The Origins of American Slavery: Freedom and Bondage in the English Colonies

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Macmillan, Mar 4, 1998 - History - 132 pages
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Though the English did not begin their colonization of the New World with the intention of enslaving anyone, by the end of the seventeenth century chattel slavery existed in each of England's American colonies. Why? And why did the English enslave West Africans rather than native Americans or Europeans? Historians have usually stressed either racial ideology or determining economic and demographic factors, but Betty Wood suggests that a more complex rationale was at work. In this important new analysis, Wood begins by exploring the meanings of freedom and bondage in sixteenth-century English thought and the ideas that men and women of Tudor England had about Africans and native Americans. She studies their prejudices against non-Christians, their responses to models of slavery in the Spanish and French colonies, and their assessment of their own labor shortages, and in the light of these various factors interprets the decision of the English to resort to slave labor in the colonies. She then follows the spread of slavery through the seventeenth century, from the Caribbean and the Carolinas to Virginia tobacco country and finally among the Puritans and Quakers farther north.

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User Review  - juglicerr - LibraryThing

This is a basic introduction to the 17th century beginnings of slavery in the British-dominated Americas. The work is suitable for adults and older children. Chapters cover English attitudes towards ... Read full review

The origins of American slavery: freedom and bondage in the English colonies

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Wood (Women's Work, Men's Work, Univ. of Georgia, 1995) examines here the causes and development of slavery throughout British America. She shows the philosophical underpinnings of early American ... Read full review


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About the author (1998)

Betty Wood, a fellow of Girton College, Cambridge, is the author of several award-winning articles and two previous books on American slavery.

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