History of the United States of America: From the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 1

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII.
SLAVERY. DISSOLUTION OF THE LONDON COMPANY.

WHILE Virginia, by the concession of a representative government, was constituted the asylum of liberty, it became the abode of hereditary bondsmen.

Slavery and the slave-trade are older than the records of human society; they are found to have existed wherever the savage hunter began to assume the habits of pastoral or agricultural life; and, with the exception of Australasia, they have extended to every portion of the globe. The oldest monuments of human labor on the Egyptian soil are the results of slave labor. The founder of the Jewish people was a slave-holder and a purchaser of slaves. The Hebrews, when they broke from their own thraldom, planted slavery in the promised land. Tyre, the oldest commercial city of Phœnicia, was, like Babylon, a market "for the persons of men."

Old as are the traditions of Greece, slavery is older. The wrath of Achilles grew out of a quarrel for a slave; Grecian dames had servile attendants; the heroes before Troy made excursions into the neighboring villages and towns to enslave the inhabitants. Greek pirates, roving, like the corsairs of Barbary, in quest of men, laid the foundations of Greek commerce; each commercial town was a slave-mart; and every cottage near the sea-side was in danger from the kidnapper. Greeks enslaved each other. The language of Homer was the mother tongue of the Helots; the Grecian city that warred on its neighbor city made of its captives a source of profit; the hero of Macedon sold men of his own kindred and language into hopeless slavery. More than four centuries before the Christian era, Alcidamas, a pupil of Gorgias,

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