The Untold Story of White Slavery

         Jews And White Slavery

White Slavery, Maternal Descent, And The Politics Of Slavery

In The Antebellum United States

         Race and Slavery in the Middle East


The Untold Story of White Slavery

             Whites have forgotten what blacks take pains to remember.


reviewed by Thomas Jackson

Robert C. Davis

Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800

Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, 246 pp., $35.00.

Robert C. Davis notes in this eye-opening account of Barbary Coast slavery, American historians have studied every aspect of enslavement of Africans by whites but have largely ignored enslavement of whites by North Africans. Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters is a carefully researched, clearly written account of what Prof. Davis calls "the other slavery," which flourished during approximately the same period as the trans-Atlantic trade, and which devastated hundreds of European coastal communities. Slavery plays nothing like the central role in the thinking of today's whites that it does for blacks, but not because it was fleeting or trivial matter. The record of Mediterranean slavery is, indeed, as black as the most tendentious portrayals of American slavery. Prof. Davis, who teaches Italian social history at Ohio State University, casts a piercing light into this fascinating but neglected corner of history.

A Wholesale Business

The Barbary Coast, which extends from Morocco through modern Libya, was home to a thriving man-catching industry from about 1500 to 1800. The great slaving capitals were Salé in Morocco, Tunis, Algiers, and Tripoli, and for most of this period European navies were too weak to put up more than token resistance.

The trans-Atlantic trade in blacks was strictly commercial, but for Arabs, memories of the Crusades and fury over expulsion from Spain in 1492 seem to have fueled an almost jihad-like Christian-stealing campaign. "It may have been this spur of vengeance, as opposed to the bland workings of the marketplace, that made the Islamic slavers so much more aggressive and initially (one might say) successful in their work than their Christian counterparts," writes Prof. Davis. During the 16th and 17th centuries more slaves were taken south across the Mediterranean than west across the Atlantic. Some were ransomed back to their families, some were put to hard labor in north Africa, and the unluckiest worked themselves to death as galley slaves.

What is most striking about Barbary slaving raids is their scale and reach. Pirates took most of their slaves from ships, but they also organized huge, amphibious assaults that practically depopulated parts of the Italian coast. Italy was the most popular target, partly because Sicily is only 125 miles from Tunis, but also because it did not have strong central rulers who could resist invasion.

Large raiding parties might be essentially unopposed. When pirates sacked Vieste in southern Italy in 1554, for example, they took an astonishing 6,000 captives. Algerians took 7,000 slaves in the Bay of Naples in 1544, in a raid that drove the price of slaves so low it was said you could "swap a Christian for an onion." Spain, too, suffered large-scale attacks. After a raid on Granada in 1566 netted 4,000 men, women, and children, it was said to be "raining Christians in Algiers." For every large-scale raid of this kind there would have been dozens of smaller ones.

The appearance of a large fleet could send the entire population inland, emptying coastal areas. In 1566, a party of 6,000 Turks and Corsairs sailed up the Adriatic and landed at Fracaville. The authorities could do nothing, and urged complete evacuation, leaving the Turks in control of over 500 square miles of abandoned villages all the way to Serracapriola.

When pirates appeared, people often fled the coast to the nearest town, but Prof. Davis explains why this was not always good strategy:

A Barbary pirate galley. "More than one middle-sized town, swollen with refugees, was unable to withstand a frontal assault by several hundred corsairs, and the re'is [corsair captain], who might otherwise have had to seek slaves a few dozen at a time along the beaches and up into the hills, could find a thousand or more captives all conveniently gathered in one place for the taking."

Pirates returned time and again to pillage the same territory. In addition to a far larger number of smaller raids, the Calabrian coast suffered the following increasingly large-scale depredations in less than a 10-year period: 700 captured in a single raid in 1636, 1,000 in 1639 and 4,000 in 1644. During the 16th and 17th centuries, pirates set up semi-permanent bases on the islands of Ischia and Procida, practically within the mouth of the Bay of Naples, from which they took their pick of commercial traffic.

When they came ashore, Muslim corsairs made a point of desecrating churches. They often stole church bells, not just because the metal was valuable but also to silence the distinctive voice of Christianity.

In the more frequent smaller raiding parties, just a few ships would operate by stealth, falling upon coastal settlements in the middle of the night so as to catch people "peaceful and still naked in their beds." This practice gave rise to the modern-day Sicilian expression, pigliato dai turchi, or "taken by the Turks," which means to be caught by surprise while asleep or distracted.

Constant predation took a terrible toll. Women were easier to catch than men, and coastal areas could quickly lose their entire child-bearing population. Fishermen were afraid to go out, or would sail only in convoys. Eventually, Italians gave up much of their coast. As Prof. Davis explains, by the end of the 17th century, "the Italian peninsula had by then been prey to the Barbary corsairs for two centuries or more, and its coastal populations had largely withdrawn into walled, hilltop villages or the larger towns like Rimini, abandoning miles of once populous shoreline to vagabonds and freebooters."

The Calabrian coast suffered the following increasingly large-scale depredations in less than a 10-year period: 700 captured in a single raid in 1636, 1,000 in 1639 and 4,000 in 1644.

Only by 1700 or so, were Italians able to prevent spectacular land raids, though piracy on the seas continued unchecked. Prof. Davis believes piracy caused Spain and especially Italy to turn away from the sea and lose their traditions of trade and navigation--with devastating effect: "[A]t least for Iberia and Italy, the seventeenth century represented a dark period out of which Spanish and Italian societies emerged as mere shadows of what they had been in the earlier, golden ages."

Some Arab pirates were skilled blue-water sailors, and terrorized Christians 1,000 miles away. One spectacular raid all the way to Iceland in 1627 took nearly 400 captives. We think of Britain as a redoubtable sea power ever since the time of Drake, but throughout the 17th century, Arab pirates operated freely in British waters, even sailing up the Thames estuary to pick off prizes and raid coastal towns. In just three years, from 1606 to 1609, the British navy admitted losing no fewer than 466 British and Scottish merchant ships to Algerian corsairs. By the mid-1600s the British were running a brisk trans-Atlantic trade in blacks, but many British crewmen themselves became the property of Arab raiders.

Life Under the Lash

Land attacks could be hugely successful, but they were riskier than taking prizes at sea. Ships were therefore the primary source of white slaves. Unlike their victims, corsair vessels had two means of propulsion: galley slaves as well as sails. This meant they could row up to any becalmed sailing ship and attack at will. They carried many different flags, so when they were under sail they could run up whatever ensign was most likely to gull a target.

A good-sized merchantman might yield 20 or so sailors healthy enough to last a few years in the galleys, and passengers were usually good for a ransom. Noblemen and rich merchants were attractive prizes, as were Jews, who could usually scrape up a substantial ransom from co-religionists. High clerics were also valuable because the Vatican would usually pay any price to keep them out of the hands of infidels.

At the approach of pirates, passengers often tore off their fine clothes and tried to dress as poorly as possible in the hope their captors would send to their families for more modest ransoms. This effort would be wasted if the pirates tortured the captain for information about passengers. It was also common to strip men naked, both to examine their clothes for sewn-in valuables and to see if any circumcised Jews were masquerading as gentiles.

If the pirates were short on galley slaves, they might put some of their captives to work immediately, but prisoners usually went below hatches for the journey home. They were packed in, barely able to move in the filth, stench, and vermin, and many died before they reached port.

Bastinado: a common punishment. Once in North Africa, it was tradition to parade newly-captured Christians through the streets, so people could jeer at them, and children could pelt them with refuse. At the slave market, men were made to jump about to prove they were not lame, and buyers often wanted them stripped naked again to see if they were healthy. This was also to evaluate the sexual value of both men and women; white concubines had a high value, and all the slave capitals had a flourishing homosexual underground. Buyers who hoped to make a quick profit on a fat ransom examined earlobes for signs of piercing, which was an indication of wealth. It was also common to check a captive's teeth to see if he was likely to survive on a tough slave diet.

The pasha or ruler of the area got a certain percentage of the slave take as a form of income tax. These were almost always men, and became government rather than private property. Unlike private slaves, who usually boarded with their masters, they lived in the bagnos or "baths," as the pasha's slave warehouses came to be called. It was common to shave the heads and beards of public slaves as an added humiliation, in a period when head and facial hair were an important part of a man's identity.

Most of these public slaves spent the rest of their lives as galley slaves, and it is hard to imagine a more miserable existence. Men were chained three, four, or five to an oar, with their ankles chained together as well. Rowers never left their oars, and to the extent that they slept at all, they slept at their benches. Slaves could push past each other to relieve themselves at an opening in the hull, but they were often too exhausted or dispirited to move, and fouled themselves where they sat. They had no protection against the burning Mediterranean sun, and their masters flayed their already-raw backs with the slave driver's favorite tool of encouragement, a stretched bull's penis or "bull's pizzle." There was practically no hope of escape or rescue; a galley slave's job was to work himself to death--mainly in raids to capture more wretches like himself--and his master pitched him overboard at the first sign of serious illness.

When the pirate fleet was in port, galley slaves lived in the bagno and did whatever filthy, dangerous, or exhausting work the pasha set them to. This was usually stone-cutting and hauling, harbor-dredging, or heavy construction. The slaves in the Turkish sultan's fleet did not even have this variety. They were often at sea for months on end, and stayed chained to their oars even in port. Their ships were life-long prisons.

Other slaves on the Barbary Coast had more varied jobs. Often they did household or agricultural work of the kind we associate with American slavery, but those who had skills were often rented out by their owners. Some masters simply turned slaves loose during the day with orders to return with a certain amount of money by evening or be severely beaten. Masters seem to have expected about a 20 percent return on the purchase price. Whatever they did, in Tunis and Tripoli, slaves usually wore an iron ring around an ankle, and were hobbled with a chain that weighed 25 or 30 pounds.

Some masters put their white slaves to work on farms deep in the interior, where they faced yet another peril: capture and reenslavement by raiding Berbers. These unfortunates would probably never see another European for the rest of their short lives.

Christian slaves were often so plentiful and so inexpensive, there was no point in caring for them; many owners worked them to death and bought replacements.

Prof. Davis points out that there was no check of any kind on cruelty: "There was no countervailing force to protect the slave from his master's violence: no local anti-cruelty laws, no benign public opinion, and rarely any effective pressure from foreign states." Slaves were not just property, they were infidels, and deserved whatever suffering a master meted out. Prof. Davis notes that "all slaves who lived in the bagnos and survived to write of their experiences stressed the endemic cruelty and violence practiced there." The favorite punishment was the bastinado, in which a man was put on his back, and his ankles clamped together and held waist high for a sustained beating on the soles of the feet. A slave might get as many as 150 or 200 blows, which could leave him crippled. Systematic violence turned many men into automatons. Slaves were often so plentiful and so inexpensive, there was no point in caring for them; many owners worked them to death and bought replacements.

The slavery system was not, however, entirely without humanity. Slaves usually got Fridays off. Likewise, when bagno men were in port, they had an hour or two of free time every day between the end of work and before the bagno doors were locked at night. During this time, slaves could work for pay, but they could not keep all the money they made. Even bagno slaves were assessed a fee for their filthy lodgings and rancid food.

Public slaves also contributed to a fund to support bagno priests. This was a strongly religious era, and even under the most horrible conditions, men wanted a chance to say confession and--most important--receive extreme unction. There was almost always a captive priest or two in the bagno, but in order to keep him available for religious duties, other slaves had to chip in and buy his time from the pasha. Some galley slaves thus had nothing left over to spend on food or clothing, though in some periods, free Europeans living in the cities of Barbary contributed to the upkeep of bagno priests.

For a few, slavery became more than bearable. Some trades--particularly that of shipwright--were so valuable that an owner might reward his slave with a private villa and mistresses. Even a few bagno residents managed to exploit the hypocrisy of Islamic society and improve their condition. The law strictly forbade Muslims to trade in alcohol, but was more lenient with Muslims who only consumed it. Enterprising slaves established taverns in the bagnos and some made a good living catering to Muslim drinkers.

One way to lessen the burdens of slavery was to "take the turban" and convert to Islam. This exempted a man from service in the galleys, heavy construction, and a few other indignities unworthy of a son of the Prophet, but did not release him from slavery itself. One of the jobs of bagno priests was to keep desperate men from converting, but most slaves appear not to have needed religious counsel. Christians believed that conversion imperiled their souls, and it also meant the unpleasant ritual of adult circumcision. Many slaves appear to have endured the horrors of slavery by seeing it as punishment for their sins and as a test of their faith. Masters discouraged conversion because it limited the scope of mistreatment and lowered a slave's resale value.

Ransom and Redemption

For slaves, escape was impossible. They were too far from home, were often shackled, and could be immediately identified by their European features. The only hope was ransom.

Sometimes, the opportunity came quickly. If a slaving party had already snatched so many men it had no more room below deck, it might raid a town and then reappear a few days later to sell captives back to their families. This was usually at a considerable discount from the cost of ransoming someone from North Africa, but it was still far more than peasants could afford. Farmers usually had no ready money, and no property other than house and land. A merchant was usually willing to take these off their hands at distress prices, but it meant that a captured man or woman came back to a family that was completely impoverished.

Most slaves bought their way home only after they had gone through the ordeal of passage to Barbary and sale to a speculator. Wealthy captives could usually arrange a sufficient ransom, but most slaves could not. Illiterate peasants could not write home and even if they did, there was no cash for a ransom.

Stephen Decatur fighting Tripoli pirates in 1804. He is on his back but will shoot his attacker with a small pistol in his right hand.

The majority of slaves therefore depended on the charitable work of the Trinitarians (founded in Italy in 1193) and the Mercedarians (founded in Spain in 1203). These were religious orders established to free Crusaders held by Muslims, but they soon shifted their work to redemption of Barbary slaves, raising money specifically for this purpose. Often they maintained lockboxes outside churches marked "For the Recovery of the Poor Slaves," and clerics urged wealthy Christians to leave money in their wills for redemption. The two orders became skilled negotiators, and usually managed to buy back slaves at better prices than did less experienced liberators. Still, there was never enough money to free many captives, and Prof. Davis estimates that no more than three or four percent of slaves were ever ransomed in a single year. This meant that most left their bones in the unmarked Christian graveyards outside the city walls.

The religious orders kept careful records of their successes. Spanish Trinitarians, for example, went on 72 redemption expeditions in the 1600s, averaging 220 releases each. It was common to bring the freed slaves home and march them through city streets in big celebrations. These parades became one of the most characteristic urban spectacles of the period, and had a strong religious orientation. Sometimes the slaves marched in their old slave rags to emphasize the torments they had suffered; sometimes they wore special white costumes to symbolize rebirth. According to contemporary records, many freed slaves were never quite right after their ordeals, especially if they had spent many years in captivity.

How many slaves?

Prof. Davis points out that enormous research has gone into tracking down as accurately as possible the number of blacks taken across the Atlantic, but there has been nothing like the same effort to learn the extent of Mediterranean slavery. It is not easy to get a reliable count--the Arabs themselves kept essentially no records--but in the course of ten years of research Prof. Davis developed a method of estimation.

For example, records suggest that from 1580 to 1680 there was an average of some 35,000 slaves in Barbary. There was a steady loss through death and redemption, so if the population stayed level, the rate at which raiders captured new slaves must have equaled the rate of attrition. There are good bases for estimating death rates. For example, it is known that of the nearly 400 Icelanders caught in 1627, there were only 70 survivors eight years later. In addition to malnutrition, overcrowding, overwork, and brutal punishment, slaves faced epidemics of plague, which usually wiped out 20 to 30 percent of the white slaves.

From a number of sources, therefore, Prof. Davis estimates that the death rate was about 20 percent per year. Slaves had no access to women, so replacement was exclusively through capture. His conclusion: "[B]etween 1530 and 1780 there were almost certainly a million and quite possibly as many as a million and a quarter white, European Christians enslaved by the Muslims of the Barbary Coast." This considerably exceeds the figure of 800,000 Africans generally accepted as having been transported to the North American colonies and, later, to the United States.

The European powers were unable to stop this traffic. Prof. Davis reports that in the late 1700s, they had a better record of controlling the trade, but there was an upturn of white slavery during the chaos of the Napoleonic wars.

American shipping was not exempt from predation either. Only in 1815, after two wars against them, were American sailors free of the Barbary pirates. These wars were significant operations for the young republic; one campaign is remembered in the words "to the shores of Tripoli" in the Marine hymn. When the French took over Algiers in 1830, there were still 120 whites slaves in the bagno.

Why is there so little interest in Mediterranean slavery while scholarship and reflection on black slavery never ends? As Prof. Davis explains, white slaves with non-white masters simply do no fit "the master narrative of European imperialism." The victimization schemes so dear to academics require white wickedness, not white suffering.

Prof. Davis also points out that the widespread European experience of slavery gives the lie to another favorite leftist hobby horse: that the enslavement of blacks was a crucial step in establishing European notions of race and racial hierarchy. Not so; for centuries, Europeans lived in fear of the lash themselves, and a great many watched redemption parades of freed slaves, all of whom were white. Slavery was a fate more easily imagined for themselves than for distant Africans.

With enough effort, it is possible to imagine Europeans as preoccupied with slavery as blacks. If Europeans nursed grievances about galley slaves the way blacks do about field hands, European politics would certainly be different. There would be no groveling apologies for the Crusades, little Muslim immigration to Europe, minarets would not be going up all over Europe, and Turkey would not be dreaming of joining the European Union. The past cannot be undone, and brooding can be taken to excess, but those who forget also pay a high price.



Jews And White Slavery

From The Jewish Tribal


"Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion] could not imagine that Jewish women would stoop to crime or prostitution. When an associate, Meyer Weisgal, who resembled David Ben-Gurion, once told him humorously that a girl had walked up to him on a London street and offered her services, overwhelmed by the idea of sleeping with the 'Israeli prime minister.' Ben-Gurion, clearly troubled, was interested in only one thing: 'Was she Jewish?'" -- Dan Kurzman, 1983, p.39

At the end of the 19th and beginning of the twentieth century, Jews were deeply involved in what was popularly called "white slavery": international prostitution rings. "White slavery," notes scholar Albert Lindemann, "was a concern of Jewish leaders throughout the world, who recognized it as a special problem." [LINDEMANN, p. 33] [Jews have also dominated the pornography and commercial sexploitation business, a trend which continues to this day -- see Mass Media section]

"Between 1880 and 1939," notes scholar Edward Bristow, "the Jews played a conspicuous role in 'white slavery,' as the commercial prostitution of that era was dramatically called. Not only was this Jewish participation conspicuous, it was historically unprecedented, geographically widespread, and fraught with collective political dangers." [BRISTOW, p. 1] "Jewish trafficking," says Bristow, "was anchored in brothel keeping, women freelanced or kept houses while their husbands procured ... Jewish traffickers also supplied Gentile-run houses." [BRISTOW, p. 56-57]

Rooted largely in Eastern and Central Europe where they "dominated the international traffic out of the area," [BRISTOW, p. 2] Jews were involved in prostitution rings that networked, wrote Arthur Mora (of London's Jewish Association for the Protection of Girls and Women) in 1903, to "almost all parts of North and South Africa, to India, China, Japan, Philippine Island, North and South America, and also to many of the countries of Europe." [BRISTOW, p. 1] Jewish criminals trafficked women under their control virtually anywhere, also including the major cities of Bulgaria, Bosnia, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Ceylon, Manchuria, South Africa, Rhodesia, and Mozambique. [BRISTOW, p. 181]

"By 1900," says Bristow, "Jewish commercial vice was largely incorporated in underworld elements and many of it participants were predators of the poor." [BRISTOW, p. 89] Jewish pimps, procurers, and traffickers preyed mostly on non-Jewish women, but even large numbers of Jewish women were part of their stables.

