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Varied Titles & Comparable (Mis)Treatments: Redemptioner, Slave, Servant, Apprentice, Employee, etc.

The "African slave trade" narrative did not transpire by the ways in which you have been conditioned to believe. Colonists have used various communication methods such as movies, books and TV shows since the 19th century as a form of information sharing with the intent to condition the general population of the United States that the word "slave" is synonymous with individuals or groups racially classified as "Black" or "African American".

Those same colonists failed to inform you that the etymology of the word "slave" is SLAV. Slav is a person of European descent that speaks one or multiple Slavic languages. This tells us, SLAV(e) is specific to the ethnicity/race and language of the Slavic people. The word SLAV eventually became "slave" due to the numerous surrounding European groups conquering and converting European Slavic captives into hopeless workers. The word "slave" is now defined as a person that is property to someone else.

Another talking point colonists failed to inform you of is that the ways in which slaves were (mis)treated varied depending on their agreement. Another talking point worth mentioning is that children and other family members within the household were often slaves as well. Why? Because the use of the word slave also applied to individuals that worked either in the same household or the household of others. A Slav brought to the United States could have also been labeled an apprentice, laborer, worker, redemptioner, indentured servant or employee.

Slavs throughout Europe either worked either by choice, by way of coercion while still in formal states of servitude to European monarchs, or through contractual obligations. Slav children were no exception. A statement by the The Monthly Labor Review reads, "One industrialist in 1790 proposed building textile factories around London to employ children to “prevent the habitual idleness and degeneracy” that were destroying the community." This European practice was eventually implemented in the colonies of North America. The publication continues, "Similarly, in America, productive outlets were sought for children. Colonial laws modeled after British laws sought to prevent children from becoming a burden on society. At the age of 13, orphan boys were sent to apprentice in a trade while orphan girls were sent into domestic work".

The first federal census of 1790 listed four categories: Free White Males, Free White Females, All Other Free Persons, and Slaves. You may have been conditioned to believe "slave" on the 1790 census equated to "African slave" when it did not. Slave on the 1790 census were Europeans that contracted their labor to Heads of Households. Slaves were counted for taxation purposes. This practice was nothing more than the federal government keeping track of what European colonists were able to pay the government on a regular basis.

A final talking point worth considering... The Head of Household that mistreated their employees/slaves risked jeopardizing their own social and economic mobility. Employees/Slaves that failed to follow the policy and procedure of the European Head of Household risked losing the incentives they were promised after their contract ended. You ever wonder how a Head of Household was able to retain hundreds of "slav(es)"? Simple. The Head of Household = Employer and the "slave" = Employee.

The author used SLAVES in this post to distinguish the modernized use of the word "slave".


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