Slavery history prior to Trans Atlantic African slave capture and transport, “almost all peoples have been both slaves and slaveholders at some point in their histories.” 

Slavery history prior to Trans Atlantic African slave capture and transport, “almost all peoples have been both slaves and slaveholders at some point in their histories.”

“almost all peoples have been both slaves and slaveholders at some point in their histories.” …Historian David Eltis

“I congratulate you, my dear friend, on the law of your state [South Carolina] for suspending the importation of slaves, and for the glory you have justly acquired by endeavoring to prevent it for ever. This abomination must have an end, and there is a superior bench reserved in heaven for those who hasten it.”…Thomas Jefferson

“I wish from my soul that the legislature of this State could see a policy of a gradual Abolition of Slavery.”…George Washington


From LDHI.

“Slavery before the Trans-Atlantic Trade

Various forms of slavery, servitude, or coerced human labor existed throughout the world before the development of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the sixteenth century. As historian David Eltis explains, “almost all peoples have been both slaves and slaveholders at some point in their histories.” Still, earlier coerced labor systems in the Atlantic World generally differed, in terms of scale, legal status, and racial definitions, from the trans-Atlantic chattel slavery system that developed and shaped New World societies from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries.

Mansa Musa, Catalan Atlas, drawn by Abraham Cresques of Mallorca, 1375, courtesy of the British Library.


Mansa Musa in Catalan Atlas, drawn by Abraham Cresques of Mallorca, 1375, courtesy of the British Library. Mansa Musa was the African ruler of the Mali Empire in the 14th century. When Mansa Musa, a Muslim, took a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324 he reportedly brought a procession of 60,000 men and 12,000 slaves.


Slavery was prevalent in many West and Central African societies before and during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. When diverse African empires, small to medium-sized nations, or kinship groups came into conflict for various political and economic reasons, individuals from one African group regularly enslaved captives from another group because they viewed them as outsiders. The rulers of these slaveholding societies could then exert power over these captives as prisoners of war for labor needs, to expand their kinship group or nation, influence and disseminate spiritual beliefs, or potentially to trade for economic gain. Though shared African ethnic identities such as Yoruba or Mandinka may have been influential in this context, the concept of a unified black racial identity, or of individual freedoms and labor rights, were not yet meaningful.

Map of Main slave trade routes in Medieval Africa before the development of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, 2012.


Map of Main slave trade routes in Medieval Africa before the development of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, 2012.

West and Central African elites and royalty from slaveholding societies even relied on their kinship group, ranging from family members to slaves, to secure and maintain their wealth and status. By controlling the rights of their kinship group, western and central African elites owned the products of their labor. In contrast, before the trans-Atlantic trade, western European elites focused on owning land as private property to secure their wealth. These elites held rights to the products produced on their land through various labor systems, rather than owning the laborers as chattel property. In contrast, land in rural western and central African regions (outside of densely populated or riverine areas) was often open to cultivation, rather than divided into individual landholdings, so controlling labor was a greater priority. The end result in both regional systems was that elites controlled the profits generated from products cultivated through laborers and land. The different emphasis on what or whom they owned to guarantee rights over these profits shaped the role of slavery in these regions before the trans-Atlantic trade.

Scholars also argue that West Africa featured several politically decentralized, or stateless, societies. In such societies the village, or a confederation of villages, was the largest political unit. A range of positions of authority existed within these villages, but no one person or group claimed the positions of ruler or monarchy. According to historian Walter Hawthorne, in this context, government worked through group consensus. In addition, many of these small-scale, decentralized societies rejected slaveholding.

As the trans-Atlantic slave trade with Europeans expanded from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, however, both non-slaveholding and slaveholding West and Central African societies experienced the pressures of greater demand for enslaved labor. In contrast to the chattel slavery that later developed in the New World, an enslaved person in West and Central Africa lived within a more flexible kinship group system. Anyone considered a slave in this region before the trans-Atlantic trade had a greater chance of becoming free within a lifetime; legal rights were generally not defined by racial categories; and an enslaved person was not always permanently separated from biological family networks or familiar home landscapes.