In 1872, for example, Jewish prostitutes in Warsaw numbered 17% of the known prostitution population, in Krakow 27%, and in Vilna 47%. [BRISTOW, p. 23] Within the Jewish community itself, it was not uncommon for recruiters to marry innocent Jewish young women and "deposit them in foreign brothels." [BRISTOW, p. 25] Many of the Jewish criminal underworld figures apparently saw no gap between their day-to-day activities and their religious lives, often maintaining their religious obligations. A Warsaw thug, Shilem Letzski, organized a small synagogue for Jewish "prostitutes, madams, pimps, and thieves." This criminal community even had a rabbinical court "to settle disputes between pimps." [BRISTOW, p. 60] In Constantinople, prostitutes contributed money to "have their pimps called to Torah on holidays." [SCHNEIDER, p. 225] In New York City, "a public school and a large synagogue were situated right next door to the house of prositution." [RUBINOW, I., 1959, p. 114-115]

In Buenos Aires, Argentina, notes Donna Guy, the Jewish pimp organization called the Varsovia Society

"ostensibly functioned as a mutual aid society ... In fact, the Varsovia consisted of pimps who wanted to maintain their business and still lead a religious life ... Varsovia associates established their own synagogue on Guemes Street in the midst of the traditional bordello district." [GUY, p. 22]

Israeli scholar Robert Rockaway notes also, for example, that prominent Jewish American mobster Longy Zwillman "always remained sensitive to his Jewish upbringings." When a close friend died, and the funeral was conducted in a church, Zwillman refused to attend. As he explained it, he was an ancestral member of the Jewish priest caste (the Cohens) and it was religiously forbidden to him to be with a dead body in a room. [ROCKAWAY, R., 1993, p. 30]

Dr. Louis Maretsky, the head of the B'nai B'rith in Germany, forlornly noted in 1912 that at least 271 of 402 prostitution traffickers on a Hamburg police list were Jewish; in reviewing similar lists for Eastern Europe and South Africa at least 374 of 644 were from the Jewish community. [BRISTOW, p. 56] (No mention here is made of even higher possible percentages: as explored later, it has long been a tradition for many Jews in their diaspora to formally change their identifiable Jewish names). Concerning Galicia, Maretsky wrote that "the prominence of Jewish traffickers and brothel operators there is no doubt. From the files of the Austrian and German police there were 111 Jewish traffickers active in Galicia and the neighboring province of Bukovina for 1904-08 alone." [BRISTOW, p. 56]

By 1889 Jewish women ran 203 of 289 (70%) of the licensed brothels in the "Pale of Settlement" (encompassing over 20 provinces in eastern Poland and western Russia -- an area where Jews were about 12% of the population). 1122 of 5127 (22%) licensed prostitutes in this area were Jewish. [BRISTOW, p. 63] The grievous political dangers for local Jewry in the context of enduring interethnic hostilities, when 78% of the rest of the women were Gentile, many indentured in Jewish houses, is obvious.

Further in the West, 16 of 19 licensed brothels in Warsaw were run by Jewish women, prostitutes in the low-class establishments were expected to service 40-50 customers a day, up to 60-70 on Holy Days. (In 1905 the respectable part of the Jewish Warsaw community rioted against the brothels; 40 whorehouses -- legal and illegal -- were reported destroyed, 8 persons killed, and 100 injured). [BRISTOW, p. 61]

In Minsk, Jews ran all four legitimate houses of ill repute. In the Russian province of Kherson (which includes the city of Odessa) 30 of 36 licensed brothels were Jewish-owned. The American Consul in Odessa wrote in 1908 that the "whole 'business' of prostitution is almost exclusively in the hands of the Jews." [BRISTOW, p. 56]

Martin Fido notes another genre of Jewish Eastern European profiteer in the prostitution world, in England:

"Latvian ponces accompanied [prostitutes] to help them cross borders and find accomodation and working premises. These men were despised by police and by some of the criminal fraternity for 'living off immoral earnings.' But they were not pimps ... They were effectively travel agents, couriers and managers in strange and unfriendly places. Their arrival in London ensured that a major strand of prostitution would be controlled by organized crime. One of these Latvians, Max Kassell, was still running a small stable of hookers in the 1930s, when he was murdered in Soho ... Jewish dominance of the East End [of London] and its crime was reflected in their Yiddish name, 'spielers' (places for games). In the Brick Lane neighborhood, Isaac Bogard, a Jewish villain whose swarthy complexion and tightly curled black hair earned him the nickname 'Darky the Coon,' extended his interests. He began in the early years of the 20th century by supplying muscle for street traders who wanted to prevent newcomers from moving in, but he moved on to managing prostitutes and drinking clubs." [FIDO, M., 2000, p. 19-20]

Then in London there was Harry 'Little Hubby' Distleman, "a Jewish club manager, gambler and possibly part-sharer (with his brother) in a chain of brothels." [FIDO, M., 2000, p. 31] Jewish author Chaim Bermant noted in the Jewish Chronicle in 1993 that "In the same period (1903-1909), 151 aliens [in Great Britain], most of them Jewish, were convicted for keeping brothels, and 521 for soliciting ... Rabbi Avigdor Schonfeld ... protested that to draw attention to the existence of Jewish prostitutes harmed the good name of the Jewish people." [JEWISH CHRONICLE, 1-15-93]

More recently, Jewish singer Eddie Fisher recalls that "while performing in England in the late 1950s I had become friendly with a Jewish song plugger, a man who eventually left the music business to open a very exclusive whorehouse." [FISHER, E., 1999, p. 293] A little later, there was the infamous Colin Levy:

"In 1973, one of the better-known and more appreciated solo practioners of that tony [London prostitution] underworld was Norma Levy (nee Mary Russell), an Irish-born prostitute in her mid-twenties whose career 'on the game' ws being managed by her husband Colin Levy, a petty crook ... In 1973, Colin Levy found himself short of money. Aware that one of Norma's patrons was the celebrated Lord Lambton, he decided to solve his problem with a bit of blackmail. Camera in hand, he lay in wait outside Norma's bedroom during Lambton's next vist to her flat. At the appropriate time, at a signal from Norma, he burst into the room. With flashlights popping in his face, the stunned Lambton was frozen on film, in flagrante delicto, for posterity." [Levy's blackmail failed, but there was a resultant scandal, including the ethics of newspaper (where Levy tried to sell his photos] that published accounts of the story] [KIERNAN, T., 1986, p. 162]

In Vienna, authorities knew of about 50 Jewish prostitution traffickers based in Czernowitz, "and they were a very inbred lot extending over two generations." [BRISTOW, p. 74] The most publicized 'white slavery' trial occurred in 1892, in Lemberg (once also called Lvov, then a Polish provincial capital, today called Lviv in Ukraine), where 27 traffickers -- all Jews -- were prosecuted for ensnaring women to go to Constantinople, Egypt, and India. Some of the women recruits understood their tasks, but others "were maids, others fieldworkers, one a butcher's helper, all apparently promised honest jobs." [BRISTOW, p. 74] (Lemberg, "a cradle of Zionism from the 1880s onward," also had anti-Jewish riots in 1918. [KRAJEWSKI, S., p. 340] )

There was a tradition of Yiddish folk songs about Jewish criminal behavior, like this:

"I am Salve, the thief, Four brothers are we; One is hungry, the other well fed, But thieves all four are we.

One is a pickpocket, The second a pimp, a handsome fellow; One is a hijacker on the lookout for packages, And I am a house thief.

A pimp is common, As all agree: From his own wife, He gets the disease To be a hijacker is bitter: You can rupture your lung, It's hard to earn something with some of the packages, The best thing is to be a house thief." [RUBIN, R., 1979]

"In an age of pandemic anti-Semitism," says Bristow, "a Jewish pimp was a political as well as a social force," [BRISTOW, p. 4] very emotionally reinforcing anti-Jewish sentiments of the day. Jews were already blamed in central Europe for a financial crash in 1873 and economic competition between Jews and non-Jews was heightening.

A young and enraged Adolf Hitler paid particular attention to the highly visible phenomenon of Jewish street hustling and prostitution rings in Vienna, and was incensed that many non-Jewish women were coerced into the largely Jewish-run trade. "In no other city of Western Europe," he wrote in Mein Kampf, "could the relationship between Jewry and prostitution, and even now the white slave traffic, be studied better than in Vienna ... an icy shudder ran down my spine when seeing for the first time the Jew as an evil, shameless, and calculating manager of this shocking vice, the outcome of the scum of the big city." [BRISTOW, p. 84]

The Jewish prostitution business extended from Europe across the world, where it sometimes overlapped with French, Italian, Chinese, and other rings. In the Punjabi (Indian) capital of Lahore, "Jewish pimps were in the habit of leaving their women penniless only to reappear after workers had accumulated some money." [BRISTOW, p. 195] In Rio de Janeiro Jewish immigrants from Russia, Poland, Hungary, and Romania were so much identified with prostitution in the late 1800's that "the kaftan, a Jew's traditional long gown, became synonymous with pimp." [BRISTOW, p. 113]

Thirty-nine Jews were expelled from Brazil in 1879 for soliciting women for prostitution and running illegal whorehouses. [BRISTOW, p. 114] Of 199 licensed whorehouses in Buenos Aires in 1909, 102 were run by Jews and more than half the prostitutes were Jewish. [FRIED, p. 71] 4,248 Jewish women were registered for licensed brothels in Buenos Aires between 1880-1913, and those represented only the licensed ones. Edward Bristow estimates that 9,000 Jewish women immigrants came to Brazil in a 25-year span in that era as prostitutes (many were no doubt highly transient), when the total Jewish population of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay combined amounted to less than 60,000 people in 1910. [BRISTOW, p. 119]

In 1889, the Buenos Aires Bulletin Continental reported that 200 German/Austrian women were held against their will by Jewish pimps from Poland. [GUY, p. 5] "Jewish procurers," says Donna Guy,

"... became an organized ring in major cities all over the world. They were particularly powerful in the Argentine port cities of Buenos Aires and Rosario ... [GUY, p. 10] ... Turn-of-the-century reports by the Hamburg B'nai B'rith [a Jewish fraternal organization] concluded that most prostitutes in Buenos Aires were Jewish and that traffickers 'dress with ostentatious elegance, wear large diamonds, go to the theatre or opera daily; they have their own clubs and organizations where wares are sorted, auctioned, and sold ... They have their own secret wireless code, are well organized, and-- heavens! -- in South America everything is possible." [GUY, p. 19]

"Pooling their financial resources in a kind of guild," notes another Jewish scholar, Howard Sachar,

"the [Polish Jewish] newcomers [to Argentina] in 1909 controlled slightly more than half the nearly two hundred licensed brothels in Buenos Aires. Jewish women served as their madams, and Jewish immigrant girls often were recruited and lured into their hands as prostitutes." [SACHAR, H., 1985, p. 283]

In Cuba, Jews "became engaged in the 'White Slave Trade,'" says Robert Levine, "importing prostitutes -- some Jewish -- from Poland ... Many women recruited to the business had been trapped in the Russian and Polish Pale and throughout the Hapsburg Empire by force or fraud, and the human dilemma was great." [LEVINE, p. 66]

Incredibly, even in Germany, where Jews have such a horrible history, such Jewish-related problems still bubble beneath the surface. In 1994 a US News and World Report reporter noted the observations of a Frankfort policeman patrolling Precinct 4:

"'It's all owned by Jews,' [Bernd] Gayk says of the train station's red light district. 'Practically everything in this area is owned by German Jews. There is a single cabaret here owned by a German, but the rest belongs to the Jews.'" [MARKS, J., p. 42, 44]

Shockingly, even shortly after the Holocaust when there were only a few thousand Jews left in Germany, they remained prominent in the prostitution business there. In 1961 Rabbi Richard L. Rubenstein interviewed Dean Heinrich Gruber of the Evangelical Church of East and West Berlin. Rubenstein notes that Gruber nearly himself perished in a Nazi concentration camp, and he "had a long and heroic record of opposition to the Nazis on Christian grounds as well as friendship and succor for Nazism's chief victims [Jews]." [RUBENSTEIN, p. 5] "The problem in Germany is that the Jews haven't learned anything from what happened to them," the Dean told a startled Rubenstein, "I always tell my Jewish friends that they shouldn't put a hindrance in the way our fight against anti-Semitism." [RUBENSTEIN, p. 7] Gruber then complained that "many of the brothels and risqué night clubs, for example, were in Jewish hands, especially those in close proximity to army camps." [RUBENSTEIN, p. 7] And Rubenstein's response to the clergyman? "Look," the rabbi said,

"I don't understand why you are so troubled about a pitifully small number of Jews in shady positions or interested in making money rather than following more edifying pursuits. It seems to me that every person pays a price for the kind of life he or she leads. Why should Germany be upset about a few such Jews unless they are overly involved in other peoples' lives? Must every Jew make himself so pale, so inconspicuous, even invisible, that he will give no offense to Germans? ... After what happened [the Holocaust], why should any Jew remain and worry about German approval?" [RUBENSTEIN, p. 7-8]

Marvin Wolf, a Jewish captain in the U.S. army serving in Germany, recalls that in 1971

"Rabbi David, the Jewish chaplain in Frankfort am Main -- and the husband of my mother's second cousin -- told me that he knew several Jewish millionaires at whose homes I would be welcome -- but, 'I'm not crazy about any of them,' he said. 'What do you mean?' I asked. 'After the war, '45, '46, Germany was in ruins,' he explained. 'Terrible times. Nobody had money except the Occupation forces and a handful of Jews who had survived the camps and got a monthly pension -- government reparations. In Frankfort, a few of these Jews recruited starving, desperate German girls and opened brothels. Got their revenge, and got rich, too. They're in other businesses now, but do you really want to spend Pesach [Passover] with such people?" [WOLF, M. J., 1998]

In 1909 one Jewish observer, Marcus Braun, estimated there to be 50,000 Jewish immigrant prostitutes in America and 10,000 pimps. (Edward Bristow considers these figures grossly inflated, but notes that one of Braun's colleagues, echoing at least public feelings about the problem, thought there were up to 100,000 American Jewish women of ill repute.) In any case, the Jewish pimps of New York City (who owned many of the "so-called French" bordellos in the Tenderloin district and "sought to fill them with French prostitutes from abroad") [BRISTOL, p. 165] had their own official organization: "The New York Independent Benevolent Association." Frances Kellar, a respected social worker, wrote in 1907 that "the two nationalities who may be said to be central to the disorderly house business in New York [are] French and Jewish ... French houses ... are not ... to be so much feared as the Jewish ... [which are] thoroughly vicious and bad." [BRISTOL, p. 165] By the turn of the century, "hundreds and hundreds" of Jewish women walked the Lower East Side of New York City as prostitutes. [FRIED, p. 8] Benjamin Altman described the whores he saw on Allen Street: "A hundred women on every ... corner. Tall women, short women. Fair women. Ugly women." [FRIED, p. 12]

Between November 15, 1908 and March 15, 1909, almost three-quarters of 2,093 prostitute cases before the New York City courts were "native-born" women, "a preponderance," noted Albert Fried, "who were presumably Jewish." (Ethnic categories included "Russian" and "Polish," but not Jewish). [FRIED, p. 8] Of "foreign-born" prostitutes in court, 225 were Jewish, 154 French, 64 German, 31 Italian, 29 Irish, and 10 Polish. [FRIED, p. 8]

"The Jewish pimp," says Albert Fried, "freely used marriage brokers and unemployment agencies to snare his victims -- the young, the lonely, the innocent, the weak, the alienated, the oppressed." [FRIED, p. 14] Starting out with one whore in 1890, for example, by 1912 Motche Greenberg had a "controlling interest in eight whorehouses and 114 women and was earning $4,000 a month, an incalculable amount by today's standards." [FRIED, p. 18]

In Chicago, by 1907 Rabbi Emil Hirsch declared that 75% of the "white slavery" in his city was controlled by Jews. [BRISTOW, p. 177] The Jewish periodical the Forward forlornly reported that "the facts that were uncovered at the trial [for corruption] of [police] inspector McCann are horrifying. 75% of the white slave trade in Chicago is in Jewish hands. The owners of most of the immoral resorts on the West Side are Jews. Even in Gentile neighborhoods Jews stand out prominently in the nefarious business." [FRIED, p. 70]

(Even in 2001, as a result of an undercover police investigation, Joel Gordon (a cantor, i.e., the man who sings liturgical songs and leads prayer in a synagogue) and his wife Alison Greenberg were tried in Chicago for running a brothel. Ginsberg was also charged with acts of prostitution. "We now realize," said Howard Peritz, a member of Gordon's synagogue, "that in starting a congregation around a man [Gordon], we were canonizing him." [JEWISH TELEGRAPHIC AGENCY, 1-5-01] The same year, a synagogue room (Finchley Synagogue's Kinloss Suite) in Great Britain made the news when it hosted a "stag party with three strippers performing 'sexually explicit acts.'" Some of the money raised was supposed to go to a Jewish charity.) [ZERDIN, J., 29-01]

In 1987, a Jewish ultra-Orthodox group bought a slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, and began hiring illegal non-Jewish aliens from Eastern Europe to do the menial jobs at their company. Despite the fact that only Jews dominated the upper eschelons of the firm, and Jewish author Stephen Bloom's underscores Jewish exploitation and condemnation of the entire non-Jewish community in his book called Postville, he frames the following in cautiously distancing, apologetic form:

"[A woman in her mid-twenties said:] 'The managers are incredibly rude. One manager fired me because I wouldn't go to bed with him.' The translator used the word 'manager,' but the woman was most likely speaking of one of her supervisors, who would have been a Christian. 'If the manager wants to sleep with you and you do, you get a raise. If you don't, he makes your life miserable. Girls have no choice.' No one [of a group of fellow workers] disputed what the woman said." [BLOOM, S., 2001, p. 138]

In 1932, a few Polish-American officials of the city of Hamtramck (within Detroit) were charged by a grand jury with the "familiar charge of collusion with vice interests for gratuities." The central player among those convicted was Jewish, Jacob Kaplan, "head of a vice syndicate" who collected $2,000 a month from disorderly houses in the Syndicate." [WOOD, 1955, p. 53-54] In 1941, the Detroit Free Press listed the names of those involved in another exposed vice ring in the area of Hamtramck, a ring that drew city officials and administrators into its web with bribes and payoffs. The racketeers included "Sam (the Jap) Gross, Hamtramck area brothel operator;" Charles Berman, "charged with operating a vice resort;" Irene Kaplan, "defendant in accusations as brothel keeper;" Ike (Forty Grand) Levy, "vice resort operator;" Kitty (Big Nose) Silverman, "reputed vice resort keeper;" and Jack (alias Jack Jesus) Silverman, "husband of Kitty." [WOOD, A., 1955, p. 84, 86]

Israeli scholar Robert Rockaway notes the dimensions of Detroit's all-Jewish Prohibition-era Purple Gang:

"Detroit's Canadian border and existence of Jewish-owned Canadian distilleries, such as those of Sam and Harry Bronfman [Jewish founders of Seagram], offered opportunities to Detroit's Jewish gangsters that rivaled bootlegging operations in Chicago and New York. Instead of transporting the liquor themselves, the Purples arranged for the Jewish-dominated 'Little Jewish Navy' to bring it across the river for them ... The Gang's dealings also extended to the sale of stolen diamonds, narcotics and prostitution in Canada." [ROCKAWAY, R., 2001, p. 113-]

Green Bay, Wisconsin? George Tane, also Jewish, "was a bootlegger who controlled Green Bay, Wisconsin. After Prohibition, he owned all the houses of prostitution in the city." [ROCKAWAY, R., 1993, p. 214] Atlanta, Georgia? In 2001, Steven Kaplan, owner of the nude "Gold Club," faced a Federal indictment on counts of "loan sharking, money laundering and bribing police officers." He was also accused "of building a $50 million fortune in part by providing prostitutes for celebrities ... Atlanta's Gold Club is one of the most profitable nude clubs in the country." [COURT TV, 4-30-2001] [See also evidence in this volume -- Mass Media 2 Chapter -- about prostitution rackets controlled by today's "Russian" mafia, which is largely Jewish in organization; Heidi Fleiss (the much-publicized, high-priced Jewish prostitution "madam" to Hollywood stars), famed Jewish prostitute Xaviera Hollander ("The Happy Hooker"), and details of enormous Jewish influence in the worlds of "smut" and pornography]

With the American public beginning to note the high Jewish representation in the prostitution trade; some journalists implied wider corruption. In the June 1909 issue of McClure's magazine, for instance, George Kibbe Turner wrote:

