As a writer, we are often called to do more than just write our thoughts off-the-cuff. Often times, in order to get the writing to make any sense, we find ourselves reading, researching a subject or subjects. As one can imagine, while researching, we are taken from one reading to the next to the next and so on, leading us to wonder where we started from in the first place.
When I came to the conclusion that I was going to write this article, I knew there was going to be a lot of reading to get as many facts as I could before putting pen-to-paper for even the first draft, much less the final article. As the research continued, it quickly became apparent that this was going to be a large article that was going to require much more than the standard background check and balances researching to ensure that I wasn’t just blabbing out of the side of my mouth.
While I have done a lot of research on this subject, it is important that the reader know that I am not a trained – college educated – historian and will never claim to be. I do however – and have always felt – feel that history is a very good teacher and is a very important subject, as it has a tendency to repeat itself. Repeatedly repeat itself.
For some, this article is going to be a sensitive one – Slavery. My personal feeling is that it should be a sensitive subject for everyone, not just some. While reading, it is up to you, the reader, to take the time to understand that what is presented here is – and has been – written in history. Past tense. It has been written about countless times, and yet, I feel it is not read for what it can teach us and is only used for unrest and political agenda’s that do not foster the growth of, or for anyone.
Lastly, I want to point out to the reader that this article – slightly mentioned above – is about slavery. The word slavery in and of itself is much more than what is blasted all over the drama filled news, social media, signs that are waved around by angry protestors, etc. A person can be a slave to their work, i.e. an over powering boss. A person can slave at writing an article, i.e. that person was in turmoil trying to write.
A person can be a slave to a human trafficker, i.e. a person was kidnapped and used for prostitution. A person can be slave in a bad relationship, i.e. one of the persons in the relationship used psychological gas lighter against the other or threatened physical violence against the other. A person can find themselves being a slave in the jungle for a drug maker or drug runner, i.e. the master has threatened to kill the family of a chemist. Lastly, a person can be a financial slave, i.e. they are a slave to the bank for the home loan they have on their house or credit card debt.
Social stratification is a term used in social sciences to describe the relative social position of persons in a given social group, category, geographical region or other social unit. It derives from the Latin word strātum (plural) referring to a given society’s categorization of its people into rankings of socioeconomic tiers based on factors like wealth, income, social status, occupation and power.
In modern western societies, social stratification is typically defined in terms of three social classes: 1) the upper class, 2) the middle class, and 3) the lower class; in turn, each class can be subdivided into, the upper-stratum, the middle-stratum, and the lower stratum. Moreover, a social stratum can be formed upon the bases of kinship, clan, tribe, or caste, or all four.
The categorization of people by social stratum occurs most clearly in complex state-based, polycentric, or feudal societies, the latter being based upon socioeconomic relations among classes of nobility and classes of peasants. Historically, whether or not hunter-gatherer, tribal, and band societies can be defined as socially stratified, or if social stratification otherwise began with agriculture and large-scale means of social exchange, remains a debated matter in the social sciences. Determining the structures of social stratification arises from inequalities of status among persons, therefore, the degree of social inequality determines a person’s social stratum. Generally, the greater the social complexity of a society, the more social stratification exists, by way of social differentiation.
With all of this in mind, lets dive into the history of slavery. Slavery has been around for a lot longer than most know about and as has been mentioned numerous times, before histories accounting of the subject began.
The earliest recorded – that I could find – account of slavery dates back to 3,500 BC, but was most prominent and more written about in the Roman times where slaves were used for labor and other various task. Unlike modern day slavery, (it should be noted that slavery is still commonplace to this day within groups, such as ISIL) it was an abusive and degrading institution and cruelty was commonplace.
Slavery had a long history in the ancient world and was practiced in Ancient Egypt and Greece, as well as Rome. Most slaves during the Roman Empire were foreigners and, unlike in modern times, Roman slavery was not based on race. Slaves in Rome might include prisoners of war, sailors captured and sold by pirates, or slaves bought outside of Roman territory. In hard times, it was not uncommon for desperate Roman citizens to raise money by selling their children into slavery. Although Romans accepted slavery as the norm, some people – like the poet and philosopher, Seneca – argued that slaves should at least be treated fairly.
Slaves worked everywhere. In private households, in mines and factories, and on farms. They also worked for city governments on engineering projects such as roads, aqueducts and buildings. As a result, they merged easily into the population. In fact, slaves looked so similar to Roman citizens that the senate once considered a plan to make them wear special clothing so that they could be identified at a glance. The idea was rejected because the senate feared that, if slaves saw how many of them were working in Rome, they might be tempted to join forces and rebel.
Another difference between Roman slavery and its more modern variety was manumission. The ability of slaves to be freed. Roman owners freed their slaves in considerable numbers. Some freed them outright, while others allowed them to buy their own freedom. The prospect of possible freedom through manumission encouraged most slaves to be obedient and hard working. Formal manumission was performed by a magistrate and gave freed men full Roman citizenship. The one exception was that they were not allowed to hold office. However, the law gave any children born to freed men, after formal manumission, full rights of citizenship, including the right to hold office. Informal manumission gave fewer rights. Slaves freed informally did not become citizens and any property or wealth they accumulated reverted to their former owners when they died.
In order to keep this writing from turning into a 50,000 page book, as it could easily command to do so, there is going to be some history time skipping involved. In part one, we covered ancient times slavery. In part two, we’re going to skip ahead into the 1,000’s and up to the abolishing of slavery in more modern times. In part three, we’re going to cover the slavery that is still prevalent in today’s society and cover some physiological self-infliction that occurs with slavery.