Europeans and the Rise and Fall of African Slavery in the Americas: An Interpretation Author(s): David Eltis Source

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Europeans and the Rise and Fall of African Slavery in the Americas: An Interpretation
DAVID ELTIS

those of the European-dominated Americas appear to have had the most obvious economic foundations. In the words of a recent, widely read survey, "The Slaves of the New World were economic property, and the main motive for slaveholding was economic exploitation."' Historians are careful to distance themselves from purely economic theories of human behavior, but on this issue the distance is usually rather short. The often bitter debates on the nature and meaning of New World slavery have produced few since Adam Smith who questioned the basic motivation of the early plantation owners. Simply put, people from one continent forced those from a second continent to produce a narrow range of consumer goods in a thirdhaving first found the third's native population inadequate to their purpose. Even those who have wrestled with the relationship between racism and slavery have seen the racial basis of American slavery primarily as an economic phenomenon. Eric Williams, Oscar Handlin, Carl Degler, Winthrop Jordan, William McKee Evans, and others may disagree on the origins of racism but not on the origins of racial slavery in the Americas. Slaves from Africa were used to grow sugar and other plantation crops, it has been argued, because they comprised the least-cost option. Even George Frederickson, the historian who has perhaps looked furthest beyond class and economics for the sources of racism, has written that if white slavery had appeared profitable, it would have been introduced.2 And, indeed, everything we know about early modern European commercial elites and planters would support such an interpretation. Whatever our definition of capitalism, we would expect such elites to have used the cheapest option possible within the limits of mercantilist policies. But did this in fact happen? It has become clear in recent years that economic paradigms have limited usefulness in explaining the ending of slavery. The
OF THE MANY POST-NEOLITHIC SLAVE SOCIETIES, I would like to thank Hilary McD. Beckles, Robin Blackburn, Timothy Joel Coates, Carl Degler, Seymour Drescher, Pieter C. Emmer, Stanley L. Engerman, Shelley Price Jones, Robert W. Malcolmson, James Pritchard, Mary Turner, and anonymous referees for extensive and helpful comments on earlier versions given at the Anglo-American Conference of Historians at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, in July 1992, and the Department of History, Boston College, in April 1993. I have also benefited from exchanges with David and Nancy Northrup. Funding was provided by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 1 Robin Blackburn, The Overthrow ColonialSlavery:1776-1848 (London, 1988), 7. of 2 George M. Frederickson, TheArrogance Race:Historical on Racism,and Social Perspectives Slavery, of Inequality(Middletown, Conn., 1988), 194.

1399

1400 David Eltis number of slaveholders who voluntarily converted their slaves into wage-earning laborers in order to increase profits was not large. it was restricted to those not belonging to the nation or tribeimplying a somewhat wider definition of "insider. Calif. class. Jordan's Whiteover Black: AmericanAttitudestowardthe Negro. Most settled societies incorporated the institution into their social structures. 3Nathan Irvin Huggins. from somewhat earlier. Thus Nathan Huggins has answered the often-asked question of how Africans could enslave other Africans and sell them into the slave trade with the astute response that the enslavers did not see themselves or their victims as Africans. Slaveryin Russia. In Africa and the Americas. who are not. and the Americas."James L. Slavery until recently was universal in two senses.5Slavery in Europe was not extensive. such status might include anyone who was not part of the immediate lineage. 1-15. 1450-1725 (Chicago.. ed. Yet the origins of the system are in need of a similar reassessment. If almost all societies in Europe. Engerman for drawing my attention to these references.4 However. physical appearance. circumstances of birth. Asian and AfricanSystems Slavery(Berkeley. posing such questions in the European rather than the Asian. in any event. and economic status that determined insider-outsider status would require much more space than is available here. behavior patterns. The major studies of abolition now draw rather heavily on the cultural and ideological. 393-94. Richard Hellie has made the same point differently in writing about the efforts of slaveowners in sixteenth-century Russia to claim spurious foreign origins for themselves so that the enslaved could be held at a distance. more frequently. in the rest of the world. in Western Europe at least. although very few who were non-Christians. "Slaveryas an Institution. nor were the numbers of non-slaveholders who benefited directly from abolition.3 The question of why certain groups are deemed more appropriate than others for enslavement and the degree to which their status can be changed are of interest to anthropologists studying non-Western societies more often than historians and economists.. Watson. but. accepted slavery at the time of the Columbian contact."This was roughly the situation in Europe during and immediately after Roman times. What follows is an attempt at a fresh examination of slavery in the Americas that suggests economics. Watson. 1982). Africa. 4 See James L. Put differently. 5 A full evaluation of the amalgam of the cultural norms. by the fifteenth century. is no more capable of explaining its origins than its abolition. among whom there were some who were non-white. 1550-1812 AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . and other essays in this volume of for an introduction to the literature. Open and Closed Systems. African. The Ordealin Slavery(New York. The African component may dominate interpretations of slavery in the Atlantic world and. Black Odyssey: Afro-American Richard Hellie. the concept of insider had come to include all natives of the subcontinent. Winthrop D. 20.spheres of human activity. 1977). and precision is not. but the more fundamental question from a longer and wider view is what separates outsiders-those who are eligible for enslavement-from insiders. and indigenous American contexts promises some new insigrhts. in the Islamic world. narrowly defined. the question is not why slavery per se but rather which groups are considered eligible for enslavement and why this eligibility changes over time. I would like to thank Stanley L. they had very different definitions of "outsider" status. indeed. essential to the argument. and few peoples in the world have not constituted a major source of slaves at one time or another. 1980). and.

but the early chapters still provide useful insights into European perceptions of non-Europeans in the early modern era. although a tentative explanation for the European case is offered below. Series T70. Royal African Company (RAC) to Benjamin Alford. and one of the slave ship captains of the Royal African Company in its heyday was black. Essayswith an Introduction 7 Twentieth-century Europe provides many further examples of "inward"shifts in perceptions of insider status. but rather why it was not reintroduced on its old (and less exclusionary) basis when the potential of American mines and plantations became apparent. N. I begin with a cursory assessment of the existing literature before exploring one crucial area that this literature has tended to by-pass. A similar pattern was established in the Islamic world." Analyses along class and (Chapel Hill. Pierre Verger.6 Moreover. The Spanish. but slaves in Sicily as late as 1812 were Arab or at least North African Muslims.Y.7 These may have stopped short of or avoided slavery. 6 Great Britain. 1702. The Spanish in America may have reserved full chattel slavery for sub-Saharan Africans. see Charles Verlinden. first. second. as recently as 1802. N. the short description of the dividing line between insiders and outsiders has been "power relationships. Eleven 460-75. it was religious rather than ethnic barriers against outsiders that fell first. that a study of such change should be central for anyone wishing to understand slavery in the Americas and. the widening process was neither inevitable nor irreversible.. but. the Portuguese-speaking community that ran the slave traffic to Bahia had an African component. substituting of course "Islamic"for "Christian"in this assessment. The Beginningsof ModernColonization: (Ithaca. In the last decade or so. 40.. Flux et reflux de la traitedesnegresentrele Golfede Benin et Bahia de Todosos Santosdu XVIieet XIXesiecle(Paris. The key issue is thus not why slavery died out in Western Europe by the early modern period. 1970).C. there was the reinstitution of serfdom in seventeenth-century Scottish coal mining. piece 58 (henceforth. Despite this move to include non-Europeans. 1968). For slavery in Sicily. fols. the French reinstated full chattel slavery in their colonies a decade after it had been abolished. 1968) focuses on the English and Africans and puts more emphasis on the ethnic component in the insider-outsider divide than the present essay. Comparisons between Europe and the rest of the Atlantic world and between one European country and another form the basis of an alternative view of the issues presented in the final section. March 10. Jews and Muslims (or at least North African and European Muslims) were accorded insider status well before Africans. had banned the enslavement of American Indians by the 1540s. though not the Portuguese or the English. T70/58). Public Record Office. Among insiders.Europeans and the Rise and Fall of African Slavery 1401 but where it existed it was confined to non-Christians or natives of Africa and their immediate descendants. But the line was never drawn strictly in terms of skin color or race. that economic motivation should be assigned a subsidiary role in the rise and fall of the exclusively African-based bondage that Europeans carried across the Atlantic. or even why it had become confined to groups from other continents by 1500. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . -The reasons for changes in perceptions of which groups were suitable for enslavement are not entirely clear. however defined. The line dividing insider from outsider in the European case had some flexibility even in the short term. The main thrust of the present argument is. 16-17. 27. Apart from the Russian case and well-known "second serfdom" in Eastern Europe.

