Why were the countries with the most developed institutions of individual freedom also the leaders in establishing the most exploitative system of slavery that the world has ever seen? In seeking to provide new answers to this question, The Rise of African Slavery in the Americas examines the development of the English Atlantic slave system between 1650 and 1800. The book outlines a major African role in the evolution of the Atlantic societies before the nineteenth century and argues that the transatlantic slave trade was a result of African strength rather than African weakness. It also addresses changing patterns of group identity to account for the racial basis of slavery in the early modern Atlantic World. Exploring the paradox of the concurrent development of slavery and freedom in the European domains, David Eltis provides a fresh interpretation of this difficult historical problem.
• Explores the relationship between slavery and freedom at the time of the establishment of slave colonies • Shows the African contribution to the shaping of the slave trade and of the broader Atlantic community • Charts the changing patterns of group identity among Africans, Europeans, and their descendants in the Americas between 1640 and 1800
1. Slavery and freedom in the early modern world; 2. The English, Dutch, and Transoceanic migration; 3. Europeans and African slavery in the Americas; 4. Gender and slavery in the Early Modern Atlantic world; 5. Productivity in the slave trade; 6. Africa and Europe in the Early Modern era; 7. The African impact on the transatlantic slave trade; 8. The English plantation: Americas in comparative perspective; 9. Ethnicity in the Early Modern Atlantic world; 10. Europe and the Atlantic slave system.