"Out of the Bowery and Red Light districts have come the new development in New York politics -- the great voting power of the organized criminals. It was a notable development not only for New York, but for the country at large. And no part of it was more noteworthy than the appearance of the Jewish dealer in women, a product of New York politics, who has vitiated more than any other single agency the moral life of the great cities of America in the past ten years." [BELL, p. 187]

"It is an absolute fact," wrote Ernest Bell in his 1911 book about white slavery, "that corrupt Jews are now the backbone of the loathsome traffic in New York and Chicago. The good Jews know this and feel keenly the unspeakable shame of it." [BELL, p. 188] "The criminal instincts that are so often found naturally in the Russian and Polish Jew," wrote Frank Moss in a popular volume called American Metropolis (1897), "come to the surface in such ways as to warrant the opinion that these people are the worst element in the entire make-up of New York City ... A large proportion of the people of New Israel are addicted to vice." [FRIED, p. 55-56]

"Vice and crime did pervade the Lower East Side," remarks Albert Fried, "and no one knew it more keenly than its residents. The better part of wisdom, so far as they were concerned, was to keep the disgrace quiet, to avoid publicizing it." [FRIED, p. 59] Meanwhile, in the early 1900's the National Council of Jewish Women even had Yiddish-speaking volunteers working to keep new female immigrants at Ellis Island "out of the clutches of men (often Jewish) who would try to entice them into prostitution." [SCHNEIDER, p. 224]

By the early years of the twentieth century, large urban department stores had reputations "as breeding grounds for prostitution." In New York City, for example, Macy's fell under suspicion to some, in part for its proximity to a former red light district. In 1913, Percy Strauss, the Vice President of Macy's, hosted a "vice vigilante" group to investigate his store. "Strauss," notes William Leach, "no dour Puritan, had a personal interest in leading a campaign against vice. For one thing, as a German Jew and spokesman for the Jewish community, he had to disprove the charge -- widely made -- that immigrant Jewish women (and many of his own employees, therefore) were more likely than other women to be prostitutes." [LEACH, p. 117] By 1915 the Committee Against Vice (of which Strauss had conveniently become chairman) published a report that affirmed that Macy's was "normal." "On the other hand," says William Leach, "testimony in the 'secret reports' told a different tale. Saleswomen, it was revealed, passed around pornographic cards and poems about themselves, talked openly about 'sex' and 'sex desire,' and 'gossiped about fairies,' as one investigator put it. Private accounts by other investigative reformers echoed this view, that things at Macy's and in other department stores were hardly 'normal' or 'decent.' 'The strongest temptation of girls in department stores,' warned one reformer, 'is not poverty but luxury and money.'" [LEACH, p. 118]

Although Jewish poverty was -- and is -- often argued as a major reason for their high international representation in such a vice, a 1914 League of Nations survey of 25 Jewish prostitutes in Buenos Aires showed that only 4 of them claimed to be poor before their new trade. Nine, however, stated that their family lives had been "immoral or abusive in some way." [BRISTOW, p. 95] (As Robert Rockaway notes about the dozens of members in Detroit's all-Jewish criminal Purple Gang, which was involved in everything from murder to prostitution: "[Purple Gang members] were not products of crushing poverty, broken homes, or widespread economic despair. Most of them had been raised in lower middle class households where the father had a steady, if not well-paying, job.") [ROCKAWAY, R., 2001, p. 113-]

And what, in complete dismissal of the facts of history, is the common Jewish perspective about the unabashed prominence of Jews in the "white slave trade?" This, in 1998, from Jewish scholar Gary Tobin in a popular Jewish newspaper:

"For those with a knowledge of history of 19th century anti-Semitic propaganda, the idea that Jews are running "the white slave trade" is nothing new. Cartoon like stereotypes of loathsome Jewish villains trading on the lost virtue of non-Jewish maidens was standard material for the Nazis and their precursors ... It took a sick mind to imagine that Jews were running the world's oldest profession." [TOBIN, Distinguished, p. 51]

Tobin was responding to a very disturbing article in the New York Times (January 11, 1998) which described the horrible situation that Slavic Gentile prostitutes face today, trapped in Israel. As the Times notes, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and a resulting economic chaos, literally hundreds of thousands of Russian and Ukrainian women have been dispersed throughout the world, most entrapped in an international prostitution trade run by the "Russian mafia." (Although it is certainly inferred, what the Times article does not overtly mention is that a significant part of the Russian mafia is Jewish. See later chapter). Glenn Frankel, however, a Washington Post correspondent in Jerusalem, took the perspective in 1994 that "there was much talk about the Russian mafia muscling in [to Israel], although the police and most crime experts agreed that the brothels were almost entirely under the control of the Israeli mafia and that the Russians worked mostly as low-level managers or hookers." [FRANKEL, p. 175]

"Israel has become a routine destination for the global trafficking of women," noted Leonard Fein in a 1998 Jewish Bulletin,

"women coerced into prostitution. The thousand such women brought into Israel annually derive principally from the countries of the former Soviet Union, and the way they get to Israel is that they are 'purchased,' each one costing between $10,000 and $20,000. And they are, of course, expected to repay the cost to their masters through what amounts to indentured servitude -- or, if you prefer the simpler and more straightforward, slavery ... Some [are] as young as 15, and even 12 ... Each woman earns between $50,000 and $100,000 for her pimp. The turnover of the prostitution trade in Israel comes to some $450 million a year." [FEIN, 1998, p. 21]

In a country of six million people, this averages about $75 a year paid to a pimp for every man, woman, and child in Israel. There are today 150 brothels and sex shops in Tel Aviv alone. [SILVER, E., 8-25-2000, p. 32]

In an interview with Marina, a Russian prostitute, the (Jewish) Forward noted in 1995 that there were nine or ten "Russian" prostitution rings in Israel. "Girls are regularly beaten to keep them obedient," Marina told the Forward, "... [The Israeli police are] regularly paid off with free visits to our girls. A reporter like you thinks you're picking up a stone from the road, but you might find you're digging into a mountain." [SHILLING, p. 5] As a report by Israel's Women's Network noted in 1997:

"Every year, hundreds of women from the former Soviet Union are lured to Israel, gaining entry by posing as immigrants, on the promise of finding lucrative jobs, and then are lured into prostitution by abusive pimps." [GROSS, N., 1997, p. 16]

In 1998, Hungary's Consul in Tel Aviv, Andrea Horvath complained that four Hungarian women "had allegedly met their Israeli employer in a Budapest discotheque. They were hired as dancers but were later forced to provide sexual services as well." [MTI, 3-20-98] In 2000, Robert Friedman, in talking about his book about the "Russian Mafia," noted Seimon Mogilevich, head of a major Jewish mobster network, noting him as "one of the world's biggest traffickers in women, Eurasian women." [PENKLAVA, M., 5-3-2000]

"Women are sold into the sex business in Israel for between $5,000 and $15,000," reported the Jerusalem Post in 1998, "while the pimps who buy them can earn between $10,000 and $50,000 a year per woman ... 2,000 women are brought to Israel from the CIS and forced by pimps to work as prostitutes. Many are brought here on false pretenses and held against their will." As Ira Omait, head of the Haifa Emergency Shelter for Women told the Post, "We are fast heading in the direction of trade in minors for prostitution and slavery." [COLLINS, L., 12-15-98, p. 5] Incredibly, as noted in a Jerusalem Post editorial in 1998, "According to the Women's Lobby [a women's group in Israel], part of the [prostitution] problem is that there is no law against slavery in Israel." [JERUSALEM POST, 1-13-98, p. 10]

"Poor Women of Ex-Soviet Union Lured Into Sex Slavery" headlined a 1998 Associated Press story. Women forced into prostitution in Israel, noted the article, were locked in rooms and provided only food and condoms. And Israeli law on the subject? In 1996 150 men were arrested for pimping or running brothels. Merely 21 cases went to trial, and no one was ever convicted of a crime. [LINZER, D., 6-13-98] In 1998 an Israeli judge even ordered an insurance company to pay for a client's prostitution addiction:

"An Israeli insurance company has been ordered to pay 300,000 shekels ($80,000) to fund the prostitution habit of a man injured in a car accident." [DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR, 4-22-98]

The man claimed that since a 1993 car crash he couldn't form relationships with women and relied on the prostitution world.

The 1998 New York Times article noted that more than 1,500 Slavic prostitutes -- mostly from the Ukraine -- have been deported from Israel for residence infractions in the past three years. (Israeli oppression knows no end: "Unlike many countries, Israel does not pay airfare for deportees." [LINZER, D., 6-13-98]) Prostitution is not illegal in Israel and clients include foreign workers, "Israeli soldiers with rifles on their shoulders," business executives, and tourists. The Times noted that

"The networks trafficking women run east to Japan and Thailand, where thousands of young Slavic women now work against their will as prostitutes, and west to the Adriatic Coast and beyond ... The routes are controlled by Russian gangs based in Moscow ... In Ukraine alone ... as many as 400,000 women under 30 have gone in the past decade ... Israel is a fairly typical destination ... Police officials [in Israel] estimate that there are 25,000 paid sexual transactions every day. [This in a country with a population of 6 million]. Brothels are ubiquitous ... Once they cross the border [into Israel] their passports will be confiscated [by pimps], their freedoms curtailed and what little money they have taken from them at once ... The Tropicana, in Tel Aviv's bustling business district, is one of the busiest bordellos. The women who work there, like nearly all prostitutes in Israel today, are Russian. Their bosses, however, are not. 'Israelis love Russian girls,' said Jacob Golan, who owns this and two other clubs, '.... They are blonde and good looking and different than us ... And they are desperate. They are ready to do anything for money." [SPECTER, p. 1]

"The situation," wrote Jewish author David Weinberg in an 1998 article about prostitution in Israel entitled Not So Holy Land, "is enough to make you cry in despair, or vomit from shame." [WEINBERG, D., 1-18-98, p. 8] 



White Slavery, Maternal Descent, And The Politics Of Slavery
In The Antebellum United States

Originally Presented At University Of Nottingham Institute For The Study Of Slavery
by Lawrence R. Tenzer , Ed.D. and A.D. Powell
July/August 2004

When one thinks of slavery in America, images of black and brown people come to mind. A little-known fact but true nonetheless, white people were also slaves. The white slavery spoken of in this paper is not about the indentured servants of the 1600s and 1700s, who were sometimes referred to as white slaves while in servitude during their five to seven-year terms. Rather, the white slaves addressed herein were slaves for life, chattel slaves with the same social status as their black and brown counterparts. Several generations of interracial sexual relations between black slave women and white plantation masters or other white men created a population of white slaves, so-called white mulattoes, slaves who looked white and showed no visible African ancestry whatsoever.

According to a Virginia law of 1662, if the mother of a child is a slave, her child will also be a slave. This was a very important law because it was the first to adopt the ancient legal doctrine of partus sequitur ventrem which held that the child follows the social status of the mother. Even after all visual characteristics of the African had long since disappeared, many generations of white people continued to be held in slavery because any child born of a slave mother automatically assumed slave status. Thomas Jefferson spoke of partus sequitur ventrem in his essay, “What Constitutes a Mulatto?”. Antebellum writer George M. Stroud emphasized the point that the partus rule was applicable through many generations “even in the remotest degree.” An antislavery pamphlet published in 1855 related to readers that there were “a million and a half of slave women, some of them without even the tinge of African blood.” Their white children would also be slaves. A year later Judge William D. Kelley of Philadelphia stated, “So long as the mother is a slave…the child is still a slave, his condition following that of his mother, on the principle, ‘partus sequitur ventrem.’ The doctrine of white slavery is no mere abstract theory of the South.”1

Travelers and visitors to the Southern states made note of the white slaves they saw and many of these accounts were published. Particularly noteworthy is the observation of Reverend Francis Hawley of Connecticut who resided in the Carolinas for fourteen years. He wrote, “It is so common for the female slaves to have white children, that little or nothing is ever said about it.” Frederick Law Olmsted reported the observation of a plantation overseer. “It was not uncommon, he said, to see slaves so white that they could not be easily distinguished from pure-blooded whites.” Vincent Coyler who, in describing the “colored people” of New Bern, North Carolina, said, “I have had men and women apply for work who were so white that I could not believe they had a particle of negro blood in their veins.” From the latter 1700s through the Civil War, a number of first-person eyewitness accounts were published describing slaves who were indistinguishable in appearance from free white people. White slaves as seen through the eyes of others brought the issue of white slavery to the awareness of many Northerners who would not have been conscious of it otherwise.2

In addition to travel accounts, newspaper advertisements for white runaway slaves made the issue of white slavery that much more real to Northerners. Although originally appearing in Southern newspapers, these advertisements were collected and published in abolitionist and other literature in the North. Advertisements for white runaway slaves included wording such as “white man,” “white boy,” “quite white,” and “clear white.”3
If anyone had doubt about the existence of white slaves, the picture “EMANCIPATED SLAVES, WHITE AND COLORED” in an 1864 edition of Harper’s Weekly would have been proof. The descriptions of the white slaves were as follows: “Rebecca Huger is eleven years old.... To all appearance she is perfectly white. Her complexion, hair, and features show not the slightest trace of negro blood.... Rosina Downs is not quite seven years old. She is a fair child, with blonde complexion and silky hair.... She has one sister as white as herself.... Charles Taylor is eight years old. His complexion is very fair, his hair light and silky....this white boy...has been twice sold as a slave.”4

White slavery was on the mind of the public in the antebellum North, and this was reflected in popular fictional literature. The Slave: or Memoirs of Archy Moore by Richard Hildreth was published in 1836 and holds the distinction of being the first antislavery novel. Archy is a white slave who tells his readers early on, “From my mother I inherited some imperceptible portion of African blood, and with it, the base and cursed condition of a slave.” The novel was greatly enlarged and expanded in 1852 with the new title, The White Slave; or, Memoirs of a Fugitive. The character of Archy Moore as a white mulatto set the precedent for the heroes and heroines of antislavery novels and other literature that followed. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe is a good example. George Harris, a slave, is described as “a very light mulatto” who could “pass for a white man.” Up through 1861, no less than seventeen works of literature utilized a stereotype known as the “tragic mulatto,” heroes and heroines with light or white complexions who found themselves in such “tragic” situations as the surprise discovery of slave status. The Octoroon, a very popular play by Dion Boucicault scheduled to be performed at Ford’s Theatre the night after Lincoln attended Our American Cousin there, shows that the “tragic mulatto” character had broad appeal. White readers and theatergoers were readily able to identify with white or nearly white characters who were oppressed under slavery.5

Slaves of all colors, including white mulattoes hoping to pass into white society, fled to the free states of the North seeking freedom. The federal Fugitive Slave Law of 1793 attempted to deal with this problem and failed, giving rise to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. The new law was considered infamous and was thought by many to provide for “legal” kidnapping because a person claimed to be a fugitive slave had no protection whatsoever against false identification. Add to this the fact that the commissioner hearing the case received double the amount of fees for finding the individual in question to be the fugitive as claimed. Most significant, however, was the speed with which the Fugitive Slave Law functioned. With no formal hearing of any kind and no due process, an alleged fugitive could be legally dispatched into slavery, virtually as fast as the paperwork could be done. No wonder the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was often referred to with such names as “the kidnapping law” and “the law of kidnappers.” This was all the more heinous since the kidnapping of free blacks and free mulattoes to be sold back into slavery was not uncommon. Here is where fear entered the minds of many Northern white people. A considerable number of white and nearly white slaves escaped from the South with the hope of passing into the white society of the North. The fact that slave owners sought to recapture this property is evidenced in the many advertisements for white runaway slaves that appeared in contemporary newspapers. With slavery not based on skin color and slaves of any color worth a great deal of money¾$400 on average, more than many people would earn in a year¾all runaways were to be recaptured. White people as well as free people of color were valuable and vulnerable. The American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society published a popular pamphlet on the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 shortly after its enactment. One section was entitled “No Exceptions on Account of Color” and had to do with the wrongful enslavement of white people. Congressman Amos P. Granger of New York observed, “The Fugitive Slave Law grabs somebody, black or white, for it makes no distinction of color.” In 1852 William Goodell spoke of the lack of protection white people had under the Fugitive Slave Law. “Persons of the whitest complexion are already held as slaves—fugitives are thus described in advertisements, hunted, captured at the North, and taken back again. And it is known that, in some cases, white persons have been kidnapped who had no African blood in their veins.” William Lloyd Garrison, a leading antislavery advocate, presented a speech in 1855 which included these words:

I said I began this enterprise with the design exclusively of emancipating black people, not dreaming that white people were held in bondage…. You see, therefore, that we are all interested in this matter; that no person can say I am safe, my wife is safe, my mother or my child is safe; that complexion settles the question in America, that none but black people can be enslaved. Slavery cares not for anybody’s complexion; no person is safe.6

The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was one way in which free whites in the Northern states were threatened with white slavery. A second way had to do with the belief that the Southern oligarchy desired to nationalize slavery and eventually enslave white laborers in the North. At face value, this notion seems preposterous, but in truth, that is precisely what many believed the South ultimately intended to do.

The institution of slavery had existed in every one of the Northern states throughout the colonial period and such slavery was not limited to black slavery. White political prisoners and petty criminals from Britain were sold and brought to the colonies as slaves. Between the early 1770s and 1804, Rhode Island, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, all of which had slavery, passed outright abolition or gradual emancipation laws. During the 1850s, the South’s plan to nationalize slavery was merely to reintroduce it in the North where it had previously existed just 50 to 75 years earlier. With so many white partus slaves in the South to begin with, the idea of expanding slavery to include white laborers in the North moved slavery from a matter of color to a matter of class. Southern politicians frequently pointed out that the slavery in Greece and Rome was based on social status, not on color. They also called attention to the fact that the slavery in the Bible was not Negro slavery.7

The idea of enslaving whites in the North was not a new one. In 1836 the Rhode Island Anti-Slavery Convention referred to white slavery and the white laborer. A few years later, William Goodell declared, “We do not recollect a single southern statesman or eminent southern writer, who has pretended to believe that slavery, if it continues to exist, will be confined to the blacks.... Slavery must cease, or else large masses of white people will become slaves.” In one of the more unusual early references to white people being made slaves by the South, James Russell Lowell, the famed New England poet, wrote a political satire in a Yankee dialect which contained these lines:

Wy, it’s jest ez clear ez figgers,
Clear ez one an’ one make two,
Chaps thet make black slaves o’ niggers
Want to make wite slaves o’ you.8

The year 1854 was a very significant one for the South and proslavery interests. In addition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act which allowed for slavery in the territories, 1854 saw the publication of a profoundly influential book entitled, Sociology for the South, or the Failure of Free Society by George Fitzhugh. In the Union there were two political ideologies—free and slave—totally at odds with one another. Fitzhugh talked about free society in the North being a failure and universal slavery, not based on color, being the only successful alternative. He declared, “Ten years ago we became satisfied that slavery, black or white, was right and necessary. We advocated this doctrine in very many essays.” Fitzhugh explained, “More than half of the white citizens of the North are common laborers, either in the field, or as body or house servants. They perform the same services that our slaves do.” White laborers received no money when they were ill or when no work was available. They worked long hours for very low wages and were living in poverty, which in turn led to crime and an undermining of free society. Slaves, on the other hand, did not have to fend for themselves, and they were taken care of with food, clothing, and shelter. Free society was a failure. Slave society was a success. Fitzhugh later wrote, “White slavery, not black, has been the normal element of civilized society.... He who justifies mere negro slavery, and condemns other forms of slavery, does not think at all…. Domestic slavery must be vindicated in the abstract... without regard to race or color.” Fitzhugh’s thinking evolved, and as shown in observations he made in 1858, he came to believe that white slaves were better than black slaves. “European slaves have ever been almost all of the white race. Negro slavery is of very recent origin.... To say the white race is not the true and best slave race is to contradict all history.” If the Union could not exist half slave and half free, the nationalization of slavery, with white laborers in the North being enslaved as well, was the better alternative. This was a major theme in Southern politics from the mid-1850s to 1860.9

