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Introduction by Steven Mintz

The Slave Trade's Significance
The Atlantic Slave Trade
Toward Slavery
The Experience of Liberation
The Aftermath of Slavery

The Origins and Nature of New World Slavery

This chapter places American slavery in global, comparative perspective. It looks at slavery’s origins; definitions of slavery and how it differs from other forms of subordination and exploitation; how American slavery differed from slavery in classical antiquity, African society, medieval Europe, and Islamic societies; the evolution of American slavery in the colonial, revolutionary, early national, and antebellum eras; and slavery’s impact on American culture, economics, and politics.

The Impact of the Slave Trade on West and Central Africa
Slavery in Historical Perspective
Defining Slavery
Slavery in the Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Worlds
The Newness of New World Slavery
Justifications of Slavery
Slavery in Africa
Why Africa?
The Middle Passage
The Origins of New World Slavery
Slavery in Colonial North America
Slavery’s Evolution
The American Revolution and Slavery
Antebellum Slavery
What was Life Like Under Slavery
Slave Labor
Slave Family Life
Slave Culture
American Slavery in Comparative Perspective
Slave Resistance and Revolts
The Economics of Slavery


This chapter examines the growth of antislavery thought, the colonization movement, the emergence of immediatist abolition, and political antislavery.

The Rise of Antislavery Thoughts
Was the Revolution a missed opportunity to end slavery?
The Impact of the Revolution on Slavery
The Decline of Antislavery Sentiment in the South
A Dead-End on Slavery
Immediate Abolition
Anti-Abolitionist Violence
Who Were the Abolitionists?
Division in the Antislavery Movement
Black Abolitionists
The Underground Railroad
Abolitionists and Violence