[p.56>] Even when historians isolate the transatlantic slave trade from the greater crime of Muslim enslavement, the English colonies in North America accounted for only a tiny fraction of the hideous traffic in human beings. David Brion Davis, in his magisterial 2006 history Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World, concludes that colonial North America “surprisingly received only 5 to 6 percent of the African slaves shipped across the Atlantic.” Hugh Thomas in The Slave Trade calculates the percentage as slightly lower, at 4.4 percent.
This means that the British North American colonies received at most 3 percent of all human beings taken from Africa for lives in bondage (and [p.57>] this figure counts the lowest estimates for the centuries of Islamic enslavement).
In other words, the overwhelming majority of the transatlantic slave trade—at least 94 percent—went to Central and South America or the West Indies. For instance, slave ships transported a total of 480,000 Africans to all of America north of Mexico but carried 3.6 million to Brazil alone. Another 4 million went to the islands of the West Indies, with the relatively small island of Cuba receiving double the number of slaves imported to all of North America throughout the history of British settlement. The Portuguese, and later the Spaniards, established and monopolized the transatlantic slave trade nearly two hundred years before the English even established their first settlements in the Western Hemisphere.
Americans have been widely and perpetually criticized for our provincialism—for our limited knowledge of languages, cultures, and histories other than our own. This limited focus has led to a prodigiously exaggerated sense of U.S. guilt—and gain—from the epic crime of slavery.
Michael Medved, The 10 Big Lies About America: Combating Destructive Distortions About Our Nation (New York, NY: Crown Forum, 2008), 56-57.
[APA] Medved, M. (2008). The 10 Big Lies About America: Combating Destructive Distortions About Our Nation. New York, NY: Crown Forum.
[MLA] Medved, Michael. The 10 Big Lies About America: Combating Destructive Distortions About Our Nation. New York: Crown Forum, 2008. Print.
[Chicago] Medved, Michael. The 10 Big Lies About America: Combating Destructive Distortions About Our Nation. New York: Crown Forum, 2008.
Often times “reparations” come up in regards to slavery. A couple things come to mind here. First, in my post before this one, Dinesh D’Souza points out that slavery “stagnated” the economy of the Souther States, as compared to the free states. And then there is this nugget found below: “only a tiny percentage of today’s white citizens – perhaps as few as 5% — bear any authentic sort of generational guilt for the exploitation of slave labor.” In other words, many did not own or profit from owning slaves [more on this], not to mention most white people immigrated to America since immancipation.
Then there is this regarding “profit” from slavery: “…even if British slaveowners had saved and invested all of their profits from slavery, it would have amounted to less than two percent of British domestic investment.” So industriusness and industry was stagnated in slave states, and personal “profit’s” were very minimul, not to mention that a very small percentage of white people in these states today are even related at all to slave owners… not to mention many of these people are poor or middle-class (not rich in other words).
Even in the South, more than 80% of the white population never owned slaves. Given the fact that the majority of today’s non-black Americans descend from immigrants who arrived in this country after the War Between the States, only a tiny percentage of today’s white citizens – perhaps as few as 5% — bear any authentic sort of generational guilt for the exploitation of slave labor. Of course, a hundred years of Jim Crow laws, economic oppression and indefensible discrimination followed the theoretical emancipation of the slaves, but those harsh realities raise different issues from those connected to the long-ago history of bondage.
As the great African-American historian Nathan Huggins pointed out, “virtually all of the enslavement of Africans was carried out by other Africans” but the concept of an African “race” was the invention of Western colonists, and most African traders “saw themselves as selling people other than their own.” In the final analysis, Yale historian David Brion Davis in his definitive 2006 history “Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World” notes that “colonial North America…surprisingly received only 5 to 6 percent of the African slaves shipped across the Atlantic.” Meanwhile, the Arab slave trade (primarily from East Africa) lasted longer and enslaved more human beings than the European slavers working the other side of the continent. According to the best estimates, Islamic societies shipped between 12 and 17 million African slaves out of their homes in the course of a thousand years; the best estimate for the number of Africans enslaved by Europeans amounts to 11 million. In other words, when taking the prodigious and unspeakably cruel Islamic enslavements into the equation, at least 97% of all African men, women and children who were kidnapped, sold, and taken from their homes, were sent somewhere other than the British colonies of North America. In this context there is no historical basis to claim that the United States bears primary, or even prominent guilt for the depredations of centuries of African slavery.
[APA] Medved, M. (2007). Six inconvenient truths about the U.S. and slavery. Townhall.com. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/jn6bz9l
[MLA] Medved, Michael. “Six inconvenient truths about the U.S. and slavery.” Townhall.com, 26 Sep. 2007, http://tinyurl.com/jn6bz9l. Accessed 9 Sep 2016.
And just a side note. Comparing the population during the time of slavery — blacks brought to the United States during this time VERSUS the population that has immigrated here from Africa, by choice, is telling.
For the first time, more blacks are coming to the United States from Africa than during the slave trade.
Since 1990, according to immigration figures, more have arrived voluntarily than the total who disembarked in chains before the United States outlawed international slave trafficking in 1807. More have been coming here annually — about 50,000 legal immigrants — than in any of the peak years of the middle passage across the Atlantic, and more have migrated here from Africa since 1990 than in nearly the entire preceding two centuries.
New York State draws the most; Nigeria and Ghana are among the top 20 sources of immigrants to New York City. But many have moved to metropolitan Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and Houston. Pockets of refugees, especially Somalis, have found havens in Minnesota, Maine and Oregon….
[APA] Roberts, S. (2005). More Africans Enter U.S. Than in Days of Slavery. New York Times. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/h9c9tal
[MLA] Roberts, Sam. “More Africans Enter U.S. Than in Days of Slavery.” New York Times, 21 Feb. 2005, http://tinyurl.com/h9c9tal. Accessed 9 Sep 2016.
As of now, of course, there are more blacks that are alive today from slavery, or, have there origins from ancestors being brought here due to slavery. But at some point (through statistical common sense), the black population that are offspring of Africans that willingly migrated will out number those from slavery.