In 1855 Fitzhugh wrote a very famous and often quoted, albeit anonymous, editorial for the Richmond Enquirer. Fitzhugh said, “The Bible...ordained, authorised and enforced white slavery,” and that “slavery in the abstract” was right. “The laws of all the Southern States justified the holding [of] white men in slavery, provided, through the mother, they were descended, however remotely, from a negro slave. The bright [white] mulattoes,” said Fitzhugh, were not “wrongfully held in slavery.” The universality of the right to enslave was affirmed with, “The South now maintains that slavery is right, natural, and necessary,” and “the principle of slavery is itself right, and does not depend on difference of complexion.”10

Political materials for the presidential campaign of 1856 include references to the literal enslavement of white people and illustrate the extent to which the idea had developed. There were many quotes from Fitzhugh’s book and the famous Richmond Enquirer editorial. An October, 1856 issue of the National Anti-Slavery Standard featured a particularly noteworthy article entitled, “THE NEW ‘DEMOCRATIC’ DOCTRINE. Slavery not to be Confined to the Negro Race, but to be made the Universal Condition of the Labouring Classes of Society.” The article stated, “The last, the crowning, the diabolical assumption is, that slavery is not to be confined to the NEGRO RACE, but must be made to include labouring WHITE MEN also.” The famous Richmond Enquirer reference about slavery not depending on “difference of complexion” and the laws of the slave states justifying the holding of white men in bondage was cited along with this quote from a leading South Carolina newspaper: “Slavery is the natural and normal condition of the labouring man, whether WHITE or black.” Responding to statements by Senator Solomon W. Downs of Louisiana, an editorial commented, “According to Mr. Downs…all that the Northern white labourer requires is somebody to sell him when he falls into poverty.” Many other references from Southern newspapers and speeches were included. The highlights just presented were from the version of “The New ‘Democratic’ Doctrine” which appeared in the newspaper, the National Anti-Slavery Standard. At least four other manifestations in pamphlets and broadsides were also published under the same title. A Republican handbill distributed during the 1856 presidential election contains excerpts from “The New ‘Democratic’ Doctrine” and is a striking piece of evidence which attests to white slavery being a hot political issue. During 1856, the statements from the Southern press were carried over into Congress as well in speeches by Congressmen Philemon Bliss of Ohio, Anson Burlingame of Massachusetts, Schuyler Colfax of Indiana, Timothy C. Day of Ohio, Amos P. Granger of New York, Galusha A. Grow of Pennsylvania, Mason W. Tappan of New Hampshire, Israel Washburn, Jr. of Maine, and Senators William H. Seward of New York (speaking in Auburn), and Henry Wilson of Massachusetts. Many spoke of slavery irrespective of color and often included the Fitzhugh and Richmond Enquirer quotes in that regard. Others addressed partus sequitur ventrem, enslaving white laborers in the North or the threat to free whites posed by the Fugitive Slave Law. All were chosen from among many political publications for inclusion in the anthology, Republican Campaign Documents of 1856.11

All of the talk during the campaign of 1856 about the South enslaving Northern whites took on profound meaning after the Dred Scott decision allowed slavery into the territories. Another Dred Scott decision would allow slavery into the free states of the North. In either case, free white labor would have to compete with slave labor and could not survive because the average daily wage of little more than a dollar would become 10¢ or 25¢. White laborers who fell into poverty could be sold into slavery for debt. As “The New ‘Democratic’ Doctrine” said, “All that the Northern white laborer requires is somebody to sell him when he falls into poverty.” In his book, A Journey in the Back Country, Frederick Law Olmsted asserted, “Nothing in fact but the enslavement of labor at the North, could in the nature of things, give that security…to the capitalists of labor at the South.” In a footnote, Olmsted quoted the Richmond Enquirer: “While it is far more obvious that negroes should be slaves than whites, ...the principle of slavery is itself right, and does not depend upon difference of complexion.”12

A series of speeches and dialogues which included references to white slavery took place in the Senate and in the House of Representatives in 1860 and give a sense for what Northern members of Congress wanted to express on the eve of the Civil War. Congressmen Henry Waldron of Michigan, Israel Washburn, Jr. of Maine, William Windom of Minnesota, and Senator James R. Doolittle of Wisconsin and Senators Charles Sumner and Henry Wilson of Massachusetts all mention George Fitzhugh by name. His quote from Sociology for the South pertaining to “slavery, black or white” and the Richmond Enquirer quote about slavery not depending on “difference of complexion” were repeated time and again, showing the concern Northern politicians had regarding the enslavement of white laborers. Bear in mind that these congressional accounts as well as the earlier ones referring to white slavery were all printed verbatim in the official publication of Congress, the Congressional Globe.13

Abraham Lincoln had a very negative reaction to Fitzhugh’s Sociology for the South. William H. Herndon, Lincoln’s law partner, made sure he was kept abreast of preeminent slavery and antislavery literature. He wrote, “Lincoln was well posted on both sides. I had a Southern work called Sociology by Fitzhugh, I think. It defended slavery in every way. This aroused the ire of Lincoln more than most pro-slavery books.” In light of the many references to white slavery in Republican speeches and literature from 1856 to 1860, Lincoln was evidently well informed about the subject. Lincoln’s speeches and writings do contain specific references to literal white slavery¾slavery not based on color. In December of 1856 he spoke of President Buchanan’s recent election and the “idea that slavery is right, in the abstract…and its extension to all countries and colors.” He then specifically referred to “the Richmond Enquirer, an avowed advocate of slavery, regardless of color.” In a fragment which has survived from 1858(?), Lincoln referred to Douglas and his implication that “the superior ought to enslave the inferior…[as well as the] right of one class to enslave another.” In 1859 Lincoln referred to Southern political power “trying to show that slavery existed in the Bible times by Divine ordinance....whenever you establish that Slavery was right by the Bible, it will occur that that Slavery was the Slavery of the white man—of men without reference to color.” Lincoln’s own campaign newspaper, the Rail Splitter, spoke of white slavery. An article entitled “Capital Should Own Labor” asked, “Whatever may be your opinion of Negro Slavery, do you think White Men should be made Slaves?” The same edition included this excerpt from a speech by Senator Benjamin F. Wade of Ohio: “Capital should own labor—referring not merely to the labor of the colored man, but to that of the white man as well!” A front-page article reminded readers, “It is not long since the Richmond Examiner, a leading Southern organ of the Democracy, said that the natural condition of the laboring classes of whatever color was slavery.” Many articles in Lincoln’s paper discussed the in-surmountable problem free labor would have in competing with slave labor, and the specter of white slavery was always present.14

It is no wonder that over half of the men employed in Northern industries, and many others who were self-employed, all fought against the South in the Civil War. Historian Philip S. Foner explains why free labor would fight to end slavery.

The Iron Platform, a New York workingman’s paper, gave in November, 1862, the reason that had compelled it to call for the freedom of the slaves: “There is one truth which should be clearly understood by every workingman in the Union. The slavery of the black man leads to the slavery of the white man.... If the doctrine of treason is true, that ‘Capital should own labor,’ then their logical conclusion is correct, and all laborers, white or black, are and ought to be slaves.”15

An issue of the Iron Platform published in 1864 shows that the fear white laborers had of being enslaved by the South existed well into the Civil War. “The interests of workingmen, as a class, are at stake in this conflict.” After the writings of George Fitzhugh were addressed, the article stated, “The writer here not only justifies the slavery of the black man, but enters into a labored argument to prove that the white race is the true and best slave race.” The Iron Platform and many other writings show that white slavery had a profound political effect on the antebellum United States.

When one truly understands that the politics of slavery had no regard for color, it becomes clear that free laborers in the North and others fought to abolish slavery, not out of altruism, but in order to insure freedom for themselves and their loved ones. Slavery black or white answers a major question that has puzzled historians of the American Civil War as to why Northern whites would fight to free blacks they believed to be an inferior race. Slavery black or white also begs the question as to whether or not the Civil War would have occurred if the existence of white slaves had not brought home to Northern citizens the great danger that slavery posed to their free society. The authors do not claim that white slavery was the only cause of the Civil War, but it was certainly an important cause which has been overlooked in academic literature.16

1 William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia (N.Y., 1810–1823), 2:170 [1662]. The Complete Jefferson, ed. Saul K. Padover (N.Y., 1943), 1022–23. The essay “What Constitutes a Mulatto?” is missing from later editions of Jefferson’s writings. George M. Stroud, A Sketch of the Laws Relating to Slavery, 2d ed. (Philadelphia, 1856), 16–17. In a footnote on the latter page, Stroud stated the following: “Under this law it may frequently happen that a person whose complexion is European may be legally retained as a slave.” He then went on to cite several cases where white people were held as slaves under the partus sequitur ventrem rule because each had a very distant maternal ancestor who was a slave. Note continued on 18–20. American Antislavery Society, Revolution the Only Remedy for Slavery (N.Y., [1855]), 3. An Address Delivered by Hon. William D. Kelley, at Spring Garden Hall, Philadelphia, on September 9th, 1856 (Philadelphia, 1856), 12–13. See also Thomas R. R. Cobb, An Inquiry into the Law of Negro Slavery in the United States of America (Philadelphia, 1858), 68–69; Congressional Globe, 36th Cong., 1st sess., 29 May 1860, appendix, 375; Congressional Globe, 36th Cong., 1st sess., 12 June 1860, appendix, 417. There were a few interesting exceptions to the partus sequitur ventrem policy worth noting. The Maryland law of 1664 provided that “all children born of any Negro or other slave shall be slaves as their fathers were for the term of their lives.” In Connecticut in 1704, a mulatto sued for his freedom and won because “his father was a white man” even though his mother was a black slave. An example is also to be found in the records of the Superior Council of Louisiana for November 14, 1745: “Report on legal freedom. Vincent Le Porche files a statement to the intent that one Marie Louise is not a slave but should enjoy complete liberty, being the daughter of a Frenchman.” William Hand Browne et al., eds., Archives of Maryland (Baltimore, 1883–), 1:533. William C. Fowler, “The Historical Status of the Negro in Connecticut,” Historical Magazine, 3d ser., 3 (January 1874): 16. Heloise H. Cruzat, trans., “Records of the Superior Council of Louisiana, LII,” Louisiana Historical Quarterly 14 (October 1931): 598. An excellent discussion of the partus principle may be had in Thomas D. Morris, Southern Slavery and the Law, 1619–1860 (Chapel Hill, 1996), 43–49, 411–12.

2 “Narrative and Testimony of Rev. Francis Hawley,” in [Theodore D. Weld], American Slavery as It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses (1839; reprint, N.Y., 1968), 97. On page 25 of the same publication, Rev. John Graham who was in South Carolina in the early 1830s rhetorically asked, “How many white sons and daughters, have bled and groaned under the lash in this sultry climate?” Frederick Law Olmsted, The Cotton Kingdom: A Traveller’s Observations on Cotton and Slavery in the American Slave States (1861; reprint, ed. Arthur M. Schlesinger, N.Y., 1953), 458–59. Vincent Colyer, Brief Report of the Services Rendered by the Freed People to the United States Army in North Carolina (N.Y., 1864), 32. Other eyewitness accounts of white slaves include Fredrika Bremer, The Homes of the New World (1853; reprint, N.Y., 1968), 1:373, 2:534–35; Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave (1847; reprint, N.Y., 1970), 34; G. W. Featherstonhaugh, Excursion Through the Slave States (London, 1844), 2:267–68; Isaac Holmes, An Account of the United States of America (London, [1823]), 327–28, 333; Charles Mackay, Life and Liberty in America (London, 1859), 1:317–18; Frederick Marryat, A Diary in America, (Paris, 1839), 250–51; C. G. Parsons, Inside View of Slavery (1855; reprint, N.Y., 1969), 180–82; J. F. D. Smyth, A Tour in the United States of America (1784; reprint, N.Y., 1968), 2:181; Edward Sullivan, Rambles and Scrambles in North and South America (London, 1852), 200–201; Jesse Torrey, American Slave Trade ([1817] 1822; reprint, Westport, 1971), 24–25; Rev. Philo Tower, Slavery Unmasked: Being a Truthful Narrative of a Three Years’ Residence and Journeying in Eleven Southern States (1856; reprint, N.Y., 1969), 307, 325; George Vandenhoff, Leaves from an Actor’s Note-Book (N.Y., 1860), 208; J[acques] P[ierre] Brissot de Warville, New Travels in the United States of America, 1788, ed. and trans. Durand Echeverria and Mara Soceanu Vamos (Cambridge, 1964), 217; Charles Richard Weld, A Vacation Tour in the United States and Canada (London, 1855), 302–4;

3 American Anti-Slavery Society, White Slavery in the United States. Anti-Slavery Tracts. No. 2. ([1855]; reprint, Westport, 1970). [George Washington Carleton], The Suppressed Book about Slavery! Prepared for Publication in 1857,— Never Published Until the Present Time (1864; reprint, N.Y., 1968), 42, 295–97, 300–301, 314, 330–33, 335, 340–41, 348–49. L. Maria Child, The Patriarchal Institution, as Described by Members of Its Own Family (N.Y., 1860), 25–28. Rev. Charles Elliott, Sinfulness of American Slavery (1851; reprint, N.Y., 1968), 2:65. William Jay, Miscellaneous Writings on Slavery (1853; reprint, N.Y., 1968), 261–63. Some advertisements refer to “bright” mulattoes. In Southern parlance, this designation was used to indicate a white-looking complexion, not intelligence. For other examples, see Mary Chesnut’s Civil War, ed. C. Vann Woodward (New Haven, 1981), 15; Richmond Enquirer, 15 December 1855, p. 2; Geo. W[M]. Weston, Who Are and Who May Be Slaves in the U. States, in Republican Campaign Documents of 1856. A Collection of the Most Important Speeches and Documents Issued by the Republican Association of Washington, During the Presidential Campaign of 1856 (Washington, 1857), 1.

4 C. C. Leigh, “White and Colored Slaves,” Harper’s Weekly 8 (January 30, 1864): 71. The woodcut was made from a photograph (albumen silver print from glass negative) now in the possession of the Gilman Paper Company in New York City. Harper’s Weekly was very popular, having a circulation of around 200,000 before the Civil War. Edgar W. Martin, The Standard of Living in 1860 (Chicago, 1942), 320.

5 Richard Hildreth, The Slave: or Memoirs of Archy Moore (1836; reprint, Upper Saddle River, 1968), 1:7, 41; The White Slave; or, Memoirs of a Fugitive (1852; reprint, N.Y., 1969), 9–10, 33. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly, in Three Novels (1852; reprint, ed. Kathryn Kish Sklar, N.Y., 1982), 129. George Fitzhugh referred to Stowe in “Southern Thought—Its New And Important Manifestations,” DeBow’s Review 23 (October 1857): 347. For a list of the seventeen works of literature, see Jules Zanger, “The ‘Tragic Octoroon’ in Pre-Civil War Fiction,” American Quarterly 18 (Spring 1966): 63n and 68–70 regarding The Octoroon. Kenneth A. Bernard, Lincoln and the Music of the Civil War (Caldwell, 1966), PLATE 47 for the Ford’s Theatre reference. William Bedford Clark, “The Serpent of Lust in the Southern Garden,” Southern Review 10 (October 1974): 816. A more philosophical interpretation has been done by Nancy Bentley, “White Slaves: The Mulatto Hero in Antebellum Fiction,” American Literature 65 (September 1993): 501–22. Even though modern works are included, also of value is Glenn Cannon Arbery, “Victims of Likeness: Quadroons and Octoroons in Southern Fiction,” Southern Review 25 (January 1989): 52–71. The definitive research of Werner Sollors is particularly noteworthy. Neither Black Nor White Yet Both: Thematic Explorations of Interracial Literature (N.Y., 1997), chap. 8 and passim for theoretical constructs. See also Judith R. Berzon, Neither White Nor Black: The Mulatto in American Fiction (N.Y., 1978), especially chap. 4 in the present context. Even after the Civil War, the idea of a white slave still made for interesting literary subject matter. The White Slave by playwright Bartley Campbell was written in the early 1880s. The play is set in 1857 and has in its cast of characters Lisa, the white slave, Daphne, an octoroon, and Nance, a quadroon. Napier Wilt noted, “From 1879 to 1885 Bartley Campbell was not only the most popular American dramatist, but he was regarded by most critics as one of the best.” Audiences could relate to seeing a white slave on the stage. The White Slave & Other Plays, ed. Napier Wilt (Princeton, 1941), xiii.

6 The basic provisions of the Fugitive Slave law of 1850 provided for the following: A mere affidavit from the claimant or his agent even if given in absentia was sufficient to establish title to an alleged runaway slave. The weakest ex parte evidence was considered enough to convict. Once captured, those claimed to be the fugitive being sought were not allowed to speak at all in their behalf and were denied legal representation. Neither a jury trial nor a formal hearing of any kind was permitted. Specially appointed federal commissioners were directed to attend to cases “in a summary manner.” Moreover, these officials had authority to issue certificates which would instantly place the black or mulatto into slavery without any due process whatsoever. Commissioners received ten dollars for issuing the certificate authorizing immediate enslavement. Many in the North considered this an exceptionally large amount since the daily wage paid to a day laborer averaged about $1.00 in 1850. Only five dollars was received for the paperwork to set the captive free. Federal marshals were empowered to enlist the aid of common citizens in the capture, and there would be a $1,000 fine if such a person did not comply. Reluctant acquiescence in the North to the new law had to do with the fact that there were strong and protective personal liberty state laws already on the books which could be used to challenge the new federal law in terms of states’ rights and constitutionality. Additional personal liberty laws were passed during the 1850s. These laws enforced the constitutional provisions of habeas corpus, due process, and trial by jury, thereby establishing legal obstructions which made it difficult for those seeking to recover fugitive slaves to press their claims. For the complete verbatim text of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 in convenient sources, see McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, 112–15, and Siebert, Underground Railroad, 361–66. Thomas D. Morris, Free Men All: The Personal Liberty Laws of the North, 1780–1861 (Baltimore, 1974), passim. Anti-Slavery Bugle, 19 October 1850, p. 18. Samuel May, Jr., The Fugitive Slave Law and Its Victims (1861; reprint, Freeport, 1970), 3. See also Stanley W. Campbell, The Slave Catchers: Enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law, 1850–1860 (Chapel Hill, 1970), 175. Regarding the kidnapping of free blacks and free mulattoes, see James E. Alexander, Transatlantic Sketches 2:25; E. A. Andrews, Slavery and the Domestic Slave-Trade in the United States (1836; reprint, Detroit, [1969]), 147; Rev. John H. Aughey, Tupelo (1888; reprint, Freeport, 1971), 345; Letters of James Gillespie Birney, 1831–1857, ed. Dwight L. Dumond (1938; reprint, Gloucester, 1966), 2:651–52; J. S. Buckingham, The Eastern and Western States of America (London, [1842]), 1:11–12; Congressional Globe, 31st Cong., 1st sess., 19 August 1850, appendix, 1587–88; William Jay, Miscellaneous Writings on Slavery (1853; reprint, N.Y., 1968), 236-47, 389–93; Morris, Free Men All, chap. 2; Harriet Beecher Stowe, The Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Presenting the Original Facts and Documents Upon Which the Story Is Founded (1854; reprint, N.Y., 1968), 340–45; Jesse Torrey, American Slave Trade ([1817] 1822; reprint, Westport, 1971), 89-90; [Weld], American Slavery as It Is, 140, 142; Carol Wilson, Freedom at Risk: The Kidnapping of Free Blacks in America, 1780–1865 (Lexington, 1994), 1, 116, passim. For instances of gangs kidnapping free blacks and free mulattoes, see Collins, Domestic Slave Trade, 95; Liberator, 14 August 1857, p. 1; National Era, 7 December 1854, p. 196; Niles’ National Register, 24 October 1846, p. 122 (described a gang of thirteen “negro stealers” but does not say whether victims were free or slave); Niles’ Weekly Register, 10 April 1824, p. 96, and 18 October 1828, p. 119. Notices concerned with kidnappings and kidnapped victims endlessly filled the antislavery press, especially newspapers. See Niles’ Weekly Register, 10 October 1818, p. 110 for an early example. Regarding the $400 average slave price, see Henry Chase and C. H. Sanborn, The North and the South: Being a Statistical View of the Condition of the Free and Slave States (1857; reprint, Westport, 1970), 46, 49, 69, 82. As for wages, see Statistics of the United States, 512; J. D. B. DeBow, Statistical View of the United States (Washington, 1854), 164; Stanley Lebergott, “Wage Trends, 1800–1900,” in Trends in the American Economy in the Nineteenth Century (Princeton, 1960), 462. American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, Fugitive Slave Bill, 32–33. See also “North American” Documents. Letters from Geo. Law, Ephraim Marsh, & Chauncey Schaffer (n.p., [1856?]), 7, and see also 12 for comments in general. Slavery Unconstitutional. Speech of Hon. Amos P. Granger, of New York, in the House of Representatives, April 4, 1856, in Republican Campaign Documents of 1856. A Collection of the Most Important Speeches and Documents Issued by the Republican Association of Washington, During the Presidential Campaign of 1856 (Washington, 1857), 6–7. William Goodell, Slavery and Anti-Slavery; A History of the Great Struggle in Both Hemispheres (1852; reprint, N.Y., 1968), 141-42. Anti-Slavery Bugle, 2 June 1855, p. 1.

