Slavery: Why wasn't the Mexicans and Central Americans not involved?

Nov 2017
20
Houston, TX
#1
We all know once the Europeans came to colonize; later to be the United States; they needed labor to work the lands; mostly preferring free labor. I was told that when they found the Indians and took the land, they asked the Indians to work the land as well, but the Indians refused; so they killed most of them/or started the Trail of Tears. (Correct me if I'm wrong in any part)

My question is how come the Europeans who colonized America did not go to Mexico and the Caribbean to get slaves? From what I know, the Indians said that they would not work the land, the Europeans that was still in Europe said they would not send prisoners to work the land as well. Why not go for the Hispanics that was closer to America versus going way to Africa to get slaves even though Africa was enslaving their own people themselves? It would have saved time and probably more work would have gotten time faster.
 
Jun 2015
5,487
UK
#2
they did. Though you have your story a bit wrong.

Once the Spanish and Portuguese reached the Americas, they saw the resources, and worked the natives as slaves, to access the gold, silver, and other resources.

They simultaneously had reached Africa, and had made contact with trading kingdoms who had accessible slave markets.

As the native Americans were dying from being overworked, they noted that Africans were more adapted to hard labour and had more experience in growing crops en masse. So with the demand for workers, and much spare land, they founded plantations in the Americas. If it were not for native Americans handling the conditions well, then the transatlantic slave trade may not have happened to the degree it did.
 
Jan 2010
3,983
Atlanta, Georgia USA
#3
It's quite a bit more complicated than both of the above answers.

First, the Europeans did not kill the Native Americans because they wouldn't work. Most died as the result of diseases brought from Europe (and later Africa) to which the indigenous people had no immunity. On the mainland, they kept working the land, as they had always done, but the Europeans pocked a fairly share of the proceeds--it was sort of a feudal arrangement.

Second, many of the deaths took place in the Caribbean Islands and the importation of African slaves began fairly shortly after the discovery--but really began in large numbers the introduction of sugar cane in the middle of the 17th C.Slavery in the Caribbean - International Slavery Museum, Liverpool museums . African slaves were used in sugar production in South America and in the mines in South America

Finally, Spanish and Portuguese on the mainland relied on the indigenous people to work the land on haciendas and ranchos, and they're still there. although now largely of mixed European and indigenous ancestry. Economic history of Mexico - Wikipedia
 
Nov 2017
20
Houston, TX
#4
they did. Though you have your story a bit wrong.

Once the Spanish and Portuguese reached the Americas, they saw the resources, and worked the natives as slaves, to access the gold, silver, and other resources.

They simultaneously had reached Africa, and had made contact with trading kingdoms who had accessible slave markets.

As the native Americans were dying from being overworked, they noted that Africans were more adapted to hard labour and had more experience in growing crops en masse. So with the demand for workers, and much spare land, they founded plantations in the Americas. If it were not for native Americans handling the conditions well, then the transatlantic slave trade may not have happened to the degree it did.

Thanks. You cleared plenty up. Do you have any sources to back this up? It will be appreciated. Please post them when you can add them.
 
Feb 2012
3,781
Portugal
#5
The Portuguese who were the colonial power in Brazil used native slaves and African slaves for cultivation of sugar cane and production of sugar, and it is important to notice the practice of slavery already occurred among the Natives and Africans and initially the Portuguese bought slaves from the Natives, latter the Bandeirantes would hunt the Natives. What happened is that the Jesuits took the defence of the Natives and were able to convince the crown to take action agains't enslavement of the Natives, one of those Jesuits was father António Vieira. However it is important to notice that things were much more complicated and not always happened like they were legislated. The slave trade from Africa however continued.
About the question of the OP it is important to understand the territories mentioned were under different colonial powers.

