A history of world agriculture slavery



What is the history of slavery?

The history of slavery spans many cultures, nationalities, and religions from ancient times to the present day. Likewise, its victims have come from many different ethnicities and religious groups. The social, economic, and legal positions of slaves have differed vastly in different systems of slavery in different times and places.

What was the role of slaves in agriculture?

Large numbers of slaves were employed in agriculture. As a general rule, slaves were considered suitable for working some crops but not others. Slaves rarely were employed in growing grains such as rye, oats, wheat, millet, and barley, although at one time or another slaves sowed and especially harvested all of these crops.

What crops did slaves grow in Africa?

Most favoured by slave owners were commercial crops such as olives, grapes, sugar, cotton, tobacco, coffee, and certain forms of rice that demanded intense labour to plant, considerable tending throughout the growing season, and significant labour for harvesting.

What was slavery like in the pre-civilisation World?

Slavery was relatively rare in pre-civilisation hunter-gatherer populations, as it develops under conditions of social stratification. Slavery operated in the first civilizations (such as Sumer in Mesopotamia, which dates back as far as 3500 BC). Slavery features in the Mesopotamian Code of Hammurabi.


What was the relationship between slavery and agriculture?

For African-Americans who did not own land, the practices of sharecropping and tenant farming were essentially another form of slavery. In sharecropping, landowners (who were primarily white) assigned families land to farm in exchange for food, shelter, clothing, and farming equipment.

How did agriculture influence slavery?

How did agriculture in the Virginia colony influence the institution of slavery? The successful planting of tobacco depended on a steady and inexpensive source of labor. African men, women and children were brought to the colony against their will to work as slaves on the plantations.

What is slavery based agriculture?

Most favoured by slave owners were commercial crops such as olives, grapes, sugar, cotton, tobacco, coffee, and certain forms of rice that demanded intense labour to plant, considerable tending throughout the growing season, and significant labour for harvesting.

What three main agricultural products were produced by slaves?

8 Cards in this Sethow many slaves were forcibly moved from Africa to the Americas from 1500-1800 CE?10 to 12 millionwhat are the three major agricultural products grown by the institution of slavery?sugar, tobacco, coffee6 more rows

How many farmers had slaves?

3.6 million lived on farms and plantations (half in the Deep South). Of these: 1.0 million lived on plantations with 50 or more enslaved people. 46,300 plantations (estates with 20 or more slaves) existed in the United States….Printing.Green Hill plantation:15 (photograpahs)TOTAL29 pages2 more rows

Does plantation mean slavery?

In many minds the historical plantation is synonymous with slavery. Yet, we did not want to do an exhibition about slavery broadly defined, but rather one more narrowly dealing with the plantation as a real place, an imagined place, and a remembered place.

Did slaves grow their own food?

Provision grounds were areas of land often of poor quality, mountainous or stony, and often at some distance from the villages which plantation owners set aside for the enslaved Africans to grow their own food, such as sweet potatoes, yams and plantains.

Do plantations still exist?

At the height of slavery, the National Humanities Center estimates that there were over 46,000 plantations stretching across the southern states. Now, for the hundreds whose gates remain open to tourists, lies a choice. Every plantation has its own story to tell, and its own way to tell it.

How did plantation crops and the slavery system change?

The cash crops changed from tobacco and rice to the new money maker cotton. Along with the crops changing the slave trade grew to replace the economic short fall in the Chesapeake area. These changed occurred due to the supply and demand of commonly bought goods.

Who started slavery in Africa?

Beginning in the 16th century, European merchants initiated the transatlantic slave trade, purchasing enslaved Africans from West African kingdoms and transporting them to Europe’s colonies in the Americas.

How were slaves caught in Africa?

The capture and sale of enslaved Africans Most of the Africans who were enslaved were captured in battles or were kidnapped, though some were sold into slavery for debt or as punishment. The captives were marched to the coast, often enduring long journeys of weeks or even months, shackled to one another.

Which colony relied heavily on slavery?

New England Colonies and Middle Colonies held slaves but not as many as the Southern Colonies and the work required of the enslaved was more labor-intensive in the south than in the north.

When did plantation agriculture start?

While plantation agriculture was booming in the Americas from the early 1500s to the mid-1800s, this system of agriculture was largely ignored in Asia. The Portuguese, Dutch and British were much more focused on forcing the local smallholders to provide them with commodities than building large farms to produce their own crops. The Dutch in particular took control of large production areas of nutmeg, clove, sugar, and coffee through a corvée system of slavery.

