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Did Slavery Cause Racism?

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Did slavery cause racism? Viewpoint: Yes. With the slave trade racism became rigidly defined in custom and law. Viewpoint: No. Slavery followed from racism and reinforced existing perceptions of blacks' racial inferiority. Racism both preexisted and survived slavery. The color of Africans' skin intrigued, frightened, and repelled Europeans. Exaggerating the physical and mental differences that allegedly separated blacks from whites, European writers conjectured that blacks had descended from apes or had emerged as the result of a biblical curse on the descendants of Canaan and Ham. With the expansion of the Atlantic slave trade toward the end of the seventeenth century, theories of black inferiority abounded. It was, after all, in…show more content…
Indentures, convicts, political and religious nonconformists, kidnapped children, and bushwhacked adults swelled the ranks of servants flooding the British Caribbean and North American colonies. Williams estimated that between 1654 and 1685, 10,000 servants sailed from Bristol alone and that more than 250,000 persons, constituting 50 percent of all English immigrants, came as servants to the New World. More recently, historian Edmund S. Morgan has confirmed Williams's essential conclusion, while extending his analysis far beyond Williams's original formulation. The excessively high mortality rates that prevailed in Virginia until the 1630s made labor a scarce and valuable commodity. For those who could afford to do so the opportunity to enlarge their labor supply proved an irresistible temptation. As Morgan showed, in the Chesapeake region wealth and status early became synonymous with the extensive use of bound, but not necessarily slave, labor. White indentured servitude was legal everywhere in colonial society. Most servants were young men between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five. Some were kidnapped or otherwise coerced, but most voluntarily entered into their contracts, hoping to begin life anew and, after a relatively few years of service, to become independent and acquire land. The English Parliament encouraged emigration to the New World. Between 1500 and 1650, as
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