An Examination of Slavery

By: Neha, Madison, Ben, Austin, Kolbe, Nathan, Marcus (2nd)

Nature of Ancient Slavery

Ancient slavery was very different from modern slavery. First, ancient slavery was not based on race and slavery wasn't permanent; many slaves moved around. Slavery at this time wasn't very big it was small-scale until modern time periods. Slaves did not necessarily hold the lowest social status in premodern societies. In classical Greece, many educators, scholars, poets, and physicians were slaves. Last, ancient slaves were used more towards the war aspects of life.

Nature of Early Modern-Modern Slavery

Modern slaves were distinctly different from ancient slaves. Modern slaves were based off of what race you were and sometimes what religion you were. Slavery was very large-scale at these times as well. Slaves were also used for labor force and crop production on plantations, farms, etc.instead of for war during modern period also.
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Traits of Ancient Slavery

  1. small-scale

  2. war captives

  3. little racial association

Traits of Early Modern-Modern Slavery

  1. Mainly African slaves

  2. Used to make profit (labor)

  3. Long lasting

Central Quintessence of Early Modern-Modern Slavery

Slavery became an extremely influential in both European and American Economies. Europeans made money from purchasing slaves in Africa and then selling them in America. Americans benefited from slavery because plantation owners and other Americans purchased many slaves and would force these slaves to do long hard hours of unbearable work for no pay. The main reason for the introduction of slaves in America was the fact that the demand for labor increased greatly in America. The slaves became the easiest and most beneficial solution to America.

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Throughout history, slavery in some way, shape, or form, has been used by almost every civilization. From the time of the ancient Romans and Egyptians to the period of the Atlantic slave trade, institutionalized slavery, although a contemptible act, has produced some good for the owners. Institutionalized slavery in ancient times and in the era of the atlantic slave trade had both similarities and differences in regards to its function and its social implications that it had on the world.

The institutionalization of slavery in the ancient world served a similar function as it did in the early modern world in the way that it benefited the same people. In most cases, it was used as a benefit to their owners, who were usually either royalty or extremely wealthy landowners. In some ways in the ancient world, slaves could use it to their advantage, such as in ancient Egypt, when the lives of slaves were often better than the lives of freeman elsewhere. However, there were some differences in the way slavery functioned, like in how people were made slaves. In Ancient Egypt, many slaves were not just in their position because of their social status or race. Some became slaves because they were prisoners of war. Others were slaves simply because they were impoverished. They did not have enough money to live on their own, so they were forced to sell themselves into slavery. In ancient Greece, some slaves had to buy their own freedom from their masters, which could often not be done due to the impoverished nature of the slaves. In the time of the Atlantic slave trade, the main function of slavery was to benefit the owners in a profitable way, but there was no benefit for the slaves themselves, such as the eventual release from debts that the ancient slaves received. It functioned as a prime economic export for the kings of Africa during the time.

Another main facet of slavery throughout history was the implications on the social order that existed. In both time periods, slaves were the lowest of the low, the bottom of the totem pole as far as social classes go. They were the literal bottom of the society. However, the way that they were viewed by others differs. In ancient times, although they were subject to harsh conditions, slaves still had some rights to protect them. In Ancient Egypt, young slaves could not be put to work until a certain age. They were treated as people, as human beings. However, during the time of the Atlantic slave trade, they were not even viewed as animals. They were subject to some of the harshest conditions that humankind has ever seen. The merchants and the people who were trading the slaves saw them as no more than property in which they could exploit to make money off of, and they were treated accordingly.

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The Consideration of Power

Since the beginnings of government, politics, economy, and society, wealth has defined power. Power isn't a physical possession, it is the idea in the minds of a large group of people that one person has a greater power over everyone else and that everyone should do what that leaders says. Over time, power has become less and less defined by wealth and defined more by intelligence, wisdom, and knowledge, however wealth and popularity still plays a small role in power to this day.

Power and Relationships

Power can only exist if there are people to rule over. People will only be ruled over if there is a reason or benefit to them. The power of an employer over an employee comes from the monetary compensation that the employee receives. Morals also have a high influence, such as in a religious setting where the priest has authority over the patrons of the faith. There are several other ways people can be ruled which include popular opinion, such as a democracy, or force, possibly with a military or police force. In all of these situations, there are benefits to following the power, and possible punishments for resistance.

Triangle Slave Trade: Graphic Depiction

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The Middle Passage: Symbolic Depiction

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CCS of the Triangular Slave Trade


  1. The Triangular Trade system connected the economies of three separate continents, Europe, the Americas, and Africa.

  2. The increasing production of labor intensive crops such as tobacco required a large amount of land and workers, which led to the use of slavery in the colonies.

  3. It was necessary for the transportation of slaves out of Africa for use by the Europeans and Americans.

  4. African slaves were easy to obtain and readily available to the Europeans.

  5. The Africans also had a good traditional background of farming from Africa, and in turn had essential agricultural skills.


  1. The ships left Western Europe for Africa equipped with goods which were to be exchanged for slaves.

  2. When they arrived in Africa, the captains traded their merchandise for captive slaves with the African elites and leaders.

  3. African leaders were the ones who brought forth the captive slaves by capturing them deeper within the lands of Africa, not the Europeans.

  4. Weapons and gunpowder were the most important commodities, but textiles, pearls and other manufactured goods were also in high demand.

  5. Africans were transported to America across the Atlantic to be sold throughout the continent.

  6. The trip across the Atlantic was extremely brutal, lasting as long as 17 days at a time.

  7. Many of the African people died during the journey, as the people did not have commodities or any sort of critical amenities that people require.

  8. There were often epidemics that broke out, killing numerous slaves as it spread.

  9. The slave traders brought back (to Europe) mostly agricultural products, many of which were produced by the slaves.

  10. Some of the larger-scale products included sugar, cotton, coffee, and tobacco.


  1. The significance of the Triangular Slave Trade spread to each of the three ‘corners’ of the triangle.

  2. It was important to England because they got much needed cash crops from the colonies of America.

  3. It benefitted West Africa in that the English traded goods for slaves, which was valuable to them.

  4. This trading lastly benefited the New England colonies. They used slaves to get work that was labor intensive done quickly and efficiently.

  5. The slave trade gave the colonies more help to make cash crops, which they sold to England for more slaves. Though what they were doing was extremely unethical, it greatly helped the economy of all three areas.