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Remains of First African Slaves Found 392

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the you-are-what-you-eat dept.
An anonymous reader writes to tell us LiveScience is reporting that Archaeologists may have found the oldest remains of slaves brought from Africa to the New World. From the article: "The African origin of the slaves was determined by studying a chemical in their tooth enamel that reveals plant and rock types of their native land. The chemical enters the body through the food chain as nutrients pass from bedrock through soil and water to plants and animals. It is an indelible signature of birthplace, the researchers said, because it can be directly linked to the bedrock of specific locales."
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Remains of First African Slaves Found

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  • Oldest (Score:3, Insightful)

    by imoou (949576) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @01:29AM (#14613722) Homepage
    But possibly not the first.
  • by Max Threshold (540114) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @01:30AM (#14613727)
    How do they know they were slaves?
    • by RexRhino (769423) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @01:37AM (#14613746)
      Because 99% (at least) of immigration from Africa to the New World at the time was slavery. It is possibly they weren't slaves, but not very likely.
      • by xXBondsXx (895786) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @01:45AM (#14613766)
        Because 99% (at least) of immigration from Africa to the New World at the time was slavery. It is possibly they weren't slaves, but not very likely.

        Almost. That figure might be true once the slave trade boomed, but at first most Africans imported to the Americas were indentured servants.

        link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery#Slavery_in_No rth_America [wikipedia.org]

        to quote the article: The first imported Africans were brought as indentured servants, not slaves. They were required, as white indentured servants were, to serve seven years.

        It is possible/relatively likely that these skeletons they examined were not slaves, but skip ahead 100 years, and that percentage shrinks to (almost) zero.
        • Actually, the first part of that wikipedia article is wrong. While the first slaves in the Jamestown colony were treated as a sort of second-class indentured servant (they could eventually buy their contract out, just as any other colonist could) they were the remains of a load of slaves that didn't sell in the West Indies sugar plantations. Slavery was pretty well established on Spanish plantations by that time. Think about the economics of it - why go all the way to Africa to grab some poor souls who d
    • White man says white man in strange place = "adventurous explorer"
      White man says black man in strange place = "slave"

      Um, is this the scientific reasoning?

      I know. I know. It's a cheap shot at acadamia. However, I just *had* to say it because the irony of it amuses me. Trust me, I won't be the last to point this out!
      • by Grab (126025) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:21AM (#14614504) Homepage
        It's pretty scientific, yes. Think of sailing technology at the time. Columbus and his pals just about had the technology needed to get directly from Africa to America. No West African nation had the same technology. Most coastal areas had sailors (the Meditterranean had some particularly good ones), but they didn't have ocean-going ability. Even the Vikings couldn't do that - the most they managed was island-hopping. And to get from Africa to Central America in any realistic time requires the direct route, otherwise we have to postulate an African expedition (in open boats) that went from Africa to Mexico via Spain/Portugal, France, Britain/Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, Canada and the entire eastern US seaboard. It's not unreasonable to assume that an expedition like that would have been noticed by someone in Europe who would have written it down.

        Anyway, we're talking an African found in a graveyard in an area known to have been a centre of slaving, at a time when slaving was at a peak. He might not have been a slave, in the same way as the guy you find sat in your car fiddling with the ignition might be the superhero Captain Car-Rescue instead of a car thief. But don't bet on it... ;-)

        Grab.
  • The remains, in a colonial era graveyard in one of the oldest European cities in Mexico, date between the late-16th century and the mid-17th century, not long after Columbus first set foot in the Americas.

    100 years is "not long after"? Has the length of the year changed since then or what?
    • Yes. It is not long after when you consider geological time periods. 100 years compared to the entire history of the Earth is "not long after" (unless you take the Bible literally, sheep). 100 years after the founding of the US is a very long time. Boobs.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @04:01AM (#14614156)
      What is it with Americans?

      The house I live in is 200 years old. The school I went to was over 400. And the pub at the end of our road is nearly 700 years old.

      Why do you think a lifetime is a long time? Most mature cultures go back thousands of years. Incidentally, though many people would quote the Mansfield ruling of 1779 as marking a legal end of slavery in England, this actually marked a legal rejection of the condition of slavery, a statement that foreigners could not expect to enforce this state in England.