The rise of plantation agriculture as central to Atlantic World economies from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries led to a generally more extreme system of chattel slavery. in this system, human beings became movable commodities bought and sold in mass numbers across significant geographic distances, and their status could be shaped by concepts of racial inferirority and passed on to their desendants. New World plantations also generally required greater levels of exertion than earlier labor systems, so that slaveholders could produce a profit within competitive trans-Atlantic markets.

Pyramid ruins in Yaxzhilan, an ancient Mayan city in Chiapas, Mexico, 2005.


Pyramid ruins in Yaxzhilan, an ancient Mayan city in Chiapas, Mexico, 2005. Maya was a hierarchical Mesoamerican civilization established ca. 1500-2000 BC. The Mayan social hierarchy included captive or tribute laborers who helped build structures such as pyramids.


In the centuries before the arrival of European explorers, diverse American Indian groups lived in a wide range of social structures. Many of these socio-political structures included different forms of slavery or coerced labor, based on enslaving prisoners of war between conflicting groups, enforcing slavery within the class hierarchy of an empire, or forced tribute payments of goods or labor to demonstrate submission to a leader. However, like West and Central African slavery, American Indian slavery generally functioned within a more fluid kinship system in contrast to what later developed in the New World.

Ultimately, the practice of slavery as an oppressive and exploitative labor system was prevalent in both Western Africa and the Americas long before the influence of Europeans. Still, the factors that defined the social, political, and economic purposes and scale of slavery significantly changed, expanded, and intensified with the rise of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and American plantation agriculture launched by European expansion. For these reasons, African and American Indian slavery before the trans-Atlantic trade differed significantly from the chattel slavery systems that would later develop in the Atlantic World.

Greek slave presenting infant to its mother, vase, Eretria, Ancient Greece, 470-460 B.C., courtesy of the National Archaeological Museum.<a title="National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece" href="" target="_blank"><br /></a>


Greek slave presenting infant to its mother, vase, Eretria, Ancient Greece, 470-460 B.C., courtesy of the National Archaeological Museum.

Serfs in feudal England on a calendar page for August from Queen Mary's Psalter, ca. 1310, courtesy of the British Library Manuscripts Online Catalogue.

Serfs in feudal England, on a calendar page for August, Queen Mary’s Psalter, ca. 1310, courtesy of the British Library Manuscripts Online Catalogue.


In contrast to other Atlantic World regions, slavery was not prevalent in Western Europe in the centuries before the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Instead, labor contracts, convict labor, and serfdom prevailed. This had not always been the case. During the Roman Empire and into the early Middle Ages, enslaved Europeans could be found in every region of this subcontinent. After the Roman Empire collapsed (starting in 400 A.D. in northern Europe), the practice of individual Europeans owning other Europeans as chattel property began to decline.

As described in the following sections, this decline occurred due to unique religious, geographic, and political circumstances in Western Europe. By 1200, chattel slavery had all but disappeared from northwestern Europe. Southern Europeans along the Mediterranean coast continued to purchase slaves from various parts of Eastern Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. In Lisbon, for example, African slaves comprised one tenth of the population in the 1460s. Overall, however, the slave trade into southern Europe was relatively small compared to what later developed in the New World.”

Read more:

More here:


12 responses to “Slavery history prior to Trans Atlantic African slave capture and transport, “almost all peoples have been both slaves and slaveholders at some point in their histories.” 

  1. “During the Roman Empire and into the early Middle Ages, enslaved Europeans could be found in every region of this subcontinent.”

  2. Perhaps the most famous slave was St. Patrick.
    A lot of people don’t know that.
    I educated a young man a few weeks ago.

