Slavery: setting the record straight on slavery

21 March 2023
Article category: Highlights. Tags: 
by Fred Elbel

Slavery existed in the United States well before America was formed. America's founders created a union under which slavery was abolished. But leftists disparage our Constitution and our country nevertheless based upon the false premise that Whites are all racists.

Slaves were captured in Africa by Africans, and were sold to pre-American slave traders via Muslim slave traders. Approximately 15 million Europeans had been captured and enslaved by Muslims between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries - far more than European slave-traders took from Africa in the same period.

Learn more about the actual history of slavery - see the following articles and video:


1. Time to Set the Record Straight on Slavery, by James Simpson, American Thinker, September 30, 2019:

According to Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, 12.5 million African slaves were shipped to the New World between 1525 and 1866, and 10.7 million (about 86 percent) survived the trip. Of these, only 450,000 (about 4 percent of the total) were sent to America. The rest were shipped to South America and the Caribbean. Brazil alone received 4.9 million. Why are there no calls for reparations in Brazil? And the black slave trade to the West pales in comparison to the white and black slave trade conducted by Muslim nations of Africa and the Middle East in its barbarity and numbers.

The much larger and infinitely more barbaric Muslim slave trade began in about 711, capturing both whites and blacks in numbers much higher than those taken by the West, and Muslim slave-traders provided over 80 percent of those black slaves sold to the West. Of the slaves captured by Muslims for their own use, 80 to 90 percent died on the way to market. Of those shipped to North Africa for sale to Western slavers, about 30–50 percent died en route. Males slated for Muslim markets were castrated. Only 25 percent survived the operation. Their descendants in those nations are much smaller in number because most male African slaves were used as eunuchs and worked to death. Estimates of total black enslavement in Muslim nations range from 11 million to 32 million. Given the high mortality rate of capture and transport, the impact on black African tribes must have been genocidal....

Just as the Left demands that America pony up trillions of dollars for the bogus "global warming" agenda, while it ignores the much larger pollution quotient produced by China and Russia, it now demands trillions in "reparations" for slavery from the nation that imported the fewest slaves of any and, along with other Western nations, brought about, for the first time in world history, a complete end to legal slavery throughout the world. It's time to set the record straight and end the Left's constant agitation and provocation that deliberately, and fraudulently, fan the flames of division in our great nation.


2. The Islamic Trade in European Slaves, by Emmet Scott, New English Review, December 2016:

By mainstream estimates around 1 million were taken by the Barbary pirates; around 3 million by the Crimean [Tatars] from Russia/Ukraine; about 1 million by the Tartars [Tatars] and Turks from the Caucasus, and about 10 million (by the most conservative estimate) by the Ottomans themselves from central Europe and the Balkans. This gives a grand total of 15 million – far more than European slave-traders took from Africa in the same period. Yet this is a fact quite hidden from the public and unknown to almost everyone in Western Europe and North America. And the conditions endured by European captives in the Ottoman Empire were infinitely worse than those experienced by Africans in the Americas. The latter generally worked on plantations and were permitted, and even encouraged, to marry and have families. By contrast, the Europeans in the Dar al-Islam suffered a terrible fate. Able-bodied men were generally branded and put to endless back-breaking labour, either as galley-slaves or as miners. They were not permitted to marry and were denied all semblance of family life or female companionship. Young boys were invariably castrated – and raped – whilst women were consigned to the sex-slavery of the harem.

The great humanitarian impulse to end slavery, from the late eighteenth century onwards, came entirely from the Christian West, and by the mid-nineteenth century it was stamped out completely in most Christian lands. That slavery no longer exists (officially at least) in the majority of Muslim territories is due entirely to the efforts of Westerners...