      If you are considering when slavery ceased to be an accepted part of life in the countries which later became the UK, this would have been in the early Middle Ages, around 1100 (not long after the Romans left and the Danes settled, around 800. The Vikings would have been the last group living in England who accepted slavery as a normal condition. Habeas Corpus, though codified in the Magna Carta (1215), was part of the common law well before this date, and indicates that freedom is the presumed state for any individual who has not been found guilty of a crime. While slavery was formally abolished in the US around 1865, the acceptance of slavery seems to have persisted in the southern states until around 1960.

      Individual English and European businessmen were still free to run enterprises in other countries where the slave laws were different. But the reason why the US is considered so culpable on this question is that it maintained a hypocritical stance of freedom from commercial taxes but slavery for people, which the rest of the Anglo-Saxon community had rejected about 800 years earlier.
      • What is it with Americans?

        The house I live in is 200 years old. The school I went to was over 400. And the pub at the end of our road is nearly 700 years old.

        Why do you think a lifetime is a long time?

        Not all of us do, but think of your example. The vast majority of Americans live in houses or apartments that are 50 years old or less. The vast majority of Universities in the United States are 150 years old or less. The vast majority of towns and cities are less than 200 years old. You'd be hard pressed

      • "The difference between the Americans and the English is that the English think a mile is a long way and Americans think 100 years is a long time."

        - Erin
      • by Grendel Drago (41496) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @09:46AM (#14615009) Homepage
        Most mature cultures go back thousands of years.

        In intelligible form? Sorry, but no European culture goes back "thousands of years". If you go back two thousand, you're at the dawn of Christianity, which bore only a passing resemblance to today's versions. The Romans had switched over to imperial rule. While I can understand how Western culture takes a lot from Romans and Greeks, to imply that we're all part of the same culture is plainly bullshit--we don't do human sacrifice, giant statues of our gods in the town square, gladiator fights, Legions forbidden from coming home, or the divine right of kings. Or humping little boys.

        You'd have as much luck fitting into Roman society as you would into a Bantu empire of the same period. Living in Europe may mean you live near some old buildings, but it doesn't mean you live in the same culture that built them.

        If you are considering when slavery ceased to be an accepted part of life in the countries which later became the UK, this would have been in the early Middle Ages, around 1100 (not long after the Romans left and the Danes settled, around 800. The Vikings would have been the last group living in England who accepted slavery as a normal condition.

        No, those are the dates when enslaving white people became unacceptable. The British were quite involved with African slavery from 1562 until 1803 [wikipedia.org], when they started discouraging it, and 1833 [wikipedia.org], when it was actually abolished by the Brits.

        Habeas Corpus, though codified in the Magna Carta (1215), was part of the common law well before this date, and indicates that freedom is the presumed state for any individual who has not been found guilty of a crime. While slavery was formally abolished in the US around 1865, the acceptance of slavery seems to have persisted in the southern states until around 1960.

        It's disingenuous for you to compare the time when Brits stopped enslaving fellow whites to the time when Americans ended legal discrimination against blacks.

        And also, what persisted in the South until the Civil Rights era wasn't slavery so much as it was Jim Crow--segregation, much like the Apartheid that South Africa had until relatively recently. Racist, certainly--but comparing it to the end of whites-as-slaves in Viking culture? Give me a break.
    • 100 years is "not long after"? Has the length of the year changed since then or what?

      Bloody Americans, always thinking that 100 years is a long time.

  • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @01:45AM (#14613765)
    The city was founded in 1540 by Spanish conquistadores as San Francisco de Campeche atop the preexisting Maya city of Canpech or Kimpech.

    Now we know that the Cortes expedition had some African slaves in it. Here is a question on the subject, while research is done on the many aspects of European Slavery, how much research is done on inter-African slavery or Islamic slavery in regards to Africa? I know we hear a bunch about slavery in the United States, but how about the United Kingdom or French slavery?

