Frank Tannenbaum's Slave And Citizen

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Prior to the authoring of professor Frank Tannenbaum’s book Slave and Citizen most scholars believed that slavery in North and South America was the same in Ancient Greece and Rome along with the Middle Ages in Europe. However, one important difference made slavery in the Americas stand out and it was the enslavement of Africans and indigenous populations. Professor Tannenbaum’s thesis argued that Iberian laws regarding slavery and the teachings and principles of the Catholic Church made slavery within the Spanish and Portuguese colonies more humane when compared to North American slavery. Tannenbaum specifically argued that these Iberian laws and Catholic dogma allowed slaves to keep their humanity, have the right to children, and have the …show more content…
In the engenhos, sugar plantations, of the Brazilian captaincy Bahia the physical conditions were “extremely poor: lack of clothing, inadequate housing, poor nutrition, harsh discipline and cruel discipline”. The main purpose for slave masters and Lavradores was to make as much profit as possible from the harvesting of sugar cane and the production of crystallized sugar so they would extract all the work possible from a slave. In order to maximize profit the slave masters and the Lavradores would cut costs by buying inferior clothing, homes, and the least amount of food possible for slaves. The exhaustive labor along with the poor living conditions slaves were exposed to meant “Bahian slaves suffered from high mortality and low fertility” rates. The low fertility rates can be explained by the fact that for slave masters slaves were expendable and could easily be replaced by importing new slaves from West Africa. So, while technically Professor Frank Tannenbaum’s claim that slaves had the rights to families was correct most planters in Bahia “saw no reason to stimulate stable families to promote natural growth of the population”. The risk and cost of raising children to bolster the future ranks of slaves exceeded the …show more content…
However, the slave masters and Lavradores were more motivated by profit when making decisions rather than any Iberian laws or Catholic teachings that pushed for a humane form of slavery. The slave system of Latin America and Brazil was just as if not more abusive and exploitative than any other because of the poor conditions slaves were subjected to, the existence of fugitive slave communities away from white society known as quilombos or mocambos that looted white settlements to sustain themselves, and the rights and perks afforded to them were only given to them to help aid the health and endurance of the slave system. The slave system only existed for the profit of white European planters and was carefully crafted to keep the loyalty and quality of work from slaves while continuing to exploit

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