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The Evolution of Slavery

            What is a slave? The dictionary defines a slave as a person held in bondage to another (Merriam 1091). The root of the word is a national name "Slav. The adaptation of "Slav- to "slave- came from the time when the Germans supplied the slave markets of Europe with captured Slavs (Meltzer 3). A slave, then, is a man who is the property of another. To possess a man deprives that man of developing his own humanity; slavery prevents him from developing a sense of human dignity. Therein lies the moral disaster which slavery created. Slavery itself was not an institution that developed alone. It was an institution developed by humans, justified in moral issues and biblical beliefs that were enhanced by economic incentives. Slavery has been in existence for many centuries. The Romans used slaves to build their empires. Feudal lords used serfs to do their work. Even in Africa, royal kings used slaves to build and protect their empires. However, this early slavery was nothing like the slavery which developed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries mainly due to the new arena "America and their need for laborers. The issue of slavery is complex. Inherent in these issues are core principles of morality, freedom, and greed. Slavery as it existed in the 17th and 18th centuries literally changed the world. It brought wealth and riches to a new land. It gave to America the basic tool in which the country grew and prospered. According to Thomas, "most of the great enterprises for the first four hundred years of colonization owed much to African slaves- (12). How did slavery come about? Many believe that there is no one answer to this question (Thomas 15). But it is clear that the unbelievable growth of slavery lay in its economic benefits. However, in order to justify such brutality to humans, many rationalized their actions by looking into the Bible or believing in the natural inferiority of blacks over whites.

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