    Heck, what about trans-tribal slavery in the Americas? While working on a paper about the Cortes expedition there were references in many texts and documents about the Aztecs having slaves, but much more time and space devoted to the few slaves the expedition had with them.
    • Well, since the Spanish continued to have slaves, and write a lot about them, and leave lots of artifacts, and the Aztecs *mysteriously* disappeared, I think it's safe to assume that the relative lack of knowledge about the topic might have contributed to the paucity of writing about Aztec slavery vs. well-documented European slavery.
      • by aktzin (882293) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @02:29AM (#14613908)
        ...the Aztecs *mysteriously* disappeared...

        Did they? My understanding was that Hernán Cortés had the ruling family and other people with power tortured and/or killed. Of the general population, those who didn't die in the violence of the Spanish invasion were forced to flee and probably ended up mixing with other tribes.

        And then there was the smallpox epidemic (and other diseases) that the Spanish brought from Europe and for which the native population had no defenses. In fact, Cuitláhuac died of smallpox and his nephew Cuauhtémoc then became the last Aztec emperor. The Spanish captured him, tortured him, kept him prisoner a few years and then hanged him.

        But even though the Aztec population was significantly reduced and scattered, their descendants are still around. There's been just a bit of foreign immigration to Mexico the last 484 years, mostly from Spain. Want to guess why modern Mexicans look a bit different than Aztecs and other locals did? : ) And finally, their language (Náhuatl) is still spoken in several states in central Mexico.

        Full disclosure: most of my ancestry comes from the Totonacs. This was one of many tribes enslaved by the Aztecs and all too glad to help the Spanish overthrow the evil overlords. Talk about the devil you know, huh?

        • by glwtta (532858) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @03:52AM (#14614130) Homepage
          Did they? My understanding was that Hernán Cortés had the ruling family and other people with power tortured and/or killed. Of the general population, those who didn't die in the violence of the Spanish invasion were forced to flee and probably ended up mixing with other tribes.

          All true, but the fact remains that the indigenous American civilizations went into a sharp (relatively speaking) decline 100-200 years before the Spanish got there. The area was significantly depopulated by Cortes' time; I believe there are several examples of cities whose population size wouldn't be matched again until early 19th century, being virtually deserted, long before any invaders looking for a "New World".

          As far as I know, the reasons for this are still unknown - doesn't necessarily make it "mysterious", we just don't have the info.

        • "Full disclosure: most of my ancestry comes from the Totonacs. This was one of many tribes enslaved by the Aztecs and all too glad to help the Spanish overthrow the evil overlords."

          This is one of the reasons I like /. somebody always gets up and says "hey their my relatives!".

          Traditionally people have concentrated on the fact that a handfull of Spanish soldiers overpowered a native civilization of millions. Sure the Spanish were ruthlessly violent and were assisted by smallpox, horses, etc. I doubt it
        • I'm a military historian working on my Masters and one of my areas of study is the American West 1865-1890 and from that I've looked alot at the Cortes Expedition, in fact I just spent a term working on a paper comparing and contrasting the militaries of the Aztecs to the Spanish.

          The Expedition did kill alot of nobles and military leaders, once in a, maybe, unprovoked attack on the Temple of the Moon during a High Holy day and then alot of others were killed during the following responses at the Palace of A
      • Aztec colonies (Score:4, Interesting)

        by drgonzo59 (747139) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @02:49AM (#14613967)
        It is interesting you mentioned the Aztecs. My friend, who lived in New Mexico for a while and mingled with the anthropology crowd at the NMU, told me that the Navajo around that region have detailed stories about how they were colonized and taken into slavery by the Aztecs. A particularly interesting story was how the Aztecs would run this celestial observatory in the canyons. Most of the stuff in their stories about the Aztecs though is about their cruelty and human sacrifice.

        This stuff is fascinating because like every ingorant Joe out there I thought stuff (good and bad) started happening on the North American continent mostly after the Europeans settled. And such things as colonies, slavery and celestial observations would not have existed here before.