. Peter H. "Slavery. 407-09. D. the southern temperate zones. nearly one in four of the slave population in South Carolina was Indian. and rising servant prices governed the transition. Sanford Winston commented that "the relationship between the number of Indian and Negro slaves was . For a recent discussion of trends in contract lengths An America: Economic (an indicator of servant prices). Slaveryand theEvolutionof Cherokee (Knoxville.. Theda Perdue. Solow and Stanley L. Conn.. 85 (February 1980): 15-43. 19-35. other underclasses. and others. "From the Land of Canaan to the Land of Guinea: The Strange Odyssey of the 'Sons of Ham. Much remains unexplored. Russell Menard. Relations(WashIndians. Menard.C. "The Long-Run Trend in the Value of European Immigrant Servants.9 For Brazil. 19 (October 1934): 436. (Cambridge.14 (1992): 167-240. and the shifting perceptions of a European elite-driven by protest from below in either the dominant or the slave society. and had an impact on the Americas. 4: Historyof Indian-White Washburn. Race and Ideology in the United States of America. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . Tenn. David W. 1985).Bahia. 1654-1831: New Measurements and Interpretations. 1979). Green. WhiteServitudein Colonial Analysis(Cambridge." Researchin Economic History. 1971)." Wilcomb E. only 8 William McKee Evans. and for the more recent literature.. In 1708. Elites in Europe and Africa cooperated to ensure a supply of labor for the American plantations." in "Indian Slavery in the Carolina Region. inverse. eds. the large-scale traffic in slaves for plantation use focused first on northeastern Brazil. and foreigners emanated from associations that at root and at first had a large economic component. Myths about slaves. Sugar Plantations in the Formationof Brazilian Society. 9 Russell R. which seem not to have increased in the 1654-1775 period. 51-72. future research will not undermine the role played by economic factors in these transitions. closer to Africa and yielding exportable agricultural commodities of coffee and hides. moved next to the easternmost of the Antilles. ed. For British North America. and Engerman. see William A."Journalof Negro History." New Left Review. and the colony exported captives to the West Indies. 181 (May-June 1990): 95-118. 15-27. with less formal analysis. BritishCapitalism Caribbean Slavery:TheLegacyof Eric Williams 25-49. 16 (Winter 1977): 355-90. Debate over the mechanics of this process continues. Similar switches from indigenous to African labor occurred in the sixteenth-century Caribbean as well as later in South Carolina. From a broad perspective. Winks.8 This approach fits rather well with the more narrowly focused literature on the transition to slavery in the Atlantic worid. 10Stuart B. but. see Farley Grubb. For a historiographical survey and a dissenting view." SouthernStudies. the region closest to Africa. It is frequently argued that the substitution of African slaves for the various forms of coerced native labor and European indentured servants in the plantation regions of the Americas was driven by relative costs and was thus in essence an economic decision." Barbara L. The Blacks in Canada:A History (New Haven. Vol. Schwartz.1402 DavidEltis interest lines have dominated literatures on both the rise and fall of American slavery. 1988). French Canadians could not afford African slaves.. falling slave transportation costs. farthest away from Africa. "Indian Servitude in the Southeast. Handbookof North American Society. Farther north. Robin W."' AHR.. Galenson. a combination of an elastic supply of slave labor. and their slaves remained overwhelmingly Amerindian.10 By contrast. Barbara Jeanne Fields. had an entirely African slave labor force. according to some-brought the system to an end. as laid out by David Galenson. 1981). Stuart Schwartz has shown.1540-1866 ington. "From Servants to Slaves: The Transformation of the Chesapeake Labor System. Barbados. 1987). Wood. 1550-1835 (Cambridge.. 1-19. how more expensive and more productive African slaves came to replace their Brazilian Indian counterparts in the first seventy years of sugar production in the Reconcavo. "Race and Slavery: Considerations on the Williams'Thesis.

1993).20 (Spring 1987): 565. the Caribbean. in the face of three centuries of stereotyping. As Eric Williams realized half a century ago.12There can be no doubt that major groups subjected to slavery.1627-1715 (Knoxville. see the special issue of Slaveryand Abolition. Beckles. such as Canaanites. Orlando Patterson's distinction between slave and non-slave. and African slave labor were the only options open to planters. 21-27). Various forms of European forced labor were in fact tried. Michael Twaddle. But why should these combinations of ethnic groups and labor regimes be the only possibilities for the early plantation Americas? The extent to which other alternatives were attempted. or even considered.. despite the fact that widening the question provides insights into more than just substitution of one form of labor for another. WhiteoverBlack. esp. "Comparing Emancipations: A Review Essay. 1982]. These steps will help clarify the cultural and ideological parameters that at once shaped the evolution of African New World slavery and kept Europeans as non-slaves. And while serfdom fell and rose in different parts of early modern Europe and shared "Jordan. centered on the absolute power of the slave's master and the origin of enslavement as an alternative to death. what is at stake here is not just the economics and morality of early European expansion but the foundation of relations between European and African peoples in the Americas. ed. we must first explore the labor options of early modern Europeans-both those that were tried and those that were not. 14 (April 1993). finally. is a useful corrective to this tendency to lump together slave Study[Cambridge.'1 Scholars are now less likely to counterpose slavery and freedom. indentured or free waged European. Mass. Tenn. were quickly assumed fit subjects for such status even if they were not so regarded initially. we need to assess how close Europeans came to imposing slavery or slave-like conditions on other Europeans. Slavs. But the creation of later stereotypes does not explain why Europeans went thousands of miles to Africa for slaves in the first place. WhiteServitude Black Slaveryin Barbados. is ignored in the literature. But were costs as central as the extensive literature on the labor transition assumes? If coerced native. 66. this time at the inception of the system and and centered on the study of white labor in Barbados. Most recently. and non-slave status (Slaveryand SocialDeath:A Comparative 12 AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . Rebecca Scott. see Hilary McD. the majority of Europeans and their descendants decided that Africans were no longer suitable subjects for enslavement."Journalof SocialHistory. or coercion and consent. For a similar orientation. what for them set slavery apart as a status for others. 1989). A comparison of these options across national boundaries reveals differences in what major European colonial powers considered feasible as labor regimes. Second. and England (London. or indeed in the pre-Columbian Old World. If we leave aside the issue of alternative forms of labor. titled The Wagesof Slavery:FromChattelSlaveryto WageLabourin Africa.. and.. 5-10. The current literature cannot deal easily with the questions "why no European slaves?" or "why no African indentured servants?" even though Winthrop Jordan posed the former a quarter-century ago. If we wish to understand the origins of African slavery in the New World. especially in studying the beginning and ending of slavery in the Americas. Yet no West European power after the late Middle Ages crossed the basic divide separating European workers from full chattel slavery. and Africans. this process is consistent with trends in slave prices and transatlantic shipping costs. then the answer must be yes. Nor does it explain why at some point between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.Europeans and the Rise and Fall of African Slavery 1403 later.

Penal Servitudein Early Modern Spain (Madison. For French treatment of engages. "Les engages and des pour les Antilles (1634-1715). and. 67-69.30 (January-February 1975): 43-65. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . informal raids or more organized military actions were major ways to obtain slaves. Portuguese. and Stuart B. then in Europe wars appear to have been frequent ALTHOUGH 13 The Scottish act allowed "coal-masters. see Timothy Joel Coates.52-58. For the "spiriting"of servants and vagrants from England to Barbados." Centrum (1984): 78-110. 21 (August 1968): 244-50. "A Map of Crime in Sixteenth Century Spain. Spanish men and women to the plantations. "The Formation of a Colonial Identity theAtlanticWorld. beginning in the sixteenth century. By the seventeenth century. their life expectancy and productivity in post-Columbian plantation conditions hardly compared with that of pre-industrial or. For a fuller discussion of this and English analogies. For Portuguese transportation. in the late seventeenth century. to a lesser extent. dissertation. 49-54. Labor Camps."Nicholas P. part 2: 119. 1983). The phrase "long-distance serf trade" is an oxymoron.14 (April 1993): 207-26. and Poles to the galleys. Societes. Wis. serfs were not outsiders either before or after enserfment. 1695-1 750 (Berkeley. Civilisations. an act of 1672 empowered coal mine owners to kidnap vagrants and set them to work.D. and Ruth Pike." Transactions the Mining Instituteof Scotland. "Labourand Coercion in the English Atlantic World from the Seventeenth to the Early Twentieth Centuries.salt-masters. "Lasociete des galeriens au milieu de XVIIIesiecle. in Identity in Brazil. White Servitude BlackSlavery. Calif. see I.13 If in the Americas and Africa. England.1404 David Eltis characteristics with slavery. for which references I thank James Pritchard. and others. Italians. to seize upon any vagabonds or beggars . 22-23."SlaveryandAbolition. and Zysberg. and. 1987)." Cited in James Barrowman.J." Revue d'histoire colonies. from criminals as well.. "Galleyand Hard Labor Convicts in France (1550-1850): From the Galleys to Hard 12 voorMaatschappij Geschiedenis. Colonial 1500-1800 (Princeton. In Scotland. The early literature on indentured servitude and engages stressed the role of force in the acquisition of servants. eds.see Gabriel Debien." EconomicHistoryReview. the Netherlands.. Germans. and put them to work in the coal-heughs or other manufactories. Boxer."Annales:Economies. University of Minnesota. And while American Indians were cheap to enslave. Even in the twentieth century. who are to have the same power of correcting them and the benefit of their work as the masters of correction houses. There are brief references in Charles R. It also condemned Frenchmen. 1550-1720" (Ph. 1993). A. N. the most cursory examination of relative costs suggests that European slaves should have been preferred to either European indentured labor or African slaves. 90-92. and for vagrants. "Slaveryin the Coal-Mines of of Scotland. Thompson. which fills a large gap in the historiography of penology. Canny and Anthony Pagden. For Spanish vagrants. Judicial process sent English. 19 (1897-98).38 (1951): 5-274. Before pursuing the issue of costs. indeed. Schwartz.. it is worth noting that social devices used in African and Indian societies to deprive people of their liberty were fully incorporated into European societies. who have manufactories in this kingdom. and France used houses of correction to exact labor from the poor. 1962). THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT Europeans ever considered instituting full chattel slavery of Europeans in overseas settlements. see David Eltis. Impressment into service was also prevalent in Europe. French.... totalitarian states have used slave labor primarily as a punitive strategy against enemies of the state and have never instituted full chattel slavery as an economic device. 140. the striking paradox is that no sound economic reasons spoke against it. A. see Andre Zysberg. The GoldenAge of Brazil. "Exiles and Orphans: Forced and State-Sponsored Colonizers in the Portuguese Empire. Spaniards. see Beckles. Essay on a Long Lasting Penal Institution. post-industrial Europeans.

