Reexamining the Illegal Slave Trade in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic, Part 3: Kidnapping and Illegal Enslavement in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World

AHA Session 296
Conference on Latin American History 66
Monday, January 5, 2015: 11:00 AM-1:00 PM
Gramercy Suite B (New York Hilton, Second Floor)
Sharla M. Fett, Occidental College
Randy Sparks, Tulane University

Session Abstract

Two processes in the nineteenth century multiplied the cases of illegal enslavement in a scale and with implications previously unknown. First, the emancipation of slaves in different countries and colonies expanded the frontiers of free soil with territories where slavery subsisted. Second, the continuation of the slave trade after prohibition resulted in the illegal enslavement of nearly 3 million Africans brought to the Americas by contraband. Kidnapping and illegal enslavement were not new then, but it can be argued that they gained new implications in the age of abolition, when new nation states had to define and negotiate their borders, defend their citizens and property, and establish new legal systems at the same time as abiding by the emerging codes of international law. The papers in this panel reflect the recent dialogue between Social History and Law, as they explore the debates on illegal enslavement and also the variations in the application of the legal norms across different areas of the Atlantic.