The Philosophical Origins of Racism and Slavery Research Paper by jdanders74

The Philosophical Origins of Racism and Slavery
This paper examines if racism was merely an invention of the slave-holding class as a means to justify slavery.
# 5448 | 5,400 words | 12 sources | MLA | 2002 | US

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This work traces the origins of slavery and racism in the modern era, and analyzes the debate over which phenomenon gave rise to the other. The paper also explores the unique aspects of African-American enslavement in colonial U.S. and its connection with the modern state of race relations in America. The paper also proposes a unique hypothesis that connects the rise of slavery in Europe and America to Europe's underlying fear of the rising cultures of the East. The essay also contains critiques and descriptions of the scholarship of Dr. Eric Williams, Winthrop Jordan, and others.

From the Paper:

"This essay concerns the work of West Indian historian and former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr. Eric Williams, who proffered the rationale in Capitalism and Slavery, that the philosophical origins of the Atlantic Slave Trade in the Americas was based upon economics, not racism. My purpose of addressing Dr. Williams theory is not to argue that slavery was, above all else, a major economic enterprise. Rather, I am interested in examining the origins of African slavery in Europe in the modern era and the overall European mindset of the early 15th Century, including their attitudes and preconceptions regarding the African continent. While not disputing the hypothesis evident in the title of Dr. William's essay "Economics, Not Racism, as the Root of Slavery," I contend that economics alone was not the sole impetus behind the tragic phenomenon of African slavery, and that the occurrence of racism was simultaneous. Furthermore, I am seeking to examine Dr. William's theory in the context of the African-American experience amid early U.S. history. That is, I intend to describe the distinctive nature of slavery in the colonial U.S., being developed under the English's specious pretext of black inferiority. My overall supposition is that the genesis of racist attitudes coincided with the initial Portuguese contact with inhabitants of Old Guinea in 1441, becoming especially prevalent among the English through their early experiences with black Africans. Because these attitudes were formed prior to any English involvement in the trade of African slaves, this position stands at odds with Dr. William's theory that racism was invented for the purpose of justifying the continuation of slavery."

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The Philosophical Origins of Racism and Slavery (2003, February 11) Retrieved September 26, 2023, from

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"The Philosophical Origins of Racism and Slavery" 11 February 2003. Web. 26 September. 2023. <>