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Slavery Soars in Virginia *

The current number of slaves in Virginia is approximately 3,000. In the next 20 years that number will grow to 16,000 and by the time of the 1790 U.S. Census, 300,000 slaves will be living in Virginia. That will be more than 40% of all slaves in the United States of America. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The question is... Why did the growth in the slave population take a suddenly jump in 1680? The previous Governor of Virginia had been pushing toward a more diversified economy instead of the labor-intensive (but extremely profitable) tobacco crops. When the Governor fell from power, tobacco was locked in as the cash crop for Virginia and that locked in slavery. There was also a recent labor shortage in England which drove up labor costs, making slavery more economically viable. And there was a problem for the Virginia farmer with a free and mobile workforce. The economist, Adam Smith, noted that with so much land available in North America, a mobile workforce could move to their own plot of land and work it themselves whenever they didn't like how the existing farmers were treating them. In the modern day, employers must think of ways to keep skilled workers in their area as an available resource rather than having them move away. My cousin is an unemployed autoworker. When there is work, the money is very good. When he is not working he is miserable, but he won't risk moving because the government (and local employers) make it comfortable enough for him to remain available. This is the serfdom of the modern day but none of this fully explains why Virginia farmers of the late 1680s preferred African black slaves over the one million white slaves available world-wide at the time. The reason was that white people dropped like flies when exposed to the diseases of the Americas and Africa. Only Africans stood a chance of surviving in the fields. It was their exposure to the diseases of West Africa that provided them better protection in the South than their white slave counterparts. [4] [5]

Popé's Pueblo Revolt and the Promise of Paradise

The Spaniards have been moving into the New Mexico region for decades along with Franciscan missionaries. The Pueblo Indian tribes were quickly subdued. By the late 1600s the Franciscan missionaries had converted thousands of Pueblo Indians to Christianity. Yet the Indians continued certain pagan practices including the use of hallucinogenic drugs, so the Spaniards have decided to crack down. (Oh, what pun!) Forty-seven Indian medicine men are arrested. Three are executed. The rest are freed, but this has made the Indians angry. One of those angry Indians is a man named Popé. With famine and serfdom as their lot, it isn't difficult for him to convince his fellow tribesmen, and neighboring tribes to rise up against the Spaniards. Popé promises that once the Spaniards are expelled the gods will smile upon the people and a new age of prosperity will come. All they have to lose are their chains. After 5 years of planning, the day is here. Over 2,000 Indian men armed with bows and arrows fight 170 Spanish soldiers armed with muskets. Less than 1,500 Spanish men, women and children escape to El Paso alive along with 500 Indian Christians. The Pueblo Indians return to their old ways, but the famine continues. Paradise never comes. Popé will be deposed next year and the Spaniards will return in 1692 to very little resistance. [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
What causes a man to hurl himself into the jaws of the lion in the hope that his shin bone will catch in the lion's throat? It is easy to call a Muslim terrorist a lunatic, but when the government seems out of control, how many of us have thoughts of revolution? The American Revolution worked out... mostly, but how many times has revolution failed? The Pueblo Revolt for a pagan Paradise ultimately failed, the Maccabean Revolt for a Jewish paradise ultimately failed, the Bolshevik Revolution for a worker's paradise ultimately failed and the Egyptian overthrow of Mubarak was supposed to bring about a Google paradise. How is that Google Revolt working out for you guys in Egypt? It's not just religion that does this. We have seen more deaths in nationalistic wars than all the religious wars combined including the destruction of the world during the Flood. (To be fair, whether you believe in the Flood or not, there just weren't very many people living in the world in the first place.) I am a believer in a religious Paradise, but I don't believe it can be forced. If history is a guide, any attempt to force a religious or secular Paradise is doomed to fail... eventually. But not before a lot of people die. Hopefully it will mostly be the jerks who started the war in the first place. As we have seen throughout history, this too shall pass... eventually, and the world will be better place... but not perfect... not yet.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1680, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created (BOOK), Knopf. ISBN 9780307265722. “Then, between 1680 and 1700, the number of slaves suddenly exploded. Virginia's slave population rose in those years from three thousand to sixteen thousand--and kept soaring thereafter. In the same period the tally of indentured servants shrank dramatically. It was a pivot in world history, the time when English America became a slave society and England became the dominant player in the slave trade.” 
  2. Alpert, Jonathan L. (June 1969). "The Law of Slavery: It Did Happen Here". American Bar Association Journal (American Bar Association) 55 (6): 544-546. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25724812. Retrieved October 20, 2015. "From 1663 to 1698, the British Royal African Company enjoyed a monopoly on trade to Africa. Although not specifically enumerated in its charter, a most important trade with Africa was the slave trade. Originally the company imported slaves exclusively into the British West Indies because the need for slaves was more highly developed there, and the North American continent received Negroes only in small lots until, around 1680-1700, importation to America increased significantly.". 
  3. Morgan, Kenneth (August 2000). "George Washington and the Problem of Slavery". Journal of American Studies (Cambridge University Press on behalf of the British Association for American Studies) 34 (2): 279-301. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27556810. Retrieved November 23, 2015. "Slavery was central to the socio-economic life of the Old Dominion: after 1750 40 per cent of the North American slave population lived there and the first United States census of 1790 showed 300,000 slaves in Virginia.". 
  4. Barbary slave trade - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 23 November 2015. “Ohio State University history Professor Robert Davis describes the White Slave Trade as minimized by most modern historians in his book Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500–1800 (Palgrave Macmillan). Davis estimates that 1 million to 1.25 million white Christian Europeans were enslaved in North Africa, from the beginning of the 16th century to the middle of the 18th, by slave traders from Tunis, Algiers, and Tripoli alone (these numbers do not include the European people which were enslaved by Morocco and by other raiders and traders of the Mediterranean Sea coast),”
  5. Alex Shrugged notes: My remarks are naturally derivative, since I'm simply not this smart. I benefited greatly from Charles Mann's book: "1493", which is on my bookshelf. I also drew from many journal articles in previous history segments beyond the ones listed here. I am the product of my teachers. I appear smarter than I am due to their efforts. I thank them profusely.
  6. Hesham R. El-Seedia; Peter A.G.M. De Smetc; Olof Beckd; Göran Possnerte; Jan G. Bruhn (3 October 2005). "Prehistoric peyote use: Alkaloid analysis and radiocarbon dating of archaeological specimens of Lophophora from Texas". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 101 (1–3): 238–242. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874105002990. Retrieved 23 November 2015. "The two peyote samples appear to be the oldest plant drug ever to yield a major bioactive compound upon chemical analysis. The identification of mescaline strengthens the evidence that native North Americans recognized the psychotropic properties of peyote as long as 5700 years ago.". 
  7. Mescaline - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 23 November 2015. “Europeans noted use of peyote in Native American religious ceremonies upon early contact, notably by the Huichols in Mexico. Other mescaline-containing cacti such as the San Pedro have a long history of use in South America, from Peru to Ecuador.”

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