        • Kinda interesting you mention this. I just watched a History Channel show that covered cannabilism through the ages. They mentioned that in N. Mexico and that region, there are some interesting pieces they are putting together to support cannabilistic peoples around the time of the Asazi. However they don't think it was the Asazi, but Aztecs or another Central Mexican clan that moved north to get away from civil war, either to maintain their lifestyle or just to find a people to enforce themselves upon univ
          • Speaking of cannibalism and such... According to my friend, there was someone in the anthropology/linguistics at NMU that was working at desciphering the old stories of Navajo tribes. Allegedly those stories contain detailed descriptions of slavery, cruelty and oppression at the hands of the Aztecs. The one that stuck in my mind was the story of a certain "Skin Walker" -- a chief or some kind of shaman that would skin the slaves alive and wear their skin. Another story, which is more common, is that the he
        • Re:Aztec colonies (Score:5, Interesting)

          by j_f_chamblee (253315) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @03:56AM (#14614136) Homepage Journal
          This post may seem a little off-topic, but so does its parent, and I feel the insert a few hard facts.

          I have worked as an archaeologist in the Desert Southwest and southern Mexico for eight years and I am aware of no firm evidence whatsoever for Aztecs encroaching directly into the traditional lands of the Navajo. There is some evidence that people living at the site of Paquime [unesco.org] traded copper and exotic birds with groups from Mesoamerica, but these folks probably lived on or near the Pacific Coast, in what are now the states of Sinaloa and Nayarit. A chronology [lapahie.com] of Navajo settlement in the Southwest mentions the Aztec, but under a separate timeline. Finally, a curriculum [k12.ut.us] guide from a comparative civilizations class designed to be taught in Navajo schools makes no mention of these alleged Aztec slavers.

          From all I have read (and I apologize for not having time to re-create the bibliography here), there were forms of slavery among many Native American groups in North America, including the Aztecs. However, slavery, as conceived by Native Americans, was very different from that imposed by Europeans. Most of the time, war captives were involved. In some cases, as was observed among the 18th century Creek of present-day Georgia, slaves ended up being treated more as outcasts than outright slaves. Some were even adopted into the families of the men who captured them. A similar observation was made regarding indigenous Afreican slavery.

          As for celestial observation towers, etc., yes, they were everywhere, among many cultures. But again turning to archaeological evidence, it seems that most were developed indepently by different groups for different purposes.

          While there is nothing wrong with being impressed by the accomplishments of Native Americans prior to European colonization for their own sake, don't make the mistake of superimposing models of European civilizational development on these societies. Prehistoric native groups in North America followed very different paths and we owe it to their descendents to appreciate their history on its own terms. We sell everyone short if we have to impose false parallels with European history in order to be impressed.
    • Now we know that the Cortes expedition had some African slaves in it. Here is a question on the subject, while research is done on the many aspects of European Slavery, how much research is done on inter-African slavery or Islamic slavery in regards to Africa? I know we hear a bunch about slavery in the United States, but how about the United Kingdom or French slavery?

      Perhaps, first North American African Slavery? Until 1776, of course, slavery in the Colonies was United Kingdom slavery anyway.
    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @02:11AM (#14613857) Journal
      There's a large body of knowledge on the Islamic slave trade and intra-African trading.

      http://africanhistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa1 01101a.htm [about.com]

      Just about everyone was guilty when it came to the slave trade. Jews, Christians, Muslims, and most everyone in between.

      That's just the (unfortunate) way things were
      • Thanks, I know everyone was involved but even in Middle Eastern Studies when it comes to Islamic Slave Trade the most you see or hear is, "they had slaves" or "and these people are decended from slaves". And if pressed a professor or speaker will say, "Yes but the United States was worse."

        When it's American History slavery gets alot of attention, when it's the Middle East it's brushed aside.

        And, slavery is called for in the Bible and Koran

        Sura 2 Verse 178

        2.178: O you who believe! retaliation is prescribed
    • It took the "middle passage" [wikipedia.org] and other horrors to really turn large-scale [wikipedia.org] African slavery [wikipedia.org] into the worst atrocity [swagga.com] of the past two-thousand years.

