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Marcus Braun and “White Slavery”

Shifting Perceptions of People Smuggling and Human Trafficking in America at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Kristofer Allerfeldt


When the history of American abolitionist legislation is assessed—if it gets any consideration at all—the 1910 White Slave Act is often regarded as a flawed overreaction to a largely imagined, or at least exaggerated, problem. However, the law, usually known as the Mann Act, has arguably influenced US trafficking policy more than any other single law since the 13th Amendment. This article examines the career, ambitions and misfortunes of one of the leading figures behind the Act, the immigration investigator Marcus Braun, to show how the concept of slavery was manipulated. It also shows how the problem of trafficking evolved over the opening years of the twentieth century and how the legacy of the Mann Act has continued to affect American attitudes toward sex and morality and their ties to slavery ever since.

Thomas Mareite


Chile’s abolition of slavery (1823) has commonly been framed within a self-congratulatory narrative that emphasizes the philanthropic role of republican elites and the peaceful nature of slave emancipation. The traditional narrative not only views abolition as an ideologically inspired gift from the elites, but also underscores Chile’s exceptionalism vis-à-vis other South American emancipation processes—in Chile, unlike in the rest of the continent, the eradication of slavery was supposedly both politically and socially insignificant. This article challenges two of this narrative’s assumptions: first, that consensus characterized the abolition of slavery in Chile, and second, that abolition was simply a philanthropic concession from the new nation’s republican elites. Instead, this study highlights how officials, slaveholders and enslaved people transformed slavery and its dismantlement into a contested issue. It also explores the proactive role that enslaved people played in undermining the institution of slavery throughout Chile, ultimately leading to its abolition.

Walking Capital

The Economic Function and Social Location of Babylonian Servitude

Seth Richardson


This contribution looks at Babylonian slaves and servants as they appear in 322 Old Babylonian letters. This corpus has not been used for this purpose before, and now reveals that the primary economic functions of slaves had to do with information and credit in an economic environment of mercantilism, rather than with labor in the agricultural sector. Cuneiform letters, rarely mentioning work, instead emphasized the independent movement of slaves, their delegation as proxies to their masters to conduct business, and their capacity to serve as collateral for loans. The analysis of this evidence permits a deeper look at the ethics of care and control that conditioned the relations of masters and slaves, and what we can now say about the personhood of slaves and servants.

Thomas M. McCoog S.J.


The British Isles and Ireland tested the self-proclaimed adaptability and flexibility of the new Society of Jesus. A mission to Ireland highlighted the complexities and ended in failure in the early 1580s, not to be revived until 1598. The fabled Jesuit mission to England in 1580 conceived in wistful optimism was baptized with blood with the execution of Edmund Campion in 1581 and the consequent political manoeuvres of Robert Persons. The Scottish mission began in December 1581. The three missions remained distinct in the pre-suppression period despite an occasional proposal for integration. The English mission was the largest, the bloodiest, the most controversial, and the only one to progress to full provincial status. The government tried to suppress it; the Benedictines tried to complement it; the vicars apostolic tried to control it; and foreign Jesuits tried to recognize it. Nonetheless, the English province forged a corporate identity that even withstood the suppression.

Fernanda Bretones Lane, Guilherme de Paula Costa Santos and Alain El Youssef


This article analyzes the ways that discussions regarding the abolition of the slave trade held at the Congress of Vienna (1814–1815) affected slavery in the Iberian empires. Drawing from newspaper coverage, diplomatic correspondence, and conference minutes, we reassess the conditions under which Portuguese and Spanish agents negotiated with their British counterparts; highlight the Iberian political dilemmas that surfaced at the Congress; and elucidate the plenipotentiaries’ subsequent resolutions addressing the transatlantic slave trade. As a result of the talks held in Vienna, Spanish subjects in Cuba and Portuguese subjects in Brazil established political and diplomatic strategies to support slavery in order to maintain their positions in the world market of tropical goods. In other words, while slavery was undergoing reconfiguration in Brazil and Cuba, slave-owners and their political representatives were forced to engage with the hegemonic, abolitionist discourse systematically established by the British at the Congress in order to formulate their proslavery response. The article thus demonstrates that the Congress of Vienna was integral to the international consolidation of the politics of “second slavery” in the Americas. In other words, Brazil and Cuba were forced to engage with the hegemonic discourse systematically established by the British at the Congress in reconfiguring slavery and formulating their proslavery defense.

The “Fused Horizon” of Abolitionism and Islam

Historicism, the Quran and the Global History of Abolition

Nathaniel Mathews


This article considers slavery and abolition in Muslim societies globally as a historical and historicist problem. I argue that the changes in popular consensus among Muslims about the desirability and permissibility of owning slaves is primarily due to a Gadamerian “fused horizon” of abolitionism and Islam. I theorize one site of its emergence from interreligious African cooperation in New World slave rebellions. By studying slavery as a global process and parochializing the boundaries between the civilizational and regional histories of Islam, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, there emerges a radical critique of slavery and capitalism that combines elements of both abolitionism and Islam. The historical experience of enslaved people provides an experiential and evidential basis for this new hermeneutical horizon.

In Memoriam

Joseph C. Miller, University of Virginia

Mapping Uncertainty

The Collapse of Oyo and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, 1816–1836

Henry B. Lovejoy


This historical GIS experiment attempts to map the collapse of the kingdom of Oyo alongside the departure of slave ships from the Bight of Benin. The achievements and drawbacks of mapping Africa’s pre-colonial past require an overview of the sources and methods used to illustrate the dissolution and formation of inland places during an intense period of intra-African conflict. By collating geopolitical data, it is possible to represent on annual maps the likely origins and migrations of diverse groups of enslaved people who were involved in the warfare in the Bight of Benin hinterland between 1816 and 1836. During this period, an unknown number of captives were enslaved and forced into an internal slave trade, most especially into the Sokoto Caliphate, while over 75,000 individuals involuntarily boarded European slave ships leaving for Brazil, Cuba and, due to British abolition efforts, Sierra Leone.