Slavery in Brazil
 
Last edited:

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,085
Portugal
#6
We all know once the Europeans came to colonize; later to be the United States; they needed labor to work the lands; mostly preferring free labor. I was told that when they found the Indians and took the land, they asked the Indians to work the land as well, but the Indians refused; so they killed most of them/or started the Trail of Tears. (Correct me if I'm wrong in any part)

My question is how come the Europeans who colonized America did not go to Mexico and the Caribbean to get slaves? From what I know, the Indians said that they would not work the land, the Europeans that was still in Europe said they would not send prisoners to work the land as well. Why not go for the Hispanics that was closer to America versus going way to Africa to get slaves even though Africa was enslaving their own people themselves? It would have saved time and probably more work would have gotten time faster.
Your doubt seems a bit confusing.

The Spanish when arrived to America did in fact enslaved and explored the “Indians”. but quite soon the Catholic monarchs recognized the Indians as their subjects, so they couldn’t be enslaved. Naturally from the law to the practices there was a path to follow.

With the high mortality among the Indians and the availability and resistance of the African slaves they became a cheap option even if their source was a bit far.

By the way this sentence: “Why not go for the Hispanics that was closer to America versus…” doesn’t make sense. The Indians were not Hispanics previous to the contact to the Hispanics (from Spain).

Once the Spanish and Portuguese reached the Americas, they saw the resources, and worked the natives as slaves, to access the gold, silver, and other resources.

They simultaneously had reached Africa, and had made contact with trading kingdoms who had accessible slave markets.
The Portuguese (and the Spanish pirates) reached Africa, even the sub-Saharan Africa well before reaching America. It was not simultaneously.

The African slave trade predates the discovery of America in 1492. The Portuguese raided and traded slaves in Africa to sell them in Portugal and to re-export them to other places in Europe.
 
Likes: notgivenaway
Nov 2010
6,999
Cornwall
#8
Also - I think you'll find that after the odd battle like Mobile and the Guerra de la Roca, the relationship between Spanish and 'Indians' in North America was fairly co-existing. That's why all those missions are out there. And that includes Apaches and Commanches.

This phrase of yours:
so they killed most of them/or started the Trail of Tears. (Correct me if I'm wrong in any part)

...applies to the later 'Americans'. Not 'Europeans'.
 
Likes: Futurist
Jun 2017
2,380
Connecticut
#9
We all know once the Europeans came to colonize; later to be the United States; they needed labor to work the lands; mostly preferring free labor. I was told that when they found the Indians and took the land, they asked the Indians to work the land as well, but the Indians refused; so they killed most of them/or started the Trail of Tears. (Correct me if I'm wrong in any part)

My question is how come the Europeans who colonized America did not go to Mexico and the Caribbean to get slaves? From what I know, the Indians said that they would not work the land, the Europeans that was still in Europe said they would not send prisoners to work the land as well. Why not go for the Hispanics that was closer to America versus going way to Africa to get slaves even though Africa was enslaving their own people themselves? It would have saved time and probably more work would have gotten time faster.
No, the trail of tears was an American thing(and because SCOTUS did say no, I guess it's more fair to say a Jacksonian Democrat kind of thing) involving the "five civilized tribes" in the southwest that were deported and relocated to make room for white settlers. This was less than 200 years ago, and had nothing to do with labor, if not for trail of tears they'd be five sizable native tribes in the US southwest.

The Spainards were ruling Mexico and South America and they weren't making English style colonies they sort of just stumbled into conquering two existing empires and sent people to run it. The natives and eventually the hispanic population were people ruled by the Spanish(who at the time were much more powerful than the English), so don't think kidnapping another country's inhabitants was an option. It's not like in North America where the Natives were seen as separate entities, in Spanish America they were the population, not an outside group. Anyhow natives were put to work by the Spainards especially in South America where there was a lot of silver to mine and the natives were dying at extremely high rates, that raised a practical and/or moral issue. This is why African slaves were imported by the Spaniards, though the labor being free was certainly an advantage to them, it was a secondary concern.
 
Likes: robto
Feb 2012
3,781
Portugal
#10
That's a good point there were settled indians that lived in cities and pueblos and semi-nomad Indian tribes like the indians from the great plains and the Apache but also living in forests and different environments of course the semi-nomad also existed in Central and South America though the settled are more visible and vice versa to North America. This seems to have played a role since the settled were closer to the European way of living.
 

Similar History Discussions