How did the plantation system grow?

The widespread growth of the plantation system is not restricted to oil palm. Stimulated by the expon ential growth of the biofuel industry , large corporate entities are currently buying huge swaths of land in Guatemala, Malawi, Mozambique, and elsewhere to establish sugar cane plantations. These so-called land grabs rely on government support to displace indigenous people and destroy the native habitat. These large-scale land acquisitions present short-term benefits to the local communities in the form of jobs and capital for rural development but destroy local social systems and make them dependent on outsiders for their livelihood. And so, history repeats itself. The expansion of the plantation system today is following the same script played out in the past, starting with sugar cane in the 1600s, banana, tobacco, cotton and coffee in the 1700s, and tea and rubber in the 1800s.

What was the main crop of Brazil in the 1850s?

Coffee also became a major crop in Brazil at about the same time as cotton in the US, and by 1850, coffee had almost displaced sugar in the São Paulo region. By that time, four times more slaves were toiling on coffee than sugar. After the mid-1800s, the Brazilian plantation owners began to entice poor Europeans (mostly Italians) to come and work the plantations as colonos or sharecroppers. They were given a home, a little land to grow their own crops, and assigned a number of coffee trees to tend, harvest, and process. The colonos were, in fact, indentured servants who were required to pay off the cost of their transportation and any cash advances before they could leave the plantation. Most plantations had armed guards who kept the sharecroppers in place and in line.

What were the first plantations in the Americas?

The first plantations in the Americas of sugar cane, cocoa, tobacco, and cotton were maintained and harvested by African slaves controlled by European masters. When African slavery was largely abolished in the mid-1800s, the center of plantation agriculture moved from the Americas to the Indo-Pacific region where the indigenous people and indentured servants were forced to grow sugarcane, tea, coffee, and rubber.

What was the main crop in Yucatan in the mid-19th century?

Sisal ( Agave sisalana) or Henequen also became a major crop in northwestern Yucatan in the mid-19th century when what had been cattle haciendas began planting it for export to the USA. Their henequen industry was responsible for creating a slave-like labor system where workers were held by debt peonage and were banned from leaving their employers. Their major labor pool was again the desperately poor local peoples. In 1840, one-third of these people lived on haciendas, but by 1910, 75 percent of rural Yucatecan residents were living there.

What was the impact of sugar production on the Caribbean?

As sugar production spread across the Caribbean, it fueled massive growth in African slavery. The Caribbean Islands were inhabited when the Europeans arrived, the most numerous occupants were the Arawaks (or Tainos) who were found across most of the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico), and the Caribs who resided in the Lesser Antilles. Within a few decades of the arrival of Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), the Tainos were almost extinct due to brutal, cruel treatment, and susceptibility to the diseases brought by the Europeans.

What was the Dutch law in 1870?

In 1870, an Agrarian Law was passed in the Dutch Republic that abolished forced labor and allowed private companies to lease land in sparsely populated areas. This led to widespread international investment in large plantations and a great expansion in the late 1800s of coffee, tea, and tobacco production in western Java and nearby Sumatra. Rubber, palm oil, and sisal joined these crops at the turn of the century.

What is the history of slavery?

History of slavery. The history of slavery spans many cultures, nationalities, and religions from ancient times to the present day. Likewise, its victims have come from many different ethnicities and religious groups. The social, economic, and legal positions of slaves have differed vastly in different systems of slavery in different times …

What is the ancient slavery?

Ancient slavery represents a mixture of debt-slavery, punishment for crime, the enslavement of prisoners of war, child abandonment, and the birth of slave children to slaves. C. 1480 BC, fugitive-slave treaty between Idrimi of Alakakh (now Tell Atchana) and Pillia of Kizzuwatna (now Cilicia).

How long has slavery existed?

Because of this, the practice of slavery would have only proliferated after the invention of agriculture during the Neolithic Revolution, about 11,000 years ago .

How many people are subject to slavery in 2019?

In 2019 there were an estimated 40 million people worldwide subject to some form of slavery, 25% of them children. 61% are used for forced labor, mostly in the private sector. 38% live in forced marriages. Other examples of modern slavery are child soldiers, sex trafficking, sexual slavery .

What was the demand for rubber in the late 19th century?

During the period from the late 19th century and early 20th century, demand for the labour-intensive harvesting of rubber drove frontier expansion and forced labour . The personal monarchy of Belgian King Leopold II in the Congo Free State saw mass killings and slavery to extract rubber.

Why did the Spanish colonists use slaves?

