Excerpts from: Slavery and the Jews A Historical Inquiry By Eli Faber "Eli Faber is professor of History at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York. ...This Sonia Kroland Coster Memorial Lecture was delivered at Hunter College on May 11, 1994." "The Portugese dominated the slave trade throughout the 1500s, remaining in control of it until at least 1625." (Faber, 1) "The Portugese were responsible for transporting two-fifths, or approximately 4,190,000, of all slaves exported from Africa to the Americas." (Ibid, 2) "As part of their ascent during the 1600s to economic primacy in Europe, going to war first against Portugul and then against England, the Dutch also sought to establish as much control as possible over the slave trade. From 1640 until 1700, they may have ranked second in the slave trade behind Portugul, and they remained active during the 1700s after the English had surpassed them." (Ibid.) "During the succeeding century, England surged ahead and became Europe's largest slave-transporting nation. Between 1730 and 1807, Britain shipped almost 2,463,000 slaves to the western hemisphere, 41.7 percent of all slaves conveyed to the New World during the eighteenth century. This enormous enterprise was the work or merchants who resided primarily in three ports: London, Bristol, and Liverpool. "The majority of England's slave exports to her own colonies were carried to Barbados, Jamaica, and her other islands in the Caribbean. The thirteen American colonies received only 21.6 percent. Indeed, the American colonies and their successor, the United States of America, accounted for six to seven percent of the entire slave trade, or 715,000 of the more than 11 million people shipped from Africa to the western hemisphere between 1510 and 1840, when the transatlantic traffic in human beings finally ended. "During the course of the period between 1510 and 1840, Jewish merchants participated in the transport and sale of slaves, and Jewish inhabitants of the western hemisphere owned slaves." (Ibid, 3) "Not only have Jewish historians long known about such activities, but they have written about them, well before the current flurry of interest in Jewish participation in Slavery. A few examples should suffice. "Historian Herbert Bloom, in his 1937 study of economic activity among the Jews of Amsterdam during the 1600s and 1700s, wrote of Jews who owned slaves in South Africa, Brazil, and Surinam. He also noted the attempts made by some Jews to transport slaves to Spain's colonies in defiance of the Durtch West India Company's right to monopolize the slave trade.
" (Ibid., 3-4) [Other examples include Jacob Rader Marcus, Rabbi Bertram Korn, Isaac Emmanuel and Johathan Israel.] "Because of these publications - which by no means exhaust the possible examples - one could never claim that Jewish historians have either neglected or denied the presence of Jewish merchants in the slave trade, or consigned to oblivion the fact that some Jews owned slaves." (Ibid. 4-5) "Non-Europeans, too, were involved. Long before the Portugese enmeshed themselves in the enslavement of Africans, Arab traders penetrated deeply into the African continent, procuring men, women, and children whom they transported to North Africa and the Middle East. The Arab trade began as long ago as the ninth century and lasted into the nineteenth, continuing after the transatlantic trade to the New World ceased. "Africans also played a role, because European slave traders were not permitted to penetrate into the African continent but were required, instead, to purchase slaves from Africans who brought them in caravans to the coasts." (Ibid. 5) "If there is any surprise involved in slavery, it is most likely to arise upon learning that many eighteenth-century Quakers owned slaves and actively engaged in slave trading.... What ought to be emphasized, however, is that some Quakers participated in slavery, while others struggled to end it." (Ibid.) "Scholars reject any tendency to characterize all the members of any one group as the primary culprits in the international commerce system that evolved after the European discovery of the New World. Thus, just as some Quakers, some Arabs, some Africans, some Portugese, and some Frenchmen were involved in the institution of slavery, so too were some Jews." (Ibid. 6) Work Cited Faber, Eli. Slavery and the Jews: A Historical Inquiry. The Hunter College Jewish Social Studies Program; Occasional Papers in Jewish History and Thought, #2. Hunter College of the City University of New York. ISSN 1082-0175
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