Take a closer look at the first draft of the US Constitution to see an example of the “long S” in print.
Take a closer look at George Washington’s letter using 18th-century abbreviations.
In the middle of the fifteenth century, Europe, Africa, and the Americas came together, creating—among other things—a new economy. At the center of that economy was the plantation, an enterprise dedicated to the production of exotic commodities—the most prominent being sugar—for a distant market. Perhaps the most difficult problem these businessmen faced was securing the labor to sustain the vast economic enterprise they were creating.
The modern intellectual anti-slavery movement emerged as two distinct but overlapping currents, one religious, the other secular.
Though most research on Africans’ involuntary migration to the Americas focuses on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the roots of the transatlantic slave trade are much deeper, stretching back to Iberia (Spain and Portugal), Atlantic Africa, and Latin America during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The story of European colonialism in the Americas and its victimization of Africans and Indians follows a central paradigm in most textbooks. Indians are described in terms of their succumbing in large numbers to disease, with the survivors facing dispossession of their land. This paradigm—a basic one in the history of colonialism—omits a crucial aspect of the story: the indigenous peoples of the Americas were enslaved in large numbers. This exclusion distorts not only what happened to American Indians under colonialism, but also points to the need for a reassessment of the foundation and nature of European overseas expansion.
Imagine saying goodbye to family, friends, and familiar places to take a dangerous voyage across thousands of miles of ocean in a small wooden ship. Your destination: a strange and often hostile land. Yet, in the 1600s, thousands of Dutch, English, French, and Spanish men and women did just that because of poverty, religious persecution, or a hope that a better life lay across the Atlantic Ocean.