      Stalin? The Nazis and Khmer Rouge? Small potatoes to these horrors, which continued for almost two-hundred years. The Arab and interneccine slavery of Africans was unjust - but seldom so relentlessly brutal, with human beings reduced to a level of treatment beneath that of animals.
      • I don't think so. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Descalzo (898339) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @03:16AM (#14614039) Journal
        As horrific as the slave trade was, those articles of yours estimate there were 15 million African slaves brought to the US over the Atlantic.

        Check out http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat1.htm [erols.com].

        While I agree that the slave trade was bad, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao far outstrip it.

        That page is kinda freaky.

        • by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @03:41AM (#14614101) Journal
          Well, slavery went on for thousands of years. It predated written history, and continued until western civilization decided that slavery was repugnant and stamped it out, over the objections of nearly every other society. Driving slavery almost out of existence was probably the greatest achievement of the British empire.

          -jcr
      • by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @03:38AM (#14614093) Journal
        The Arab and interneccine slavery of Africans was unjust - but seldom so relentlessly brutal,

        Guess again.

        When the British were hunting down slave ships in the 1800's, Arab slave traders routinely slit slaves' throats and tossed them overboard if they caught sight of a British flag. Plausible deniability, you know. Also, slaves were often marched across the sahara to sell on the coast of libya, with well over half dying of thirst along the way. Not to mention, the number of men who were castrated, to provide eunuchs for Arab buyers.

        Pick up a copy of Thomas Sowell's essay "The real history of slavery", which goes into considerably more detail.

        -jcr
        • Did you read the article. More then eight million slaves died on the ships crossing the atlantic. From disease mostly so it was a slow and painful death at that. I bet many ships threw their slaves overboard when dysentary was spreading to spare the crew.
          • More then eight million slaves died on the ships crossing the atlantic.

            That's not in dispute. What I was taking exception to, was the statement that the Arab slave trade wasn't just as brutal. A slave had about the same chance of survival in a slave ship crossing the Atlantic, as he did being forced to march across the Sahara to Tripoli or Alexandria.

            -jcr
      • I have a hard time classifyfing a trade pattern over several centuries as a single event like that. Why not proclaim "murder" or "war" the worst atrocity ever, by summing up everyone who's fallen victim to them over all human history?

        And I'd be really interested to hear about some treatment of slaves that was actually beneath how farm animals were treated. I have a hard time imagining what that could possibly be.
  • Not... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by djupedal (584558) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @01:46AM (#14613768)
    'It is an indelible signature of birthplace, the researchers said, because it can be directly linked to the bedrock of specific locales.'

    Unless, of course, you fill your water barrels at that location, and then everyone on board drinks from that 'unique' source for a given period of time, in which case you'd easily detect false-positives and mistakenly believe the entire crew was borne in one location.

    Reminds me of when some researchers found WWII supply caches buried in the Sahara by Rommel's forces...the first thing they did was to release a study claiming they could better define modern pollution, as Rommel's water had been carefully sealed, buried and protected. That study I can buy...this one, on slave origins, I'm less inclined, sorry.
    • Re:Not... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Max Threshold (540114)
      Only if the crew included pregnant women, and they drank stored water from that one location for several months. Possible, but highly unlikely.
    • and mistakenly believe the entire crew was borne in one location.

      I think that word "crew" is central to the issue. IIRC, slaves on boats weren't often given such luxuries as food and water that wasn't strictly necessary for survival. Of course, that may be more applicable to the later slave trading boats than the early ones.
    • Re:Not... (Score:5, Informative)

      by EMeta (860558) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @01:56AM (#14613807)
      Sounds like a flaw, except that this tooth enamel is deposited early in childhood. Especially in the early days of the slave trade, children were a rarity to export since you could get much more value per space from a fully grown person.
      • ...this tooth enamel is deposited early in childhood

        Good point. But how do we determine the history of such an individual in terms of migration, etc. Entity borne in region A later relocates to region B, where they are enslaved...now we are talking about two different locations: 1.) place of birth 2.) place of capture. Just because they were born in location 1 doesn't mean they were captured in region 1.

        Perhaps cannibalism was a factor as well...

