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Student ID: 775636

Seminar Tutor: Thomas Rodgers

Discuss the impact of slavery in the colonies and explore the conditions
for slaves in the Spanish Colonial world, contrasting that to the
conditions of slaves in the French and British Colonies.
Britain, France and Spain, Portugal profited from the Atlantic Slave Trade from the
middle passage. For slaves, it was a life changing experience. (Marsh, 2010, pp110). Thousands of African slaves were imported from Africa and taken to the
West Indies, the Americas for growing cotton and sugar. Between 1650 and 1675,
over 370,000 slaves were exported from trading stations from the West African
Coast, and between 1675 and and 1700, the total number of slaves rose to
600,000, most going to the islands of the Caribbean.(Cordingly, D, 2011, pp 110118) This also ties in with Cromwells design that soon became a later part of
British Foreign policy during the 18th century to expel Spain from the Caribbean,
thus war raged between the two nations quite often at sea in the Caribbean.
(Pons, 2012, pp 54-55). The main crux is that slave plantations began to form
and Sugar was in enormous demand for Europeans. Sugar was easy to grow,
and could be processed quickly (Lowenthal, 1972, pp27-29). Sugar estates were
the most common feature to be found in the French, British and Spanish colonies
in the New World. While Sugar remained a richs man crops, when European
powers fought each other, the slaves, merchants and officials remained as they
were. Some planters could even shift to smaller islands for cheaper labour. One
thing is that St Lucia changed hands several times during the flourishing age of
Caribbean Plantation slavery and many colonies experienced the European spill
over of conflicts. In this essay, I shall argue how slave societies essentially
developed and became an integral part of the New World, becoming a way of
life. (Lowenthall, D, 2011). The life of a slave depended on which colonies you
were sent too, however while the Spanish Colonies tolerated a free black society,
they also had slavery but in small portions. Firstly, I shall discuss Slavery in the
Spanish Colonial World, secondly I will discuss the highlight of slavery in the
French and British colonies, and thirdly I will discuss the impact of slavery in the
New World and how it became a staple of life, fourthly I shall also discuss the
impact of Slavery in Brazil.
Point 1: Slavery in the Spanish World.
Discussing the impact of slavery in the Spanish and Portuguese Colonial World
must be examined through the high level of demand for imported African slaves.
In Brazil, for example, planters increased their share of imported African Slaves
after 1570, this source of labour sustained the growth of the Sugar Industry.
Annual production between 15,000 to 22,000 in the 1620s. (Burkholder, Johnson,
2010, pp 150-155). This dramatic increase signifies the significance of the value
of sugar growing as a formidable commodity and the increase of African slaves.
In contrast, between 1580 and 1700, over 385,000 slaves entered into Brazil
while 400,000 arrived into Spanish ports. The European populations for example
were mostly the lower sections of society, drunkards, poor people hoping to
make a fortune in the new world which the Imperial Powers did not need and
thus transported them to the New World. They never met the colonial demand
for skilled labour, slaves and freeman, opening up slaves to skills of Artisan,

