the story of slavery


the story of slavery – gli schiavi in America

The history of blacks in North America began in August, 1619 when a small Dutch warship sailed up (= risalì) the James River to the young English colony of Jamestown, Virginia. The Dutch ship had captured a Spanish ship in the Caribbean sea carrying black men and women to Spanish colonies in south America. At that time, the Jamestown colony was only 12 years old, and the colonists were short of (= a corto di) everything – especially workers to help clear (=pulire) and till (= coltivare) the land, and build houses. So the Jamestown settlers (= coloni) welcomed the blacks as a source (= fonte) of free labour. The 20 blacks landed from the Dutch ship were viewed (= visti) as indentured servants (= lavoratori a contratto): when their period of service was over, they were considered to be free. Gradually, however, the status of black servants started to change. Between 1640 and 1680, Virginia and the other southern colonies drifted toward (= iniziarono ad adottare) the establishment of a system of slave labour (== lavoro schiavista). Near the end of the 17th century, the demand of black labour on the large plantations of Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas was great. To satisfy this demand, special ships were built to transport captive (= schiavi) blacks directly from the west coast of Africa to the slave markets of north America. During the 18th century, the slave trade boomed. It brought death and untold (= indicibili) suffering to millions of blacks. At the same time it made a number of people in Britain and in the British American colonies immensely wealthy (=ricchi).

(from M: Cusack, Black America, USIA, Washington DC, 1986)

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