The video presents a talk show conversation with the authors of a book called “White Cargo” (2008). The thesis of the book holds that the indentured servitude used to provide labor to the American colonies was, for the most part, a white slave trade.
The indentures (contracts) were often involuntary and a large part of the traffic consisted of kidnapping Irish and British children and collecting convicts from prison for export to North American plantations. The authors argue that slavery in the Colonies began and persisted for many decades as the slavery of whites; in fact that colonial black slavery evolved from this origin.
White Cargo itself is available as an audio book (11 hours), here:
17 thoughts on “Investigating White Slavery”
In addition, white slavery was a very common occurrence long before the trans-atlantic slave trade or endentured servitude in the colonies.
Black African war lords only saw a new product to exploit with capturing and selling their like skinned neighbors to the highest bidder for export. It’s just the way things were before societies evolved and the industrial revolution flourished. Get over it….
So why did White descendants of indentured servants enjoy full citizenship and Black descendants of slaves did not up until the last part of the 20th century?
Did the Irish descendants have to drink from separate fountains in 1964?
Did any descendants of White indentured servants have to leave town before sunset?
Again, slavery is not the issue, racism is. And that was legally and extra-legally enforced through terrorism.
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RE: “Again, slavery is not the issue, racism is.”
Is that a fact? Britain exported 300,000 white slaves to the colonies prior to the Revolutionary War. I think the schools that teach the history of slavery in America should probably do more to cover this part of it.
Ok, it was an issue. What happened when we outlawed slavery. We’re those descendants of indentured servitude treated as racial inferiors? Up until a few decades back?
Was there abuse of the servitude system? Probably.
How many Black slaves were there in 1865 compared to indentured servants?
What is your point? That because indentured servitude had some bad apples and might have be exploitive to a degree, slavery of the Blacks was not an issue based on race in the US?
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RE: “What is your point?”
My point was to share a bit of history showing that white slavery was a significant part of American slavery. I think it is important to know that slavery in America is not synonymous with racism and needn’t be taught in schools as though it were.
As a practical matter, this is an answer to Dr. Tabor’s question about defining “divisive concepts.”
So about 9% of unpaid labor were indentured servants in our history, mainly in the North. Some of the indentured folks were abused, no doubt.
And this is proof that slavery as practiced in Colonial and antebellum America was just colorblind?
“ Its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”
Cornerstone Speech, A. Stephens, VP Confederate States, 1861.
Was this the attitude for White indentured servants too?
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RE: “And this is proof that slavery as practiced in Colonial and antebellum America was just colorblind?”
Colorblind is your word. I would say that slavery is slavery regardless of skin color such that you can’t teach the history of slavery in America as a uniquely black experience. Also, it is wrong to teach the history of slavery as a history of racism.
…”it is wrong to teach the history of slavery as a history of racism.”
White European indentured servants were freed from their contracts and servitude at the end of the term. Black slaves were not.
Good info Mr. Roberts. I’m wondering if I should argue. Lol
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I am also a big fan of Irish history and, particularly, the many abuses suffered at the hands of the British. The fact is, the Irish “kidnappings” did happen, but not nearly at the rate some who push this narrative would have us believe. Most of the penal expulsions went to the Caribbean in the early days. In fact, Barbados was used as a verb in the British empire in those days. (A debtor could be “Barbadosed.”)
Indentured servitude was awful, but orders of magnitude less so than slavery. Indentured servants were freed at the end of their term, and they were always considered fully human. When (not if) their term ended, they were able to move around unmolested and pursue their lives as they pleased. Further, and this is a big one, indentured servitude wasn’t hereditary like slavery was. A blacksmith couldn’t force people under contract to him to reproduce and create a permanent stream of more servants for himself.
It is disingenuous to draw equivalency between the two and you have to wonder about the motivation of those who insist on continuing to do so.
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It’s seems like a classic case of whataboutism.
RE: “It is disingenuous to draw equivalency between the two and you have to wonder about the motivation of those who insist on continuing to do so.”
What do you hope to accomplish with such an ad hominem line of reasoning?
White slavery was common in the British Isles for centuries prior to the colonization of North America. It was also the first supply of labor used to build the colonies. This strikes me as a significant fact of history that deserves greater attention.
Man, do you guys get paid per ad hominem accusation or something?
It is plainly factually incorrect that whites were enslaved in the manner and number as black Africans. Why, then, do you and your fellow travelers insist it deserves any attention at all? Talk about wanting to instill a “victim mentality.”
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RE: “It is plainly factually incorrect that whites were enslaved in the manner and number as black Africans.”
You have that backwards. It is factually true that blacks in America were enslaved in the manner and number as whites up until the mid 1600s. Only then did laws specific to black slavery begin to develop.
Indentured servitude v. Slavery.
Key statement in the article to describes the easiest to spot differences between indenture and slavery: ” At the end of the indenture, the young person was given a new suit of clothes and was free to leave. Many immediately set out to begin their own farms, while others used their newly acquired skills to pursue a trade.”
How many slaves were allowed their freedom after the end of a legal contract?
RE: “How many slaves were allowed their freedom after the end of a legal contract?”
I don’t know the number, but emancipation from indentured servitude was the standard practice, even for African Americans.
…” but emancipation from indentured servitude was the standard practice, even for African Americans.”
African American Slaves were NOT indentured servants; they were SLAVES. There was no contract that allowed freedom after 7 years (one of the standard terms of indenture during those times, average was around 4 or 5) Saying there is no difference is disingenuous and flat out wrong.