What problems may have arisen for the British in employing natives of the Americas as slave labour?Use of indigenous slave labour proved to be problematic.Eventually Africans were brought to the...

What problems may have arisen for the British in employing natives of the Americas as slave labour?

Use of indigenous slave labour proved to be problematic.
Eventually Africans were brought to the colonies to become slaves.

1 Answer | Add Yours

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There are many reasons why the British in the Americas “needed” to import Africans rather than using Native Americans as slaves.  Let us look at three of the most important of these reasons.

Disease.  The Native Americans had no resistance to a number of Old World diseases.  They tended to die in large numbers on contact with the Europeans.  This greatly reduced the native populations of the Caribbean islands.  It also made Native Americans on the mainland less useful as slaves.

Escape.  A major problem with the use of natives on the mainland of North America was their ability to escape.  These people were, of course, on their native land.  There were vast expanses of land into which they could easily vanish.  They would have had relatives or fellow tribe members who would have taken them in immediately.  It would have been very difficult to keep them on the plantations where they were enslaved.

Rebellion and Violence.  When slaves are kept in large numbers, their owners always fear violence.  This would have been a much greater threat had Native Americans been enslaved.  It is very likely that other Native Americans would have attacked white settlements vigorously if their people were being kept as slaves.  There would have been much more danger of slave rebellions (aided by free Native American populations) than there was when Africans were used as slaves.

For these and other reasons, the British chose to import Africans as slaves.  

We’ve answered 320,050 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question