Ancient slavery, especially among the Romans and Greeks, became a system of extreme cruelty. Christianity, though it did not do away with slavery, tended to ameliorate the condition of the slave. SEE SLAVERY, RELATION OF, TO CHRISTIANITY.
1. In Asia and Europe. — Justinian did much to promote the eventual extinction of slavery, and the Church excommunicated slave owners who put their slaves to death without warrant from the judge. But the number of slaves again increased, multitudes being brought by the barbarian invaders, and in the countries which had been provinces of the empire slavery continued long after the empire had fallen to pieces. It eventually merged into the mitigated condition known as serfdom, which prevailed all over Europe in the Middle Ages. The contact between Christianity and Mohammedanism during the Crusades gave a new impulse to slavery, neither party having scruples about the enslaving of those belonging to the other. From the 10th to the 14th century there grew up a considerable slavetrade, of which Rome was the center. The great commercial republics of Italy engaged largely in slavetrading, the Venetians even selling Christiains to Moslems. Slavery also existed in Florence, the slaves being, however, mostly Moslems and other unransomed prisoners of war. Under the; Saxons, the slave trade flourished in England, Bristol being the chief market, whence many slaves were exported to Ireland. But in England slavery was never very popular, and the Irish early emancipated their bondmen. Slavery still exists in most Mohammedan countries, but in a very mild form. It being a political rather than a social institution, it is possible for the slave not only to obtain liberty, but also to secure the highest social position. For a long time the Algerine corsairs took large numbers of captives from among the Christian nations around the Mediterranean, and sailed as far north as Ireland, seizing people whom they reduced to slavery. The European powers made frequent wars on the Barbary states, and the United States also resorted to force to secure the liberty and commerce of its citizens. The successful bombardment of Algiers in 1816 by an English fleet commanded by lord Exmouth put an end to white slavery in Barbary.
2. Negro Slavery. — The slave trade in negroes existed three thousand years ago, at least, and the Carthaginians brought numbers of black slaves from Central and Southern Africa. The Venetians, no doubt, distributed some negro slaves over the various European nations which they visited. Black slaves have been found in Mohammedan countries since the time of the prophet, but they have often risen very high, both in the state and in the household. The negro formerly was sold, not because he was a negro, but under the same conditions as the Greek or rab. The initiative in the African slave trade was taken by the Portuguese, who in 1444 formed a company at Lagos, although it is doubtful whether it was organized expressly for the trade in men. In 1445 four negroes were taken by the Portuguese, but rather accidentally than of set purpose to make them slaves. The trade quickly increased, and another factory was established in one of the Anguin islands, which sent from seven to eight hundred black slaves to Portugal every year. The discovery of America (1492) gave a new impetus to the trade, which had declined fully one half. The Spaniards, finding the Indians unable to do the work required of them, soon began to import nemgroes into the New World, and were encouraged by the priest. Las Casas and other Roman Catholic leaders on the plea of preventing the extinction of the natives. The trade, under the stimulus afforded by the American demand, rapidly increased, and was engaged in by the English, who had already brought negroes into their own country and sold them as early as 1553. In the time of the Stuarts four companies were formed for carrying on the traffic, which furnished negroes to America. In 1713 the privilege of supplying negroes to the Spanish colonies was secured by the English for thirty years, during which time 144, 000 were to be landed. Other European nations engaged in the commerce, and the first slaves brought to the old territory of the United States. were sold from a Dutch vessel. which landed twenty at Jamestown, Va., in 1620. The Continental Congress, in 1776, resolved that no more slaves should be imported; but when the American Constitution was formed, in 1788, Congress was prohibited from interfering with the traffic until 1808, at which time it was abolished. In 1820 it was declared to be piracy. The State of Georgia prohibited the traffic in 1798. In England, as early as 1702, chief-justice Holt ruled that "as soon as a negro comes into England he is free: one may be a ville in England, but not a slave;" and later, "In England there is no such thing as a slave, and a human being never was considered a chattel to be sold for a price." In 1772 lord Mansfield decided, in the case of Sharp vs. Somerset SEE SHARP, GRANVILLE, that a slave could not by force be compelled to go out of the kingdom. The first legislative action in favor of the abolition of the slave trade was in 1793, when the Commons passed an act for its gradual abolition, which failed in the House of Lords. In 1806 abolition was brought forward as a government measure, and was carried in 1807. It received. the royal assent on March 25, and made all slave trading illegal after Jan. 1, 1808. British subjects, however, continued to carry on the trade under cover of the Spanish and Portuguese flags. The ships were more crowded than ever, through fear of capture; and the negroes were often thrown overboard when the vessel was pursued. In 1811 an act of Parliament made the trade felony, punishable with fourteen years' transportation, or from three to five years' imprisonment with hard labor. An act of 1824 declared it piracy, and as such a capital crime if committed within the admiralty jurisdiction, but the statute of 1837 left it punishable with transportation for life. In the course of time the slave trade was abolished by Venezuela, Chili, Buenos Ayres, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, and France. The accession of Portugal and Spain to the principle of abolition was obtained by the treaties of 1815 and 1817; and by a convention concluded with Brazil in 1826 it was declared piratical for the subjects of that country; to be engaged in the slavetrade after 1830. By treaties with different countries various steps have been taken for its suppression, which have resulted in its almost entire extinction.