3. Understanding the Islam/West Narrative, by Raymond Ibrahim, American Thinker, November 26, 2019:

Any honest and objective appraisal of Islam’s historic jihad on the Christian world is eye-opening, to say the very least. In the first century of its existence (between 632-732) Islam permanently conquered, Arabized, and Islamized nearly three-quarters of the post-Roman Christian world, thereby permanently severing it. Europe came to be known as “the West” because it was literally the remaining and westernmost appendage of Christendom not to be swallowed up by Islam.

For roughly a millennium thereafter, Arabs, Berbers, Turks, and Tatars -- all of whom called and saw themselves as Muslims -- launched raid after raid, all justified and lauded as jihads, into virtually every corner of Europe. They reached as far as Iceland and provoked the U.S. into its first war as a nation. The devastation was indescribable; some regions in Europe, particularly in Spain and the Balkans, remain inhabitable [sic - uninhabited] due to the incessant raiding; some 15 million Europeans were enslaved during this perennial jihad and, according to contemporary records, treated horrifically....


4. The first slaveholder in British North America was ... black:

Anthony Johnson (b. c. 1600 – d. 1670) was a black Angolan known for achieving freedom and wealth in the early 17th-century Colony of Virginia. He was one of the first African American property owners and had his right to legally own a slave recognized by the Virginia courts. Held as an indentured servant in 1621, he earned his freedom after several years, and was granted land by the colony.

Johnson's slave was ... black.


5. Video: Mark Steyn memorably recounts the abolishment of slavery by Western Civilization in answering a question at a Hillsdale College event (question begins at 54:13).


6. "Multicultural" Education, by Thomas Sowell:

Many of those who talk "non-judgmental" rhetoric out of one side of their mouths are quick to condemn the evils of "our society" out of the other side. Worse, they condemn American society or Western civilization for sins that are the curse of the human race all across the planet. Indeed, they condemn the West for sins that are worse in many non-Western societies.

Perhaps the classic case is slavery. The widespread revulsion which this hideous institution inspires today was largely confined to Western civilization a century ago, and a century before that was largely confined to a portion of British society. No one seems interested in the epic story of how this curse that covered the globe and endured for thousands of years was finally gotten rid of. It was gotten rid of by the West-- not only in Western societies but in other societies conquered, controlled, or pressured by the West.

The resistance put up by Africans, Asians, and Arabs was monumental in defense of slavery, and lasted for more than a century. Only the overwhelming military power of the West enabled it to prevail on this issue, and only the moral outrage of Western peoples kept their governments' feet to the fire politically to maintain the pressure against slavery around the world. Of course, this is not the kind of story that appeals to the multiculturalists. If it had been the other way around-- if Asian or African imperialists had stamped out slavery in Europe-- it would still be celebrated, in story and song, on campuses across America.


7. Slavery? We Were a Footnote, by John Hinderaker, PowrLine, Novmber 29, 2019:

Liberals are trying to rewrite American history, teaching our children that the only thing that ever happened here... was slavery...

Slavery has existed since time immemorial on every continent except Antarctica, as Thomas Sowell wrote years ago. An estimated one-third to one-half of the inhabitants of the Roman empire, for example, were slaves. For more than 1,000 years, slaves (few of them Africans) were one of the basic commodities of trade across most of the world...

The Eastern slave trade went to Arab countries. For a long time, the Arabs bought or captured European slaves, but when that supply dried up, they turned to Africa. Numbers are hard to come by–weirdly, the Arab slave trade hasn’t been as widely studied as the Western trade–but this source estimates that 17 million East Africans were sold into slavery in Islamic countries....

To my knowledge, the best data source on the Western, or trans-Atlantic, slave trade is the Trans-Atlantic and Intra-American slave trade database... This chart, from that source, shows how many slaves disembarked at various locations between 1501 and 1875. Click to enlarge:

Chart from trans Atlantic and intra American slave trade database

The database shows a total of 10,702,654 slaves transported in the Atlantic trade. Of those, only 388,747 arrived in mainland North America, what became the United States–3.6% of the total in the trans-Atlantic trade, and well under 2% of the total slaves exported from Africa....

