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What is the difference between slavery in the United States and slavery in...

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pineapple45 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 12, 2008 at 9:37 AM via web

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What is the difference between slavery in the United States and slavery in Mesopotamia?

For instance, if slavery in Mesopotamia began in 1980 and slavery began in 1930 in the United States that would be a difference because of the dates.

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lynn30k | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted November 12, 2008 at 10:02 AM (Answer #1)

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There are four main differences between slavery in the ancient world and that which existed in the United States. In ancient times, slavery was:

-not based on race

-not necessarily permanent

-not necessarily the lowest status

-more for providing household help and a symbol of wealth, than as a labor force to produce wealth

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purplepenguin | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted November 12, 2008 at 10:47 AM (Answer #2)

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It is the culture in which slavery existed in each that makes the difference.

In Mesopotamia, slavery was a way of life. One became a slave through war by being the losers. Citizens in cities overrun by invading armies fled for their lives or if captured were placed into slavery. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time changed one's life! However, over a period of years, the slaves had the option of staying with their owners as freed workers or leaving and returning to their original home.

One could also become a slave by owing another money. After the debt was paid, the slave was free to go.

Slavery in the US gave NO option for the slave to go free. (In some cases owners freed their slave, but this was rare.) No war had been declared on the Africans who were literally stolen and shipped to the US and then sold as a commodity.

The culture of Mesopotamia treated slavery as a honorable way to pay a debt or to serve out a punishment of losing in battle. There was no honor in slavery in the US.

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emaja | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 27, 2008 at 3:56 AM (Answer #3)

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Slavery, in ancient times, was part of human history because slaveowners wanted to advance themselves as much as possible without doing all the hard or dirty work.  Mesopotamian slaves were captives, war survivors, or even criminals, who, though enslaved, could fulfill their designated duties to their master in the hope of one day gaining freedom.  Most importantly, Mesopotamian slaves were not the slaves of exclusively one race or culture.  A Mesopotamian slave could gain their freedom and possibly return to their homeland without having to bear the stigma of being forever identified as a slave because of race.

The foundations of early slavery in the United States of America rested primarily on the assignment of Black Africans and their descendants to the role of the enslaved.  Post-Revolutionary American history gave rise to philosophical thinkers such as de Tocqueville, who observed that Blacks, by their skin color, would remain relegated to the class of slaves.  The evidence of de Tocqueville's revelations have revered itself all throughout American history, up until a point in time today, where the election of a Black man to the White House was declared on the cover of the New York Times as  "Obama: Racial Barrier Falls in Decisive Victory".

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