Having secured the suppression of the slave trade, philanthropists turned their attention to efforts to secure the emancipation of the slave himself. After considerable agitation, an emancipation bill passed both. houses of the English Parliament, and obtained the royal sanction Aug. 28, 1833. Slavery was to cease Aug. 1, 1834, but the slaves were for a certain duration of time to be apprenticed laborers to their former owners. This was objected to and the complete disfranchisement took place in 1838. The slave owners were indemnified in the sum of £20,000,000. The French emancipated their negroes in 1848, as did most of the new republics of South America at the time of the Revolution, while the Dutch slaves received their freedom in 1863. In Hayti slavery ceased in 1791, its abolition being the result of an insurrection of that year. In Brazil a law for the gradual emancipation of slaves was passed in 1871. A recent treaty between Great Britain and the sultan of Zanzibar secures in promise the speedy abolition of the slave trade on the opposite eastern coast of Africa. In the United States the feeling was generally averse to slavery at the time of their founding, and in some of the Southern states that feeling was stronger than in most of the Northern. Vermont abolished slavery in 1777, before she joined the Union; Pennsylvania, in 1780, provided for general emancipation. In Massachusetts the abolition of slavery was provided for by the constitution of 1780. Rhode Island gradually emancipated her slaves, and had but five left in 1840; New York adopted a gradual emancipation act in 1799, and in 1817 passed another act declaring all her slaves free on July 4, 1827. New Jersey pursued the same course in 1804. The increase in the demand for cotton and the invention of the cotton-gin made slavery very profitable, and probably prevented voluntary emancipation by the Southern: states. In 1820, when Missouri was admitted into the Union as a slave state, the "Missouri Compromise" was entered into, by which slavery was legalized to the:south, but prohibited to the north, of 36° 30' N. lat. The South obtained in compensation an amendment of the Fugitive slave Law, making it penal to harbor runaway slaves or aid in their escape. In Boston, Mass., Jan. 1, 1831, William Lloyd Garrison began to oppose slavery in The Liberator, and on Jan. 1, 1832, the first emancipation society was formed, on the basis that "slaveholding is a sin against God and a crime against humanity; that immediate emancipation was the right of every slave and the duty of every master." This society was organized in Boston, by twelve men, with Arnold Buffum as president. Very soon the results of their efforts were manifest in the religious sects and parties. In 1840 some of its members seceded and formed the "American and Foreign Antislavery Society," and the same year the "Liberty party" was organized, which was mostly absorbed b the "Free- soil party" in 1848. This party was in turn absorbed by the Republican party, which in 1860 elected Abraham Lincoln president. The "American Abolition Society" was formed in Boston in 1855, to advocate the view that the national government had the constitutional right to abolish slavery from every part of the Union. In 1859 the "Church Antislavery Society" was organized for the purpose of convincing ministers and people that slavery was a sin. In the same year an attempt was made by John Brown and his followers to subvert slavery, but it was defeated. The secession of the states forming the Confederate States (1861) wholly changed the relation of the government towards slavery. War soon followed, notwithstanding the assurances of Mr. Lincoln of his purpose to abide faithfully by all constitutional compromises relating to slavery. In May, 1861, majorgeneral Butler, of the department of Eastern Virginia, declared all slaves who had, been employed for military purposes of the confederacy to be contraband of war. The president recommended, March 2, 1862, that Congress adopt a resolution "that the United States, in order to cooperate with any state which may adopt gradual abolition of slavers, give to such state pecuniary aid, to be used by such state in its discretion, to compensate it for the inconvenience, public and private, produced by such change of system." The resolution was adopted, but produced no effect., Mr. Lincoln issued a proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862, declaring his intention to announce that on Jan. 1, 1863, all persons held by any state, or part of a state, which should then be in rebellion, should be free. The final proclamation of freedom was issued Jan. 1, 1863. On June 9, 1862, Congress passed an act declaring that "from and after the passage of this act there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the territories now existing," etc. On June 23, 1864, all laws for the rendition of fugitive slaves to their masters were repealed. On Jan. 31, 1865, the vote was taken submitting to the several states for ratification the 13th amendment to the Constitution: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction." This amendment was approved by twenty-seven of the states, and consequently adopted. The 14th amendment, adopted in 1867-68, absolutely forbade compensation for loss of slaves being made either by the United States or by any state.
3. In Egypt and Africa. — Slavery has existed in Egypt through all its known history. In modern slavery there has not been very great severity, the male black slave being treated with more consideration than the free servant. He leads a life well suited to his lazy disposition, and if discontented with his situation, can easily compel his master to sell him. The female slaves are generally negroes, Abyssinians, Georgians, or Greeks. They occupy all positions from that of the lowest menial to the favorite companion, and. even wife, of the master (Lane, Manners and Customs of Modern Egyptians, 1, 275 sq.). Slavery has been nominally abolished in Egypt, although it still exists to a large degree in Nubia and Upper Egypt. In the interior of Africa the slave-traffic is still carried on with much severity, principally by Arab traders. See Chambers's Encyclop. s.v.; Johnson's Cyclop. vs. For literature, see Appletons' Cyclop. s.v.