Transatlantic slave trade from Africa, 1525-1866

But virtually no one seriously opposed slavery in principle... until the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when Christians in England and America, with a powerful assist from Jews, argued for the first time that slavery was wrong per se. Thereafter, the British Navy played the lead role in suppressing the slave trade....

Here in the U.S., the Republican Party was founded principally to combat slavery, which the Democratic Party fought bitterly to preserve. After the loss of 600,000 lives–far more than the number of African slaves who were brought to the colonies... abolition was achieved....


8. Animated chart of the day: African slaves brought to the New World by region, 1511-1870, by Mark J. Perry, Carpe Diem, December 1, 2019:


Here are some observations on the animated visualization above (these obsrvations have been deleted from the original source):

1. Of the nearly 10 million African slaves brought to the New World between 1511 and 1870, more than one-half (5.1 million and 52.8% of the total) disembarked in Brazil... Of the remaining approximately 1 million African slaves who were brought to the New World, 658,000 (and 6.8% of the total) disembarked in the Spanish Americas (Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, etc.) and only about 366,000 arrived in mainland North America (which became the United States) representing only 3.8% of the total slaves in the trans-Atlantic trade. For every one African slave brought to the United States, there were more than 26 slaves who arrived elsewhere in the New World (Brazil, Caribbean, and Spanish Americas).

2. By ratios, there were nearly 14 times as many slaves brought to the Caribbean and nearly 10 times as many slaves brought to Brazil as the United States (Mainland North America)....

4. In 1700 when there were only 12,000 slaves in the United States, there were more than half a million in the Caribbean (517,000) and the Spanish Americas (553,000). By the early 1800s when the number of slaves brought to the United States peaked and stabilized at about 361,000, there were more than 4 million slaves in the Carribbean and nearly 2 million in Brazil. Between 1810 and before the Civil War started in 1861, fewer than 5,000 African slaves arrived in the United States.

5. Even as the slave trade stopped in the United States, the Spanish Americas, and Brazil by around 1860, more than 135,000 African slaves were brought to the Caribbean between 1856 and 1870...


9. American Slavery in the Global Context, by Dan McLaughlin, National Review, 6 January 2022. A long but excellent article detailing the history of slavery worldwide.


10. America’s Buried History of White Slavery, by Larry Romanoff, American Greatness, 18 February 2023: In fact, an examination of available documentation indicates that white slavery in the Americas was a much more extensive operation than was black slavery, and the numbers may be severely under-estimated... One eyewitness to the mass kidnapping of poor Whites estimated that from his personal knowledge alone, at least 10,000 were sold into slavery every year from throughout Great Britain for perhaps two centuries.


11. The mob comes for Madison - On the woke hijacking of James Madison’s Montpelier, The New Criterion, editor Roger Kimball, January 2023. Most of the miasma in the U.S. - and indeed across Western societies more generally - ultimately originates in the (unfounded) guilt trip over slavery. In this article, Roger Kimball writes masterfully about this fundamental point:

If chattel slavery hadn't existed in the United States, the Left would have had to invent it. What we mean is that the idea of slavery has become so dear to the disciples of identity politics that without its moral sanction they would be lost. Absent the original sin of slavery, the entire racialist racket that holds our society hostage would sputter to an inglorious halt. The race hustlers promoting "affirmative action" (i.e., race- or sex-based discrimination) would be out of business, as would the real-estate magnates and firebugs of Black Lives Matter. Ditto the angry historical fantasists behind The 1619 Project. Forget that most societies practiced slavery throughout history. Is anyone asking for "reparations" because their ancestors may have been enslaved by the Egyptians, the Persians, the Greeks, or the Romans? Forget that slavery ended in the United States more than one hundred and fifty years ago because Abraham Lincoln prosecuted a brutal civil war to keep the country together and end the "peculiar institution," which was not peculiar at all. (When, by the way, will slavery end in Islamic society, or India, or China?) The world has had numerous long-distance trades in slaves of different phenotypes. Most of the West African slaves who made their way to America were sold into servitude by black African slavers.