The return cargo from the Americas was a separate speculation. 1957). 1630-1680. (London.16As noted below. compare Hilary McD. 2: 206-07. ed. For the same phenomena in one important North American context. (Although the discussion that 14 For discussion of these in an African context. and burning that they inflicted on each other. eds.. For information on 2 costs of freighting indentured servants. There is little doubt that if ships carrying Europeans had been as closely packed as those carrying Africans. 12 and 13. however. 18 (Autumn 1987): 235. 16John C. The similarity of the mechanisms for depriving people of their liberty on all four continents is striking. A Young Squire of the SeventeenthCentury:From the Papers (A. First. Jeaffreson..15 The cost of shipping convicts to Barbados and the Leeward Islands at this time was similar. vols. The hire rate was typically between ?5 and ?6 per slave landed alive in the Americas-a price that was understood to cover the full cost of sailing to Africa. and the substitution of slavery for death. and Native American societies at the time of the founding of transatlantic slave colonies. European prisoners. TheRoyalAfricanCompany (London. 1676-1686) of ChristopherJeaffreson. fols. By the seventeenth century. 1: 159. In addition. mortality and morbidity among both crews and passengers (or slaves) were lower in the North Atlantic than in the South. Wis. costs per person would have been much lower for Europeans than for Africans. see Suzanne Miers and Igor Kopytoff. see PRO. and fare-paying passengers always carried far fewer people per ton than did slave ships. If we take into account the time spent collecting a slave cargo on the African coast as well." Journal of InterdisciHistory. see William A. the Royal African Company (RAC) would often hire ships to carry slaves on its behalf. acquiring slaves. explicitly recognized by John Locke. plinawy AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . The holding of captives and the infliction of death and torture in both war and as punishment were common to European. political as well as criminal.14 From the strictly economic standpoint. A further reason for using European rather than African slave labor derives from relative prices of African slaves and convict English labor-the nearest the English came to using Europeans as chattel slaves.Europeans and the Rise and Fall of African Slavery 1405 enough both within and between nations-setting aside the incentive to acquire and sell slaves-to ensure a healthy supply of captives. torturing.D. In the 1680s. Beckles and Andrew Downes. Slaveryin Afrtica: Historicaland Anthropological Perspectives (Madison. T70/943. then the case for sailing directly from Europe with a cargo of Europeans appears stronger again. one might imagine there were strong incentives for using European rather than African slave labor. "The Economics of Transition to the Black Labor System in Barbados.. it was normally quicker to sail directly to the Americas from Europe than to sail via Africa. has legitimated slavery throughout history. African."in Miers and Kopytoff. Europeans might not enslave other Europeans. ships carrying convicts. although the trade winds of the Atlantic reduced the differential somewhat. For sample rates. which comprised by far the greater part of the price of any form of imported bonded labor in the Americas. (January 1991): 34-57. Starna and Ralph Watkins. 1878). "African Slavery as an Institution in Marginality. but enslavement does not appear brutal or unlikely in view of the hanging. 198. "Northern Iroquoian Slavery. The crux of the matter is shipping costs. Davies. indentured servants. mutilation. were frequently sent to the plantations instead of to execution. and carrying them to the RAC's agents in the West Indies." 38 Ethnohistory. 1977). 15 Kenneth G.

1650-1775 (1971. Turnbull had extensive experience of the nineteenth-century slave trade. Curtin. they made up about half the cost of a new slave in the Americas. enslavement costs in Africa were trivial. eds. for Spanish convicts to Cartagena. scattered evidence from the seventeenth century is also consistent with the conclusions. Boundfor America: Transportation BritishConvicts the Colonies. Established routes for "chains"existed for French convicts heading to Marseilles. Shipping costs alone would not have interfered with the process. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . population growth in Western Europe in general. and England in particular. and later Brest.) Unskilled male convicts from England and Ireland sold for ?16 each in Maryland in the years 1767-1775 at a time when newly arrived African male slaves in the prime age group were selling for about triple this amount in Virginia and Maryland. Thus in the absence of an improbably rapid decline in slave prices as buyers switched from Africans to Europeans.. Second. 1: 156-57. From an economic standpoint. First. was considerable during the era of the slave trade. convicts could have been sold into lifelong servitude for a price little more-than that for seven or ten years of labor. transportation costs. and "The Abolition of the Slave Trade from Senegambia. 71.1718-1775 (Oxford. 403-06. the barges carrying parish children from London to northern textile mills could have just as easily carried people to major ports. were bound to be lower in a subcontinent where major population centers were located near navigable waters. 206-08. adapting these opportunities to produce slaves instead of merely prisoners would have been neither difficult nor costly.18Together. Indeed. 2 vols. the Africans for life. EconomicChangein PrecolonialAfrica: Senegambia the Era of the Slave Trade. The other major cost categories in shipping Africans to the New World were enslavement. At this higher price. 1975). it seems unlikely. 18 These categories are taken from David Turnbull's work. A." in David Eltis and James Walvin. Wis. 173-77. and distribution (the costs of selling a slave in the Americas). If convicts and their descendants had been sold into a lifetime of service. enslavement in Europe might have been less costly than its African counterpart. 124-25. which loomed so large within Africa. The Abolitionof the AtlanticSlave Trade(Madison. England's population rose sevenfold. 1981). 89-91. 1987).1406 DavidEltis follows centers on the eighteenth century. for which the data are relatively good. From this standpoint. some incorporating travel on canals. it is reasonable to suppose that planters would have been ready to pay a higher price for them. the British government and merchants might have found ways to provide more convicts. Most of the price of a slave sold to a factor on the African coast consisted of transportation costs. 2: 45-53. TheBritishTrans-Atlantic to The of New York. 168-69. Toulon. Scholars debate the impact on the African population of the loss of 12 million Slave Trade. factoring (the costs of assembling a cargo prior to shipment). According to Philip Curtin. and for Portuguese to Lisbon.19Could this low cost at the point of enslavement explain the apparent preference for Africans? Given the opportunities in Europe for enslavement discussed above. Roger Ekirch. (Madison. in 19 Philip D.7 million from the mid-sixteenth to mid-nineteenth century. In England. See his Travelsin the West:Cuba. we might suppose that there were no shipping-cost barriers to European slaves forming the basis of the plantation labor forces of the Americas. Despite a net migration of 2. and the Slave Trade(London.17The British males worked for ten years or less.withNoticesof PortoRico. 17 Calculated from Richard Nelson Bean. 1975). 1840)..

Europeans and the Rise and Fall of African Slavery 1407 people to the Americas. comp. Finally. Boundfor America. the destination of most transport ships. Prisoners from wars. The most recent estimate of slaves leaving Africa at this period is David Richardson." in Peter Laslett. 1700-1810: New Estimates of Volume and Distribution. 21 Gregory King estimated 600. but these were all male and mostly between twenty and thirty-five years of age.30 (January 1989): 1-22. European demographic barriers to a supply of slaves were thus no greater than those for their African counterparts. 64-71. Medical evidence would be pertinent only if European slavery had been tried and found wanting or perhaps if European labor had not been tried at all. 14. compare Patrick Manning. "Natural and Political Observations and Conclusions upon the State and Condition of England. 1973).000 adults receiving alms and 30. A properly exploited system drawing on convicts. about 1. In France.21 If such an outflow had been directed to the plantation colonies."Journal of AfricanHistory. In fact. see Ekirch. as in Africa. For convicts leaving England. could have provided many additional plantation laborers. Germanic states that lacked maritime facilities sold convicts to Italian city-states for galley service. The first recorded shipment 20 For different assessments. "Slave Exports from West and West-Central Africa.000 convicts a year arrived at Marseilles in the later seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.000 vagrants in late seventeenthcentury England. Indeed. The potential for a large. Oriental. when in rebellion. 1696.. More specifically. and African Slave Trades(Cambridge. 57. Slavery and AfricanLife: Occidental.000 a year in the half-century after 1700. EconomicGrowth and theEnding of the Transatlantic Slave Trade(New York.000 convicts a year left Britain in the half-century after 1718. A traffic in degredados from Portuguese possessions to Brazil and Angola existed from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. nearly 1. 38-85. Possible sources other than convicts were numerous. and David Eltis. were built in part with Iberian convicts. the argument that Africans could survive the epidemiological environment of the Caribbean longer than could Europeans is irrelevant here.. more demographically representative traffic in French convicts is clear. it is also unlikely that mercantilist statesmen would have questioned either the scale or the direction of the flow.27. prisoners. as well as Spanish outposts in North Africa. This may not seem like many compared to an African slave trade drawing 25.20 It is certain that this number of additional emigrants from a more heavily populated Europe over the same period would have had a negligible effect. The Earliest Classics:John Graunt and GregoryKing (Farnborough.European labor always traveled to the Caribbean sugar sector as free labor or servants.000 a year from Africa in the last third of the seventeenth century and rising to an average of 50. and if the rest of Europe had followed the English practice in proportion. Yet consider that the population of England was only 7 percent of that of Europe in 1680. Nor does the above speculation fully incorporate vagrants and the poor. British convicts could have replaced African slaves in the Chesapeake. and the massive fortifications at Havana and San Juan. and vagrants from all the countries of Europe could easily have provided 50. 48.000 convicts would have been available. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . 1990). never as slaves. the Irish and Scots alone could have filled the labor needs of the English colonies. Whatever the European-African mortality differentials.000 forced migrants a year without serious disruption to either international peace or the existing social institutions that generated and supervised these potential European victims. 1987).

