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The African Slave Trade & European Attitudes

In The African Slave Trade by Basil Davidson, the author traces the development of attitudes on the part of European settlers not only toward black slaves but toward the Indian encountered on the frontier. The slave trade developed at the same time as Europe began exploring new realms and encountering new peoples, and it was necessary for the white European to develop some an attitude which placed himself and the "noble savage" he encountered in the wild on some sort of scale. The idea of the noble savage would give way to the view that the savage was simply inferior, but in the beginning explorers like Charles Wheeler saw the savage as closer to nature and thus more noble and happier in contrast to the European:

A Guinean. . . by treading in the paths prescrib'd by his ancestors, paths natural, pleasant, and diverting, is in the plain road to be a good and happy man; but the European has sought so many inventions, and has endeavour'd to put so many restrictions upon nature, that it would be next to a miracle if he were either happy or good (99).

This attitude would be seen in antislavery campaigns as some Euro


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The African Slave Trade & European Attitudes. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 13:55, July 29, 2015, from