Print this page Condemn or condone? The bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade in provides a valuable opportunity to review the history of the transatlantic slave trade and assess its legacy. The Christian Church was involved in the trade at many levels, but also played a vital role in its abolition. What is the legacy of this contribution, and how can the Church help itself and others to move forward?
There are numerous references to slavery in the Bible which can be interpreted to condemn or condone this practice, and even those verses which appear unambiguous, are far from clear when scrutinised.
For instance, scriptural passages from the Old Testament books of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy which appear to denounce slavery actually condemn enslavement in certain circumstances rather than slavery in general. On the other hand, although St Paul's New Testament epistles fail to condemn slavery, they argue that slaves must be treated fairly as 'brethren'.
Out of Africa Historical records show that Islam and Christianity played an important role in enslavement in Africa. The Arab-controlled Trans-Saharan slave trade helped to institutionalise slave trading on the continent. And during the 'age of expedition', European Christians witnessed caravans loaded with Africans en-route to the Middle East.
Others arriving much later in West Africa observed slavery in African societies, leading them to assume that African enslavement was intrinsic to the continent. For many of these early European explorers, the Bible was not only regarded as infallible, it was also their primary reference tool and those looking for answers to explain differences in ethnicity, culture, and slavery, found them in Genesis 9: In the Genesis passage, Africans were said to be the descendants of Ham, the son of Noah, who was cursed by his father after looking at his naked form.
Moreover, in Genesis 10, the 'Table of Nations' describes the origins of the different 'races' and reveals that one of the descendants of Ham is 'Cush' - Cush and the 'Cushites' were people associated with the Nile region of Trans atlantic slave trade history history essay Africa. In time, the connection Europeans made between sin, slavery, skin colour and beliefs would condemn Africans.
In the Bible, physical or spiritual slavery is often a consequence of sinful actions, while darkness is associated with evil.
Moreover, the Africans were subsequently considered 'heathens' bereft of Christianity, although scholars now suggest that Christianity reached Africa as early as the early 2nd century AD and that the Christian communities in North Africa were among the first in the world. However, Europeans doubtlessly refused to acknowledge the relevance of African Christianity as it appeared irreconcilable with the continent's cultural surroundings.
Religion as justification The emergence of colonies in the Americas and the need to find labourers saw Europeans turn their attention to Africa with some arguing that the Transatlantic Slave Trade would enable Africans, especially the 'Mohammedans', to come into contact with Christianity and 'civilisation' in the Americas, albeit as slaves.
It was even argued that the favourable trade winds from Africa to the Americas were evidence of this providential design.
Religion was also a driving force during slavery in the Americas. Once they arrived at their new locales the enslaved Africans were subjected to various processes to make them more compliant, and Christianity formed part of this. Ironically, although the assertion of evangelisation was one of the justifications for enslaving Africans, very little missionary work actually took place during the early years.
Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions Abolition Christian abolitionists While some clergymen were using Christian scriptures to propagate slavery, others were scouring the Bible to end it. Although evangelicals tend to receive most of the credit for this, the origins of Christian abolitionism can be traced to the late 17th Century and the Religious Society of Friends or Quakers.
Since their establishment in the mid 17th century, Quakers had faced persecution for their beliefs which stated that everyone was "equal in the sight of God" and capable of receiving the "light of God's spirit and wisdom", including Africans. Several of their founders, including George Fox and Benjamin Lay, encouraged fellow congregants to stop owning slaves, and byQuakers in Pennsylvania officially declared their opposition to the importation of enslaved Africans into North America.
Quakers in Philadelphia and London debated slavery at their yearly meetings in the s, and fellow Quaker Anthony Benezet's Some Historical Account of Guinea became required reading for abolitionists on both sides of the Atlantic.
For instance, it informed John Wesley's Thoughts Upon Slavery which in turn influenced many British Christian abolitionists and was said to have inspired the former slave trader turned clergyman, John Newton, to break his decades of silence about his involvement in the slave trade.
Many early Christian opponents of slavery came from congregations such as Congregationalists, Quakers, Presbyterians, 'Methodists' and Baptists, who were called 'Nonconformists' or 'Dissenters' because they disagreed with the beliefs and practices of the Church of England.
These Christians were often marginalised because of this, but their counter-cultural stance enabled them to make connections with those who faced other forms of persecution. Calls for abolition grow The main thrust of Christian abolitionism emerged from the evangelical revival of the 18th century, which spawned dynamic Christians with clear-cut beliefs on morality and sin and approached the issue of slavery from this standpoint.
In his Thoughts upon Slavery, John Wesley questioned the morality of slavery and those who engaged in it, while William Wilberforce, the evangelical Anglican MP who worked to end the slave trade in Parliament, believed that he had been called by God to end the 'immoral' slave trade.
Many evangelicals were interested in the physical as well as the spiritual condition of enslaved Africans. Clergymen such as James Ramsay, who had worked in the Caribbean, were influential in pointing out that many Africans died without hearing the gospel.
However, practical evangelical abolition work began with the Anglican Granville Sharp in the mid s when he fought for the freedom of a young African, Jonathan Strong.
Sharp rose to national prominence during the landmark Somerset Case ofwhich determined the status of slavery in Britain.
He would later join with the Quakers to establish the first recognised anti-slavery movement in Britain in Venture Smith, account of capture in Guinea, ca. ; from Bruce Dorsey, Swarthmore College The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, in In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience, from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (New York Public Library) Primary resources related to the transatlantic slave trade, mid s, in Slavery and Freedom in American History and Memory, .
Work, play, fashion, economic class, religious faith, even politics—all these aspects of American life and more are woven into clothing. The Museum cares for one of the nation's foremost collections of men's, women's, and children's garments and accessories—from wedding gowns and military uniforms to Halloween costumes and bathing suits.
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade began around the mid-fifteenth century when Portuguese interests in Africa moved away from the fabled deposits of gold to a much more readily available commodity -- slaves.
+ web files, a regularly updated Gazetteer, overall an in-depth description of our island's internally self-governing British Overseas Territory miles north of . Agriculture in the era of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Seasonal rainfall in the Atlantic slaving world. Rainfall, crop type and agricultural calendars.
Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Essay The Trans-Atlantic slave trade had a massive impact the British, West Indies, Africa, and the emerging African American culture. The British were impacted with massive profits, to the disadvantage of many parts of Africa, where large amounts of men and women from all around the continent were forced into slavery.