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Slave History

The state of Mississippi contains a great deal of history for African Americans. Slavery Statistics, Slave Narratives and Slave History provide a foundation for understanding the migration into and out of the state. Famous people provides some recognizable references to the contributions made by well known residents of the state. The following definition of slavery is provided courtesy of George Mason University's MMTS project.

Slave Trade
In the 17th Century, European traders became involved in the capture and sale of slaves from various parts of Africa. No one knows exactly how many Blacks were taken from Africa to be sold throughout the New World. Estimates range around 10 million. An unknown number of captive Africans never survived the sea voyages to be sold into slavery.

Although the American slave trade began, according to contemporary records, as early as 1619 in Jamestown, Virginia, slaves were not imported in large numbers until the rise of the Southern plantation system in the late 17th century. During the long sea voyages that sometimes lasted 10 weeks, slaves were packed together below decks "like books upon a shelf"; water was stagnant, food scarce and unpalatable, fever rampant. The sick and feeble were often thrown overboard. Probably, at least one out of five never reached the new world. Importation of slaves was barred after 1808, but the boom in cotton following the invention of the cotton gin in 1783 boosted the demand, and slave smuggling was not finally halted until 1860. There was also domestic slave trade, in which slaves where bought andsold in the United States.

The first shipload of twenty slaves arrived in America on a Dutch ship from Africa in 1619. Slavery developed along with the single crop economy in the South in the later part of the 18th century, especially after the invention of the cotton gin in 1793. "King Cotton" soon became the keystone of the Southern economy. After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, planters took thousands of slaves into the new territories.

Slavery never became a major economic factor in the North, partly because the plantation system never caught on there. While the plantation system was developing in the South, industrialization was on the rise in the North. Many religious groups opposed slavery on moral grounds. Beginning with Rhode Island, all Northern states had abolished slavery by 1804. The spread of slavery into new territories was accompanied by severe strife between the increasingly anti-slavery North and the increasingly slave dependent South. Slavery has been part of human history for thousands of years. Slavery in the New World differed in that it was primarily racial. Itapplied only to dark skinned persons

If you have genealogical information related to African-American history in any Mississippi County and would like to share with others, email Dorian Jefferson, the MSGenWeb African American Resources Coordinator.

© - Dorian Jefferson
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