The shifting loyalties, fluctuating alliances, and changing economies of the eighteenth and early-nineteenth century Ohio Valley prompted the evolution of Native, Euro-American, and African-American slavery practices. Enslavement, a relationship of extreme, asymmetric dependence, confirmed or denied Native, Euro-American, and black individuals’ loyalties to and among each other, particularly concerning who was enslavable and what treatment they deserved. The narratives of explorers, settlers, diplomats, missionaries, and others travelling west illustrate the overt contestation of the Midwest’s supposedly divided geography, the varieties and intersections of enslavement there, and the role of diverse slaves in the rise of the urban, industrial Midwest. By linking various types of unfree labor and expanding the definition of slavery, North American slavery can be better understood as a complicated, variable status with a range of potential attributes and experiences that occurred in colonial, American, and, indigenous societies and the many multiethnic spaces in between.
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