Caribbean Slavery

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SLAVERY

A.Slaves were people captured in war, used to settle a debt, or made slaves as a means of punishment. The Spaniards in the Caribbean had little need for African slaves in the early 1500s for various reasons. The Treaty of Tordesillas, which was a line of demarcation drawn north to south, west of the Azores and Cape Verde’s, stipulated that the areas west of the line belonged to the Spaniards and the east to the Portuguese. As a result of the treaty Africa was on Portugal’s side of the line, so in order for Spaniards to obtain African slaves they had to go through the Portuguese. During the period of the early 1500s the Treaty of Tordesillas resulted in the Portuguese being the first nation that the Spaniards granted an asiento. This was granted in 1515. These special licenses, asientos, only allowed a specific number of slaves into a diverse number of countries and limited the need for African slaves. The cost to ship slaves from West Africa to Portugal and Spain and then to the Americas proved prohibitive. There was easier access to Taino labour and it was unnecessary to spend extra money on importing slaves. Tainos were used to find and mine the gold because they were familiar with the surroundings and there were enough Tainos to mine the little gold the Spaniards had found. Indentured servants or white servants also contributed to the need for only a small number of African slaves in the 1500s. Indentured servants (contracted workers; poor people from Europe) started to migrate to the Caribbean from Europe, as the Caribbean were advertised as having prospects of a new life and jobs. Their contracts usually lasted four to five years. The islands that were found in the Caribbean needed to be developed in order to make them suitable for living. The Spaniards offered property as an incentive to attract people who would develop the islands and settle there. This was how indentured servants were coaxed into migrating. Eventually however, the...
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