enslavement of at least part of that class would seem a much more direct way of achieving the goal. The system could surely have functioned just as well if the greater part of this labor had been enslaved Europeans rather than enslaved Africans. 1660-1800 (Princeton. in AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . Allan Kulikoff. Beattie. OF COURSE." 238. and often slaves.216-17. Scotland. 24 Ekirch.1614-1775 [Baltimore. French and Spanish merchants formed the link between courts and galleys. Perhaps 100. Until 1770. with masters. The English Vagrancy Act of 1547. although in the 1730s and 1740s slave arrivals were between two and four times larger. and particularly Ireland supplied many more. AmericanSlavery. 43-44. Across the English Channel in IT WAS. but the number was less than the 50."limited the period of servitude to two years.American York.431.500 convicts transported before 1718 from England alone (counted from The in Bookof Emigrants Bondage. the number of convict arrivals was at least two-thirds that of slaves in total. which prescribed slavery for "vagabonds. "Transportation Complete of Convicts.24A network of other merchants in the Caribbean and mainland North America placed convicts. Boundfor America. too. N. "The Transportation of Convicts to the American Colonies in the Seventeenth Century.59-87. in and theCourts England. there is no reason why the number of white slaves in Maryland and Virginia would not have been at least as large as the actual black slave population 'at the end of the colonial period. prisoners of war. indentured servants. 1986). The barrier to European slaves in the Americas lay not only beyond shipping and enslavement costs but beyond any strictly economic sphere. M. J. or vagrants-could have been converted into chattel slaves. in ColonialAmerica. Abbot Emerson Smith. that any of the labor pools mentioned above-convicts.C. and of course their progeny. 1986). who counted a "minimum"of 4. WhiteServitude in Cultures theChesapeake. Wales. No firm estimates of convict arrivals before 1718 exist.. 1655-99). the British government contracted out the collection as well as the shipping of convicts to the Americas. foundered on the difficulty of control. 1992). Emigrants Chains. compare Smith." AHR.1408 DavidEltis of convicts dates to 1615.. we should note that this issue never seemed to have threatened the existing systems of long-distance penal servitude. Between 1718 and 1775. Coldham. 65-67. and Galenson. Emigrantsin Chains:A Social Historyof ForcedEmigration the Americas. many involving private traders and employers. to 1607-1776 (Baltimore. 1975). Tobacco 1680-1800 (Chapel Hill. Coldham has found records of 7. Md. non-propertied classes. For those who would argue that such a system would have. had been accorded the slave status of African immigrants.000 Africans Crime and Slaves: The Development Southern of arrived in the Chesapeake by 1770.23 A cursory examination of potential factoring and distribution costs indicates a similar pattern of benefits in Europe relative to Africa.22 And to touch briefly on a related area of interest.J. The estimate of rough equivalency between the descendants of convicts and the black slave population takes into account the earlier arrival of convicts and the fact that rates of natural population increase were a little higher for the white population than for the black. INCONCEIVABLE 22 Peter Wilson Coldham. The act was itself repealed after only two years as unenforceable on account of its severity. Morgan. A factoring network of sorts actually existed.000 that came to the Americas in the fifty-seven years after this date. if one purpose of the tidewater planters in bringing in Africans was to control the poor.. N. white. If all whites sent against their will to the colonies. Freedom:The Ordealof Colonial Virginia (New 23 Edmund S. 470-83.17-18. Companies in London came to specialize in assembling cargoes of convicts including transfers from regional jails prior to embarkation. 39 (1933-34): 233-36. too. 1988].

26 Even Jews were less likely to be enslaved in Spain as of the later Middle Ages. Christians (which meant in practice Europeans. a less than continent-wide definition of insider still pertained. a key question is the second serfdom. 1991). "Slaveryand Protector Somerset: The Vagrancy Act of 1547.000 conversos (Jewish converts to Christianity) for false conversion. As already noted. as such. 221-47. Minn.Europeans and the Rise and Fall of African Slavery 1409 the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 1980). (Lewiston. Put differently. similar devices for depriving people of liberty existed in Africa. Slavery might have been just as prevalent in the Western world but not likely confined to people from another continent.. 95. 28 For the use of West Africans and American Indian slaves in the French galleys. In 1492. chattel slavery for Africans and Indians in the Americas was thus a function of the non-slave status that Europeans considered appropriate for themselves-a situation with historical parallels in many slave societies. 310-11. William B. S. Throughout Europe. Coates. not the second enslavement. and all Mediterranean countries by the sixteenth century. 27 David Brion Davis. Paul W.. therefore. the Spanish Inquisition burned at the stake 32. we need to assess how close to chattel slavery (and to the slave trade that supported it) Europeans were prepared to come within Europe and what differences existed between European nations. Davies. The Problem Slaveryin Western of Culture(Ithaca. Slavery and Human Progress (New York. and had possessed the means to begin a slave trade with Europe. those European states least 25 C.. was reserved for nonEuropeans. L. prior to a 1716 law that specifically exempted them from enfranchisement. After (London. Europeans would accept the making of lawbreakers and prisoners into slaves only if they were not fellow Europeans. FightingShipsand Prisons:TheMediterranean Galleys of France in theAge of LouisXIV (Minneapolis. N. Yet. if on the African and American continents. 1984). not enslaved. Moors and Africans could be slaves. The Black Ordealof Slaveryand Slave Tradingin the FrenchWestIndies. 19 (December 1966): 533-49. Conceptions of the insider had expanded to include the European subcontinent. see Clarence J. rather. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . at least for Europeans.25 In Spain.Y. Cohen. 1: 169.. but enslavement was no longer an alternative to death." 98. Portugal. if Africans or Indians instead of Europeans had initiated the plantation system. 5. 1625-1715.27 To historians of Eastern Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. and Europe. 1992). ed. Enslavement for this group was not an issue. Bamford.. they were expelled. Spain and theJews: The Sephardi 1492 and Experience. the same procedures fell short of creating such a status. "The Conversos and Their Fate. Munford. But before addressing the aversion to slavery in the face of clear economic imperatives. the Americas. 156. N. 1530-1880 (Bloomington. 92-122. 1973). these might result in enslavement-and often ownership by Europeans on both sides of the Atlantic28-in Europe. slavery was considered sufficiently alien that slaves brought privately to France were freed on arrival (unless headed for the galleys). "Exiles and Orphans. because non-Europeans who became Christian remained slaves) could not." Elie Kedourie. 1966). whereas for Africans and American Indians." Economic History Review. Haim Beinart. 3 vols. In a profound but scarcely novel sense. 165-66. The FrenchEncounterwith Africans:White Responseto Blacks. states could take the lives of individuals. Some who fled to Portugal saw their children taken from them and sent to Sao Tome but not as chattel slaves. 26 David Brion Davis. it had become a fate worse than death and. Logically. 44-46.Y. a trade in Europeans would not have been extensive. Between the late fifteenth century and 1808. Ind.

And. and Portugal. sometimes taken to the French West Indies to be sold. Convicts who managed to obtain a discharge from the French 29 Coates.450-519. But Europeans. Portuguese. the farthest inboard position on the oars in galleys-was reserved for slaves. Goa. Pike." 78-1 10. an individual usually had to commit a crime in order to become a convict. were not technically slaves. the French and Portuguese promoted both. including England. contemplated or experimented with both galleys and transportation for convicts. Tortureand the Law of Proof: Europe and England in the Ancien Regime (Chicago. and the French and Portuguese opened up their galley corps to convicted felons at about the time that the Portuguese began experimenting with transporting the same group to Sao Tome. 1991). Russians. like the acceptance of its African counterpart. Set laws and judicial procedure ensured that potential convicts faced less arbitrary treatment than those who fell into slavery. russesetfrancais (Rennes. "Galleyand Hard Labor Convicts in France. esp. The merging or increasing cooperation between state and church courts and the movement away from strictly physical chastisement of criminals in early modern Western Europe triggered experiments with transportation and penal servitude. and they had no standing in law. Africa. Second. Langbein. 44-45. 3-26. sold at European slave marts. In Spain. Spanish.. and Africans who had been specially purchased to supplement the galley corps. not convicts. an unthinking decision. Eastern Europe. two critical features kept convict labor separate from chattel slavery. except for fleeting experiments. or. 259-62. and some German principalities.1410 David Eltis likely to countenance the coercion of their own citizens may well have been among the more likely to develop a system of chattel slavery overseas. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . Beattie. Pieter Spierenburg. and the Dutch. would seem to be the closest that Europeans came to enslaving other Europeans. The French. convicts had great difficulty winning release from the galleys whatever the term of their sentence. 1977). and their status was not transmitted to their progeny. the French accepted felons for use in galleys and naval bases from other European states such as Savoy." 32-67. old slaves were either returned to their state of origin on the basis of treaties. Poland. anglais. and the Americas.J. they could not be resold. In both French and Spanish galleys. Convict labor. John H. Most West European countries. the Spanish and Italian states sent most convicts to galleys. N. did neither. Muslims. ThePrisonExperience: in and TheirInmatesin EarlyModernEurope(New Brunswick. criminal status was not heritable. the English favored transportation to distant colonies. especially that sent beyond the domestic borders of the country. It is striking that the more strenuous work-specifically. Etudesur la colonisation par les transportes and theCourtsin England. In the end. Crime 470-74. Unlike Turks. Eventually. their property was sold upon conviction. convicts worked alongside slaves from the Mediterranean littoral. While the rejection of European slavery was. and Brazil. if African. when the useful life of oarsmen came to an end and the state wished to reduce expenses. Emile Campion. First. The power of the state over the convict and the master over convict labor was more circumscribed than that of the slaveowner over the slave. 27-44. except for some adherents to the Greek Orthodox faith.29 At the lowest common denominator. 1901). "Exiles and Orphans. Penal Disciplinary Institutions Servitude EarlyModernSpain. Zysberg. and English manned many of their early exploration voyages with convicts. France. some states came closer to imposing chattel slavery on their citizens than did others.