7 Michael A. Hoffman II, They Were White and They Were Slaves (N.Y., 1992), passim. Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, 94 and chap. 6. George M. Weston, Who Are and Who May Be Slaves in the U. States. Facts for the People, in Republican Campaign Documents of 1856. A Collection of the Most Important Speeches and Documents Issued by the Republican Association of Washington, During the Presidential Campaign of 1856 (Washington, 1857), 1-2. J. Drew Harrington, “Classical Antiquity and the Proslavery Argument,” Slavery & Abolition 10 (May 1989): 60–72. Mitchell Snay, “American Thought and Southern Distinctiveness: The Southern Clergy and the Sanctification of Slavery,” Civil War History 35 (December 1989): 311–28. Richmond Enquirer, 20 September 1856, p. 2. Even though proslavery forces pointed to Biblical instances of slavery, they conveniently neglected Deut. 23.15–16. See also Ron Bartour, “American Views on ‘Biblical Slavery’: 1835–1865, A Comparative Study,” Slavery & Abolition 4 (May 1983): 41–55; Helper, Impending Crisis of the South, chap. 7; [Theodore Dwight Weld], The Bible Against Slavery (1864; reprint, Detroit, 1970) and earlier editions from the 1830s.

8 Rhode Island Anti-Slavery Convention, Proceedings (Providence, 1836), 25. Anti-Slavery Lecturer 1 (August 1839): 1–2. “The Biglow Papers - No. 1,” The Complete Poetical Works of James Russell Lowell, ed. Horace E. Scudder (Boston, 1925), 182. See also Letters of James Gillespie Birney, ed. Dwight L. Dumond (N.Y., 1938), 1:243, 363, and Bayard Tuckerman, William Jay and the Constitutional Movement for the Abolition of Slavery (1893; reprint, N.Y., 1969), 80. An article in the December, 1835 issue of the Emancipator specifically addressed the notion of Northern slaveowners. “The southern capitalist commits no sin when he holds the laborer, without his consent, as a slave. The inference irresistibly follows, that it could be NO SIN for the NORTHERN capitalist to hold the NORTHERN WHITE LABORER, without his consent, as A SLAVE!” Philip S. Foner and Herbert Shapiro, eds., Northern Labor and Antislavery (Westport, 1994), 93.

9 George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, 225 (unnumbered), 250–51. George Fitzhugh, “Southern Thought—Its New And Important Manifestations,” DeBow’s Review 23 (October 1857): 338–39, 347. George Fitzhugh, “Origin of Civilization—What Is Property?—Which Is the Best Slave Race?” DeBow’s Review 25 (December 1858): 662–63. Fitzhugh, in the words of Robert A. Garson, “recognized that if Negro slaves fared better than free white workers, then it was only logical to enslave all workers, regardless of color.” Stanford M. Lyman agrees and states, “Precisely because he regarded slavery to be a universal as well as universally beneficent form of societal organization, Fitzhugh did not confine its domain to that of blacks.” Eugene D. Genovese concurs with this point of view. For Fitzhugh, “All labor, white and black, ought to be enslaved for its own good.” Garson, “Proslavery as Political Theory: The Examples of John C. Calhoun and George Fitzhugh,” South Atlantic Quarterly 84 (Spring 1985): 205. Lyman, “System and Function in Ante-bellum Southern Sociology,” International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society 2 (Fall 1988): 101–2. In the thinking of Genovese, Fitzhugh’s “notion that slavery was a proper social system for all labor, not merely for black labor, did not arise as a last-minute rationalization; it grew steadily as part of the growing self-awareness of the planter class. It is curious that this point is overlooked by so much of recent scholarship.” The World the Slaveholders Made: Two Essays in Interpretation (N.Y., 1969), 236, 130. A notable example is C. Vann Woodward who says nothing about Fitzhugh’s notion of universal slavery—slavery based on class, not on color. George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All! or Slaves Without Masters, ed. C. Vann Woodward (1857; reprint, Cambridge, 1960), especially p. 254 where Fitzhugh said, “There is no middle ground—not an inch of ground of any sort, between the doctrines which we hold and those which Mr. Garrison holds. If slavery, either white or black, be wrong in principle or practice, then is Mr. Garrison right—then is all human government wrong.” National Era, 15 September 1859, p. 146. Wilfred Carsel, “The Slaveholders’ Indictment of Northern Wage Slavery,” Journal of Southern History 6 (November 1940): 517. Richmond Enquirer, 2 February 1855, p. 2, and 24 April 1856, p. 2. Edmund Ruffin read Sociology for the South and criticized Fitzhugh as “a profound thinker, though a careless writer—sometimes altogether wrong.” As for Fitzhugh’s ideas concerning slavery, however, Ruffin was in agreement. “Many of the positions which he has assumed, I have also entertained & presented, in regard to slavery.” Regarding Holmes’s criticism of Fitzhugh, Drew Gilpin Faust quotes Holmes speaking of Fitzhugh’s theories as “too broadly and incautiously asserted.” However the actual passage written by Holmes was with specific reference to Sociology for the South and reads, “the new truths which it advances, though too broadly and incautiously asserted, are in the main as correct as they are sagacious.” His critique of Fitzhugh’s style notwithstanding, he interpreted the book and favorably reviewed it. Neal C. Gillespie, Holmes’s eminent biographer, has pointed out that he disagreed with Fitzhugh regarding the reasoning behind the ubiquity of slavery, but both agreed on the principle. Diary of Edmund Ruffin 1:215–16, 240. Drew Gilpin Faust, A Sacred Circle: The Dilemma of the Intellectual in the Old South, 1840–1860 (Baltimore, 1977), 127. [George Frederick Holmes], “Failure of Free Societies,” Southern Literary Messenger 21 (March 1855): 129–30, 141. Neal C. Gillespie, The Collapse of Orthodoxy: The Intellectual Ordeal of George Frederick Holmes (Charlottesville, 1972), 173, 197. With regard to the contemporaries upon whom Fitzhugh had impact, see Genovese, World the Slaveholders Made, 135, and Harvey Wish, George Fitzhugh: Propagandist of the Old South (1943; reprint, Gloucester, 1962), 126.

10 Richmond Enquirer, 15 December 1855, p. 2. Note that in speaking of Moses and Aristotle, Fitzhugh has used the word “race” to mean “national descent.” The second part of this editorial had to do with the failure of free society in rural England, and although extracted from the North British Review, the writing could easily have been a page from his Sociology for the South.

11 National Anti-Slavery Standard, 11 October 1856, p. 1. Other versions of “The New ‘Democratic’ Doctrine” were published including two in New York, one in Rhode Island, and one in New Hampshire. Their respective OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) accession numbers are 32495897, 4475554, 31086184, 889904. This collection of quotations refers to both figurative and literal white slavery, establishing a continuum between the two. A good example of this mix may be seen in OCLC 4475554. In addition to the literal references, the back cover contains a map of the United States on which is printed a blurb concerning slaveholders and a figurative reference to “the white slaves of the North who are owned by this small but iron-willed oligarchy.” For OCLC 32495897 and the 1856 Republican party handbill, see PLATES 8 and 9 in Lawrence R. Tenzer, The Forgotten Cause of the Civil War: A New Look at the Slavery Issue (Manahawkin, 1997). General 1856 political material that addressed the enslavement of white people may be had in Anti-Slavery Bugle, 20 September 1856, pp. 1–2; Edwin T. Freedley, The Issue, and Its Consequences (Philadelphia, 1856), 6; Fremonter, 22 August 1856, p. 2; Marshall Statesman, 22 October 1856, p. 1; Michigan Republican State Committee, Important Facts Drawn From Authentic Sources, Providing Beyond A Doubt That The Approaching Presidential Election Is Forever To Decide The Question Between Freedom And Slavery [Detroit, 1856], 28–30; Joseph Stringham, Buffalo Daily Republic Extra. Address to the Republican Club of Buffalo (N.Y., [1856]), 13. Congressional speeches include Complaints of the Extensionists—Their Falsity. Speech of Hon. Philemon Bliss, of Ohio, in the House of Representatives, May 21, 1856, 4; Defense of Massachusetts. Speech of Hon. Anson Burlingame, of Massachusetts, in the House of Representatives, June 21, 1856, 2, 4; The “Laws” of Kansas. Speech of Schuyler Colfax, of Indiana, in the House of Representatives, June 21, 1856, 10, 12–13; The Democratic Party as It Was and as It Is! Speech of Hon. Timothy C. Day, of Ohio, in the House of Representatives, April 23, 1856, 8; Slavery Unconstitutional. Speech of Hon. Amos P. Granger, of New York, in the House of Representatives, April 4, 1856, 6-7; Admission of Kansas. Speech of Hon. G. A. Grow, of Pennsylvania, in the House of Representatives, June 30, 1856, 5; Modern “Democracy,” the Ally of Slavery. Speech of Hon. M. W. Tappan, of New Hampshire, in the House of Representatives, July 29, 1856, 14; Politics of the Country. Speech of Hon. I. Washburn, Jr., of Maine, in the House of Representatives, June 21, 1856, 2; The Parties of the Day. Speech of William H. Seward, at Auburn, October 21, 1856, 4-5; The State of Affairs in Kansas. Speech of Hon. Henry Wilson, of Massachusetts, in the Senate, February 18, 1856, 10. All of these speeches were contained in Republican Campaign Documents of 1856. A Collection of the Most Important Speeches and Documents Issued by the Republican Association of Washington, During the Presidential Campaign of 1856 (Washington, 1857). See also the included document by George M. Weston, Who Are and Who May Be Slaves in the U. States. Facts for the People, 1-2.

12 An exposition of Dred Scott may be had slightly abridged but in context in Paul Finkelman, Dred Scott v. Sandford: A Brief History with Documents (N.Y., 1997), 76. A thorough single-volume study is Don E. Fehrenbacher, The Dred Scott Case: Its Significance in American Law and Politics (N.Y., 1978), condensed in his Slavery, Law, and Politics: The Dred Scott Case in Historical Perspective (N.Y., 1981). An insightful racial perspective on Dred Scott is in “Who Are Negroes?” in Chicago Daily Tribune, 12 March 1857, p. 2. For Lincoln’s belief in another Dred Scott decision, see Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln 3:24, and 2:466–67, 518, 3:27, 30, 233–34, 316, 369, with other references in Paul Finkelman, An Imperfect Union: Slavery, Federalism, and Comity (Chapel Hill, 1981), 318nn, and 318–19. Harry V. Jaffa has scrutinized the Dred Scott decision with its legal ramifications for a nationalized slavery and concluded that “there was no principle…which justified enslaving Negroes which did not at the same time justify enslaving whites.” Crisis of the House Divided (N.Y., 1959), 281. Jaffa’s understanding in chaps. 11 and 12 is extraordinary and deserves careful examination. The same may be said for Finkelman, Imperfect Union, chap. 10. The Anti-Slavery Bugle applied to the territories the Richmond Enquirer quote about the laws of the slave states justifying white men in bondage. “And it is these laws which the South seeks to carry under the Constitution into all the territories of the Union.” 20 September 1856, p. 2. References to 10¢ and 25¢ are in “The New ‘Democratic’ Doctrine,” Rail Splitter (Chicago), 18 August 1860, p. 3, and Address Delivered by Hon. William D. Kelley, 12. Also of interest is Philip S. Foner, History of the Labor Movement in the United States (N.Y., 1947), 1:286–87; Joseph G. Rayback, “The American Workingman and the Antislavery Crusade,” Journal of Economic History 3 (November 1943): 162–63 and A History of American Labor (N.Y., 1966), 101–2; Southern Slavery Reduces Northern Wages. An Address by George M. Weston, of Maine. Delivered in Washington, D C., March 25, 1856, in Republican Campaign Documents of 1856. Debtors were viewed with utter disdain. As Frank Tracy Carlton says, “A criminal was given even greater consideration in regard to food and fuel than was accorded the imprisoned debtor. The practice of imprisoning debtors fell, of course, with peculiar severity upon those who were close to the poverty line, that is, upon the wage-earning classes.” Organized Labor in American History (N.Y., 1920), 164–68. C[urtis] W[M]. Jacobs, Free Negro Question in Maryland (Baltimore, 1859), 25–27; Russel B. Nye, Fettered Freedom: Civil Liberties and the Slavery Controversy, 1830-1860 (East Lansing, 1963), 309n92; Frederick Merk, Slavery and the Annexation of Texas (N.Y., 1972), 246. For a source which contains early examples of white people being sold into slavery, see Hoffman, They Were White and They Were Slaves, passim. The Richmond Enquirer reported the case of a white man who was sold at public auction in Decatur, Illinois. “On Saturday last, an Irishman by the name of Jimmy McFerny, well known in this and the adjoining rail road towns, was sold at public vendue for vagrancy.” 23 August 1855, p. 2. Michigan Republican State Committee, Important Facts Drawn From Authentic Sources, 30. Frederick Law Olmsted, A Journey in the Back Country (N.Y., 1860), 456. See also Wish, George Fitzhugh, 212.

13 Congressional Globe, 36th Cong., 1st sess., 26 April 1860, 1873 (unnumbered). Congressional Globe, 36th Cong., 1st sess., 19 May 1860, appendix, 354. Congressional Globe, 36th Cong., 1st sess., 14 March 1860, appendix, 172. Congressional Globe, 36th Cong., 1st sess., 3 January 1860, appendix, 98, 104. Congressional Globe, 36th Cong., 1st sess., 4 June 1860, 2601–2. Congressional Globe, 36th Cong., 1st sess., 25 January 1860, 571. Other congressmen and senators who spoke of white slavery in the late 1850s through 1860 included Philemon Bliss, Sidney Edgerton, and Benjamin Stanton of Ohio, John Hickman of Pennsylvania, Owen Lovejoy of Illinois, John J. Perry of Maine, and William H. Seward of New York. Congressional Globe, 35th Cong., 1st sess., 24 May 1858, appendix, 399. Congressional Globe, 36th Cong., 1st sess., 29 February 1860, 931. Negro Equality—The Right of One Man to Hold Property in Another—The Democratic Party a Disunion Party—The Success of the Republican Party the Only Salvation for the Country. Speech of Hon. Benjamin Stanton (Washington, 1860), 2. Political Issues and Presidential Candidates. Speech of the Hon. John Hickman, Delivered in Concert Hall, Philadelphia, July 24th , 1860 (San Francisco, 1860), 4, 10. The Fanaticism of the Democratic Party. Speech of Hon. Owen Lovejoy, of Illinois. Delivered in the U. S. House of Representatives, February 21, 1859 (Washington, 1860), 3. Posting the Books Between the North and the South. Speech of Hon. John J. Perry, of Maine. Delivered in the U. S. House of Representatives, March 7, 1860 (Washington, 1860), 10. The Works of William H. Seward, ed. George E. Baker (Boston, 1884), 4:289. C. Vann Woodward states, “Many of Fitzhugh’s more startling phrases and paradoxes, taken out of context, lent themselves admirably to quotation by Republicans or antislavery people for the purpose of discrediting the South or the Democrats. The more extreme pronouncements of the Virginian were thereby represented erroneously not only as typical of his views, but also those of his party and his region.” Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, ed. C. Vann Woodward, xxix. Given the general proslavery nature of Fitzhugh’s corpus together with the exceedingly proslavery political climate of the South during the 1850s, how “taken out of context” could Fitzhugh have been? The Northern press merely reprinted what had originally been published in the Southern press. Is it any wonder that when hundreds of thousands of Northerners repeatedly read “the laws of all the Southern States justify the holding of white men in bondage,” “the principle of slavery is in itself right, and does not depend on difference of complexion,” and “slavery, black or white, is right and necessary,” such phrases were taken to mean precisely what they said? The inferences drawn were clear. In light of the reaction of the antislavery North, Robert J. Loewenberg’s view that “Fitzhugh’s proposal to enslave whites along with blacks was an embarrassment to the southern position” appears to be inaccurate. “John Locke and the Antebellum Defense of Slavery,” Political Theory 13 (May 1985): 281, also 268, and his Freedom’s Despots: The Critique of Abolition (Durham, 1986), 54–55. An indication as to just how widespread Fitzhugh’s doctrines had become may be seen in the work of Charles Mackay, a noted British journalist who toured the United States and Canada in 1857 and 1858. A chapter in his subsequent book was entitled, “Pro-Slavery Philosophy.” Most interesting is the fact that of all the possible proponents of slavery to write about, Mackay exclusively chose George Fitzhugh, the implication clearly being that Fitzhugh represented the proslavery philosophy of the South at large. “Within the last two or three years a change has come over the philosophy and the tactics of the slave-holders.... [They have established] a system that is not dependent upon the colour or race of those who are enslaved, but which may conduce to the advantage of a white slave quite as much as to that of the black. In one sentence they allege Slavery to be the normal and only proper condition of society.... There are many other writers, both in prose and verse, who have taken up this principle as the social religion of the South, but Mr. Fitzhugh is the one who has gone most systematically and philosophically into the discussion, and laid down authoritatively a system of Slavery, pure and simple. He would not only enslave the negroes, but the poor Irish and German immigrants, as fast as they arrive in New York, and either send them off to till the ground in the cotton and sugar regions, or sell them at Charleston, or New Orleans, by public auction, to the highest bidder.... It may be thought that Mr. Fitzhugh and the other doctrinaires of Slavery write in jest. On the contrary, they write in grim earnest.” Mackay then defines what Fitzhugh calls the “white slave trade” as “the employment of white men, at low wages, regulated rather by the keenness of their own competition with one another.” Fitzhugh used the figurative term “white slave trade” in Chapter 1 of Cannibals All! or, Slaves Without Masters. Mackay correctly understood the metaphorical meaning of “cannibals all” in this context of labor competition. He went on to quote from the book describing how white laborers were not cared for by those for whom they worked, whereas black slaves were, so white laborers would be much better off being slaves as well. Mackay disagrees with Fitzhugh and says, in a play on words, that he is “a slave to his theory.” Life and Liberty in America 2:56–57, 59–60, 62, 72.