        Slave from region B invites slave from region A to th
  • interesting fact (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Belseth (835595) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @01:49AM (#14613776)
    Americans have been blamed for slavery yet this first group were obviously brought by the Spanish. A number of Europeon countries were involved in the slave trade. I'm not aware of American ships involved in the slave trade itself. Wealthy landowners in this country were buyers but the trade was actually Europeon in origin. Just find it odd that the US gets all the blame when the slavers were African and Europeon. Kind of like saying the drug addicts were responsible for making, transporting and selling the drugs. Rich Americans back in the 1700s and 1800s were at fault but they were hardly the only ones involved. And an FYI most Americans at the time didn't own slaves or support slavery. Many in fact actively worked against the practice.
    • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @01:55AM (#14613801) Homepage
      The slave trade has always been blamed on Europeans and African slavetraders as well. One of the reasons America gets the lion's share of the blame is because we took so long to actually abolish it.
      • Re:interesting fact (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @03:49AM (#14614121) Journal
        One of the reasons America gets the lion's share of the blame is because we took so long to actually abolish it.

        The USA abolished slavery well ahead of most of the rest of the world. Saudi Arabia, for example, only abolished slavery (officially) in the 1960s.

        Actually, the main reason America gets blamed so much for slavery, is that it serves current political agendas to do so. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton call for slavery reparations from the US government, but have never lifted a finger to free a single living slave today, in the Sudan, or any of the other places where slavery continues.

        Likewise, they don't call for any of the Africans whose ancestors participated in slave-catching raids to pay those people whose ancestors were herded onto slave ships or marched across the continent to be sold in Arab lands. Nor do they demand reparations to Europe for the million or so Europeans who were captured by slave traders, and sold in North Africa and the middle east.

        -jcr
      • I realize Americans are supposed to feel ashamed because of slavery but none of my ancestors were from slave states and none of them practiced slavery. You said

        The slave trade has always been blamed on Europeans and African slavetraders as well.

        You rarely hear these days about Europeon and Africans involvement in the slave trade, it's always the US that was doing it. The fact is Black Africans did enslave other blacks and sold them to Europeons who transported them to America and sold them to rich la

    • by dotslashdot (694478)
      Yes, those poor wealthy white Americans addicted to slavery. If only the Spanish hadn't gotten America hooked on the slave trade. Americans are blamed for slavery because *gasp* white America enslaved blacks and treated them like animals and property. Americans are blamed for slavery today because apologist posters like you just don't seem to get it and try to minimize or deny the terrible atrocity.
      • Americans are blamed for slavery today because apologist posters like you just don't seem to get it and try to minimize or deny the terrible atrocity.

        Oh, for crying out loud.

        I've got some news for you: the average life expectancy of a white man in the interior of Africa from the 1600's to the 1800's was about a month, if he was lucky. Europeans didn't go on slave-catching raids, because even venturing a couple of miles inland tended to be fatal. The slaves who were shipped across the Atlantic were bought
    • > yet this first group were obviously brought by the Spanish.

      Interestingly, Black slavery in the Americas began at the suggestion of Las Casas [wikipedia.org], whose views were modern enough for him to be outraged at the practice of bringing "Indians" down from the Mexican highlands to suffer and die working in steamy sugar cane plantations, but not modern enough to reject the idea of slavery itself: he suggested bringing in Africans to do the work instead.
    • It's not that interesting.

      It's very widely known that the UK had a lot to do with slavery, as did a number of other European nations. The fact that damns the US is that so many people kept slavery going for so much longer than the rest of the world.

      The rich Americans were exactly the ones involved though. They were absolutely not unwittingly addicted to slavery, but were instead willing to buy and sell slaves because they made more money by not paying wages. A lot of wealth in the US was founded on slavery,
      • I remember reading a biography of Washington "The Indispensible Man." I highly recommend it. The author devotes a whole chapter to slavery. Washington was beginning to realize that not only was it immoral, it was impractical.

        The slaves were not good workers. They were dishonest and had to be watched constantly and didn't do good work. For the quality of workers, it was just not worth it. Washington started to realize that his slaves were a ball and chain. He couldn't keep them because it wasn't work

      • The fact that damns the US is that so many people kept slavery going for so much longer than the rest of the world.

        Nope. Later than several European countries, but far ahead of most of the world.