The Spaniards were the first Europeans to use African slaves in the New World on islands such as Cuba and Hispaniola, due to a shortage of labor caused by the spread of diseases, and so the Spanish colonists gradually became involved in the Atlantic slave trade . The first African slaves arrived in Hispaniola in 1501; by 1517, the natives had been “virtually annihilated” mostly to diseases. The problem of the justness of Native American’s slavery was a key issue for the Spanish Crown. It was Charles V who gave a definite answer to this complicated and delicate matter. To that end, on 25 November 1542, the Emperor abolished slavery by decree in his Leyes Nuevas New Laws. This bill was based on the arguments given by the best Spanish theologists and jurists who were unanimous in the condemnation of such slavery as unjust; they declared it illegitimate and outlawed it from America—not just the slavery of Spaniards over Natives—but also the type of slavery practiced among the Natives themselves Thus, Spain became the first country to officially abolish slavery.

Why did slaves become slaves?

The shift from indentured servants to African slaves was prompted by a dwindling class of former servants who had worked through the terms of their indentures and thus became competitors to their former masters. These newly freed servants were rarely able to support themselves comfortably, and the tobacco industry was increasingly dominated by large planters. This caused domestic unrest culminating in Bacon’s Rebellion. Eventually, chattel slavery became the norm in regions dominated by plantations.


We’ve been talking a lot about kings, and queens, and wars, and religious upheaval for most of this series, but let’s take a moment to zoom out, and look at the ways that individuals’ lives were changing in the time span we’ve covered so far.


Original video by CrashCourse. Embedded by John Horgan, published on 10 April 2021. Please check the original source (s) for copyright information. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms.

Cite This Work

CrashCourse, . (2021, April 10). Commerce, Agriculture, & Slavery: Crash Course . World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.worldhistory.org/video/2429/commerce-agriculture–slavery-crash-course/

How did slavery emerge from indenture?

In 1682 another court ratified widespread practice by declaring that all blacks not Christian when purchased were enslaved for life; by this time their offspring were consigned to slavery also. Slavery had emerged as an institutionalization of racism, a system in which skin color and physical characteristics legitimated bodily ownership. Planters promoted this development because it enabled them to buy, for not too much more than a seven-year indenture, a lifetime of defenseless labor, along with that of the laborer’s descendants. With these developments, blacks multiplied from 1.9 percent of Virginia’s population in 1620 to 22 percent by the end of the century

What did slaves eat?

By working on weekends or late at night after returning from the fields, they often produced a surplus to sell to their owners and to trade in town markets. Slave subsistence consisted of cornmeal and bacon, with garden foods being supplemented by hunting, gathering, and fishing. Crops included black-eyed peas, cabbages, yams, sweet potatoes, squash, and col-lards, augmented by barnyard chickens and fresh eggs, all grown and harvested by slave families. Gardens planted with such complementary crops often resulted in relatively higher yields per acre, and were less depleting of nutrients than fields of single crops grown alone. As such, slave subsistence was less destructive of the soil than was large-scale plantation agriculture.

What did planters do in the low country?

After early prohibitions against slavery were lifted in Georgia in 1751, rice planters from South Carolina and the West Indies moved into the tidewater low country. Georgia planters grew rice in swamps, employing methods that South Carolinians had learned from their slaves, including diking rivers to create impoundment ponds and building floodgates to regulate water flow. Planters also expanded into sugarcane, indigo, and sea island cotton production, creating several integrated landscapes of production. “As they were molded out of the low-country environment by planters and their slaves,” writes environmental historian Mart Stewart, “plantations constituted agroecological systems that restructured biological processes for agricultural purposes____Those who created these systems had to manage them carefully to maintain the balance of energy inputs and outputs necessary for continued productivity.”7

Why did the Southerners defend slavery?

Southerners defended slavery on both biological grounds — that blacks showed more resistance to diseases such as malaria and yellow fever — and on environmental grounds — that they were more suited than whites to working in hot humid climates. Both arguments were problematic. Of the former, Silver points out the cost paid by southerners: “Although planters could use African biological defenses to good advantage and sometimes cited these characteristics as justification for using slave labor,… newly arriving blacks served as carriers for new strains [of disease].”8 And Mart Stewart, in “Let Us Begin with the Weather?” (1997) challenges arguments that “hitched together the cultivation of certain plants, the institution of slavery, and a climate [southerners] also deemed ‘peculiar.'” He asserts instead that southerners invented a regional weather at odds with local weather observations in order to justify the use of slaves in fields and swamps. “Those farmers and planters who kept records… have left rich documentation of the extraordinary diversity of climates in the region.” Stewart concludes that “the regional weather they made was more distinctive than the weather they got. Indeed, when Southerners used climate to legitimize a social order, they did not begin with the weather, but ended with it, and ended … with an argument of such force and conviction that it long survived the storm of the Civil War.”9

What did African Americans contribute to the South?