14 William H. Herndon, The Hidden Lincoln, ed. Emanuel Hertz (N.Y., 1938), 96–97. Lincoln included the issue of white slavery in a famous speech given at Bloomington, Illinois, on May 29, 1856, but a clear meaning of the reference is unknown because a copy of the speech has not survived. A contemporary newspaper, however, furnished an account which included the following lines: “It must be ‘Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.’ The sentiment in favor of white slavery now prevailed in all the slave state papers, except those of Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri and Maryland. Such was the progress of the National Democracy.” Collected Works 2:341. In referring to this famous address of Lincoln’s, David Herbert Donald has stated, “Mistaking the idiosyncratic George Fitzhugh as a representative thinker, he [Lincoln] claimed that Southerners were more and more arguing not merely that slavery was a positive good for blacks but that it should be extended to white laborers as well. Quite erroneously he claimed that because of Southern pressure, Northern Democrats like Douglas, who had once advocated ‘the individual rights of man,’ were beginning to accept this argument.” As Elwell Crissey has pointed out, many people of political importance were in attendance. If Lincoln was mistaken and in error, they would never have responded to his speech with such approval and enthusiasm. To claim that they also misunderstood is to belittle their intelligence. Their response was indicative of the fact that the proslavery extremes—the failure of free society and labor regardless of color being slaves—were popularly held by Southern political power. In light of the common belief in both the North and the South that the country could not exist half slave and half free, these Southern views and the resultant response from the antislavery North are quite understandable. Donald, Lincoln (N.Y., 1995), 191–92. For a list and brief biography of the political notables who heard Lincoln’s speech, see Crissey, Lincoln’s Lost Speech: The Pivot of His Career (N.Y., 1967), 293–336. Interesting and worth noting is that the white slavery Lincoln referred to has incorrectly been interpreted to mean the enslavement of poor Southern whites. Elwell Crissey erroneously cites as evidence the following observation by Lincoln biographer Albert J. Beveridge: “Lincoln was here speaking of the idea advanced in Fitzhugh’s book and adopted by a few Southern papers, that, economically and morally, slavery was the best condition for labor regardless of color, a position which Lincoln never failed to attack in every speech he made during the campaign now opening.” Crissey, Lincoln’s Lost Speech, 357n50. Beveridge, Abraham Lincoln 2:374. Collected Works 2:385 for the Richmond Enquirer quote. Lincoln’s reference to “the Richmond Enquirer, an avowed advocate of slavery, regardless of color” was affirmed in his campaign newspaper as follows: “We must stand on this principle, says the Richmond Enquirer—‘it is necessary to have menial offices; they must be filled with black or white slaves.’ ” Rail Splitter (Cincinnati), 15 August 1860, p. 2. In 1856 Lincoln said, “I have noticed in Southern newspapers, particularly the Richmond Enquirer, the Southern view of the Free States.” Collected Works 2:364. William H. Herndon wrote that Lincoln read the Charleston Mercury and the Richmond Enquirer, but it is the Enquirer which Lincoln mentions by name in his speeches. The Hidden Lincoln, 96. Henry C. Whitney, a noted biographer and legal colleague of Lincoln’s, states, “Mr. Lincoln was a constant patron of the Richmond Enquirer, and obtained his idea of the drift of popular sentiment in the South largely, if not, indeed, chiefly, from that organ.” Lincoln the Citizen. February 12, 1809, to March 4, 1861 (N.Y., 1907), 267. Given that the Richmond Enquirer was unsurpassed throughout Virginia and the South for political reporting, when Lincoln spoke of the newspaper by name and said “the Richmond Enquirer, an avowed advocate of slavery, regardless of color,” he believed that the idea represented Southern mainstream political thought. Since George Fitzhugh is not mentioned in any of Lincoln’s writings, there is no evidence that Lincoln knew Fitzhugh was the author of the famous and often quoted anonymous editorial of December 15, 1855, or of other editorials based on the subject matter of Fitzhugh’s books and journal articles. To the contrary, Lincoln thought the politically powerful Roger A. Pryor was the author. William F. Ritchie and Roger A. Pryor were the daily editors in 1855 and 1856, the time in which Fitzhugh’s unsigned editorials were published. A line above each main editorial reads, “Wm. F. Ritchie and Roger A. Pryor, Editors,” and since Pryor was the politically astute one of the two, being an outspoken politician and previous editor of the Southside Democrat, it is entirely understandable why Lincoln believed the anonymous editorials on the failure of free society and the universality of slavery were written by him. In a discussion of the Democratic party, Lincoln’s campaign newspaper referred to “one of their own leaders, Roger A. Pryor.” Rail Splitter (Chicago), 14 July 1860, p. 2. Pryor’s political reputation gave the editorials a credibility which would not have been present otherwise. Collected Works 2:364, 369, 385, 3:431, 451, 4:6–7, 23 for Lincoln’s references to the Richmond Enquirer by name and Roger A. Pryor also. It is important to point out the fact that Lincoln was not alone in mistakenly attributing Fitzhugh’s anonymous editorials to Pryor. Congressman Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts, Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts, and Henry C. Whitney, a colleague of Lincoln’s, did so as well. Dawes in Congressional Globe, 36th Cong., 1st sess., 12 April 1860, appendix, 224–25. Wilson, How Ought Workingmen to Vote, 5. According to Wilson, O. Jennings Wise was an editor of the Richmond Enquirer in 1856, but Lester J. Cappon states that he was not affiliated with the paper until 1858. Virginia Newspapers 1821–1935: A Bibliography with Historical Introduction and Notes (N.Y., 1936), 171. Whitney, Lincoln the Citizen, 268n. Collected Works 3:205 for the Douglas reference, and 3:445 for the Bible reference. Rail Splitter (Cincinnati), 3 October 1860, p. 3. Rail Splitter (Chicago), 29 September 1860, p. 1. There were other references to “capital should own labor” in Lincoln’s campaign paper, including 15 August 1860 (Cincinnati), p. 1, 19 September, p. 2; 11 August 1860 (Chicago), p. 3, 18 August, p. 1, 25 August, p. 1, 1 September, p. 1, 22 September, p. 2, 6 October, p. 3. “We believe that capital should own labor” was part of an article entitled “Insults to Labor” which included the Richmond Enquirer quotes from the December 15, 1855 editorial proclaiming that slavery “does not depend upon difference of complexion,” and that “the laws of the Slave States justify the holding of white men in bondage.” This article also had other quotations from “The New ‘Democratic’ Doctrine” of 1856. Rail Splitter (Chicago), 29 September 1860, p. 2. To understand the true political context of Lincoln, it must be understood that unlike the Republican party of today which, generally speaking, has the reputation of being geared toward the rich and big business, the Republican party of Lincoln was a party with a social conscience geared toward the common man. Lincoln’s campaign newspaper especially illustrates the appeal he had as a laborer. In addition to being entitled the “Rail Splitter,” the nameplate of each Chicago edition pictures Lincoln with maul in hand splitting a rail. Also in the scene is a log cabin, exemplifying his humble beginning. The Cincinnati and Chicago editions contain many instances of Lincoln being referred to as the candidate of the working man.

15 Foner, History of the Labor Movement 1:307, 312

16 Foner and Shapiro, eds., Northern Labor and Antislavery, 258–59. As exemplified by the draft riots, all laborers did not speak with a unified voice during the Civil War. Iver Bernstein, The New York City Draft Riots: Their Significance for American Society and Politics in the Age of the Civil War (N.Y., 1990).

Copyright © 2002 Lawrence Tenzer and A.D. Powell. All rights reserved.

Reproduced gratefully from:



Excerpt From:

Bernard Lewis. Race and Slavery in the Middle East
Oxford Univ Press 1994.

Chpt. 1 Slavery

In 1842 the British Consul General in Morocco, as part of his government's worldwide endeavor to bring about the abolition of slavery or at least the curtailment of the slave trade, made representations to the sultan of that country asking him what measures, if any, he had taken to accomplish this desirable objective. The sultan replied, in a letter expressing evident astonishment, that "the traffic in slaves is a matter on which all sects and nations have agreed from the time of the sons of Adam . . . up to this day." The sultan continued that he was "not aware of its being prohibited by the laws of any sect, and no one need ask this question, the same being manifest to both high and low and requires no more demonstration than the light of day.''
The sultan was only slightly out of date concerning the enactment of laws to abolish or limit the slave trade, and he was sadly right in his general historic perspective. The institution of slavery had indeed been practiced from time immemorial. It existed in all the ancient civilizations of Asia, Africa, Europe, and pre-Columbian America. It had been accepted and even endorsed by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as other religions of the world.

In the ancient Middle East, as elsewhere, slavery is attested from the very earliest written records, among the Sumerians, the Babylonians, the Egyptians, and other ancient peoples. The earliest slaves, it would seem, were captives taken in warfare. Their numbers were augmented from other sources of supply. In pre-classical antiquity, most slaves appear to have been the property of kings, priests, and temples, and only a relatively small proportion were in private possession. They were employed to till the fields and tend the flocks of their royal and priestly masters but otherwise seem to have played little role in economic production, which was mostly left to small farmers, tenants, and sharecroppers and to artisans and journeymen. The slave population was also recruited by the sale, abandonment, or kidnapping of small children. Free persons could sell themselves or, more frequently, their offspring into slavery. They could be enslaved for insolvency, as could be the persons offered by them as pledges. In some systems, notably that of Rome, free persons could also be enslaved for a variety of offenses against the law.

Both the Old and New Testaments recognize and accept the institution of slavery. Both from time to time insist on the basic humanity of the slave, and the consequent need to treat him humanely. The Jews are frequently reminded, in both Bible and Talmud, that they too were slaves in Egypt and should therefore treat their slaves decently. Psalm 123, which compares the worshipper's appeal to God for mercy with the slave's appeal to his master, is cited to enjoin slaveowners to treat their slaves with compassion. A verse in the book of Job has even been interpreted as an argument against slavery as such: "Did not He that made me in the womb make him [the slave]? And did not One fashion us both?" (Job 31:15). This probably means no more, however, than that the slave is a fellow human being and not a mere chattel. The same is true of the much-quoted passage in the New Testament, that "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." These and similar verses were not understood to mean that ethnic, social, and gender differences were unimportant or should be abolished, only that they conferred no religious privilege. From many allusions, it is clear that slavery is accepted in the New Testament as a fact of life. Some passages in the Pauline Epistles even endorse it. Thus in the Epistle to Philemon, a runaway slave is returned to his master; in Ephesians 6, the duty owed by a slave to his master is compared with the duty owed by a child to his parent, and the slave is enjoined "to be obedient to them that are your masters, according to the flesh, in fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ." Parents and masters are likewise enjoined to show consideration for their children and slaves. All humans, of the true faith, were equal in the eyes of God and in the afterlife but not necessarily in the laws of man and in this world. Those not of the true faith -- whichever it was -- were in another, and in most respects an inferior, category. In this respect, the Greek perception of the barbarian and the Judeo-Christian-lslamic perception of the unbeliever coincide.

There appear indeed to have been some who opposed slavery, usually as it was practiced but sometimes even as such. In the Greco-Roman world, both the Cynics and the Stoics are said to have rejected slavery as contrary to justice, some basing their opposition on the unity of the human race, and the Roman jurists even held that slavery was contrary to nature and maintained only by "human" law. There is no evidence that either jurists or philosophers sought its abolition, and even their theoretical opposition has been questioned. Much of it was concerned with moral and spiritual themes -- the true freedom of the good man, even when enslaved, and the enslavement of the evil freeman to his passions. These ideas, which recur in Jewish and Christian writings, were of little help to those who suffered the reality of slavery. Philo, the Alexandrian Jewish philosopher, claims that a Jewish sect actually renounced slavery in practice. In a somewhat idealized account of the Essenes, he observes that they practiced a form of primitive communism, sharing homes and property and pooling their earnings. Furthermore,

"not a single slave is to be found among them, but all are free, exchanging services with each other, and they denounce the owners of slaves, not merely for their injustice in outraging the law of equality, but also for their impiety in annulling the statute of Nature, who mother-like bore and reared all men alike, and created them genuine brothers, not in mere name, but in very reality, though this kinship has been put to confusion by the triumph of malignant covetousness, which has wrought estrangement instead of affinity and enmity instead of friendship. "

This view, if it was indeed held and put into practice, was unique in the ancient Middle East. Jews, Christians, and pagans alike owned slaves and exercised the rights and powers accorded to them by their various religious laws. In all communities, there were men of compassion who urged slaveowners to treat their slaves humanely, and there was even some attempt to secure this by law. But the institution of slavery as such was not seriously questioned, and was indeed often defended in terms of either Natural Law or Divine Dispensation. Thus Aristotle defends the condition of slavery and even the forcible enslavement of those who are "by nature slaves, for whom to be governed by this kind of authority is beneficial"; other Greek philosophers express similar ideas, particularly about enslaved captives from conquered peoples. For such, slavery is not only right; it is also to their advantage.

The ancient Israelites did not claim that slavery was beneficial to the slaves, but, like the ancient Greeks, they felt the need to explain and justify the enslavement of their neighbors. In this, as in other matters, they sought a religious rather than a philosophical sanction and found it in the biblical story of the curse of Ham. Significantly, this curse was restricted to one line only of the descendants of Ham, namely, the children of Canaan, whom the Israelites had subjugated when they conquered the Promised Land, and did not affect the others.

The Qur'an, like the Old and the New Testaments, assumes the existence of slavery. It regulates the practice of the institution and thus implicitly accepts it. The Prophet Muhammad and those of his Companions who could afford it themselves owned slaves; some of them acquired more by conquest. But Qur'anic legislation, subsequently confirmed and elaborated in the Holy Law, brought two major changes to ancient slavery which were to have far-reaching effects. One of these was the presumption of freedom; the other, the ban on the enslavement of free persons except in strictly defined circumstances .

The Qur'an was promulgated in Mecca and Medina in the seventh century, and the background against which Qur'anic legislation must be seen is ancient Arabia. The Arabs practiced a form of slavery, similar to that which existed in other parts of the ancient world. The Qur'an accepts the institution, though it may be noted that the word 'abd (slave) is rarely used, being more commonly replaced by some periphrasis such as ma malakat aymanukum, "that which your right hands own." The Qur'an recognizes the basic inequality between master and slave and the rights of the former over the latter (XVI:71; XXX:28). It also recognizes concubinage (IV:3; XXIII:6; XXXIII:50-52; LXX:30). It urges, without actually commanding, kindness to the slave (IV:36; IX:60; XXIV:58) and recommends, without requiring, his liberation by purchase or manumission. The freeing of slaves is recommended both for the expiation of sins (IV:92; V:92; LVIII:3) and as an act of simple benevolence (II:177; XXIV:33; XC:13). It exhorts masters to allow slaves to earn or purchase their own freedom. An important change from pagan, though not from Jewish or Christian, practices is that in the strictly religious sense, the believing slave is now the brother of the freeman in Islam and before God, and the superior of the free pagan or idolator (II:221). This point is emphasized and elaborated in innumerable hadlths (traditions), in which the Prophet is quoted as urging considerate and sometimes even equal treatment for slaves, denouncing cruelty, harshness, or even discourtesy, recommending the liberation of slaves, and reminding the Muslims that his apostolate was to free and slave alike.

Though slavery was maintained, the Islamic dispensation enormously improved the position of the Arabian slave, who was now no longer merely a chattel but was also a human being with a certain religious and hence a social status and with certain quasi-legal rights. The early caliphs who ruled the Islamic community after the death of the Prophet also introduced some further reforms of a humanitarian tendency. The enslavement of free Muslims was soon discouraged and eventually prohibited. It was made unlawful for a freeman to sell himself or his children into slavery, and it was no longer permitted for freemen to be enslaved for either debt or crime, as was usual in the Roman world and, despite attempts at reform, in parts of Christian Europe until at least the sixteenth century. It became a fundamental principle of Islamic jurisprudence that the natural condition, and therefore the presumed status, of mankind was freedom, just as the basic rule concerning actions is permittedness: what is not expressly forbidden is permitted; whoever is not known to be a slave is free. This rule was not always strictly observed. Rebels and heretics were sometimes denounced as infidels or, worse, apostates, and reduced to slavery, as were the victims of some Muslim rulers in Africa, who proclaimed jihad against their neighbors, without looking closely at their religious beliefs, so as to provide legal cover for their enslavement. But by and large, and certainly in the central lands of Islam, under regimes of high civilization, the rule was honored, and free subjects of the state, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, were protected from unlawful enslavement.

Since all human beings were naturally free, slavery could only arise from two circumstances: (1) being born to slave parents or (2) being captured in war. The latter was soon restricted to infidels captured in a jihad.

These reforms seriously limited the supply of new slaves. Abandoned and unclaimed children could no longer be adopted as slaves, as was a common practice in antiquity, and free persons could no longer be enslaved. Under Islamic law, the slave population could only be recruited, in addition to birth and capture, by importation, the last either by purchase or in the form of tribute from beyond the Islamic frontiers. In the early days of rapid conquest and expansion, the holy war brought a plentiful supply of new slaves, but as the frontiers were gradually stabilized, this supply dwindled to a mere trickle. Most wars were now conducted against organized armies, like those of the Byzantines or other Christian states, and with them prisoners of war were commonly ransomed or exchanged. Within the Islamic frontiers, Islam spread rapidly among the populations of the newly acquired territories, and even those who remained faithful to their old religions and lived as protected persons (dhimmis) under Muslim rule could not, if free, be legally enslaved unless they had violated the terms of the dhimma, the contract governing their status, as for example by rebelling against Muslim rule or helping the enemies of the Muslim state or, according to some authorities, by withholding pa'yment of the Kharaj or the Jizya, the taxes due from dhimmls to the Muslim state.

In the Islamic empire, the humanitarian tendency of the Qur'an and the early caliphs was to some extent counteracted by other influences. Notable among these was the practice of the various conquered peoples and countries which the Muslims encountered after their expansion, especially in provinces previously under Roman law. This law, even in its Christianized form, was still very harsh in its treatment of slaves. Perhaps equally important was the huge increase in the slave population resulting first from the conquests themselves, and then from the organization of a great network of importation. These led to a fall in the cash value and hence the human value of slaves, and to a general adoption of a harsher tone and severer rules. But even after this stiffening of attitudes and laws, Islamic practice still represented a vast improvement on that inherited from antiquity, from Rome, and from Byzantium.

Slaves were excluded from religious functions or from any office involving jurisdiction over others. Their testimony was not admitted at judicial proceedings. In penal law, the penalty for an offense against a person, a fine or bloodwit, was, for a slave, half of that for a freeman. While maltreatment was deplored, there was no fixed shari'a penalty. In what might be called civil matters, the slave was a chattel with no legal powers or rights whatsoever. He could not enter into a contract, hold property, or inherit. If he incurred a fine, his owner was responsible. He was, however, distinctly better off, in the matter of rights, than a Greek or Roman slave, since Islamic jurists, and not only philosophers and moralists, took account of humanitarian considerations. They laid down, for example, that a master must give his slave medical attention when required, must give him adequate upkeep, and must support him in his old age. If a master defaulted on these and other obligations to his slave, the qadi could compel him to fulfill them or else either to sell or to emancipate the slave. The master was forbidden to overwork his slave, and if he did so to the point of cruelty, he was liable to a penalty which was, however, discretionary and not prescribed by law. A slave could enter into a contract to earn his freedom, in which case his master had no obliation to pay for his upkeep. While in theory the slave could not own property, he could be granted certain rights of ownership for which he paid a fixed sum to his master.

A slave could marry, but only by consent of the master. Theoretically, a male slave could marry a free woman, but this was discouraged and in practice prohibited. A master could not marry his own slave woman unless he first freed her. Islamic law provides a number of ways in which a slave could be set free. One was manumission, accomplished by a formal declaration on the part of the master and recorded in a certificate which was given to the liberated slave. The manumission of a slave included the offspring of that slave, and the jurists specify that if there is any uncertainty about an act of manumission, the slave has the benefit of the doubt. Another method is a written agreement by which the master grants liberty in return for a fixed sum. Once such an agreement has been concluded, the master no longer has the right to dispose of his slave, whether by sale or gift. The slave is still subject to certain legal disabilities, but in most respects is virtually free. Such an agreement, once entered into, may be terminated by the slave but not by the master. Children born to the slave after the entry into force of the contract are born free. The master may bind himself to liberate a slave at some specified future time. He may also bind his heirs to liberate a slave after his death. The law schools differ somewhat on the rules regarding this kind of liberation.

In addition to all these, which depend on the will of the master, there are various legal causes which may lead to liberation, independently of the will of the master. The commonest is a legal judgment by a qadi ordering a master to emancipate a slave whom he has maltreated. A special case is that of the umm walad, a slave woman who bears a son to her master, and thereby acquires certain irrevocable legal rights.