        -jcr
    • You're perception of Americans being blamed for slavery comes from reading history written by Americans. Africans, Europeans, and Americans were involved in catching, shipping, selling, and buying slaves. You're not aware of American ships involved in the slave trade because you were not alive...
    • Re:interesting fact (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's also interesting to note that only 6% of all slaves imported into the New World ended up in territories that would become the United States.
    • Re:interesting fact (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BewireNomali (618969)
      John Brown in Rhode Island was amongst a brood of American slave traders. Brown University was named after his nephew, and he was Brown's first treasurer or something. He also was the largest founding shareholder in Providence Bank, chartered in 1791, which exists in its modern day iteration - BANK OF AMERICA.

      He financed and/or managed slave expeditions and used some of the slaves to work on his own plantation in Belize. He produced molasses that was used to trade at African slave posts. He cornered all thr
  • in America? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @01:56AM (#14613806)
    That's odd.

    I always assumed the first African Slaves were in Africa.

    But, maybe that's because they were.
    • Market forces (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      When the white use of African slaves began, Europe was largely free of any other kind of slavery. There's an image in the collective cultural consciousness of how slavery began. This image seems to be that Europeans showed up and just started whipping the black people into submission from horseback, then taking them off and selling them. It's like Planet of the Apes.

      The idea of selling the Africans as slaves wasn't spontaneous. There were already African slave markets. A few scumbag Europeans bought slaves.
    • I wonder just how long ago the idea of chattel slavery arose.. I'm sure there were slaves before there was money.

      -jcr
  • I wonder.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fadeaway (531137) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @02:02AM (#14613824)
    "The chemical enters the body through the food chain as nutrients pass from bedrock through soil and water to plants and animals. It is an indelible signature of birthplace, the researchers said, because it can be directly linked to the bedrock of specific locales."

    That said, I wonder what the results of the same testing would show on individuals that reside in current industrialized first world nations. It occurs to me that a good portion of the food we eat is produced abroad.

    I pity the anthropologists of tommorow.
  • by ayeco (301053) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @03:20AM (#14614045)
    So, it looks like someone has been sitting on this story until black history month started. Looks like /. got it posted 27 minutes into it.
  • Wait a minute ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tbone1 (309237) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @08:21AM (#14614774) Homepage
    I thought that there were African slaves in America before Columbus arrived. Certainly the Spaniards didn't introduce the practice to these continents. Many local tribes (like, say, the Aztecs and Incans) practiced it. Also, the Norse were in the New World centuries before, and they were known to have practiced slavery, though to what extent they had it in Greenland I don't know.

    There is a gerat book called "Lies My Teacher Told Me" (I cannot remember the name of the author) that talks about certain documented facts that are never taught in history classes. One is that Columbus knew that there was a new world to the west. He had been to Iceland a few times, and there were still Norsemen in Greenland (who would visit Canada for timber, etc, and had had dealings with the "natives"). On top of this, Columbus had been to "the Gold Coast" of Africa (aka The Slave Coast aka The Ivory Coast) and had met the representatives of the king of Mauritania, if not the king himself, at the time probably the wealthiest man in the world. They had had a few colonies "a few days to the west" in a new land, but they had abandoned them year before, because the locals kept attacking them. So Columbus knew he was sailing to new lands, not India, because he had data from the Norse and the Mauritanians about western lands over the sea.

    Fast forward a decade or three. The Aztecs were found to have carvings of men, some of the carvings having definite African facial features. (The book has pictures of these carvings, and yep, they do, whatever the politically correct police might say.) The Aztecs were also growing cotton that was the same type grown in Egypt. On top of this, when Spaniards first landed in South America, near what is now Venezuala, they were talking to a local chieftain and noticed a bunch of African-descended slaves being led through a coastal village. The Spaniards were surprised at this, and asked where the slaves had come from. The chieftain said that they had raided their village a few generations ago and had enslaved them.

    So the first African slaves weren't brought here by the Spaniards. Hell, they may well have been brought here by other Africans (the Mauritanians).

    Just putting in my $.05 (inflation, taxes, and all that).

