Slavery

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A Fatal Contradiction
Part of the Series: Freedom: A History of US
The Declaration of Independence stated "all men are created equal," but the nation's slaves were a glaring exception. The colonial slave trade and brutal life for African Americans on Southern plantations spark the abolition movement and the Underground Railroad. This episode explores the role of Frederick Douglass, and then looks…
The Abolitionists Part 2
Douglass escapes slavery, eventually joining Garrison in the anti-slavery movement. Threatened with capture by his former owner, Douglass flees to England, returning to the U.S. in 1847. He launches his own anti-slavery paper. John Brown meets with Douglass, revealing his radical plan to raise an army, attack plantations and free…
Profit and Loss
Part of the Series: Forgotten Slave Owners
In Barbados, David traces how Britain's slave economy emerged in the 17th century from just a few pioneering plantation owners. As David explores the systemic violence of slavery, in Jamaica he is introduced to some of the brutal tools used to terrorise the slaves and reads from the sadistic diaries…
Master and Slave
Part of the Series: The Unfinished Nation Series
Southern life and the differences in class and culture that arose. Plantations not all pillared mansions with hundreds of slaves. Life of poor white families. The slave family in agricultural and city settings. The contrast in living conditions; the harshness of slave laws. The rich culture built by slaves: religion,…
The Age of Slavery - 1780-1860
Part of the Series: The African Americans
What made cotton so desirable? In the 1790s Americas oldest crops, like tobacco, were depleting farmland and dropping in value. At the same time, the textile industry in Great Britain was exploding, creating enormous international demand for cotton clothing. Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin, which easily separated cotton…
Civil War: Promise of Reconstruction
What the future would hold for slaves after the Civil War was presaged by the Port Royal "experiment" re-created in this program. Gideonite missionaries set out to educate 7,000 slaves abandoned by plantation owners in South Carolina, and to teach them small business management. Tragically, the noble experiment was lost…
A Son of Africa - The Autobiography of a Slave
"The Interesting Narration of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa the African" was the first influential slave autobiography. It caused a sensation when published in 1789, fueling a growing anti-slavery movement in the U.S. and England. This BBC production employs dramatic reconstruction, archival material and interviews with scholars…
Brazil - An Inconvenient History
At first glance Brazil appears to be an alluring playground of exciting carnivals, sultry samba, divine football and a vibrantly diverse people. But behind this dazzling facade lies a disturbing story of historys largest-ever slave population. Astonishingly Brazil, a Portuguese colony, received ten-times more African slaves than the numbers transported…
Sugar Slaves
Australia's slave trade is an untold story. Few people know that the Australian sugar industry was founded on the sweat of men and women enticed or kidnapped from the islands of the South Pacific. Sugar Slaves is the story of that human traffic, euphemistically known as "blackbirding". Between 1863 and…
The Black Atlantic - 1500-1800
Part of the Series: The African Americans
The Black Atlantic explores the truly global experiences that created the African American people. Beginning a full century before the first documented slaves arrived at Jamestown, Virginia, the episode portrays the earliest Africans, both slave and free, who arrived on the North American shores. Soon afterwards, the Trans-Atlantic slave trade…
The Retrieval
1864: as war ravages the nation, on the outskirts of the civil War, it is business as usual for slave-owners and traders. The Retrieval follows Will (Ashton Sanders), a fatherless thirteen-year-old boy who survives by working with a white bounty hunter gang. They send him to earn the trust of…
Slave Revolt and the Abolition of Slavery
The largest slave revolt in history took place in Saint-Domingue in the early 1790s. What made the revolt possible? How did insurgent slaves convince France that slavery should be abolished? Uncover the suspenseful story of Toussaint Louverture's rise to power, which paved the way for an independent Haiti.