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    African and Native American Slavery in the British Colonies

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    Discuss the development of African slavery in British America. How did colonists justify enslavement of Africans? Why was African slavery preferred over that of Native Americans?

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    To preface the answer to the questions, we must always remember that there were many different beliefs and practices within the British colonies and that it is hazardous to make generalizations without also recognizing that.
    The development of slavery was a process rather than an immediate institution. British settlers came to the New World with a set of prejudices that influenced their beliefs about the morality of slave ownership. They believed that Africans and Native Americans were inferior for a variety of reasons: religion, cultural beliefs and customs, and governmental frameworks, or lack thereof, not to mention skin tones.

    British Americans utilized indentured servants from home from first settlement. (Indentured servants could earn their passage and freedom at the end of their terms of service-usually seven years.) As the indentured servants earned their freedom, settlers and farmers were forced to find new sources of labor. British colonists resorted to Native American slavery with little success. Native Americans knew the terrain and could blend into Native American groups with little trouble. They were more adept at surviving in the wilderness than the British were from the outset. The Natives were more useful to the colonists as interpreters, traders and mediators. Furthermore, the colonists knew from first contact that Native American methods of warfare made them formidable opponents against British battle strategies. As a result, the colonists were intimidated by the Natives to a degree with regard to military capability. Native American populations had been decimated by European disease when the British finally began colonizing in North America. (They were the last of the Europeans to begin colonies in North America behind the Spanish and the French.) The populations that remained were further destroyed by the contagious strains that the British brought with them. ...

    Solution Summary

    Slavery developed in the British colonies in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The British (and then Americans) enslaved millions of people, both Native Americans and Africans. There were many justifications for the "peculiar institution."