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    Slavery in America is but one example of slavery in the world throughout history.  There were slaves in ancient societies, going back as far as the 18th century BC - slaves in most countries around the Mediterranean Sea, in Slavic countries, in African nations, and in England. 

     

    Large towns, estates, or plantations needed cheap or free labor to do the necessary work to sustain them.  Such was the condition for slavery.  Slavery could be called "forced labor."  People became enslaved in many ways. Wars between towns, tribes, or civilizations meant that there were winners and losers.  The winners could take losers by force into slavery; typically, those taken were the ones thought to be strong workers.  Criminals were enslaved.  People who could not pay their bills were enslaved.  Pirates captured people in order to sell them. 

     

    Enslaved people were first brought to America in 1619. The number of slaves increased each year until 1807 when the Act Prohibiting the Importation of Slaves was passed.  Though the law prohibited slave trade, it was enforced poorly and some slave trade continued.  The number of slaves traded, however, diminished rapidly. In 1790, there were 697,524 slaves in the United States.  By 1850, the population in the United States was 23,191,876, of which 3,204,313 were slaves, about 14% of the total population. The population of Virginia in 1850 was 1,119,348 of which 452,028 were slaves.  There were more slaves in Virginia in 1850 than in any other state.  There were 34,026 slave holding families in Virginia in 1850; 4880 of those held 20-49 slaves on their properties.