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AAS3440 American Slavery | History Impacts Contemporary Society

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Investigate the history of slavery and discuss the ways in which this history impacts contemporary society



Slavery refers to a situation whereby a certain group of people or nation claims to be owning other people according to Everett, (2014). By holding, it means that they are the one who determines how those people live, what they should do at any particular time and how they should do it. In a real sense, the slaves are not free, everything they do is under the control of others. Consequently, the time where slavery began is not precise, however, the history traces the origin of the act of selling and buying people to around 10,000 years ago in reference to Araújo & Maeso, (2015). Historians argue that the first place where slavery was evident was in Mesopotamia. In Mesopotamia, the people started getting civilized, and the act of farming started gaining momentum in the region. The exact city where slaver came about was the city of Sumerian. It followed to Greece and later it was evident in India around 221BC according to Shi & Tindall, (2016).

Several factors promoted slavery in ancient times. For example, people who committed crimes in society were sold to other developed countries to work in the farm plantations. Secondly, the members of the community who failed to pay the debts were sold to other countries as slaves. Apart from that, there is an issue of war. The countries who were fighting the civil war imported non-disabled men from other countries to defend them. Lastly, children who were born but abandoned by their parents were sold to slavery according to Nonso Obikili. (2013). They were ferried to other countries to work as king’s servant, in farm plantations or during the war. In Europe, the slave trade gained momentum after King Charlemagne united central and western parts of Europe according to Ricks, (2018). The unity came about after a severe struggle between the two groups of Europe countries. During the battle, several people were ferried from the Muslim countries to go and fight in Europe. At this moment, other countries such as Portugal, Spain and Britain joined the slave trade. Portugal used Allah’s name to ferry children and women to their home country. These people were going to work in farms or e servant to kings.

At around 500AD the slave trained was gaining momentum. It was rolling from Mesopotamia to other parts of the world in reference to Ross, (2016). Many people were captured unaware and transported to work in other countries mainly Europe. However, from the historical documents, there existed people who facilitated the slave trade. The known once were chiefs of a given society. As the demand increased, many members of the community were losing their beloved once daily. The captives could have an everyday target, and the price was right in reference to Kappeler, (2014).

On the other hand, in later ages, America also started engaging in slavery. They mostly depended on Africa for slaves. The first batch of slaves to come to America was in 1619. A city in America called Jamestown received around twenty men from African countries. Many British countries were taking the trades seriously due to the drop in some workers in the plantations. The process of selling people to other countries was not a walk in the people. It was characterized by y war and deaths. Few people survived during the raiding process. Those who were captured were to be ferried through the Indian Ocean to America then sold to Brazil or Spain. The journey from Africa was not easy. It was full of death. The slaves were tied y force and put on the boats. Some of them did not want to suffer. They managed to escape by jumping out of the ship. They opted to die sooner than seeing themselves suffering in the hands of the captives.

Parish, (2018) argues that, when the slaves were transported, the boats were full, no room for breathing, less or no food and the cleanliness was below the average. With the unpleasant condition, many slaves did not escape diseases. They were attacked by both airborne diseases and skin diseases. For instance, many of them suffered from fever, smallpox, and dysentery. The transporters did not bother the conditions of the slaves. The one who did not manage to survive during the transportation were thrown into the ocean as the boat kept on moving. The act of tossing the dead body into the sea shocked many Africans because they knew that death was a crucial stage and the deceased was to be handled with care in a ceremony from the traditional norms. It was not the same, however.  Basing on the historical records, more than fifteen million Africans were ferried to the United States of America. The journey took long approximately one month as the Africans went through the struggles according to Hamilton, Hodgson & Quirk, (2015).

Back in Africa, the chiefs went on to search for people to sell. They did everything to please the Europeans. In return, these leaders were given few materials and money. Apart from that, they were given weapons to help them raid communities in the search for slaves. During the Trans-Atlantic trade, a leader could attack another society and walk away with people only to sell them to the Europeans. Men were sent for war or plantations while women were taken as sex materials in European countries in reference to Al-Mulla, (2017). To make the matter worse, the raiders chose well-built men in society and the handsome men. Many homes were left without any protection; women were forced to assume the roles of their husbands. At the time Europe increased the number of processing companies, they needed more people to work in the farms to continue supplying raw materials in the farm at this point Africa was the market for workers according to Eltis, Engerman, Drescher & Richardson, (2017).

Ways in which slavery impacts contemporary society.

The history of slavery has several impacts on the current society. The first impact is the matter of superiority. From the time the process of slavery started, mostly when America joined the trade, it is clear that they saw Africa as less superior than them and decide to exploit what they have in their countries. The idea of superiority is still in the minds of many people today according to Graziella Bertocchi, (2015). American seems to be much superior to the African countries where it was ferrying the slaves from it. Secondly, the idea of racism has rocked the society today came from the slave trade. The European countries seem to be a superior race than the Africans and other countries of the world. The whites and the black do not read from the same page today. The idea of slavery impacted a notion to the community that the way to live is to exploit the less fortunate in society. The American still want to utilize a lot of resources from Africa, a continent they used to operate even in the past years.

Another critical issue that came about due to slavery is the matter of classism. Classism is evident in society today. Some may think that classism ended after the slave trade, but it is not the same case. The fortunate people group themselves in their classes as the less fortunate also join their class. The idea is not fair. It has interfered with the way people mingle in the societies. It is also clear that when the prominent African people like footballers, actors, and athletes go to America, they still encounter segregation according to Money & Xidas, (2017). The American actors are treated highly with prominent titles as compared to the Africans.


In summary, the slave trade has brought a lot of negative effects in Africa. The only countries that have benefited are the European nation. The African countries still depend on European countries, this is seen as another method of colonization. Therefore, it is important to abolish slave trade as it is against human rights.


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Araújo, M., & Maeso, S. R. (2015). Eurocentrism, racism and knowledge: debates on history and power in Europe and the Americas. Springer.

Eltis, D., Engerman, S. L., Drescher, S., & Richardson, D. (Eds.). (2017). The Cambridge World History of Slavery: Volume 4, AD 1804–AD 2016. Cambridge University Press.

Everett, S. (2014). History of Slavery: An Illustrated History of the Monstrous Evil. Chartwell Books.

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Hamilton, D., Hodgson, K., & Quirk, J. (2015). Picturing Slavery: e Perils and Promise of Representations of Slavery in the United States, the Bahamas and England–Jim Downs. In Slavery, Memory and Identity (pp. 89-102). Routledge.

Kappeler, V. E. (2014). A brief history of slavery and the origins of American policing. Retrieved from Eastern Kentucky University Police Studies website: plsonline. eku. edu/insidelook/brief-history-slavery-andorigins-american-policing.

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Ross, R. (2016). Slavery and Slaving in African History, written by Sean Stilwell. Journal of Global Slavery, 1(1), 126-127.

Shi, D. E., & Tindall, G. B. (2016). America: A narrative history. WW Norton & Company.

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