sold as indentured servants. The system was remarkably flexible in alternating between galleys and transportation to the colonies.33Prisoners with resources could in fact buy their freedom at the point of disembarkation and. although the Dutch did hold long-term prisoners who had been incriminated.16-21. Penal Servitude EarlyModernSpain. 34The longer term. 140. Formal analysis has yet to be carried out on convict labor. Prison Experience. FightingShipsand Prisons." 71-72. The servitude that accompanied transportation was actually a device to pay its costs and. Portuguese degredados could be paid by the state for their labor and in Sao Tome and Angola had sufficiently different status from slaves that most of them were involved in the slave trade that supplied Sao Tome and Brazilian plantations. Thorsten Sellin in his widely read Slaveryand thePenal System refers ambivalently uses the term to cover any form of coerced labor. Spierenburg. For the ending of torture. but the sentence itself did not provide for this." chap. where the state bore the cost of transportation or imposed it on others. interesting differences between states emerge in the treatment of convicts. fourteen years. The English imposed neither lifelong banishment nor much penal servitude. Spierenburg. The term "slavery" occasionally used loosely in the (New York. the sentence constituted exile. with the labor required varying according to the needs of the state. equivalent to a lower price. the Bridewell houses held few long-term prisoners and did not always have a labor regime. Boundfor America. Bamford. Torture 33 Ekirch. "La societe des galeriens.Europeans and the Rise and Fall of African Slavery 1411 galley corps also ended up in the French Americas. 134-35. Bamford. But no one was in any doubt about the distinctions between the two. Zysberg. Boxer." Centrumvoor Maatschappij and theLaw of Proof. 1976) penology literature. 10-12." 43-75. In Spain. a more diverse mix of ages and sexes than was the case with regular indentures. P.30The most that can be said by way of comparison is that the spread of African slavery in the Americas coincided with the spread of forced labor in punishment systems within Europe (transportation in the English case).35 Vagrants formed a larger group than convicts in every European country. and 30 Coates.32For the English. Penal servitude became a feature of the Continental European systemseffectively for life in the case of the French and Spanish. then replaced. They also used torture after that practice was discontinued in England. 5. 143-47. 173-83. might have reflected the greater likelihood of convicts escaping. 7-8). 31 Spierenburg. "Exiles and Orphans. detention beyond in the formal term was common (Pike. sentences for forzadoswere limited to ten years in 1653. ment and Its Development in Early Modern Europe. banishment. Such usage skates over distinctions important to the issue of slavery in the Americas. 8-14. 250-71. or some combination of these factors. Prison Experience. although.34In Portugal. 32 Spierenburg. but they were always. GoldenAge of Brazil. Penal Servitude EarlyModernSpain. 98-99. Nevertheless. Once in the Americas. 41-60. the vast majority of prisoners were sold into seven-year terms of servitude. with or without forced labor. to the "bondage" of convicts throughout his book (see especially page 10).J. for those reprieved from death sentences. convert their sentence to temporary banishment. being dishonest." 57. (1984): 38. penal servitude supplemented. Coates. 1-68. did not differ materially from that voluntarily experienced by non-convict indentured servants. is in Pike. as long as they stayed away from England. 50. where in fact it had never been part of the Common Law. "The Sociogenesis of Confine12 Geschiedenis. apart from a longer term.31 In the Netherlands. as opposed to convicted. as noted above. "Exiles and Orphans. PrisonExperience. 139-52. 259-76. transportation meant shipment across the Atlantic with no right of return for seven or. 35 Coates. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . Fighting Ships and Prisons. "Exiles and Orphans. see Langbein.

It was greatly admired. not into slavery. "Lasocie't des galeriens". Simon Schama. 492-500." 244. 7 percent of the galley corps at the time of its merger with the navy in 1748 were vagrants. nearly five hundred rebellious Boulonnais were sent to the galleys. Those captured in the act of rebellion against established government could expect death if they were leaders. 67-69. TheEmbarrassment Riches: An of of Interpretation Dutch Culturein the GoldenAge (New York. Churchwardens. 188-89. Calif. 570-79. Prison Experience.12-86. 43 Eliz. 1669). 39 Dorothy Marshall.36Penal servitude for felons was grafted onto this system in the eighteenth century.. especially England. eds. dependent on state aid. but never enslavement. History Overseers the Poor. 37 Spierenburg. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 ." Economic Review. "Transportation of Convicts. Holland. ensured the impressment of vagrants and gypsies into state arsenals (naval dockyards and armament factories) as late as the second half of the eighteenth century. though never wholly emulated by the English elite. Yet the inefficiency of local government was such that the numbers caught in the system were likely modest. workhouses mushroomed in northwestern Europe. "Indentured Servants Bound for the French Antilles and Canada in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. From the mercantilist standpoint.38 The English subjected their vagrants to compulsory labor on pain of whipping and imprisonment. expected their poor to work." 9-77.260. Beattie.40Overall in Europe.. The English sold many Irish in Barbados during the seventeenth century after military campaigns in Ireland but always as indentured servants with a maximum term of ten years. and France-three of the leading early plantation powers. "Sociogenesis of Confinement. "The Old Poor Law. In France. 174-75. those sent to the Americas or put in the galleys formed a small share of the poor receiving relief. Smith. as the needs of the galleys declined after 1700. "To Make America": EuropeanEmigrationin theEarlyModernPeriod (Berkeley. (London. although the exaction of labor in return for relief appeared first in Protestant areas. to masters at home and in the colonies-until the twentieth century. not slavery. or banishment if they were deemed followers. Penal Servitude EarlyModern Spain. 1662-1795.39 Centralized administrations in Spain. esp." 24. of George Meriton. Bamford.. 40 Pike.37 Hardening attitudes toward the poor were seen throughout Western Europe in the early modern period. Christian Huetz de Lemps. Zysburg. but. the productive potential of these groups in a slave society was enormous.1412 David Eltis the destitute poor." in Ida Altman and James Horn. "Sociogenesis of Confinement. Prisoners taken in the course of European military action may be divided into two groups for present purposes. forcibly separated from their parents in earlier times. 31-32. indicates vagrants among a group going to Virginia in -the 1660s. and it was also the most generous. c. a larger group again. The Dutch system of workhouses was the most efficient and became a model for the rest of Europe. 38 Spierenburg. despite the inability of French merchants at the time to sustain an 36 Spierenburg. Barnardo homes for orphaned and destitute children. In France in 1662. Statutesat Large. 1987). Crimeand the Courtsin England. With the increasing breakdown of church-sponsored charity systems from the mid-sixteenth century on. and sent indigent children. A Guidefor Constables.. 1991). if we include those sent from the Dr. this group was more likely to be sent to the West Indies. in FightingShips. the fate of those sent to the Americas was invariably indentured servitude. 1 (April 1937): 39. however. and the poor who could not avoid the state system were probably treated less harshly in the Netherlands and England (though for different reasons taken up below) than in France and Spain. 2.

if. Survey. convicts. and other Mediterranean Muslim powers. 42 See Raymond L. neither the English nor the Algerians would buy back all their prisoners from the Spanish in the late sixteenth century.42 There is. 261-64.1 (June 1989): 159-9 1. however. only the Algerians were enslaved. Finally. matched the human density of a slave ship. for instance. and only galley ships. we might note the large differences in transatlantic shipping conditions for Europeans and for Africans. to take one of their own examples. but slave status there was reserved for non-Christians. Bound to America. where captives were more likely to be killed. At least until the French Revolutionary wars. held regarding the status of different migrant groups. whether steerage passengers. Tunis. Ekirch. soldiers. Even the latter group. or indentured servants. A Historyof Militarism: Civilianand Military(New York. Dutch. absorbed into the captor's society. 1788-1868. While this difference may not have had much impact on mortality. Bruno S." Social Science History.43 41 Alfred Vagts. Convicts and soldiers who had been held in confined circumstances prior to embarkation could suffer as high a shipboard mortality on the Europe-America route as slaves carried from Africa to the Americas. the need for labor can explain fluctuations in the treatment of death camp prisoners over the course of World War II in Germany but not the existence of the death camps themselves. and French prisoners could be consigned to the galleys in Spain. Beckles. and both groups were sent to the galleys because of their lack of value on the exchange market." Journal of and Theoretical Economics. but the key point is that this option was also open to commanders of European armies and they did not use it. 13 (Fall 1989): AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . White Black Slavery. FightingShipsand Prisons. "Maritime Mortality in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: A History. rarely out of sight of land and never at sea in bad weather. Crowding was three or four times as severe on the slave ships from the seventeenth to the early nineteenth century. CO 33/13 and CO 142/13. prisoners of war were the best treated of all the European groups considered here. and ultimately European societies. 176-77. John Mcdonald and Ralph Shlomowitz. Bamford.98-100. and consumers of plantation produce all stood to gain from shipping convicts in slave-like conditions. merchants. This approach can explain much. 113-14. Thus English and Irish alike traveled in convict ships that rarely carried in excess of 150 prisoners and on average fewer than 100. no evidence that any European transatlantic voyagers. it may well say something about the views European merchants. A second group consists of those captured in conflicts between states. 62-67. and the literature cited there. "Mortality on Convict Voyages to Australia. however-in the case of North Africans enslaved in French and Spanish galleyshad some prospect of release in exchange for Christians held by rulers of Algiers. Some might see the trading of captives as the distorting impact of a European-generated market for slaves. but the Institutional interesting question is why. which was not particularly affected by crowding. Engerman) argue that the relatively good treatment of prisoners of war came from their market value and. Likewise. Far fewer persons-per-ton were carried on ships dedicated to convict transportation than on slave ships. or There Is No Such Thing as a Free Lynch. Cohn. by implication. States. or traded away. 1959).142 [1986]: 739-44). English. were ever subjected to conditions that were the norm on slave ships. Detention followed by prisoner exchanges or ransoming was common. Frey and Heinz Buhofer (in an article drawn to my attention by Stanley L. that the European-North African differential arose from a relative lack of interest on the part of the North African powers in buying back low status prisoners ("A Market for Men."International journal of Maritime and Servitude 43The earliest Naval Office lists are in PRO.41 Prisoner exchanges seem to have been less common in Africa and the Americas.Europeans and the Rise and Fall of African Slavery 1413 African slave trade to the French Americas.

