By Christine E. Sears (auth.)
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Additional info for American Slaves and African Masters: Algiers and the Western Sahara, 1776–1820
When priests failed to provide it, the enslaved commented upon the fact. ” Absolutely “no relief whatsoever” had been provided to the wretched slave by any Catholic fathers in Algiers. O’Brien did not identify the slave by name, country, or religion. Regardless of these facts, O’Brien thought that the Catholic clergy should have attended to the man’s needs. ”42 Bad mouthing Catholic priests while in Algiers and still in need was bad policy. Given the help that Catholic priests and orders provided and the fact that most slaves were Catholic, it is intriguing that some Americans did not convert.
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.
Slaves in Algiers cooperated at times, but at others they wrangled with, stole from, and murdered each other. ”5 Here, we consider those many communities first by looking at how American and European slaves interacted and then how Americans viewed one another compared to European slaves. Though class and position divided them, enslaved Americans articulated an American identity in opposition to a Muslim or European one. At the same time, they used identity and nationality flexibly to suit their purposes at any given time.
American Slaves and African Masters: Algiers and the Western Sahara, 1776–1820 by Christine E. Sears (auth.)