Non-Muslim subjects of the Muslim state, that is, dhimmis, were in practice allowed to own slaves; and Christian and Jewish families who could afford it owned and employed slaves in the same way as their Muslim counterparts. They were not permitted to own Muslim slaves; and if a slave owned by a dhimmi embraced Islam, his owner was legally obliged to free or sell him. Jews and Christians were of course not permitted to have Muslim concubines, and were indeed usually debarred by their own religious authorities -- not always effectively -- from sexual access to their slaves. Jewish slaves, acquired through privateering in the Mediterranean and slave raiding in Eastern Europe, were often redeemed and set free by their local co-religionists. The vastly more numerous Christian slaves -- apart from West Europeans, whose ransoms could be arranged from home -- were for the most part doomed to remain. Sometimes, Christian and Jewish slaveowners tried to convert their domestic slaves to their own religions. Jews were indeed required by rabbinic law to try to persuade their slaves to accept conversion with circumcision and ritual immersion. A form of semi-conversion, whereby the slave accepted some basic commandments and observances, but not the full rigor of the Mosaic law, was widely practiced. According to Jewish law, a converted or even semi-converted slave could not be sold to a Gentile. If the owner in fact so sold him or her, the slave was to be set free. Conversely, a slave who refused even semi-conversion was, after a stipulated interval of time, to be sold to a Gentile. Muslim authorities, both jurists and rulers, took different views of this. Conversion from Islam was of course a capital offense, and some jurists held that only conversion to Islam was lawful. Others, however, saw no objection to conversion between non-Muslim religions, provided that the converted slaves had reached the age of reason and changed their religion of their own free will.

Though a free Muslim could not be enslaved, conversion to Islam by a non-Muslim slave did not require his liberation. His slave status was not affected by his Islam, nor was that of a Muslim child born to slave parents.

There were occasional slave rebellions and, from the rules and regulations about runaway slaves, it would appear that such escapes were not infrequent. Slaves from neighboring countries might have some chance of returning to their homes, and examples are known of European slaves in the Ottoman lands escaping to Europe, where some indeed wrote memoirs or accounts of their captivity. The chances of a slave from the steppe-lands or from Africa finding his way back were remote.

As we have seen, the slave population was recruited in four main ways: by capture, tribute, offspring, and purchase.

Capture: In the early centuries of Islam, during the period of the conquest and expansion, this was the most important source. With the stabilization of the frontier, the numbers recruited in this way diminished, and eventually provided only a very small proportion of slave requirements. Frontier warfare and naval raiding yielded some captives, but these were relatively few and were usually exchanged. In later centuries, warfare in Africa or India supplied some slaves by capture. With the spread of Islam, and the acceptance of dhimml status by increasing numbers of non-Muslims, the possibilities for recruitment by capture were severely restricted.

Tribute: Slaves sometimes formed part of the tribute required from vassal states beyond the Islamic frontiers. The first such treaty ever made, that of the year 31 of the Hijra (= 652 A.D.), with the black king of Nubia, included an annual levy of slaves to be provided from Nubia. This may indeed have been the reason why Nuhia was for a long time not conquered. The stipulated delivery of some hundreds of male and female slaves, later supplemented by elephants, giraffes, and other wild beasts, continued at least until the twelfth century, when it was disrupted by a series of bitter wars between the Muslim rulers of Egypt and the Christian kings of Nubia. Similar agreements, providing for the delivery of a tribute of slaves, were imposed by the early Arab conquerors on neighboring princes in Iran and Central Asia, but were of briefer duration.

Offspring: The recruitment of the slave population by natural increase seems to have been small and, right through to modern times, insufficient to maintain numbers. This is in striking contrast with conditions in the New World, where the slave population increased very rapidly. Several factors contributed to this difference, perhaps the most important being that the slave population in the Islamic Middle East was constantly drained by the liberation of slaves -- sometimes as an act of piety, most commonly through the recognition and liberation, by a freeman, of his own offspring by a slave mother. There were also other reasons for the low natural increase of the slave population in the Islamic world. They include

1. Castration. A fair proportion of male slaves were imported as eunuchs and thus precluded from having offspring. Among these were many who otherwise, by the wealth and power which they acquired, might have founded families .
2. Another group of slaves who rose to positions of great power, the military slaves, were normally liberated at some stage in their career, and their offspring were therefore free and not slaves.
3. In general, only the lower orders of slaves -- menial, domestic, and manual workers -- remained in the condition of servitude and transmitted that condition to their descendants. There were not many such descendants -- casual mating was not permitted and marriage was not encouraged.
4. There was a high death toll among all classes of slaves, including great military commanders as well as humble menials. Slaves came mainly from remote places, and, lacking immunities, died in large numbers from endemic as well as epidemic diseases. As late as the nineteenth century, Wes ern travelers in North Africa and Egypt noted the high death rate among imported black slaves.
Purchase: This came to be by far the most important means for the legal acquisition of new slaves. Slaves were purchased on the frontiers of the Islamic world and then imported to the major centers, where there were slave markets from which they were widely distributed. In one of the sad paradoxes of human history, it was the humanitarian reforms brought by Islam that resulted in a vast development of the slave trade inside, and still more outside, the Islamic empire. In the Roman world, the slave population was occasionally recruited from outside, when a new territory was conquered or a barbarian invasion repelled, but mostly, slaves came from internal sources. This was not possible in the Islamic empire, where, although slavery was maintained, enslavement was banned. The result was an increasingly massive importation of slaves from the outside. Like enslavement, mutilation was forbidden by Islamic law. The great numbers of eunuchs needed to preserve the sanctity of palaces, homes, and some holy places had to be imported from outside or, as often happened, "manufactured" at the frontier. In medieval and Ottoman times the two main sources of eunuchs were Slavs and Ethiopians (Habash, a term which commonly included all the peoples of the Horn of Africa). Eunuchs were also recruited among Greeks (Rum), West Africans (Takrurl, pl. Takarina), Indians, and occasionally West Europeans.

The slave population of the Islamic world was recruited from many lands. In the earliest days, slaves came principally from the newly conquered countries -- from the Fertile Crescent and Egypt, from Iran and North Africa, from Central Asia, India, and Spain. Most of these slaves had a cultural level at least as high as that of their Arab masters, and by conversion and manumission they were rapidly absorbed into the general population. As the supply of slaves by conquest and capture diminished, the needs of the slave market were met, more and more, by importation from beyond the frontier. Small numbers of slaves were brought from India, China, Southeast Asia, and the Byzantine Empire, most of them specialists and technicians of one kind or another. The vast majority of unskilled slaves, however, came from the lands immediately north and south of the Islamic world -- whites from Europe and the Eurasian steppes, blacks from Africa south of the Sahara. Among white Europeans and black Africans alike, there was no lack of enterprising merchants and middlemen, eager to share in this profitable trade, who were willing to capture or kidnap their neighbors and deliver them, as slaves, to a ready and expanding market. In Europe there was also an important trade in slaves, Muslim, Jewish, pagan, and even Orthodox Christian, recruited by capture and bought for mainly domestic use.

Central and East European slaves, generally known as Saqaliba (i.e., Slavs), were imported by three main routes: overland via France and Spain, from Eastern Europe via the Crimea, and by sea across the Mediterranean. They were mostly but not exclusively Slavs. Some were captured by Muslim naval raids on European coasts, particularly the Dalmatian. Most were supplied by European, especially Venetian, slave merchants, who delivered cargoes of them to the Muslim markets in Spain and North Africa. The Saqaliba were prominent in Muslim Spain and to a lesser extent in North Africa but played a minor role in the East. With the consolidation of powerful states in Christian Europe, the supply of West European slaves dried up and was maintained only by privateering and coastal raiding from North Africa.

Black slaves were brought into the Islamic world by a number of routes -- from West Africa across the Sahara to Morocco and Tunisia, from Chad across the desert to Libya, from East Africa down the Nile to Egypt, and across the Red Sea and Indian Ocean to Arabia and the Persian Gulf. Turkish slaves from the steppe-lands were marketed in Samarkand and other Muslim Central Asian cities and from there exported to Iran, the Fertile Crescent, and beyond. Caucasians, of increasing importance in the later centuries, were brought from the land bridge between the Black Sea and the Caspian and were marketed mainly in Aleppo and Mosul.

By Ottoman times, the first for which we have extensive documentation, the pattern of importation had changed. At first, the expanding Ottoman Empire, like the expanding Arab Empire of earlier times, recruited its slaves by conquest and capture, and great numbers of Balkan Christians were forcibly brought into Ottoman service. The distinctively Ottoman institution of the devsirme, the levy of boys from the Christian village population, made it possible, contrary to previous Islamic law and practice, to recruit slaves from the subject peoples of the conquered provinces. The devsirme slaves were not servants or menials, however, but were groomed for the service of the state in military and civil capacities. For a long time, most of the grand viziers and military commanders of the Ottoman forces were recruited in this way. In the early seventeenth century, the devsirme was abandoned; by the end of the seventeenth century, the Ottoman advance into Europe had been decisively halted and reversed. Sea raiders operating out of North African ports continued to bring European captives, but these did not significantly add to the slave populations. Pretty girls disappeared into the harem; men often had the choice of being ransomed or joining their captors -- a choice of which many availed themselves. The less fortunate, like the Muslim captives who fell to the European maritime powers, served in the galleys.

The slave needs of the Ottoman Empire were now met from new sources. One of these was the Caucasians -- the Georgians, Circassians, and related peoples, famous for providing beautiful women and brave and handsome men. The former figured prominently in the harems, the latter in the armies and administrations of the Ottoman and also the Persian states. The supply of these was reduced but not terminated by the Russian conquest of the Caucasus in the early years of the nineteenth century. Another source of supply was the Tatar khanate of the Crimea, whose raiders every year rode far and wide in Central and Eastern Europe, carrying off great numbers of male and female slaves. These were brought to the Crimea and shipped thence to the slave markets in Istanbul and other Turkish cities. This trade came to an end with the Russian annexation of the Crimea in 1783 and the extinction of Tatar independence.

Deprived of most of their sources of white slaves, the Ottomans turned more and more to Africa, which in the course of the nineteenth century came to provide the overwhelming majority of slaves used in Muslim countries from Morocco to Asia. According to a German report published in 1860,

"the black slaves, at that time, were recruited mainly by raiding and kidnapping from Sennaar, Kordofan, Darfur, Nubia, and other places in inner Africa; the white mostly through voluntary sale on the part of their relatives in the independent lands of the Caucasus (Lesghi, Daghestani, and Georgian women, rarely men). Those offered for sale were already previously of servile status or were slave children by birth."

The need, from early medieval times onward, to import large and growing numbers of slaves led to a rapid increase, in all the lands beyond the frontiers of the Islamic world, of both slave raiding and slave trading -- the one to procure and maintain an adequate supply of the required commodity, the other to ensure its efficient distribution and delivery. In the ancient world, where most slaves other than war captives were of local provenance, slave trading was a simple and mostly local affair, often combined with other articles of commerce. In the Islamic world, where slaves were transported over great distances from their places of origin, the slave trade was more complex and more specialized with a network of trade routes and markets extending all over the Islamic world and far beyond its frontiers and involving commercial relations with suppliers in Christian Europe, in the Turkish steppe-lands, and in black Africa. In every important city there was a slave market, usually called Suq al-Raqiq. When new supplies were brought, government inspectors usually took the first choice, then officials, then private persons. It would seem that slaves were not normally sold in open markets but in decently covered places -- a practice which continued in some areas to the nineteenth, in others till the twentieth, century.

There is a fair amount of information on slave prices, most of it too heterogeneous in date and provenance to provide more than a general impression. The best-documented data come from medieval Egypt and show a remarkable consistency in price levels. Slave girls averaged twenty dinars (gold pieces), corresponding, at the rate of gold to silver current at that time, to 266 dirhams (silver pieces). Other medieval data show somewhat higher prices. Black slaves seem to have cost from two to three hundred dirhams; black eunuchs, at least two or three times as much. Female black slaves were sold at five hundred dirhams or so; trained singing girls or other performers, at ten or even twenty thousand. White slaves, mainly for military purposes, were more expensive. Prices of three hundred dirhams are quoted for Turks near the source in Central Asia, and much higher prices elsewhere. In Baghdad they fetched four to five hundred dirhams, while a white slave girl could be sold for a thousand dinars or more. The mid-nineteenth-century German report from Turkey quotes prices of four thousand to five thousand piasters, or two hundred to three hundred dollars, as the current price in Istanbul for a "trained, strong, black slave," while "for white slave girls of special beauty, fifty thousand piasters and more are paid." In general, eunuchs fetched higher prices than other males, younger slaves were worth more than older slaves, and slave women, whether for work or pleasure, were more expensive than males. Olufr Eigilsson, an Icelandic Lutheran pastor who was carried off to captivity with his family and many of his flock when his native village was raided by Barbary Corsairs in 1627 and who wrote an account of his adventures, notes that his young maidservant was sold for seven hundred dollars and later resold for a thousand.

Slaves were employed in a number of functions -- in the home and the shop, in agriculture and industry, in the military, as well as in specialized tasks. The Islamic world did not operate on a slave system of production, as is said of classical antiquity, but slavery was not entirely domestic either. Slave laborers of various kinds were of some importance in medieval times, especially where large-scale enterprises were involved, and they continued to be into the nineteenth century. The most important slaves, however, those of whom we have the fullest information, were domestic and commercial, and it is they who were the characteristic slaves of the Muslim world. They seem to have been mainly blacks, with some Indians, and some whites. ln later times, for which we have more detailed evidence, it would seem that while the slaves often suffered appalling privations from the moment of their capture until their arrival at their final destination, once they were placed with a family they were reasonably well treated and accepted in some degree as members of the household. In commerce, slaves were often apprenticed to their masters, sometimes as assistants, sometimes advancing to become agents or even business partners.

The slave and also the liberated ex-slave played an important part in domestic life. Eunuchs were required for the protection and maintenance of harems, as confidential servants, as palace staff, and also as custodians of mosques, tombs, and other sacred places. Slave women were required mainly as concubines and as menials. A Muslim slaveowner was entitled by law to the sexual enjoyment of his slave women. While free women might own male slaves, they had of course no equivalent right.

The economic exploitation of slaves, apart from some construction work, took place mainly in the countryside, away from the cities, and like almost everything else about rural life is sparsely documented. The medieval Islamic world was a civilization of cities. Both its law and its literature deal almost entirely with townspeople, their lives and problems, and remarkably little information has come down to us concerning life in the villages and the countryside. Sometimes a dramatic event like the revolt of the Zanj in southern Iraq or an occasional passing reference in travel literature sheds a sudden light on life in the countryside. Otherwise, we remain ignorant of what was happening outside the cities until the sixteenth century, when for the first time the surviving Ottoman archives make it possible to follow in some detail the life and activities of rural populations -- and the exploration of this material has still barely begun. The common view of Islamic slavery as primarily domestic and military may therefore reflect the bias of our documentation rather than the reality. There are occasional references, however, to large gangs of slaves, mostly black, employed in agriculture, in the mines, and in such special tasks as the drainage of marshes. Some, less fortunate, were hired out by their owners for piecework. These working slaves had a much harder life. The most unfortunate of all were those engaged in agricultural and other manual work and large-scale enterprises, such as for example the Zanj slaves used to drain the salt flats of southern Iraq, and the blacks employed in the salt mines of the Sahara and the gold mines of Nubia. These were herded in large settlements and worked in gangs. Large landowners, or crown lands, often employed thousands of such slaves. While domestic and commercial slaves were relatively well-off, these lived and died in wretchedness. Of the Saharan salt mines it is said that no slave lived there for more than five years. The cultivation of cotton and sugar, which the Arabs brought from the East across North Africa and into Spain, most probably entailed some kind of plantation system. Certainly, the earliest relevant Ottoman records show the extensive use of slave labor in the state-maintained rice plantations. Some such system, for cultivation of cotton and sugar, was taken across North Africa into Spain and perhaps beyond. While economic slave labor was mainly male, slave women were sometimes also exploited economically. The pre-lslamic practice of hiring out female slaves as prostitutes is expressly forbidden by Islamic law but appears to have survived nonetheless.

The military slaves were in a sense the aristocrats of the slave population. By far the most important among these were the Turks imported from the Eurasian steppe, from Central Asia, and from what is now Chinese Turkistan. A similar position was occupied by Slavs in medieval Muslim Spain and North Africa and, later, by slaves of Balkan and Caucasian origin in the Ottoman Empire. Black slaves were occasionally employed as soldiers, but this was not common and was usually of brief duration.

Certainly the most privileged of slaves were the performers. Both slave boys and slave girls who revealed some talent received musical, literary, and artistic education. In medieval times most singers, dancers, and musical performers were, at least in origin, slaves. Perhaps the most famous was Ziryab, a Persian slave at the court of Baghdad who later went to Spain, where he became an arbiter of taste and is credited with having introduced asparagus to Europe. Not a few slaves and freedmen have left their names in Arabic poetry and history.

In a society where positions of military command and political power were routinely held by men of slave origin or even status and where a significant proportion of the free population were born to slave mothcrs, prejudice against the slave as such, of the Roman or American type, could hardly develop. Where such prejudice and hostility appear -- and they are often expressed in literature and other evidence -- they must be attributed to racial more than to social distinction. The developing pattern of racial specialization in the use of slaves must surely have contributed greatly to the growth of such re judice .

Chpt. 9 Slaves in Arms
The military slave, who bears arms and fights for his owner, was a known but not common figure in antiquity. In the late fifth and early fourth centuries B.C., the city of Athens was policed by a corps of armed Scythian slaves, originally numbering some three hundred, who were the property of the city. Some Roman dignitaries had armed slave bodyguards; some owned gladiators, as men in other times might own gamecocks or racehorses, but in general the Greeks and Romans did not approve of the use of slaves in combatant duties. It was not until the medieval Islamic state that we find military slaves in significant numbers, forming a substantial and eventually predominant component in their armies.
The professional slave soldier, so characteristic of later Islamic empires, was not present in the earliest Islamic regimes. There were indeed slaves who fought in the army of the Prophet, but they were there as Muslims and as loyal followers, not as slaves or professionals. Most of them were freed for their services, and according to an early narrative, when the Prophet appeared before the walls of the Hijaz town of Ta'if, he sent a crier to announce that any slave who came out and joined him would be free. Abu Muslim, the first military leader of the Abbasid revolution which transformed the Islamic state and society in the mid-eighth century, appealed to slaves to come and join him and offered freedom to those who responded. So many, we are told, answered his call that he gave them a separate camp and formed them into a separate combat unit. During the great expansion of the Arab armies and the accompanying spread of the Islamic faith in the seventh and early eighth centuries, mally of the peoples of the conquered countries were captured, enslaved, convcrted, and liberated, and great numbers of these joined the armies of Islam. Iranians in the East, Berbers in the West, reinforced the Arab armies and contributed significantly to the further advance of Islam, eastward into Central Asia and beyond, westward across North Africa and into Spain. These were, however, not slaves but freedmen. Though their status was at first inferior to that of freeborn Arabs, it was certainly not servile, and in time the differences in rank, pay, and status between free and freed soldiers disappeared. As so often, the historiographic tradition foreshortens this development and attributes it to a decree of the Caliph 'Umar, who is said to have ordered his governors to make the privileges and duties of manumitted and converted recruits "among the red people" the same as those of the Arabs. "What is due to these, is due to those; what is due from these, is due from those." The limitation of this concession to the "red people," a term commonly applied by the Arabs to the Iranians and later extended to their Central Asian neighbors, is surely significant. The recruitment of aliens, that is, non-Arabs and often non-Muslims, was by no means restricted to liberated captives, and the distinction between freed subjects, free mercenaries, and bought barbarian slaves is often tenuous.

In recruiting barbarians from the "martial races" beyond the frontiers into their imperial armies, the Arabs were doing what the Romans and the Chinese had done centuries before them. In the scale of this recruitment, however, and the preponderant role acquired by these recruits in the imperial and eventually metropolitan forces, Muslim rulers went far beyond any precedent. As early as 766 a Christian clergyman writing in Syriac spoke of the "locust swarm" of unconverted barbarians -- Sindhis, Alans, Khazars, Turks, and others -- who served in the caliph's army. In the course of the ninth century, slave armies appeared all over the Islamic empire. Sometimes, as in North Africa and later Egypt, they were recruited by ambitious governors seeking to create autonomous and hereditary principalities and requiring troops who would be loyal to them against their immediate subjects and their imperial suzerains. Sometimes it was the caliphs themselves who recruited such armies. Such, for example, were the palace guards recruited by the Umayyad Caliph al-Hakam in Cordova and the Abbasid Caliph al-Mu'tasim in Iraq.

