American Negro Slavery. Ulrich Bonnell Phillips. A Survey of the Supply, Employment and Control of Negro Labor as Determined by the Plantation Regime. The Portuguese began exploring the west coast of Africa shortly before Christopher Columbus was born; and no sooner did they encounter negroes than they began to seize and carry them in captivity to ...
American Negro Slavery. Ulrich Bonnell Phillips. A Survey of the Supply, Employment and Control of Negro Labor as Determined by the Plantation Regime. The Portuguese began exploring the west coast of Africa shortly before Christopher Columbus was born; and no sooner did they encounter negroes than they began to seize and carry them in captivity to Lisbon. The court chronicler Azurara set himself in 1452, at the command of Prince Henry, to record the valiant exploits of the negro-catchers. Reflecting the spirit of the time, he praised them as crusaders bringing savage heathen for conversion to civilization and christianity. He gently lamented the massacre and sufferings involved, but thought them infinitely outweighed by the salvation of souls. This cheerful spirit of solace was destined long to prevail among white peoples when contemplating the hardships of the colored races. But Azurara was more than a moralizing annalist. He acutely observed of the first cargo of captives brought from southward of the Sahara, less than a decade before his writing, that after coming to Portugal "they never more tried to fly, but rather in time forgot all about their own country," that "they were very loyal and obedient servants, without malice"; and that "after they began to use clothing they were for the most part very fond of display, so that they took great delight in robes of showy colors, and such was their love of finery that they picked up the rags that fell from the coats of other people of the country and sewed them on their own garments, taking great pleasure in these, as though it were matter of some greater perfection." These few broad strokes would portray with equally happy precision a myriad other black servants born centuries after the writer's death and dwelling in a continent of whose existence he never dreamed. Azurara wrote further that while some of the captives were not able to endure the change and died happily as Christians, the others, dispersed among Portuguese households, so ingratiated themselves that many were set free and some were married to men and women of the land and acquired comfortable estates. This may have been an earnest of future conditions in Brazil and the Spanish Indies; but in the British settlements it fell out far otherwise.
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