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Slavery on the Barbary Coast

Purchase of Christian captives in the Barbary States.

Slavery on the Barbary Coast was a form of unfree labour which existed between the 16th and 18th centuries in the Barbary Coast area of North Africa.

According to Robert Davis, between 1 million and 1.25 million Europeans were captured by Barbary pirates and sold as slaves in North Africa and Ottoman Empire between the 16th and 19th centuries.[1][2] Because of the large numbers of Britons captured by the Barbary States and in other venues, captivity was the other side of exploration and empire. Captivity narratives originated as a literary form in the 17th century. They were widely published and read, preceding those of colonists captured by American Indians in North America.[3] Slave-taking persisted into the 19th century when Barbary pirates would capture ships and enslave the crew. Between 1609 and 1616, England alone had 466 merchant ships lost to Barbary pirates.[4]

Commercial ships from the United States of America were subject to pirate attacks. In 1783, the United States made peace with, and gained recognition from, the British monarchy. In 1784 the first American ship was seized by pirates from Morocco. By late 1793, a dozen American ships had been captured, goods stripped and everyone enslaved. After some serious debate, the US created the United States Navy in March 1794. This new military presence helped to stiffen American resolve to resist the continuation of tribute payments, leading to the two Barbary Wars along the North African coast: the First Barbary War from 1801 to 1805[5] and the Second Barbary War in 1815. Payments in ransom and tribute to the Barbary states had amounted to 20% of United States government annual revenues in 1800.[6] It was not until 1815 that naval victories ended tribute payments by the U.S. Some European nations continued annual payments until the 1830s.[7]

[edit] References

  1. ^ Davis, Robert. Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500-1800.[1]
  2. ^ "When Europeans were slaves: Research suggests white slavery was much more common than previously believed", Research News, Ohio State University
  3. ^ Linda Colley, Captives: Britain, Empire and the World, 1600-1850, London: Jonathan Cape, 2002, pp. 9-11
  4. ^ Rees Davies, "British Slaves on the Barbary Coast", BBC, 1 July 2003
  5. ^ The Mariners' Museum: The Barbary Wars, 1801-1805
  6. ^ Oren, Michael B. (2005-11-03). "The Middle East and the Making of the United States, 1776 to 1815". http://www.columbia.edu/cu/news/05/11/michaelOren.html. Retrieved 2007-02-18. 
  7. ^ Richard Leiby, "Terrorists by Another Name: The Barbary Pirates", The Washington Post, October 15, 2001


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