century, the United Kingdom began to compete for the right to supply slaves to the Spanish colonies, held until then by Portugal, France, Holland and Denmark. In 1713, the British South Sea Company secured the exclusive right to supply slaves to these colonies.

The first African slaves arrived at Jamestown (Virginia) in 1619 from the hands of the first English corsairs; the slaves were subject to the so-called “limited servitude,” a legal situation proper to white, black and indigenous serfs, which was a precursor to slavery in most English colonies in the New World. With the development of the plantation system in the southern colonies, the number of imported African slaves, in line with thesis statement on slavery, increased considerably in the second half of the seventeenth century. As they became more relevant (especially in the South, where they were considered fundamental for the economy and society) it became necessary to modify the corresponding legislation. During the American War of Independence (1776-1783) they were slaves in the broadest sense of the word, with legislation that clearly defined their legal, political and social situation.

Abolition of slavery

Denmark was the first European country to abolish the slave trade in 1792, followed by the United Kingdom in 1807 and the United States in 1810, although the latter had to wait until the Civil War (1865) ended so that it would be definitively abolished the whole country. According to the essay topics about slavery, in the Congress of Vienna of 1814, the United Kingdom tried to convince other countries to adopt similar policies, getting almost all European countries to adopt a regulation on the matter or to sign a treaty that would prohibit this type of traffic.

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The Treaty of Ashburton of 1842 between the United Kingdom and the United States established the maintenance of forces on the African coast to monitor compliance with the law. In 1845, the collaboration of the naval forces of the United Kingdom and France was replaced by the mutual right of ship inspection to monitor compliance with current regulations. The limitation of the number of slaves led to an improvement in their living conditions. The slaves of the French Antilles obtained freedom in 1848 and in the Netherlands in 1863.

In America, the emancipation and birth of the new republics led to the abolition of slavery: Mexico abolished it in 1813, Venezuela Colombia in 1821, and Uruguay in 1869. Only in Brazil slavery last until 1888. In the wars of independence, the black population of some countries simultaneously aligned with the Creole patriots.

According to the essay about Frederick Douglass slavery, Frederick Douglass was an abolitionist who altered America’s views of slavery through his writings and actions. Frederick’s life as a slave had the greatest impact on his writings. Through his experience as a slave, he developed emotion and experience for him to become a successful abolitionist writer. He experienced harsh treatment and his hate for slavery and desire to be free caused him to write Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.

Twentieth century: essay about slavery in the United States

The International Convention on Slavery, held in Geneva in 1926, and in which the 38 countries of the League of Nations participated, approved the abolition and prohibition of the slavery thesis trade and the total abolition of all forms of slavery. The proposals arising from this convention were confirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 1948]. In 1951, the UN Committee on Slavery reported that this practice was rapidly decreasing and that only vestiges remained in some parts of the world (Mauritania was the last country to abolish it in 1980).

The Committee also reported that a large number of people still lived under bondage-like servitude. These types of servitude included peonage, child abuse and the involuntary surrender of women in marriage. In 1956, and on the recommendation of the Committee, a new conference was held in Geneva, attended by 51 countries. This conference decided to hold an additional convention on the abolition of slavery, the slave trade and institutions and practices similar to slavery. This new convention condemned servitude-like forms of slavery and established penalties for the slave trade. From that moment, any breach of its resolutions would pass to the international courts of justice.