Slavery represents the extremity of estate system stratification: fellow humans are treated as chattel.
Slavery has existed in many societies since prehistory. The Old Testament lays out guidelines for how owners should treat their slaves, as does the Koran; so much for these esteemed texts serving unblemished moral goods.
Historically, slavery had 3 originations: war, crime, and debt. The enslavement of the vanquished through conflict was the hoariest means for acquiring slaves. Women were the first to be so enslaved. With the men of a defeated tribe killed, the women were raped and brought back as slaves – valued both for their orifices and their labor.
Within a tribe, a thief or murderer, rather than be killed, might have been enslaved by the victim’s family as compensation for their loss. In some societies, creditors would enslave those who could not pay their debts. Indentured servitude is a variant of debt slavery.
Slavery is a Western cultural tradition. Both the ancient Greeks and Romans had slaves. The practice continued legally into the 19th century, most notably in Britain and the United States, though many other countries lucratively practiced slavery.
Finding it profitable to make people slaves for life, US slave owners developed an ideology, beliefs that justify social arrangements. Ideology leads to a perception of the world that makes current social arrangements seem necessary and fair. The colonists developed the view that their slaves were inferior. Some even said that they were not fully human. ~ James Henslin
To make slavery even more profitable, American slave states passed laws rendering slavery inheritable: babies born to slaves were the property of slave owners. To strengthen control, laws made it illegal for slaves to hold meetings or be away from the master’s premises without carrying a permit.
Gradually, the entire white South became an armed camp to keep Negroes in slavery and to kill the black rebel. ~ American sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois
Under the guise of “states’ rights,” the US civil war was fought over slavery. The slave-owning agrarian South had scant chance of prevailing over the industrialized North; and so, 4 years (1861–1865) and over 1 million deaths later, with the South in ruin, slavery was legally abolished.
I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races. ~ Abraham Lincoln
Racial segregation legally continued throughout the United States until the Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, which barely cracked the ice. Ineffectual laws followed.
Though racial mixing in the US now occurs to a historically unprecedented extent, de facto segregation continues to this day in numerous ways and degrees. Social and economic discrimination remains widespread.
Separation is the first cause of inequality. ~ Iranian author Katy Tackes
Though now ostensibly outlawed everywhere, slavery still exists worldwide, with over 35 million – at least 0.5% of the world population – enslaved (not counting wage slaves (everyday working folk)).