Historians Can Trace Slavery's Roots to Antiquity

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 29, 1998 | Go to article overview

Historians Can Trace Slavery's Roots to Antiquity


Byline: J. Hope Babowice

You wanted to know

Chris Molitor, 11, of Libertyville wanted to know:

When, where and why did slavery start, and who was the first person to own a slave?

If you have a question you'd like Kids Ink to answer, write Kids Ink, c/o the Daily Herald, 50 Lakeview Parkway, Suite 104, Vernon Hills, IL 60061. Along with your question, please include your name, age, phone number, hometown, grade and school.

For further information

To learn more about slavery, Vernon Area Public Library in Lincolnshire suggests:

- "From Slave Ship to Freedom" by Julius Lester

- "Our Song Our Toil: The Story of American Slavery As Told By Slaves" edited by Michele Stepto

- "A Place in the Sun" by Jill Rubalacaba

- "To Be A Drum" by Evelyn Coleman

- "Jumping The Broom" by Courtni C. Wright

Web site: Amistad at http://amistad.mysticseaport.org

"When, where and why did slavery start, and who was the first person to own a slave?," asks Chris Molitor, 11, a sixth-grader at Libertyville's Highland Middle School.

Slavery is a difficult and emotional issue for today's society to discuss.

"Slavery goes back to antiquity," said Ira Berlin, Ph.D., history professor at the University of Maryland, noted historian and author of numerous books on the subject of slavery in America. His most recent book is "Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America."

"Slavery can be found in the Bible; it is an old and ancient institution," Berlin said. "Slaves have no rights to an individual or family life, to accumulate property, to improve or better themselves."

When Columbus sailed to "discover" America in the late 1400s, slavery was a part of the culture. The Spanish and other Europeans had lived with slave codes and brought slaves with them as they discovered new lands. The new immigrants found that the American Indians they encountered also had slaves.

Two hundred years later, British settlers who came to American had to re-invent slavery as they began to develop plantations in the Chesapeake and Virginia regions. Slavery laws were passed in the 1660s, revealing that the colonists lived with slavery in their new country.

Not only were people taken from Africa and sold into slavery, but there were indentured servants - people who were forced to be slaves in order to pay off debts.

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Historians Can Trace Slavery's Roots to Antiquity
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