domestic services. Black artisans created their own guilds, taking over the
markets, and skilled slaves hired their own time while providing monthly incomes
to their owners despite discriminatory laws that were practised by the Spaniards
and Portuguese (Johnson, pp 208-210). When one compares slavery in the
Spanish World compared to the British, there are some stark differences while
the conditions of slavery remained the same. For example, manual labour itself
was long and slaves workers in sugar plantations laboured during the morning
mass and breakfast until sundown. These shifts were twelve hours long, but this
is not too different when compared to British Caribbean slaves working exactly
the same hours as their Latin American Counterparts. However, while the
Portugueses and Spaniards despised non-whites and thought them as inferior,
wages were paid to the majority of free workers, while wages were less, it
reinforced that social order. However, they believed that wages encouraged
productivity and would remove idleness. (Burkholder, pp 260-261). This is in
stark contrast to the British West Indies where slaves received far more brutal
treatment and no wages. This is not to say that racism had finished, for it still
continued. The conditions for slaves in the Spanish World however, was different.
Accultured slaves brought from Africa were more likely to gain freedom, in this
urban economy slaves had the chance to earn a sum of money. Portuguese and
Spanish law provided a legal basis for slaves determining the manumission,
market value and supervision of their entirety. Purchased contracts were the
path to freedom for many slaves, and owners could release the elderly and
children without payment. Slave families formed which was a common
occurrence so they could purchase the freedom of family members toiling in
plantations. This explains for example, the obvious black population growth in
Brazil and the Spanish Colonies. By the end of the 18th century, in Buenos Aries,
about 1% of the population gained freedom each year. Manumission was more
common in the Spanish World than the British colonies, it should be noted that
slaves still died in bondage and slavery. Discrimination would still have been
practised no matter how much an African slave would have made it through the
ranks of enslaved to being free. Even in some of the largest cities that contained
Portuguese populations, over 50% of the skilled work force was Free blacks, and
mixed race persons often were supervisors in the sugar industry. (Johnson, pp
208-209). Therefore slavery in the Spanish world particularly was a different
matter than the British or French colonies, but the conditions of slavery still
remained the same.
Point 2: Slavery in the French and British colonies.
Whereas when we explore the slave trade in the French and British colonies, the
discussion tends to become a negated view on the negative side of slavery. It is
true that slavery was no doubt an oppressive system but some slaves did enjoy
some freedom. However, slave mortality rates were higher, ranging between an
annual decline in the black population on the plantations, ranging from 2.5 to
5.0%(Maya, 2010, pp 107). Women were an important part of plantation society
because they contributed to the reproduction of the slave production. The West
Indian planters in particular continued to import African female slaves, for they
had worked in the agricultural sectors. Between 35% of the slaves imported to
the West Indies were women. In the French Colonies, the French in total imported
more than 1.3 million saves from 1701 to 1790 with the British closer to
importing 1.1 million. (Maya, 2010) Thus the prices varied from time to time, in

1707 it was around fourteen pounds sterling, in 1775 it was around thirty-four
pounds sterling. Between 1738 and 1744, the French brought slaves for 300
pounds tournois, while selling them in the Caribbean for 515 pounds
tournois(Maya, 2010). It is questionable about the gross profits, but one would
have to examine the gross profits made by different merchants and different
companies, the expenses raised for the Atlantic Slave Trade. Compared to the
Spanish colonies, capital was invested in three areas: land, slaves, and means of
production. Roads were insufficient and cities held less significance with no
buildings, plantation owners put their development only in building sugar
plantations. For the British and French, it was mainly based around slavery, for
the exploitation of the excessing nature of labour by slaves (Maya, 2010).
Financing of the slave trade revolved around the entire life of the British and
French colonies. Life revolved around the plantations in contrast, the Spaniards
built universities, churches, ensuring rights for Indians although many were
enslaved. The Portuguese colony of Brazil only had three churches. (Burkholder,
pp 110-120). Indeed there became a growing resistance during the latter half of
the 18th century, where abolistonists began to stir up a campaign against
slavery and began to critique its very nature. As Africanus(1787, the Times)
writes 'Let the good policy of the Spaniards be a subject of our imitation as well
as the bad''. He argues in a series of letter to the Times to reveal the bleak
outlook of slavery, presenting the slave merchants as having no regard for the
slaves but money. Black slaves released from their close confinement on board,
carried to the slave market were exposed to the public. Families were separated.
However, the brutal treatment that British slaves endured leads to many slave
revolts as Africanus mentions and argues for a better Spanish style system in
which the living conditions of slaves are treated better. As he also argues (1787,
Letter IV on the Slave Trade, Times) that the treatment of slavery leads to the
stereotypical image of Blacks being wild and savage creatures, restricting their
diet to vegetable diet because it is the most satisfactory. As he quotes, Over
90,000 slaves found to be annually exported from Africa, calculated that from
thousands are destroyed by being too crowded and confined.. Therefore slavery
in the British and French colonies was a system of oppression that exploited the
slaves being imported from Africa, while living in much worse conditions.
In conclusion, the slave trade did not hide its hideous image to the world. The
oppression, mixing of cultures led slaves to outnumber the minority white
populations of Europeans living in the New World. Treatment of slaves led to
brutal punishments, and any that ran away were supposed to be captured, harsh
treatment was ensured. This policy caused more slave revolts in the French and
British Colonies than say the Spanish colonies. This is not to say that slavery was
all bad, there were some limitations when slaves in the Spanish colonies received
some legal status, but discriminatory practices remained in the Spanish psyche.
There were more freed slaves than in the British colonies. Despite all this, slavery
in the New World led to an impact that still bears the legacy of oppression even

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