What are the similarities and differences between slaves of the Americas and convicts sent to Australia?

Some similarities that slaves in America and convicts in Australia faced were being forced from their homelands, enduring dangerous ocean, crossings, and being subjected to forced labor. Their experiences were different in that Australian convicts kept up their cultural practices while African slaves had their cultures taken away from them. Africans became slaves through no action of their own while convicts were exiled in response to a crime. Once in Australia, convicts could become free. Slaves were enslaved for life.

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Slaves of the Americas could, in rare cases, be granted their freedom, but this was entirely at the discretion of their owners. Convicts shipped to Australia, on the other hand, would automatically be freed on the expiration of their prison sentence.

Sending convicts abroad was a punishment imposed by the British criminal justice system on certain classes of criminal. Once the punishment had been served, ex-convicts were free to make something of their lives. Many chose to stay in Australia and settle down rather than return to the mother country.

As conditions for convicts were often unspeakably bad, many of them never lived to see the end of their punishments. Like slaves in the Americas, they were treated abominably; unlike slaves, this was because they were criminals, not because of the color of their skin. It was easier, therefore, for a convict to move on with his or her life once their sentence had been served. For slaves, save in exceptional circumstances, slavery was a life...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on June 10, 2020