The higher mortality on slave ships is likely explained by the greater length of the slave voyage rather than greater crowding among those on board.. Davis. 54-6 1. the greater the inability of the European to think in terms of slavery for other Europeans. shared ethnicity and language might even mean an increased likelihood of enslavement-at least for women and children-given the focus on kin groups and their expansion through absorption of outsiders. 1993).5 persons per ton and averaged a 20 percent loss. North Africa-if the slaves had been European. France. 1990). The slave markets in Europe from the Middle Ages until to the eighteenth century were on the shores of the Mediterranean. Yet there are abundant instances of ethnocentric attitudes in sixteenthcentury Holland. In many African societies. Saunders.44 But if all Europeans shared this attitude toward the insider. In a further paradox. slave labor involving nonEuropeans was much more common in southern Europe than in the north. 45 A. 1982). 15-16. In the Americas. it is also possible that the more often coercion is seen to be unconscionable for Slave Trade. 59. see Eltis. 44 Bernard Lewis. Slaveryand Human Progress. Effective life sentences. I thank Pieter C. For slave ships. This barrier was somewhat akin to the Muslim bar against the enslavement of non-Muslims-not in the sense that the basis of enslavement was religious but rather that in both Muslim and Christian societies slavery came to be mainly African despite the fact that in both. see Charles de La Ronciere. "Bijdragen tot de geschiedenis van de Nederlandse slaven26 handel.32-5 1. it is also clear from the above that some societies came closer than others to countenancing conditions that approached slavery for their own citizens. C. slave raids of one Iroquois nation on another were not uncommon. W.72 prisoners per ton.45 Nor is it easy to imagine equivalent action in any part of the non-European world-for example. and "Productivityin the Slave Trade: A Comparative Assessment" (unpublished ms. Moreover. Only in the rather limited case of Amerindians in the Spanish Americas was such treatment extended to non-Europeans. Likewise. Slave ships at this time embarked 2. de C. the more he or she was likely to contemplate coerced labor for non-Europeans. For this last reference and translation. A Social Histor of Black Slaves and Freedmen Portugal. Given the large African slave population in Lisbon. not northwestern Europe. Emmer. 1933). drawn. The ships that carried the Monmouth prisoners to Barbados in 1685-1686-that is. and quartered-averaged a density of 0. Unger.1414 David Eltis An almost tangible barrier thus prevented Europeans from becoming chattel slaves unless they were captured by non-Europeans. S." Economisch-HistorischJaarboek. though sometimes for exile without labor.(1956): 136. EconomicGrowthand the Ending of the Transatlantic 135-38. But in Europe. M. those men who were not hanged. even the most degraded member of society was spared enslavement.and reported less than 10 percent mortality during the voyage. English indentured servants and convicts on average served less than seven years. 1441-1555 in (Cambridge. 5-15. were common for Spanish and French convicts. and England. and at least some French engag&swere sent to the Americas by the state with a status little different from convict labor. For a similar incident in Bordeaux in 1571 paralleling that in Middelburg. slaves often converted to the faith of their owners. 285-313. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . Negres et Negriers (Paris. it is hard to visualize a Portuguese counterpart to an incident in Middelburg in 1596 in which 130 African slaves were restored "their natural liberty" on the grounds that slavery did not exist in Zeeland. Race and Slaveryin theMiddleEast: An Historical Enquiry(New York.

and eventually to all slavery. its association with the concept of race. Indeed. 47Eric L.Europeans and the Rise and Fall of African Slavery 1415 people like oneself and appropriate for others. at least compared to the non-European world. "Coerced and Free Labor: Property Rights and the Development of the Labor Force. and the answers must be somewhat speculative. the more likely that coercion for anyone will eventually be questioned. State-enforced abolition of slavery. Economies. In the long run. both of which were rooted in environmental characteristics peculiar to Europe.29 (1992): 3. both between and within European states. The major criticisms of this work.46 These issues raise large questions. this diffusion of power curtailed wrong-headed decision making by centralized authorities and encouraged competition between states. According to the early version of Jones's thesis. 1981). One was their tendency to stress the value of the individual. 46 Stanley L. in two ways. If we follow Eric Jones's argument. these social and economic patterns were hostile to enslavement of Europeans. perspective is the rather exceptional European attitude toward slavery in the early modern period-specifically." Explorations Economic in History. the difference between Europe and most of the rest of the world on the slavery issue in the early modern period was the conviction that only non-Europeans could be enslaved. One is the genesis of what from a transatlantic. the European lead in technology was a function of the political system first and. as well as the conception of a world without slavery. The system of competitive nation-states in an overall balance of power relationship with each other was complemented within each' state by an implicit and THERE ARE TWO ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED NEXT. those countries that had developed the strongest antipathy to curtailment of liberty for their own people not only had the least inhibitions about creating an overseas labor system using non-European slaves but were eventually to be in the vanguard of the movement to abolish slavery world-wide. Engerman. These speculations incline not so much toward chauvinism or ethnocentrism-at least. This tendency was further encouraged by the early evolution of the nuclear family structure and a strategy of stressing goods over children. hinge on questions of individual motivation and the universality of "economic man" rather than his description of how Europe differed from the rest of the world. Jones. behind that. not at root-but rather toward longer-term economic and ecological factors that separated Western Europe from the rest of the world before the modern era. TheEuropean Miracle:Environments. originated first in Europe. Geopolitics theHistoryof Europe and in and Asia (Cambridge. The second is the intra-European differences in attitudes toward coerced labor that evolved and persisted into the era of abolition. It also allowed economies of scale arising from the free movement of resources and the maintenance of a shared market and knowledge pool large enough to foster the possibility of a slowly rising per capita income. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 .47The major difference between Europe and the rest of the world at about the time that Europe began to enslave others was the diffusion of political power. which the author has attempted to address in subsequent publications. As already noted. if not global. a rather exceptional resource base and set of ecological circumstances. Technology gave Europeans the power to sail out and impose this view of the world on others.

lastly. was far more extensive in early modern Europe than in any other continent. owing nothing to society. rulers suppressed random violence and provided stable legal institutions." 1-29. it is the link between causal perception and moral responsibility that is important. Haskell. are not the implications of the above argument for the abolition of slavery but its implications for the origins of the system. 46-70." The growth and elaboration of this knowledge incorporates. Calif. The (Berkeley. an ethical maxim that makes the alleviation of suffering "right.1416 David Eltis unusual contract between ruler and ruled. By the late eighteenth century. The quote is from page 3. Part 1. B.. Before 1750. but is much broader than. under certain conditions. markets work against slavery and the infliction of cruelty in general. Macpherson. "Capitalismand the Origins of the Humanitarian Sensibility. possession of a recipe for intervention so easily applied that refusal to employ it might be considered "an intentional act in itself. Davis and first appeared in the American AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . however. these same traits. Conceptions of the individual as owner of him or herself. For more specific implications of possessive individualism for free and coerced labor. In return. ed. Haskell has listed preconditions for the historical emergence of humanitarianism as. But. as well as goods and services. technical and scientific learning. For Haskell. first.48 A second and perhaps more important implication of the comparative patterns that Jones describes was the opportunity they provided for the pervasive growth of market behavior." required restraints on political power as well as the encouragement provided by an evolving market society. and capital." second. 1962). "Coerced and Free Labor. "recipe knowledge and causal perception. 129-33 and 147-51." such 48 C. Individualism: of esp. esp. Part 2. had become so familiar that in the minds of some participants in the North Atlantic economy-notably Quakers-action against slavery (and other abuses) had become a moral imperative. and. The trading of land. These essays were responses to the work of David Brion HistoricalReviewin April-June 1985." and "Capitalism and the Origins of the Humanitarian Sensibility. ThePolitical Theory Possessive Hobbesto Locke(Oxford.. as and Antislavery Debate:Capitalism Abolitionism a Problemin HistoricalInterpretation 1992). labor. for a large share of the peasants' small productive surplus. 107-60. again as embodied in market behavior. The ramifications for slavery of an extensive market system are ambivalent and not easily summarized in an essay. could have had almost exactly the opposite effect. Thomas Haskell has argued that. 49 Thomas L. in a series of controversial essays on the link between capitalism and abolition. a sense of being causally involved in the situation that gives rise to the suffering." The market system peculiar to the late eighteenth-century North Atlantic world "expanded the range of causal perception and inspired people's confidence in their power to intervene. and of society as a series of "relations of exchange between proprietors.49 What interests us here. Slavery was the commodification of human capital carried to extremes and might reinforce as well as draw strength from the spread of markets. see Engerman. The potential for individual rights was altogether greater in such a system than in a highly centralized empire or in regions where decentralized political power was associated with very low population densities. Until the "recipe knowledge" had become so familiar that not to act became "an intentional act in itself." specifically one assumes in long-distance trade." in Thomas Bender.

such as the Netherlands and England.51 Moreover.and Dependency South-East Asia (St.. and indeed encouragement of. edn. The organizational and technical skills of business. It is therefore ironic and yet not surprising that the English and the Dutch developed the most absolute form of chattel slavery and the harshest laws against free blacks in the Americas. 246-62. the French altered their laws so As that those returning from the Caribbean could bring personal slaves with them. : Together DiversReflections upon theAntientStateThereof. By the mid-seventeenth century. 45. countries in which the market was more pervasive. For the status of blacks in England prior to the Somerset case (late in and BritishMobilization Compareighteenth century). for instance. 248). see Seymour Drescher.50 Familiarity with "recipe knowledge" would first cross the threshold of action in the domestic rather than the colonial environment and be applied to "insiders" before "outsiders. Capitalism Antislavery: ative Perspective (London. (London. Lucia. it was thought in England that this had been the case since the advent of Christianity. might tend to have greater respect for individual rights and more humane treatment of convicts. the Netherlands. A foreign Slave brought into England. Slavery. . and France that no one entering those countries could remain a slave. Asia. Dutch slaving activities in the East Indies in the early seventeenth century and English and Dutch use of Africans in the Americas had a larger impact on Asia and Africa than their Iberian counterparts of the previous century but generated no more self-questioning. since 6th Christianity prevailed. Causal perceptions would lead to moral restrictions on enslaving one's weaker and poorer neighbor (or more broadly. 1672). and the ability to develop long-term projects around scientific knowledge and bring them to fruition. Curiously. ThePresentStateof England. or the Americas. but the basic rights of individuals under the law in northwestern Europe were established before the creation of transatlantic European slave colonies. perhaps. Fox. See also Dudley North. Fox observes. "The Dutch East India Company embodied new organizational principles whose introduction into Asia had profound effects . 1983). could thus disrupt or destroy societies in distant lands without eliciting anything other than indifference on the part of the perpetrators.. "Foreign slaves in England are none.Bondage. Africa. the Dutch West India Companies probably doubled the volume of the transatlantic slave trade in the mid-seventeenth century. "'For Good and Sufficient Reasons': An Examination of Early Dutch East India Company in Ordinances on Slaves and Slavery. It stated. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . 52 A handbook on England partly written for and widely used by foreigners was Edward with Chamberlayne.52 noted above. one's fellow European) but not to the purchase of a non-European who was already a slave in the Mediterranean. is upon landing ipso facto free from and slavery. Queensland. 51 Abolition of colonial slavery may have been the first of the humanitarian reforms of the modern era. it was widely believed in England."Anthony Reid. but there was no such enabling legislation in the Netherlands or England. 25-49. the Company was the first formal slave holding corporation of its kind in Asia" (p. The ubiquity of the market and recognition of individual rights were characteristics of all of early modern Western Europe viewed from a global perspective. but not from ordinary service" (p. ed. or. Together with their English counterparts." An increasing regard for the consequences of one's actions at home was thus not inconsistent with continued indifference toward. 1986). AngliaeNotitia. slavery overseas. Observations Advices (Economical (London.Europeans and the Rise and Fall of African Slavery 1417 knowledge would serve to increase its possessor's power to intervene in the lives of others without generating any feeling of moral responsibility for the suffering that might result... 331). 50J. 1669). than would other countries with a slightly less invasive experience of market institutions.