Despite their degradation as a race, African Americans maintained a cultural identity, making significant contributions to southern agriculture and hence to environmental history. They introduced important food crops into southern society. African foods were stowed on slave ships and grown in provision gardens. Slave traders, as well as slaves, introduced crops from other parts of the world. Yams were brought by slaves from Africa. Eggplant came from Africa to South America, from whence it was brought by Portuguese slave traders to the United States. Peanuts from South America were introduced into Virginia by African cooks who arrived onboard slave ships.

When did the labor system change from indentured servants to slaves?

The change in the labor system from indentured servants to slaves had been foreshadowed in 1619 , when twenty black Africans were sold as indentured servants

Who settled in the Southwest?

The Pueblo Indians and Spanish Settlement of the Southwest

How long has slavery been around?

The history of slavery is a large and untellable story, full of tragedy and cruelty that spans both centuries and continents. Although it is difficult to pinpoint the exact year that slavery began, historians can trace the roots of this inhumane practice back roughly 11,000 years. Keep reading to learn about the origins of slavery, …

Where did slavery begin?

The practice of human slavery grew as the world became more civilized and organized cities and farms were developed. Sumer or Sumeria is still thought to be the birthplace of slavery, which grew out of Sumer into Greece and other parts of ancient Mesopotamia.

What was the life of a slave?

The Life of a Slave in Ancient Times. Slavery in ancient times typically came about as a result of debt, birth into a slave family, child abandonment, war, or as a punishment for crime. At the outset, the slave trade wasn’t very popular and was certainly not a booming global business. Rather, slavers would often seek out a buyer who could use …

What is the first chapter of the history of slavery?

The story of the American slave trade is the first chapter in the history of slavery where most of us already have some familiarity. Whether it be from graphic films on the transportation of Africans aboard slave ships or your high school American history class, most adults are aware of the origins of slavery in the United States. The long story of slavery has not yet come to a close as many, including children, still find themselves enslaved.

What was the impact of slavery in the Middle Ages?

Throughout the Middle Ages slavery was also taking root in Asia as Islamic invasions of India resulted in the enslavement of hundreds of thousands of Indians. One historical record shows that in the year 1001 the armies of Mahmud of Ghazna conquered Peshawar and Waihand, capturing and enslaving roughly 100,000 children and young people.

What was the Abolitionist movement?

The Abolitionist Movement. Slavery is an appalling practice that has existed since the origins of human history. Although at many points in history, liberators have worked to free specific groups of people, the Abolitionist Movement was different, as it aimed to put an end to slavery as a practice.

How did slavery change during the Middle Ages?

Throughout the Middle Ages, (defined by historians as a three-part time period between 500 AD and 1500 AD) the practice of slavery changed dramatically as global warfare, raiding and conquering spanned across continents.

What did slavery mean?

in slaves meant that decisions about location, choice of crops, and family. labor participation were largely driven by profitability calculations, as op-. posed to the complex combination of motives, loyalties, constraints, and. preferences that operate in a free society.

When did commercial wheat expand?

perhaps surprisingly, commercial wheat, which expanded robustly in the. 1840s and 1850s.11. 536 / Agricultural History. The conjunction of slavery and wheat would not surprise any one fa-. miliar with the Valley of Virginia, the largest and easternmost of the three.

What does “away” mean in history?

away as opposed to essential features of history to be mastered. In this

Where is the tural history society?

tural History Society in Memphis, Tennessee. For valuable comments, the author thanks

Was the boundary between free and slave states settled?

boundary between free and slave states was not yet settled. This boundary. was not dictated by geographic imperatives. In Kentucky, an early “beach-. head” in the bluegrass district allowed slavery to become firmly entrenched, even in a state where the majority of farmers held no slaves.

Can slavery adapt to crops?

that slavery could adapt readily to crops and regions commonly consid-

Where did agriculture originate?

By 8000 BC, farming was entrenched on the banks of the Nile. About this time, agriculture was developed independently in the Far East, probably in China, with rice rather than wheat as the primary crop. Maize was domesticated from the wild grass teosinte in southern Mexico by 6700 BC.

