By Christine E. Sears (auth.)
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Extra resources for American Slaves and African Masters: Algiers and the Western Sahara, 1776–1820
In those cases, captured individuals granted religion and faith in God a central role in their stories. They referred directly and often to their belief in God, individual prayers, and communal practices. “Far Distant from Our Country” 37 Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spaniards discussed the availability of religious services and observances. A group of colonial Americans freed from Algiers in 1681 told Cotton Mather that they “formed a society” to pray together on Sunday nights, and their prayer fortified their spirits against their difficult captivity and apostasy.
10 Of course, Americans could do little against this seeming economic conspiracy because they were relatively powerless in the 1780s and 1790s. New to the Mediterranean diplomatic game after declaring independence, “Far Distant from Our Country” 31 Americans had not the means—or perhaps the desire—to pay tribute or ransom for their men. The United States, “weak and poor”11 after independence, possessed neither the navy nor the means to build one under the Articles of Confederation, and ratification of the Constitution did little to alter the shortage of funds in the new nation.
Further, many did not endure lifelong slavery. 44 Barbary corsairs claimed that they seized their European and American slaves at war. In doing so, they engaged in a long-standing practice. Historically, warfare made slaves. From the Crusades on, medieval Europeans and Middle Easterners enslaved many war captives rather than slaughtering all those defeated. Both sides allowed redemption, but invariably many remained slaves for their lifetime. The French used Spanish and Portuguese prisoners of war as galley slaves, a fate from which they theoretically could be released, but rarely were.
American Slaves and African Masters: Algiers and the Western Sahara, 1776–1820 by Christine E. Sears (auth.)