Beyond these common factors.) One was the early emergence of the nuclear family and the associated phenomena of late marriage and early entry of children into service. (March-April 1989): 318. ed. the Dutch developed a practical tolerance of others unrivaled in seventeenth-century Europe. for example. Revolutionand Its WorldImpact(Cambridge. H. If transportation and Social Transition The Family. Far more non-Europeans lived in England. See Macfarlane. scholars have until recently disagreed in their interpretations of criminal sanctions. A second was the non-feudal nature of land ownership. The greater prosperity of the Netherlands attracted large numbers of immigrants. 54 Macpherson. Essayson the Glorious Moment: Israel. If.56 The foregoing paragraph suggests the impossibility of using convicts as a source of permanent colonial labor in England or the Netherlands. E. "Low Countries' Influence on English Farming. and Antislavery. despite illiberal edicts issued at the behest of the Calvinist church. Mass.55 It would be tempting to see in this a capacity for absorbing "outsiders" in the sense used -above. Paul Bairoch. where their legal status was clarified only in the -late eighteenth century." Annales: 44 Economies. 281-98. there were important differences. Penal transportation did not exist among the Dutch. which facilitated the emergence of a well-integrated market for labor. 1974).. G. Societes. De Vries." Jonathan I. Conn. on the differences between early modern England and Continental Europe. 74 (October 1959): 611-22. 1978). it is doubtful that they would have sent convicts to chattel slavery in the Americas. By the end of the eighteenth century. the notion that the privileges of the individual are ultimately of greater importance than those of the state or any group was probably more highly developed than anywhere in Europe. PossessiveIndividualism. The Originsof English Individualism: in (Oxford.Property 53Alan Macfarlane. 210-12.53These were the foundations of relative political and economic freedom (not to be confused with freedom from want) and limits on the reduction of Europeans to slave or near-slave status. The DutchRural Economy the GoldenAge. "Freedom in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Thought and Practice. They all nowadays seem to accept the view thatjudges and juries were reluctant to apply the letter of the more ferocious laws. but. even though scholars are not yet in accord on the reasons. In England. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . 55 E..54 Dutch attitudes derived not so much from concern for the individual as from a sense of the fragility of the social compact at a time when the country contained many resident non-Dutch and non-Calvinists. Criticismsof his attempt to carry the comparison back into medieval times have tended to dominate evaluations of this book. Kossmann. A third was the related advancements in food production that permitted the support of a larger non-agricultural population. 116-18. 56 Drescher. (All were driven by and in turn reinforced market penetration of the two societies.." English Historical Review. 165-88. European Urbanization.Civilisations. 107-73. Fussell. In the case of England. agricultural output per hectare in the Netherlands and England were much the highest in Europe. Three interrelated characteristics of agriculture and family life in those countries supported such conceptions of the individual.1500-1800 (Cambridge. Originsof English Individualism. Capitalism 25-49.1418 David Eltis But these conditions evolved furthest in the Netherlands and England. but very few of these migrants were in fact nonEuropeans. Jan De Vries. 1500-1700 (New Haven.263-71. TheAnglo-Dutch 1991). 1984). "Les trois revolutions agricoles du monde developpe: Rendements et productivite de 1800 a 1985. judges and juries were slow to enforce branding on the cheek for felons at the outset of the eighteenth century.

esp. the sense of the appropriate was shared across social divisions and cannot easily be explained by ideological differences or power relationships between classes.60Unlike most other peoples in the world. White and Studyin American SouthAfiicanHistory A Supremacy: Comparative (New York. Crime and the Courts in England. Beattie. Like the churches. Attempts to enslave Europeans and put them to work on sugar plantations would perhaps have attracted their attention. the Japanese increasingly drew on foreign sources for slaves.36. Europeans had the power to impose their own version of that contract on others. 127. Jews. in English perceptions outlined by Drescher and the market-driven emergence of humanitarianism that Haskell argues for in "Capitalismand the Origins of the Humanitarian Sensibility. before the eighteenth century. Slaves in Japan were overwhelmingly Japanese-drawn from criminals and the poor-before the modern period. the intellectuals. Europeans. juries might not have convicted anyone at all. The moral economy of the English crowd and the various Christian churches were preoccupied with other issues. Patterson." 61 A somewhat attenuated version of the same process might be seen in Japan. Outrage at the treatment of Africans was rarely expressed at any level of society before the late eighteenth century. by the end of the nineteenth century. He and Drescher. although the numbers were much lower than those carried across the Atlantic. however.58 If the elite could kill Irish.. 15. 59 George M. in common with most peoples in the world. There is a striking complementarity between the shift and Antislavery. If. 490-92. Overthrow ColonialSlavery." is one of three sources of anti-slavery sentiment singled out by see and of Blackburn. metropolitan merchants. popular involvement as vital to abolition.61 57See. convicts. for example. which for three centuries meant African slavery. critiques of colonial slavery. Capitalism Antislavery. enslavement remained a fate for which only non-Europeans were qualified. and many other marginalized groups. Huguenots. 1981). Korea had come to be the major source of forced laborers taken to Japan. Both before and after Japan imposed the abolition of slavery on Korea in 1910. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. prisoners of war. is simply a conception. were unable to include those beyond the oceans in their conception of the social contract.59 For elite and non-elite alike.57 This reluctance may be understood as a function of shared community values or of fears about the resistance that would have inevitably followed. in regard to slavery. Slavery and Social Death. it had become unacceptable for Europeans to enslave other Europeans. it was unacceptable to enslave anyone. The AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . why could they not enslave them? The English considered those from the Celtic fringe very different from themselves but not different enough to enslave. of what was appropriate. Fredrickson. When the immorality of coerced labor was finally recognized. but were plantation owners." which had "long preceded . 60 Drescher. And attempts to account for the failure of Europeans to enslave their own in terms of solidarity among the potential slaves do not seem promising. 450-519. Put in relative perspective. and inaction.. the non-European society with the most "Western"family and social structure before the twentieth century. and the political elite. 1992). Linebaugh. The LondonHanged: Crimeand Civil Societyin theEighteenth Century 58 "Popular revulsion to bondage and untrammelled private power. those without property clearly had other priorities before the later eighteenth century.Europeans and the Rise and Fall of African Slavery 1419 had meant a lifetime of servitude for English people. Capitalism 1-24. The central development shaping Western plantation slavery from the sixteenth century onward was the extension of European attitudes to the nonEuropean world. But what seems incontestable is that. by the sixteenth century. Peter (Cambridge. and mercantilist statesmen so apprehensive of popular opinion that not a single one of them dared advocate European slavery in public? A more convincing explanation of the silence. the recognition appeared among all social groups at about the same time. shared by all classes.

1661. among them the earl of Inchquin. Age (Madison. Among the first duties of ships commissioned by the early American Republic at the end of the eighteenth century was protection of U. 1992. Like Samuel Pepys and presumably the earl of Inchquin. "BritishEncounters with Africans and African-Americans. They were much greater. the Lady Mico Trust. June 6. 1983). 7-9. 1982).66 The relevant question is. than equivalent efforts in North Africa to redeem Muslim captives in Iberia. was first established in 1670 to redeem Christians from North Africa. 66 Frank Cundall. Wis. used in the nineteenth century to fund education in the British West Indies in the aftermath of slavery. This activity and the funds behind it were far more significant than similar efforts made during the Middle Ages. who was once held captive in Algiers before becoming governor of Jamaica. SpanishCaptives NorthAfricain theEarlyModern 105-28." AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . Samuel Pepys' comments on the European slaves held by the Barbary States are in his diaries dated January 8 and November 28. 236-37. or attitudes toward blacks in the abolition movement in the wider Atlantic region during the eighteenth century. Muslim exchanges for Christians did not begin on a large scale until after 1750. 67 Philip D. 63 Personal communication from Pieter C. December 8. 1914). 1981). 65 PRO. In sixteenth-century Spain and Portugal. and the state was heavily involved by the end of the century. Mikiso Hane.London (East Ardsley. Morgan argues that white attitudes toward blacks hardened during the colonial period. 64 David Richardson. at what point did Europeans in large enough numbers to make a difference begin to understand that "Christian charity and humanity" should also encompass those of African descent? The gradual removal of the barriers that kept non-Europeans from insider status was a very slow process and in some respects has never been completed. too. When the passes proved ineffective and seamen were captured and enslaved anyway. TheMico College. petitions to the British government seeking their release demanded action in the cause of "Christian charity and humanity"-long before abolitionists began to invoke similar principles. Jamaica (Kingston.. shipping against the Barbary pirates.65Indeed. religious orders dedicated to the redemption of Spanish and Portuguese captives held as slaves in North Africa raised huge sums privately for that purpose. K25. which arose in the northern states during and after the revolution.Rebels. The Mediterranean Passes in the Public RecordsOffice.S. CO 388/12. circa 1600-1780. He does not take up the emancipation issue.1420 David Eltis The. 157. the early Mico trustees could see the suffering of Europeans in the Barbary States but not of Africans in America. 1709. Peasants. Most involved the issuing of safe-conduct passes to merchant ships.64The irony that some of the main beneficiaries of such arrangements were Dutch and English slave traders on their way to Africa appears to have escaped historians and contemporaries. even though in this case there are extraneous geo-political developments to be reckoned with in the Japan (New of The Underside Modern form of world wars. Friedman. first step toward abolition of slavery generally may have been the idea that the enslavement of Europeans anywhere was a wrong that needed to be righted.67 absorption of foreigners into the Japanese view of the social contract-a process that some would argue is not yet complete-might account for the gradual disappearance of coercion of foreigners. James Kirkwood to Secretary of State.63 European seafaring states signed a series of treaties with North African powers and the Ottoman Turks to safeguard ships and crews from capture and enslavement. Emmer. almost every coastal town in the Netherlands had a "slave fund" for redeeming Dutch sailors from the galleys of the Barbary States.62 Farther north.and Outcasts: York. in I62 Ellen G.