How long ago did agriculture start?

Wild grains were collected and eaten from at least 105,000 years ago.

How did the Industrial Revolution affect agriculture?

Between the 17th century and the mid-19th century, Britain saw a large increase in agricultural productivity and net output. New agricultural practices like enclosure, mechanization, four-field crop rotation to maintain soil nutrients, and selective breeding enabled an unprecedented population growth to 5.7 million in 1750, freeing up a significant percentage of the workforce, and thereby helped drive the Industrial Revolution. The productivity of wheat went up from 19 US bushels (670 l; 150 US dry gal; 150 imp gal) per acre in 1720 to around 30 US bushels (1,100 l; 240 US dry gal; 230 imp gal) by 1840, marking a major turning point in history.

What are the social issues that modern agriculture has raised?

Modern agriculture has raised social, political, and environmental issues including overpopulation, water pollution, biofuels, genetically modified organisms, tariffs and farm subsidies. In response, organic farming developed in the twentieth century as an alternative to the use of synthetic pesticides.

How has agriculture changed since 1900?

Since 1900, agriculture in the developed nations, and to a lesser extent in the developing world, has seen large rises in productivity as human labour has been replaced by mechanization, and assisted by synthe tic fertilizers, pesticides, and selective breeding.

What were the crops that were introduced in the Middle Ages?

In the Middle Ages, both in the Islamic world and in Europe, agriculture was transformed with improved techniques and the diffusion of crop plants, including the introduction of sugar, rice, cotton and fruit trees such as the orange to Europe by way of Al-Andalus.

Why was clover important to agriculture?

The use of clover was especially important as the legume roots replenished soil nitrates. The mechanisation and rationalisation of agriculture was another important factor.



Abolitionist movements

Slavery has existed, in one form or another, throughout the whole of human history. So, too, have movements to free large or distinct groups of slaves. However, abolitionism should be distinguished from efforts to help a particular group of slaves, or to restrict one practice, such as the slave trade.
Drescher (2009) provides a model for the history of the abolition of slavery, emphasizing its origi…


Evidences of slavery predate written records; the practice has existed in many —if not most—cultures. Mass slavery requires economic surpluses and a high population density to be viable. Because of this, the practice of slavery would have only proliferated after the invention of agriculture during the Neolithic Revolution, about 11,000 years ago.
Slavery occurred in civilizations as old as Sumer, as well as in almost every other ancient civilizat…


Writing in 1984, French historian Fernand Braudel noted that slavery had been endemic in Africa and part of the structure of everyday life throughout the 15th to the 18th century. “Slavery came in different guises in different societies: there were court slaves, slaves incorporated into princely armies, domestic and household slaves, slaves working on the land, in industry, as couriers and intermediaries, even as traders”. During the 16th century, Europe began to outpace the Arab world in …


For the slave trade on Spanish America bankers and trading companies actually had to pay the Spanish king for the license, called the Asiento de Negros, but an unknown amount of the trade was illegal. After 1670 when the Spanish Empire declined substantially they outsourced part of the slave trade to the Dutch (1685-1687), the Portuguese, the French (1698-1713) and the English (1713-1750), also providing Dutch, British and French America from the Caribbean islands were th…


Slavery has existed all throughout Asia, and forms of slavery still exist today. In the ancient Near East and Asia Minor slavery was common practice, dating back to the very earliest recorded civilisations in the world such as Sumer, Elam, Ancient Egypt, Akkad, Assyria, Ebla and Babylonia, as well as amongst the Hattians, Hittites, Hurrians, Mycenaean Greece, Luwians, Canaanites, Israelites, Amorites, Phoenicians, Arameans, Ammonites, Edomites, Moabites, Byzantines, Philistines, Medes,


Records of slavery in Ancient Greece go as far back as Mycenaean Greece. The origins are not known, but it appears that slavery became an important part of the economy and society only after the establishment of cities. Slavery was common practice and an integral component of ancient Greece, as it was in other societies of the time, including ancient Israel. It is estimated that in Athens, the majority of citizens owned at least one slave. Most ancient writers considered …


In the first half of the 19th century, small-scale slave raids took place across Polynesia to supply labor and sex workers for the whaling and sealing trades, with examples from both the westerly and easterly extremes of the Polynesian triangle. By the 1860s this had grown to a larger scale operation with Peruvian slave raids in the South Sea Islands to collect labor for the guano industry.
Ancient Hawaii was a caste society. People were born into specific social classes. Kauwa were t…

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