Question:

What is the concept 'middle ground' helpful in with respect to the 18th century?

Answer:

Richard White, in 'The Middle Ground' explains the complex social relationships between American Indian groups and the early empires, including 'slave' culture. Among indigenous people, slavery was a way of assimilating, not property right.

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The history of slavery covers slave systems in historical perspective in which one human being is legally the property of another, can be bought or sold, is not allowed to escape and must work for the owner without any choice involved. As Drescher (2009) argues, "The most crucial and frequently utilized aspect of the condition is a communally recognized right by some individuals to possess, buy, sell, discipline, transport, liberate, or otherwise dispose of the bodies and behavior of other individuals." In the American colonies and other places, an integral element was frequently the assignment of children of a slave mother to the status of slaves - born into slavery. Slavery does not include other forced labor systems: historical forced labor by prisoners, labor camps, or other forms of unfree labor, in which laborers are not considered property.

Slavery can be traced back to the earliest records, such as the Code of Hammurabi (c. 1760 BC), which refers to it as an established institution. Slavery is rare among hunter-gatherer populations, as it is developed as a system of social stratification. Slavery typically also requires a shortage of labor and a surplus of land to be viable. David P. Forsythe wrote: "The fact remained that at the beginning of the nineteenth century an estimated three-quarters of all people alive were trapped in bondage against their will either in some form of slavery or serfdom." While slavery has existed for thousands of years, the social, economic, and legal position of slaves was vastly different in different systems of slavery in different times and places.

Slavery in the United States for this article refers to the legal institution that existed in the United States of America in the 18th and 19th centuries. Slavery had been practiced in British North America from early colonial days, and was firmly established by the time of the United States' Declaration of Independence (1776). After this, there was a gradual spread of abolitionism in the North, while the rapid expansion of the cotton industry from 1800 caused the South to identify strongly with slavery, and attempt to extend it into the new Western territories. Thus slavery polarized the nation into slave states and free states along the Mason-Dixon Line, which separated Maryland (slave) and Pennsylvania (free).

Although the international slave trade was prohibited from 1808, internal slave-trading continued apace, and the slave population would eventually peak at four million before abolition. Of all 1,515,605 free families in the fifteen slave states in 1860, nearly 400,000 held slaves (roughly one in four, or 25%), amounting to 8% of all American families. By the time of the United States founding, even through some free persons of color were present, the status of slave was largely limited almost entirely to Africans and those of African decent, creating a system and legacy in which race played an influential role.

Slavery in Africa has not only existed throughout the continent for many centuries, but continues in the current day. Systems of servitude and slavery were common in parts of the continent, as they were in much of the ancient world. In most African societies where slavery was prevalent, the enslaved people were not treated as chattel slaves and were given certain rights in a system similar to indentured servitude elsewhere in the world. When the Arab slave trade and Atlantic slave trade began, many of the local slave systems changed and began supplying captives for slave markets outside of Africa.

Slavery in historical Africa was practiced in many different forms and some of these do not clearly fit the definitions of slavery elsewhere in the world. Debt slavery, enslavement of war captives, military slavery, and criminal slavery were all practiced in various parts of Africa.

Slavery Ethics

International criminal law is a body of international law designed to prohibit certain categories of conduct commonly viewed as serious atrocities and to make perpetrators of such conduct criminally accountable for their perpetration. Principally, it deals with genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, as well as the crime of aggression. This article also discusses crimes against international law, which may not be part of the body of international criminal law.

"Classical" international law governs the relationships, rights, and responsibilities of states. Criminal law generally deals with prohibitions addressed to individuals, and penal sanctions for violation of those prohibition imposed by individual states. International criminal law comprises elements of both in that although its sources are those of international law, its consequences are penal sanctions imposed on individuals.

The origins of slavery in the colonial United States are complex and there are several theories that have been proposed to explain the trade. It was largely tied to European colonies' need for labor, especially plantation agricultural labor in their Caribbean sugar colonies operated by England, France, Spain and the Netherlands.

Most slaves that went to the Thirteen Colonies that became the United States were imported from the Caribbean, not directly from Africa. Although slavery of indigenous peoples also occurred, by comparison it grew less important. Thereafter, slave status for Africans usually became hereditary.

The Atlantic slave trade or transatlantic slave trade took place across the Atlantic Ocean from the 16th through to the 19th centuries. The vast majority of slaves transported to the New World were Africans from the central and western parts of the continent, sold by Africans to European slave traders who then transported them to North and South America. The numbers were so great that Africans who came by way of the slave trade became the most numerous Old-World immigrants in both North and South America before the late eighteenth century. The South Atlantic economic system centered on making goods and clothing to sell in Europe and increasing the numbers of African slaves brought to the New World. This was crucial to those European countries which, in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, were vying with each other to create overseas empires.

The Portuguese were the first to engage in the New World slave trade, and others soon followed. Slaves were considered cargo by the ship owners, to be transported to the Americas as quickly and cheaply as possible, there to be sold to labour in coffee, tobacco, cocoa, cotton and sugar plantations, gold and silver mines, rice fields, construction industry, cutting timber for ships, and as house servants. The first Africans imported to the English colonies were also called "indentured servants" or "apprentices for life". By the middle of the seventeenth century, they and their offspring were legally the property of their owners. As property, they were merchandise or units of labor, and were sold at markets with other goods and services.

A social issue (also called a social problem, societal ill, social ill, or social situation) is an issue that relates to society's perception of a person's life, moral character, occupation, etc.. Different cultures have different perceptions and what may be "normal" behavior in one society may be a significant social issue in another society. Social issues are distinguished from economic issues. Some issues have both social and economic aspects, such as immigration. There are also issues that don't fall into either category, such as wars.

Thomas Paine, in Rights of Man and Common Sense, addresses man's duty to "allow the same rights to others as we allow ourselves". The failure to do so causes the birth of a social issue.

Richard White
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