  3. Pingback: Citizen News » History of slavery reveals all races were slaves and slave holders, Slavery prevalent in Africa and with native Americans before trans Atlantic trade, Romans enslaved Europeans

  4. oldsailor88

    …………to compound all of todays bullsh-t all we hear is how badly the blacks are treated by whitey. Guess what……it is in truth the black folks themselves who are treating their own kind to violence levels which may exceed anything ever done against them as slaves in early America. Now they think whitey should pay them reparations because they can’t seem to realize where the real problem is. Many black folks have raised themselves up in America to become famous, and highly respected citizens. This proves that they can accomplish the same lives as most white folks. As long as the hatred that their parents taught them persists the raging lunacy,and hatred of whitey will continue. I guess IGNORANCE IS A BLISS. !!!!!!

  5. oldsailor88

    ……….a large percentage of todays younger black folks live off of the welfare system. This is largely because many of them have SERIOUS FELONY CONVICTIONS by the time they are 12 years of age. With criminal records most will never hold meaningful employment in their lifetime. To add insult upon injury a few of them even believe that the MORE VICIOUS CRIMES THEY DO THE MORE IMPORTANT THEY APPEAR IN THE EYES OF THEIR PEERS. This sort of reasoning reflects very LOW IQ, and a PRIMITIVE MINDSET. Up to a point this is the same sort of mindset that we see in the MIDDLE EAST. Afghanistan is a classic example of such RADICAL BEHAVIOR. All they can do is wave rifles in the air, and VERBALLY RAGE their TWISTED RADICAL BELIEFS. This also includes the murder of people who do not fit their RADICAL MOLD.

  6. oldsailor88

    ……….and I believe that both Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington were themselves slave owners. I have read that there was a few slave owners who schooled their slaves, and provided a reasonable existence for them. I believe that this was done for the purpose of extracting greater work loads upon them particularly in plantation settings. Slaves having knowledge helped the slave owner to pursue a better standard of living for himself. The slaves could be burdened with a greater work load. It has been rumored that Thomas Jefferson fathered some children from female slaves.

  7. oldsailor88

    AND NOW,
    …………THE DIE IS CAST.!!!!!! President Trump today along with his attorneys filed CLASS ACTION lawsuits against FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE, and more than likely YOUTUBE. By virtue of being a CLASS ACTION anyone with a legally justified reason can join the lawsuit. I have a gut feeling that VERY SOON the number of legal complainants will be in the millions. If the lawsuit is successful it will be the first step into the subsequent breakup of the tech media monopolies. GOOD FOR WHAT AILS THEM !!!!!!!

  8. oldsailor88

    ……….the reason for the lawsuit is founded in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. Free speech !!!! The protection the tech media has lies in Section 230. If the lawsuit is successful 230 will be repealed.

  9. oldsailor88

    ………….I learned that the city of Evanston IL… (part of Chicago) is ILLEGALLY PAYING REPARATIONS TO BLACK FOLKS using TAXPAYER MONEY. Many black folks don’t even know who their father is let alone know anything about a 150 year old alleged relative who MIGHT have been a slave. A large percentage of those folks have lived off of welfare for as long as they are old……..NOW REPARATIONS FROM TAXPAYERS…….REAL LOAD OF BULLSH-T !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. oldsailor88

    ………the LOW IQ leader in Chicago is a real mental derelict. That person can barely talk coherently.

  11. oldsailor88

    ……….as each day dawns, with it comes new information about the extra curricular association of Mr. Z with California Democratic officials which included huge sums of money illegally paid to various candidates for elected offices. I pray that the Trump CLASS ACTION will be successful. The smirking snotnose child needs to be taken to the woodshed for an ADMINISTRATIVE appointment with the BOARD OF EDUCATION.

  12. oldsailor88

    ……… only need to look briefly into the face of the leader, and listen to his childish babbling to realize who, and what he really is. The story is written all over his face, and in his words. Anyone with even half a brain can read the truth about him……..HE TRANSMITS THE TRUTH VIA HIS FACIAL EXPRESSIONS AS HE SPEWS HIS CAREFULLY CHOSEN WORDS. UNFORTUNATELY HIS ELOQUENT POLISHED VERBS DO NOT FOOL ALL OF US……..OR EVEN SOME OF US……….ALL THE TIME, OR EVEN SOME OF THE TIME.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s