    • Columbus had been to "the Gold Coast" of Africa (aka The Slave Coast aka The Ivory Coast) and had met the representatives of the king of Mauritania, if not the king himself, at the time probably the wealthiest man in the world. They had had a few colonies "a few days to the west" in a new land, but they had abandoned them year before, because the locals kept attacking them.

      Interesting. But if America was only "a few days to the west" from West Africa, these Mauritanians must have had some really speedy

  • by Frodo420024 (557006) <henrikNO@SPAMfangorn.dk> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @08:37AM (#14614819) Homepage Journal
    Sometimes it looks as if the colonist of the New World invented the slave trade. That was not at all the case. It had been running for centuries on the coasts of Africa, with Arab traders dealing with the local rulers, buying prisoners of war and other potential slaves.

    But they sure did get a boost in business when Europeans joined the trade!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @12:12PM (#14616310)
    I don't know if folks are aware of it, but I'd like to point out that slavery is alive and well today in the New World.

    Particularly here in Georgia, the deep south and heart of the confederacy.

    While Lincoln may have freed the slaves for private ownership, he didn't go far enough. Slavery is still legal by the state, in just every state, in the form of the use of prisoners.

    I went to prison for 2 years in 2002 of a 12 year sentence on a crime I didn't commit. Basically someone made an accusation about me, and then hysteria and greed set in, and then the slander game began. It was a witchhunt and I was the witch. I estimate in the end they made about $120,000 off of me in billing the taxpayer; myself losing another $60,000 in lawyer fees and lost wages other damages. I don't know about you, but thats a whole hell of a lot of money in a recession. If I would of served the full 12 years, they would of probably made almost a half a million dollars off of me, billing you the taxpayer $35,000 a year. Let me tell you, I'm about the most harmless guy in the world, I don't bother anybody, and I don't break any laws. The justice system isn't about justice. Its all a scam and a slander game. Its about greed and profit.

    For two years I was kept in the most heinous of conditions, and was forced to work for which I received no compensation.

    I won my appeal by fighting back. Which was very hard to do, because I was mentally and physically exhausted, being kept in the most inhumane of conditions, lacking of nutrition, and my situation was grossly exacerbated because I was hypoglycemic and yet receiving no treatment whatsoever. A hypoglycemic, if not eating something every 2 hours, suffers and appauling roster of symptoms, the most painful and difficult being being confused all the time, unable to concentrate, unable to focus.

    So for those two years, basically, I was a slave.

    Since I tested out with a slashdot level IQ and actually hit a bit of precious luck, I was put to work in the library, just like Andy in the movie Shawshank Redemption. For prison and someone smart, it was a good job because you had access to books in a way the general population didn't at all. Let me say it was luck I got this job, most people had nighmarish jobs. Laundry, caffeteria work, swinging a bush ax, etc.

    Even though I worked in the library, I fought back. I wrote slogans throughout the books and anarchy symbols on the inside, slamming the system.

    When nobody was looking, I wrote slogans from Animal Farm on the prison walls outside. Nobody understood them but me, since the average grade level in prison is about sixth grade (I tested out 13th, the highest the tests go). Prison is a big sensory deprivation chamber. The constant noise, the inhuman conditions, the constant stupidity, the poor food, it will wear your mind down. Prison doesn't do anything but make people stupid and vilent and insane.

    Once some 'robocop' as I called him saw my slogans, and wrote them down on his little notepad. I'm sure he took them straight back to the warden. If I would of been caught, I would of surely been beaten to death out of site for defacing state property. I've been out a year now but still I chuckle, I wonder what they made of "Four legs good, two legs bad!". I'm not joking. For real.

    I wrote some notes of what I would post to slashdot if I ever got out. I still have them somewhere, they are in a tired and exhausted script that looks a lot to me like chicken scratch now, I was so fading away then. It doesn't matter. My mind is full of things to say now. Totally.

    One seredipitious thing did happen. Four doors down from my cell they put an RFDI engineer in. An old guy, in his 50's. I nicknamed him "Marconi".

    You can check him out here (punch in 1141126 in the GDC field on the page and NEXT your way through):

    http://www.dcor.state.ga.us/GDC/O [state.ga.us]

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