How did slavery in Latin America compare with slavery in British North America?

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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African American slavery in Latin America actually predated slavery in North America and was, incredibly, more cruel. The key component of slavery in the Americas was the production of Cane Sugar. The sugar revolution began shortly after the Crusades; and there was an insatiable market for it in Europe. Production of sugar cane is labor intensive, and African slaves seemed the natural answer to the problem. Sugar was grown extensively in the Islands of Latin America and more especially in Brazil. Although slavery was cruel and inhumane in all areas, in Latin America, slaves were considered a commodity rather than a capital asset. Slaves in Latin America had a shorter lifespan than those in North America, and were worked and beaten much more severely. The average lifespan for a slave in Brazil was five to seven years. Ironically, there was not the racial bias in that area that one finds in North American slavery. Latin Americans of European descent, particularly the Portuguese in Brazil, often intermarried with former slaves. Creoles, who were the result of these unions, were normally members of the upper crust of society. Two sources you might consider are Generations of Captivity by Ira Lambert; and Slave and Citizenby Frank Tannenbaum.

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