The Purpose Of Slavery

     Slavery, the word has a bitter taste flowing off the tongue. Instantaneous images of inhumane conditions appear that give an aversion to saying the word. Now on the brink of the 21st century, slavery is such an ancient practice that it is embedded within every society. Slavery has been the result of war, caused war, ruined families, and destroyed the self-esteem of many people. One aspect of slavery that is not often analyzed is the purpose of slavery.

     Slavery is not an institution which developed itself. Many people used the Bible as their justification of slavery. In the book of Genesis, chapter 9, Noah 's youngest son Ham saw the nakedness of his father and had him covered, by his brothers. Noah then cursed Ham to be a servant to his brothers forever, Genesis 9:25-26 "Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers". This is known to be the first act of slavery; which people argue is sanctioned by God . Many interpret Ham's curse as placed upon people of darker skin color, Africans more specifically. The argument is that since Ham's descendants were to be slaves forever and Africans were already slaves and inferior then they should remain in slavery. Visit to learn more about Ham's curse and Biblical references to slavery.

Europeans during the 18th Century justified slavery based upon the Bible and ancient Greek practices. This defense is known as "The Pro-Slavery Argument" which stated that slavery was an institution ordained by God. This argument was used as a defense against the abolitionists charging them with acting against God's will. Visit to further explore the justification of slavery.



Behind all the apparent reasons that people give for the purpose of slavery, lies the true agenda behind slavery. The most basic purpose of slavery is to rid oneself of work and force the hideous labor upon someone else.    Since the time of our more primitive era, societies have taken slaves from war and conquest, and forced them to do their workaday tasks.

During the Roman Empire slavery became systematically developed because of military superiority. The Romans secured a vast and steady amount of slaves which performed all their everyday duties. C.W.W. Greenidge (1), Director of the Anti-Slavery Society in 1956 says that by enslaving other nations, the workaday tasks were no longer confining and there was more time for further conquest. This allowed the Romans to grow and prosper.

Because the Romans were adapted to their lifestyle of comfortably they invented new ways to keep slaves. One of their methods was through propagation. They formed a principle that made the child of a slave woman, a slave for life. This rule later hinders African slaves from freedom.

African slaves were first brought to Europe in 1442 (2) . Upon the discovery of the West Indies, African slaves were taken there to develop the land. They were preferred over the Arawak Indians who were almost exterminated by the harsh climate and treatment. It was not that any particular race should be slaves but more so who could perform the most work under the worst conditions. This refers back to slavery deriving from a need to rid oneself of hideous labor. Africans became the preferred people to enslave because of their physical endurance. visit


A second reason for the purpose of slavery is simply greed. English men saw a way to profit their pockets without having to do any work themselves. Transporting slaves began as a entrepreneur occupation for British seamen, starting with Sir John Hawkins in 1562 (3). It expanded to include England's greatest trademark, tea. Since tea is the national beverage of English businessmen needed to keep high quantities of their products. These products were largely produced in the tropics. European workers did not have the physical capability to sustain working in such harsh conditions.

During the 18th century, England had over 550 coffee houses in which acted more as a local post office, news, trade and a site for gossip (4). To make the taste of the bitter tea and coffee appeasing, Englishmen needed sugar. England supported the slavery institution out of greedy merchants who were profiting on the deaths of African slaves. The purpose of slavery was not just because the people where lazy but it also included that they were greedy. A sweet tooth of the English caused over 400 years of suffering and degradation to the Africans.






Middle passage //The Zong Ship/ / Antislavery Movement

Various link//The Mansfield Case/ /Annotated Bibliography

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