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History of the United States
History of Africa
Abraham Lincoln

How did slavery come about?


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August 02, 2014 12:46AM

Slavery is almost as old as civilization itself and ancient records mentioning the existence of slaves date back to over 4,000 years ago. It started when people first realized that after defeating the neighboring city or village it would be a smart move to remove the able-bodied men and women from the competing community and so stop them being a threat to you, and put them to work for you instead of killing them. All the ancient civilizations held and traded slaves, the more so if a civilization was successful in fighting its wars. Some slaves were highly regarded administrators, craftsmen and tutors; most were employed working the fields.

The so-called Transatlantic slave trade of black people to the Americas is often - but mistakenly - seen as the worst case of slavery in history. It wasn't. The numbers - although very high - are dwarfed by the enormous number of people held as slaves in Arab countries over the centuries, by the hundreds of millions held as slaves (serfs) in the history of Russia and by the immense number of slaves held in Africa (by Africans) and in Asia by other Asians; where until well into the 19th century in several countries 30% of the whole population consisted of slaves. Even today, an estimated 300,000 people are still held as slaves in Arab countries.