Dutch transatlantic networks and contacts with non-Europeans were simply many times less dense and frequent. moreover. (Liverpool. "British Encounters with Africans and African-Americans. it was without a slave-trade fleet after the 1780s. 1783-1814. 70 Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker. communication between England and withintheRealm:CulturalMarginsof theFirst in Bernard Bailyn and Philip D. 1976). 1675-1740: An Exploration Communication and Community of (New York.B." in Roger Anstey and P.25 million. Hair. 71 Ian K. Slaveryand Human Progress. British subjects. 1991)." in Colin Howell and Richard J. it was extended to Native Americans before Africans and perhaps to non-Europeans living in Europe before their overseas counterparts. More important." 157-219. 1991). 1986). It would seem that for Locke the the Liverpool. the first abolitionists.. almost all of them from other parts of northwestern Europe. eds. were seamen.. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . 69 Joh Newton and Alexander Falconbridge are among the better-known slave ship officers who turned against the trade. Problem Slaveryin Western Culture. most of them before 1800 going to plantation regions that formed the most integrated of all eighteenth-century colonial systems. had an extraordinary proclivity to migrate. Davis.C.andAbolition universe of the social contract was not the state but rather the European nation-state. Even if we include the Dutch East Indies. richness." The Netherlands. Steele. 154-58. by contrast.71 Such characteristics have clear implications for metropolitan awareness of events "beyond the line. for a minority. The widening of this insider status can be traced in intellectual developments. AfricanSlave Trade. While no major thinker after Locke was able to defend the practice of enslaving those outside the social contract. eds. "communication and community" across the British Atlantic had attained a depth..68 It can also be traced at the level of personal experience in both the Anglo-Saxon and the Hispanic Atlantic.Europeans and the Rise and Fall of African Slavery 1421 As noted above. rather than industrial artisans. H. Strangers BritishEmpire(Chapel Hill. see Morgan. in the two centuries before 1800. and the slave sectors of its empire were not only small but of declining significance from the late eighteenth century. the ambivalence of the Enlightenment on the issue of slavery for non-Europeans is evident. As early as 1700. N. despite its early commitment to social and economic freedom. "Capitalism and Abolition: Values and Forces in Britain. 68 Davis. The English over the same period had a net emigration of 1.70Certainly. Morgan. 319-479. 182. N.. of 107-16. and reliability of contact unrivaled among European powers and unprecedented in the history of long-distance migration. For Jack Tarin History: the wide range of attitudes of Europeans and Africans toward each other. or at least those who were prepared to identify with blacks. "The Many Headed Hydra: Sailors.69 It is possible that among the European working class. Perhaps a mere 30.000 people left the Netherlands for the Americas and Africa on a net basis.137-39. Also by contrast. E. Also see the discussion of Montesquieu in Seymour Drescher. almost all of whom settled around the Atlantic basin. Slaves and the Atlantic Working Class in the Eighteenth Century. 11-36. breed sensitivity as well as indifference. 157-219. The English Atlantic.. eds. Twomey. and many of these were not Dutch. the Dutch experienced net immigration of half a million people. the European country with the largest and most successful slave trade and slave colonies in both relative and absolute terms was the center of the strongest abolition movement and the leader of world abolitionism. Life of Essaysin theHistory Maritime andLabour(Fredericton. where proximity to the exploitation could. was among the last countries to take action and did not experience a mass antislavery movement of any kind.

however. they would not have enslaved them and brought them to the plantation Americas. 73 For the recent literature and a judicious discussion of the roots of antislavery in the English context. For the decline of Dutch slavery in the East Indies.41). February 1994. "The Long Goodbye: Dutch Capitalism and Antislavery in Comparative Perspective. Dutch Long Distance Migration.1780-1860 (London.72 This is not. The absence of European slaves." in Reid. For the first. The Population History of England. Schofield. Most of those who did not return died (Lucassen. "Slavesin Batavia: Insights 286-314. see David Turley.73 have some further implications. esp. IISH research paper. less obvious but just as important. is that Europeans. and higher exports and income levels on both sides of the Atlantic. One is for the well-known debate on the origin of white attitudes toward black people. daily awareness of the world outside Europe-must have dwarfed that of the Netherlands. like the dog that did not bark. A second implication. the main issue was not relative profits but rather the inability of colonists to conceive of Europeans as chattel slaves. 1541-1871: A Reconstruction 528-29. Such a conception might well have developed given enough time. This change in perception brought a very profitable institution to an end. is perhaps the clue to understanding the slave trade and the system it supported. As previously noted. While it certainly became profitable to replace European indentured servants with African slaves. The second failure to maximize an economic advantage occurred when Europeans gradually widened their perception of what constituted an insider by beginning in the late eighteenth century to include transoceanic peoples. 308-10. S. it might be argued that. AHR. Wrigley and (London. and E.Bondage. where it might be noted that the institution was not related to export production. Probably fewer than 1. A. a faster development of the Americas. most of them sailors and soldiers.' For those who 'see European. if they had emulated the sixteenth-century Russian aristocracy by creating an ideological distance between the common people and themselves' and enslaving some members of their own society. For the New Netherlands.and Dependency. Seymour Drescher points to a lack of support networks and leaders who wished to reproduce Dutch culture in the process of pursuing the issue of why the Dutch were such tardy abolitionists. R. they would have enjoyed lower labor costs. but the sugar revolution proceeded too quickly to allow Europeans to adjust perceptions of insiders and outsiders. DutchLongDistance for Social History.' especially English. 227-36. the evidence presented here points to major non-economic factors in the decision to use African slaves.000 Dutch individuals a year returned from the East Indies. 20-23.1600-1900 (International Institute 72Jan Lucassen. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 . accordingly. If Europeans had been able to accord Africans the'same rights as themselves in the early modern period. 1991). 1981). economic power built on overseas colonies. for the underpopulated' tropical Americas at least. Amsterdam. the place to reassess the origins of abolitionism. 1991). Seymour Drescher. failed to take advantage of two significant economic opportunities. The first "missed opportunity" created the Atlantic slave THE ABOVE ARGUMENTS Migration: Concise A History.1422 David Eltis the transoceanic world-and. from a Slave Register. and more particularly the English." forthcoming. see Susan Abeyasekere. My intention is to suggest only that the key counterpoint is not slavery and abolition but'rather the enslavement of non-Europeans and abolition. 1-46. 35-42. The Culture of English Antislavery. Slavery. exploitation of the periphery and the transfer of surplus to the core would have been far more rapid with white slave labor.

By the seventeenth century. Further implications touch the English Revolution as well as its American counterpart of nearly a century later. liberties for Englishmen-depended on African slavery. the second ended not only the slave trade but slavery in the Americas as well. particularly as it pertains to wage labor. then we should pause. Profit-maximizing behavior occurred within agreed-upon limits. and the expansion and contraction of such an area is a major field of study. A third implication-really an extension of the previous point-consists of the notion that seventeenth-century capitalism. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW DECEMBER 1993 .Europeans and the Rise and Fall of African Slavery 1423 trade from Africa. limits defined at least as much by shared values as by the resistance of the less-propertied classes. is that the peoples with the most advanced capitalist culture. Capitalists could have made more by selling European convicts for life than African slaves. mercantile or not. Overall. and more again if the progeny of those convicts. were also the Europeans least likely to subject their own citizens to forced labor. had also been bound to a lifetime of service. the absence of European slavery suggests that narrowly economic interpretations of history often miss the point. the English and Dutch conception of the role of the individual in metropolitan society ensured the accelerated development of African chattel slavery in the Americas (and Asian slavery in the East Indies) because their own subjects could not become chattel slaves or even convicts for life. In the end. enslavement of fellow Europeans was beyond the limits. the Dutch and the English. like Africans. There have always been extensive areas of personal life defined as beyond the limits of the market and profit maximization even in the Western world. The fourth implication is the corollary of this last point. The countries least likely to enslave their own had the harshest and most sophisticated system of exploiting enslaved non-Europeans. There may be something to be said for expanding a variation of Edmund Morgan's argument to cover the whole of the British Atlantic. was hardly as unrestrained and voracious as many students of early modern Europe have portrayed it. however. in the sense that the celebration of British liberties-more specifically. This should not be surprising. But if this route leads to an interpretation of history driven purely by whichever interest group was dominant. More interesting.

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