Agriculture and farming has been the most prevalent use of slaves.
American Slavery: In America, slavery began with the European settlers. From seventeenth century to late nineteenth century, slavery was prevalent in the United States. Most of them were of African origin who were enslaved by whites, American Indians and also by Free blacks. Their treatment was totally inhuman. Violence was considered a legal right of the owner and in many plantations the overseers whipped the slaves if they did not comply. Their movements were restricted, and escapees were brutally punished. Apart from the physical torture, their family members could be sold off anytime as per the master’s wish.
There were some incidents where the slaves killed the master or the overseer. Sometimes they retaliated by burning the barns or killing the horses or slowing down the work (Genovese, 1967)1 But these were few isolated incidents. Mostly they were treated as an expensive investment and apart from food, clothes and shelter, they were also provided medical care. From 1750’s, the awareness regarding slavery as a social evil started to spread. Voices were being raised for abolition of slavery. In 1808, the import of slaves was stopped legally, still it continued till 1860. Slaves provided free labor that was a major factor in the growth of industries in the US. Even the fortune 500 companies owe their growth to them and it is said the existence of slaves financed the two world wars. But it had a negative sociological impact on the entire African race.
Islamic Slavery: Slavery has been accepted by all major juristic schools of Islam. They supposedly benefitted from the Islamic dispensations and their condition improved as compared to the pre-islamic society. Islamic law covers slavery at length and sees it as an exceptional circumstance. But practically, there was massive import of slaves from non-muslim places to fulfill the deamnd of slaves in the Muslim society.