Download America at 1750: A Social Portrait by Richard Hofstadter PDF

By Richard Hofstadter

Demonstrates how the colonies constructed into the 1st country created less than the affects of nationalism, smooth capitalism and Protestantism.

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Extra info for America at 1750: A Social Portrait

Sample text

In the years 1684-6 the Holy Office received a number of petitions attacking the brutality of the slave trade and protesting at the ‘perpetual enslavement’ visited upon descendants of Africans taken to the New World, even those who were Christian and ‘white’. The Brazilian mulatto Lourenco da Silva de Mendouca composed and presented a number of these protests; he was the lay Procurator of one of the religious brotherhoods permitted to free and enslaved blacks and 43 The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery mulattos in Brazil and Lisbon.

That abolitionism led to emancipation tends to be assumed without investigation. Thus abolition is understood as a vindication of 27 The Overthrow o f Colonial Slavery capitalist advance, of the spread of a market model of society and bourgeois confidence in progress. In such work the focus tends to be upon the evolution of social thought and feeling amongst the metropolitan middle classes. Little attention is paid to metropolitan class struggle or to contests concerning the purpose and character of the state; and even less attention is paid to events in the plantation zone itself, to slave resistance and to the role of former slaves in determining the outcome of the emancipation process.

This selective royal abolitionism actually paved the way for more extensive imports of African slaves, who were deemed more capable of enduring the rigours of bondage. While Bartolome de las Casas had denounced the enslavement of Indians two other sixteenth century Spanish American clerics, Tomas de Mercado and Alonso de Sandoval, attacked the excesses of the slave trade. But even such critics did not attack the very principle and institution of enslavement; their protests helped to strengthen the case for regulation.

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