This was a new institution in Islam. The patriarchal caliphs, and their successors for more than a hundred years, had no slave praetorian guards, but were protected in their palace by a small force of free Arabs and, under the early Abbasids, freed soldiers and their descendants from Khurasan. Within a remarkably short time, the slave palace guard became the norm for Muslim rulers, and rapidly developed into a slave army, serving both to maintain the ruler in his palace and his capital and, for a sultan, to uphold his imperial authority in the provinces. In the East, slave soldiers were recruited mainly among the Turkish and to a lesser extent among the Iranian peoples of the Eurasian steppe and of Central and inner Asia; in the West, from the Berbers of North Africa and from the Slavs of Europe. Some soldiers, particularly in Egypt and North Africa, were brought from among the black peoples farther south. As the frontiers of Islam steadily expanded through conversion and annexation, the periphery was pushed farther and farther away, and the enslaved barbarians came from ever-remoter regions in Asia, Africa, and, to a very limited extent, Europe.

Some of these soldiers were captured in wars, raids, and forays. The more usual practice, however, was for them to be purchased, for money, on the Islamic frontiers. It was in this way that Muslims bought and imported the Central Asian Turks who came to constitute the vast majority of eastern Muslim armies. Captured and sold to the Muslims at a very tender age, they were given a careful and elaborate education and training, not only in the military arts but also in the norms of Islamic civilization. From their ranks were drawn the soldiers, then the officers, and finally the commanders of the armies of Islam. From this it was only a step to the ultimate paradox, the slave kings who ruled in Cairo, in Delhi, and in other capitals. Even the Ottomans, though themselves a freeborn imperial dynasty, relied for their infantry on the celebrated slave corps of Janissaries, and most of the sultans were themselves sons of slave mothers.

Various explanations have been offered for the reliance of Muslim sovereigns on slave armies. An obvious merit of the military slave, for the kings or generals who owned him, was his habit of prompt and unquestioning obedience to orders -- a quality less likely to be found among freeborn volunteers or even among conscripts, in the relatively few times and places when conscription was known or feasible before the nineteenth century. Perhaps the most convincing explanation of the growth of the slave armies is the eternal need of autocratic rulers for an armed force which would support and maintain their rule yet neither limit it with intermediate powers nor threaten it with the challenge of opposing loyalties. An army constantly renewed by slaves imported from abroad would form no hereditary nobility; an army manned and commanded by aliens could neither claim nor create any loyalties or bases of support among the local population.

Such soldiers, it was assumed, would have no loyalty but to their masters, that is, to the monarchs who bought and employed them. But their loyalty, all too often, was to the regiment and to its commanders, many of whom ultimately themselves became kings. The mamluk sultans and emirs who ruled Egypt, Syria, and western Arabia for two-and-a-half centuries, until the Ottoman conquest in 1517, rigorously excluded their own freeborn and locally born offspring from the apparatus of political and military power, including even the sultanate itself. They nevertheless succeeded in maintaining their system for centuries. In part, the common bond of mamluk regiments was ethnic. Many regiments, and the quarters which they inhabited, were based on ethnic and even tribal groups. But in the main, the bond was social rather than racial. At a certain stage in his career, the mamluk was emancipated, and, on becoming a freeman, himself bought and owned mamluks who, rather than his physical sons, were his true successors. The most powerful bond and loyalty, within the mamluk system, was that owed by the slave to his master, and, after manumission, by the freedman to his patron.

In the military sense, the slave armies were remarkably effective. In the later Middle Ages, it was the mamluks of Egypt who finally defeated and expelled the Crusaders and halted the Mongol advance across the Middle East, the Ottoman Janissary infantry who conquered Southeastern Europe. It was in accordance with the logic of the system that the mamluk armies of Egypt consisted mainly of slaves imported from the Turkish and Circassian peoples of the Black Sea area, while the Ottoman Janissaries were recruited mainly from the Slavic and Albanian populations of the Balkans.

Ibn Khaldun, surely the greatest of all Arab historians, writing in the fourteenth century, saw in the coming of the Turks and in the institution of slavery by which they came, the manifestation of God's providential concern for the safety and survival of the Muslim state and people:

"When the [Abbasid] state was drowned in decadence and luxury. . . and overthrown by the heathen Tatars . . . because the people of the faith had become deficient in energy and reluctant to rally in defense . . . then it was God's benevolence that He rescued the faith by reviving its dying breath and restoring the unity of the Muslims in the Egyptian realms.... He did this by sending to the Muslims, from among this Turkish nation and its great and numerous tribes, rulers to defend them and utterly loyal helpers, who were brought . . . to the House of Islam under the rule of slavery, which hides in itself a divine blessing. By means of slavery they learn glory and blessing and are exposed to divine providence; cured by slavery, they enter the Muslim religion with the firm resolve of true believers and yet with nomadic virtues unsullied by debased nature, unadulterated by the filth of pleasure, undefiled by ways of civilied living, and with their ardor unbroken by the profusion of luxury.... Thus one intake comes after another and generation follows generation, and Islam rejoices in the benefit which it gains through them, and the branches of the kingdom flourish with the freshness of youth."

Most of the military slaves of Islam were white -- Turks and Caucasians in the East, Slavs and other Europeans in the West. Black military slaves were, however, not unknown and indeed at certain periods were of importance. Individual black fighting men, both slaves and free, are mentioned as having participated in raiding and warfare in pre-Islamic and early Islamic times. According to the biographies and histories of the Prophet, there were several blacks, both in his army and in the armies of his pagan enemies. One of them, called Wahshi, an Ethiopian slave, distinguished himself in the battles against the Prophet at Uhud and at the Ditch; and later, after the Muslim capture of Mecca, he fought for the Muslims in the wars that followed the death of the Prophet. Black soldiers appear occasionally in early Abbasid times, and after the slave rebellion in southern Iraq, in which blacks displayed terrifying military prowess, they were recruited into the infantry corps of the caliphs in Baghdad. Ahmad b. Tulun (d. 884), the first independent ruler of Muslim Egypt, relied very heavily on black slaves, probably Nubians, for his armed forces; at his death he is said to have left, among other possessions, twenty-four thousand white mamluks and forty-five thousand blacks. These were organized in separate corps, and accommodated in separate quarters at the military cantonments. When Khumarawayh, the son and successor of Ahmad ibn Tulun. rode in procession, he was followed, according to a chronicler,

"by a thousand black guards wearing black cloaks and black turbans, so that a watcher could fancy them to be a black sea spreading over the face of the earth, because of the blackness of their color and of their garments. With the glitter of their shields, of the chasing on their swords, and of the helmets under their turbans, they made a really splendid sight. "

The black troops were the most faithful supporters of the dynasty, and shared its fate. When the Tulunids were overthrown at the beginning of 905, the restoration of caliphal authority was followed by a massacre of the black infantry and the burning of their quarters:

"Then the cavalry turned against the cantonments of the Tulunid blacks, seized as many of them as they could, and took them to Muhammad ibn Sulayman [the new governor sent by the caliph]. He was on horseback, amid his escort. He gave orders to slaughter them, and they were slaughtered in his presence like sheep."

A similar fate befell the black infantry in Baghdad in 930, when they were attacked and massacred by the white cavalry, with the help of other troops and of the populace, and their quarters burned. Thereafter, black soldiers virtually disappear from the armies of the eastern caliphate.

In Egypt, the manpower resources of Nubia were too good to neglect, and the traffic down the Nile continued to provide slaves for military as well as other purposes. Black soldiers served the various rulers of medieval Egypt, and under the Fatimid caliphs of Cairo black regiments, known as 'Abid al-Shira', "the slaves by purchase," formed an important part of the military establishment. They were particularly prominent in the mid-eleventh century, during the reign of al-Mustansir, when for a while the real ruler of Egypt was the caliph's mother, a Sudanese slave woman of remarkable strength of character. There were frequent clashes between black regiments and those of other races and occasional friction with the civil population. One such inci- dent occurred in 1021, when the Caliph al-Hakim sent his black troops against the people of Fustat (old Cairo), and the white troops joined forces to defend them. A contemporary chronicler of these events describes an orgy of burning, plunder, and rape. In 1062 and again in 1067 the black troops were defeated by their white colleagues in pitched battles and driven out of Cairo to Upper Egypt. Later they returned, and played a role of some importance under the last Fatimid caliphs.

With the fall of the Fatimids, the black troops again paid the price of their loyalty. Among the most faithful supporters of the Fatimid Caliphate, they were also among the last to resist its overthrow by Saladin, ostensibly the caliph's vizier but in fact the new master of Egypt. By the time of the last Fatimid caliph, al-'Adid, the blacks had achieved a position of power. The black eunuchs wielded great influence in the palace; the black troops formed a major element in the Fatimid army. It was natural that they should resist the vizier's encroachments. In 1169 Saladin learned of a plot by the caliph's chief black eunuch to remove him, allegedly in collusion with the Crusaders in Palestine. Saladin acted swiftly; the offender was seized and decapitated and replaced in his office by a white eunuch. The other black eunuchs of the caliph's palace were also dismissed. The black troops in Cairo were infuriated by this summary execution of one whom they regarded as their spokesman and defender. Moved, according to a chronicler, by "racial solidarity" (jinsiyya), they prepared for battle. In two hot August days, an estimated fifty thousand blacks fought against Saladin's army in the area between the two palaces, of the caliph and the vizier.

Two reasons are given for their defeat. One was their betrayal by the Fatimid Caliph al-'Adid, whose cause they believed they were defendrng against the usurping vizier:

"Al-'Adid had gone up to his belvedere tower, to watch the battle between the palaces. It is said that he ordered the men in the palace to shoot arrows and throw stones at [Saladin's] troops, and they did so. Others say that this was not done by his choice. Shams al-Dawla [Saladin's brother] sent naphtha-throwers to burn down al-'Adid's belvedere. One of them was about to do this when the door of the belvedere tower opened and out came a caliphal aide, who said: "The Commander of the Faithful greets Shams al-Dawla, and says: 'Beware of the [black] slave dogs! Drive them out of the country!'" The blacks were sustained by the belief that al-'Adid was pleased with what they did. When they heard this, their strength was sapped, their courage waned, and they fled."

The other reason, it is said, was an attack on their homes. During the battle between the palaces, Saladin sent a detachment to the black quarters, with instructions "to burn them down on their possessions and their children." Learning of this, the blacks tried to break off the battle and return to their families but were caught in the streets and destroyed. This encounter is variously known in Arabic annals as "the Battle of the Blacks" and "the Battle of the Slaves.'' Though the conflict was not primarily racial, it acquired a racial aspect, which is reflected in some of the verses composed in honor of Saladin's victory. Maqrizi, in a comment on this episode, complains of the power and arrogance of the blacks:

"If they had a grievance against a vizier, they killed him; and they caused much damage by stretching out their hands against the property and families of the people. When their outrages were many and their misdeeds increased, God destroyed them for their sins."

Sporadic resistance by groups of black soldiers continued, but was finally crushed after a few years. While the white units of the Fatimid army were incorporated by Saladin in his own forces, the blacks were not. The black regiments were disbanded, and black fighting men did not reappear in the armies of Egypt for centuries. Under the mamluk sultans, blacks were em- ployed in the army in a menial role, as servants of the knights. There was a clear distinction between these servants, who were black and slaves, and the knights' orderlies and grooms, who were white and free.

Though black slaves no longer served as soldiers in Egypt, they still fought occasionally -- as rebels or rioters. In 1260, during the transition from the Ayyubid to the mamluk sultanate, black stableboys and some others seized horses and weapons, and staged a minor insurrection in Cairo. They proclaimed their allegiance to the Fatimids and followed a religious leader who "incited them to rise against the people of the state; he granted them fiefs and wrote them deeds of assignment."

The end was swift: "When they rebelled during the night, the troops rode in, surrounded them, and shackled them; by morning they were crucified outside the Zuwayla gate."

The same desire among the slaves to emulate the forms and trappings of the mamluk state is expressed in a more striking form in an incident in 1446, when some five hundred slaves, tending their masters' horses in the pasturages outside Cairo, took arms and set up a miniature state and court of their own. One of them was called sultan and was installed on a throne in a carpeted pavilion; others were dignified with the titles of the chief of ficers of the mamluk court, including the vizier, the commander in chief, and even the governors of Damascus and Aleppo. They raided grain caravans and other traffic and were even willing to buy the freedom of a colleague. They succumbed to internal dissensions. Their "sultan" was challenged by another claimant, and in the ensuing struggles the revolt was suppressed. Many of the slaves were recaptured and the rest fled.

Toward the end of the fifteenth century, black slaves were admitted to units using firearms -- a socially despised weapon in the mamluk knightly society. When a sultan tried to show some favor to his black arquebusiers, he provoked violent antagonism from the mamluk knights, which he was not able to resist. In 1498 "a great disturbance occurred in Cairo." The sultan (according to the chronicler) had outraged the mamluks by conferring two boons on a black slave called Farajallah, chief of the firearms personnel in the citadel -- first, giving him a white Circassian slave girl from the palace as wife, and second, granting him a short-sleeved tunic, a characteristic garment of the mamluks:

"On beholding this spectacle [says the chronicler] the Royal mamluks expressed their disapproval to the sultan, and they put on their. . . armour. . . and armed themselves with their full equipment. A battle broke out between them and the black slaves, who numbered about five hundred. The black slaves ran away and gathered again in the towers of the citadel and fired at the Royal mamluks. The Royal mamluks marched on them, killing Farajallah and about fifty of the black slaves; the rest fled; two Royal mamluks were killed. Then the emirs and the sultan's maternal uncle, the Great Dawadar, met the sultan and told him: "We disapprove of these acts of yours [and if you persist in them, it would be better for you to ride by night in the narrow by-streets and go away together with those black slaves to far-off places!" The sultan answered: "I shall desist from this, and these black slaves will be sold to the Turkmans."

In the Islamic West black slave troops were more frequent, and sometimes even included cavalry -- something virtually unknown in the East. The first emir of Cordova, 'Abd al-Rahman I, is said to have kept a large personal guard of black troops; and black military slaves were used, especially to maintain order, by his successors. Black units, probably recruited by purchase via Zawila in Fezzan (now southern Libya), figure in the armies of the rulers of Tunisia between the ninth and eleventh centuries. Black troops became important from the seventeenth century, after the Moroccan military expansion into the Western Sudan. The Moroccan Sultan Mawlay Ismaili (1672-1727) had an army of black slaves, said to number 250,000. The nucleus of this army was provided by the conscription or compulsory purchase of all male blacks in Morocco; it was supplemented by levies on the slaves and serfs of the Saharan tribes and slave raids into southern Mauritania. These soldiers were mated with black slave girls, to produce the next generation of male soldiers and female servants. The youngsters began training at ten and were mated at fifteen. After the sultan's death in 1727, a period of anarchic internal struggles followed, which some contemporaries describe as a conflict between blacks and whites. The philosopher David Hume, writing at about the same time, saw such a conflict as absurd and comic, and used it to throw ridicule on all sectarian and factional strife:

"The civil wars which arose some few years ago in Morocco between the Blacks and Whites, merely on account of their complexion, are founded on a pleasant difference. We laugh at them; but, I believe, were things rightly examined, we afford much more occasion of ridicule to the Moors. For, what are all the wars of religion, which have prevailed in this polite and knowing part of the world? They are certainly more absurd than the Moorish civil wars. The difference of complexion is a sensible and a real difference; but the controversy about an article of faith, which is utterly absurd and unintelligible, is not a difference in sentiment, but in a few phrases and expressions, which one party accepts of without understanding them, and the other refuses in the same manner.... Besides, I do not find that the Whites in Morocco ever imposed on the Blacks any necessity of altering their complexion . . . nor have the Blacks been more unreasonable in this particular."

In 1757 a new sultan, Sidi Muhammad Ill, came to the throne. He decided to disband the black troops and rely instead on Arabs. With a promise of royal favor, he induced the blacks to come to Larache with their families and worldly possessions. There he had them surrounded by Arab tribesmen, to whom he gave their possessions as booty and the black soldiers, their wives, and their children as slaves. "I make you a gift," he said, "of these 'abid, of their children, their horses, their weapons, and all they possess. Share them among you.''

Blacks were occasionally recruited into the mamluk forces in Egypt at the end of the eighteenth century. "When the supply [of white slaves] proves insufficient," says a contemporary observer, W. G. Browne, "or many have been expended, black slaves from the interior of Africa are substituted, and if found docile, are armed and accoutred like the rest." This is confirmed by Louis Frank, a medical officer with Bonaparte's expedition to Egypt, who wrote an important memoir on the Negro slave trade in Cairo.

In the nineteenth century, black military slaves reappeared in Egypt in considerable numbers; their recruitment was indeed one of the main purposes of the Egyptian advance up the Nile under Muhammad 'Ali Pasha (reigned 1805-49) and his successors. Collected by annual razzias (raids) from Darfur and Kordofan, they constituted an important part of the Khedivial armies and incidentally furnished the bulk of the Egyptian expeditionary force which Sa'id Pasha sent to Mexico in 1863, in support of the French. An English traveler writing in 1825 had this to say about black soldiers in the Egyptian army:

"When the negro troops were first brought down to Alexandria, nothing could exceed their insubordination and wild demeanour; but they learned the military evolutions in half the time of the Arabs; and I always observed they went through the manoeuvres with ten times the adroitness of the others. It is the fashion here, as well as in our colonies, to consider the negroes as the last link in the chain of humanity, between the monkey tribe and man in intellect; and I do not suffer the eloquence of the slave driver to convince me that the negro is so stultified as to be unfit for freedom.

Even in Turkey, liberated black slaves were sometimes recruited into the armed forces, often as a means to prevent their reenslavement. Some of these reached of ficer rank. A British naval report, dated January 25,1858, speaks of black marines serving with the Turkish navy:

"They are from the class of freed slaves or slaves abandoned by merchants unable to sell them. There are always many such at Tripoli. I believe the government acquainted the Porte with the embarrassment caused by their numbers and irregularities, and this mode of relief was adopted. Those brought by the Faizi Bari, about 70 in number, were on their arrival enrolled as a Black company in the marine corps. They are in exactly the same position with respect to pay, quarters, rations, and clothing as the Turkish marines, and will equally receive their discharge at the expiration of the allotted term of service. They are in short on the books of the navy. They have received very kind treatment here, lodged in warm rooms with charcoal burning in them day and night. A negro Mulazim [lieutenant] and some negro tchiaoushes [sergeants], already in the service have been appointed to look after and instruct them. They have drilled in the manual exercise in their warm quarters, and have not been set to do any duty on account of the weather. They should not have been sent here in winter. Those among them unwell on their arrival were sent at once to the naval hospital. Two only have died of the whole number. The men in the barracks are healthy and appear contented. No amount of ingenuity can conjure up any conncxion between their condition and the condition of slavery."

While the slave in arms was, with few exceptions, an Islamic innovation, the slave in authority dates back to remote antiquity. Already in Sumerian times, kings appointed slaves to positions of prestige and even power -- or, perhaps more accurately, treated certain of their court functionaries as royal slaves. Different words were used to denote such privileged slaves, distinct from those applied to the menial and laboring generality. Under the Abbasid caliphs and under later Muslim dynasties, men of slave origin, usually but not always manumitted, figured prominently in the royal entourage. The system of court slavery reached its final and fullest development in the Ottoman Empire, where virtually all the servants of the state, both civil and military, had the status of kul, "slave," of the Gate, that is, of the sultan. The only exceptions were the members of the religious establishment. The Ottoman kul was not a slave in terms of Islamic law, and was free from most of the restraints imposed on slaves in such matters as marriage, property, and legal responsibility. He was, however, subject to the arbitrary power of the sultan, who was free to dispose of his assets, his person, and his life in ways not permitted by the law in relation to free- or freedmen. This perception of the status of political officeholders and their relationship to the supreme sovereign power was of course by no means limited to the Ottoman Empire, or indeed to the Islamic world.

Reproduced gratefully from:



South Africa: Stage 6 Genocide!
Heretic Productions present: Adriana Stuijt, from Aid Netherlands Essay
on the genocidal state of South Africa.
Genocide Watch:
South Africa and Zimbabwe Have Been Moved
to Stage 6 on the Countries at Risk Chart.
















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