Those impolitic facts are what the Bolsheviks of old called “counterrevolutionary.” That is, they are politically "false" even if empirically true. The wardens of wokeness tell us that they hate slavery and its legacy. Doubtless in one sense they do. But they are divided in their minds. They also cherish the historical fact of slavery. For one thing, they understand that it is their irrevocable meal ticket. They also perceive that it is an imperishable source of emotional power. Because it is a wound that can never heal, it is also a sin that white society can never expiate—which is why they tell the world that the legacy of slavery is ubiquitous and ineradicable. But if that were true, why should anyone have ever bothered to campaign against it? It would be like campaigning against the onset of night.

We understand that to ask such questions is to be guilty of "racism," the cardinal tort of our age whose almost aphrodisiac power is ultimately guaranteed by the inexhaustible well of victimhood that slavery, or the exploitation of the idea of slavery, has dug. Martin Luther King Jr. famously dreamed that people would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. That is now regarded as a reactionary, indeed a racist sentiment. After all, to judge people by their character, by what they actually do, would upset the entire racialist concession. From now on, race is everything, character a dispensable epiphenomenon. And the ultimate power source, the inexhaustible kernel of animus that fuels the racialist requisition, is the historical accident of chattel slavery in the United States...


Countries That Still Have Slavery 2021

From Countries That Still Have Slavery 2021, World Population Review:

Today, 167 countries still have some form of modern slavery, which affects an estimated 46 million people worldwide....

Top 10 Countries with the Highest Prevalence of Modern Slavery (by total number of slaves) - Global Slavery Index 2018:

    India - 7,989,000
    China - 3,864,000
    North Korea - 2,640,000
    Nigeria - 1,386,000
    Iran - 1,289,000
    Indonesia - 1,220,000
    Congo (Democratic Republic of) - 1,045,000
    Russia - 794,000
    Philippines - 784,000
    Afghanistan - 749,000

... Top 10 Countries with the Highest Prevalence of Modern Slavery (by slaves per 1000 residents) - Global Slavery Index 2018:

    North Korea - 104.6 (10.46%)
    Eritrea - 93 (9.3%)
    Burundi - 40 (4.0%)
    Central African Republic - 22.3 (2.23%)
    Afghanistan - 22.2 (2.22%)
    Mauritania - 21.4 (2.14%)
    South Sudan - 20.5 (2.05%)
    Pakistan - 16.8 (1.68%)
    Cambodia - 16.8 (1.68%)
    Iran - 16.2 (1.62%)

... Slavery was abolished throughout the U.S. following the Civil War in 1965. The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, "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 was discussed on the Mark Levin show on 5 January, 2022. Listen to podcast.

Books on the slave trade

Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, The Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800 (Early Modern History: Society and Culture), by R. Davis (2003).

Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, by Raymond Ibrahim (2018).


The Trans-Saharan Slave Trade (History and Society in the Islamic World), by John Wright (2007). From the book's description:

This compelling text sheds light on the important but under studied trans-Saharan slave trade. The author uncovers and surveys this, the least-noticed of the slave trades out of Africa, which from the seventh to the twentieth centuries quielty delievered almost as many black Africans into foreign servitude as did the far busier, but much briefer Atlantic and East African trades.

Illuminating for the first time a significant, but ignored subject, the book supports and widens current scholarly examination of Africans' essential role in the enslavement of fellow-Africans and their delivery to internal, Atlantic or trans-Saharan markets.

The East African Slave Trade: The History and Legacy of the Arab Slave Trade and the Indian Ocean Slave Trade, by Charles River Editors (2017).

White Gold, by Giles Milton (2005).

Breaking the Chains: The Royal Navy’s War on White Slavery, by Tom Pocock (2013).

White Slavery in the Barbary States, by Charles Sumner (2017).


Race and immigration - the final taboo, CAIRCO.