White over black: American attitudes toward the Moores, 1550-1812


“As suggested by Sandys’s remark, an equation had developed between African Negroes and slavery. Primarily, the associations were with the Portuguese and Spanish, with captivity, with buying and selling in Guinea and in America. While the Negro’s exact status in America was not entirely clear, neither was it conceived as an off-brand of apprenticeship or servitude: Hawkins assumed as his crest a “demi-Moor” (plainly Negroid) “captive and bound.”

“Nor was Portuguese or Spanish slavery regarded as being of a mild, protective sort:

The Portuguese doe marke them as we doe Sheepe with a hot Iron, which the Moores call Crimbo, the poore slaves stand all in a row … and sing Mundele que sumbela he Carey ha belelelle, and thus the poore rogues are beguiled, for the PortugaIs make them beleeve that they that have not the marke is not accounted a man of any account in Brasil or in Portugall, and thos they bring the poore Moores to be in a most damnable bondage under the colour of love. “

“Slavery, therefore, frequently appeared to rest upon the “perpetual enmity” which existed between Christians on the one hand and “infidels” and “pagans” on the other. sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Englishmen at home could read Scores of accounts concerning the miserable fate of Englishmen and other Christians taken into “captivity” by Turks and Moors and oppressed by the “verie worst manner of bondmanship and slaverie.”



“An Entire Commentary upon the Whole Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Ephesians • . . (London, 16[41-]43), 694-95 (italics mine). Too late for incorporation in the text. I came across a discussion published in 1627 which described five varieties of “servants.” The author, a minister, used that term except for one category, the “semi belli, as these that are taken slaves in the wars.” In this context he explained that “this curse to be a servant was laid. first upon a disobedient sonne Cham, and wee see to this day, that the Moores, Chams posteritie. are sold like slaves yet.” This passage suggests how dearly defined a condition slavery was for Englishmen and that they associated it with Negroes, but of course it fails to disclose who is selling Negroes as slaves “yet.” John Weemse [Le., Weemes]. The Portraiture of the Image of God in Man . . • (London. 1627) , 279.

“The Body of Liberties made equally clear that captivity in a just war constituted legitimate grounds for slavery.The practice had begun during the first major conflict with the Indians,the Pequot War of 1637. Some of the Pequot captives had been shipped aboard the Desire, to Providence Island; accordingly,the first in England arrived in exchange for men taken captive in a just That this provenance played an important role in shaping Jews about Negroes is suggested by the first recorded plea by an Englishman on the North American continent for the establishment of an African slave trade. Emanuel Downing, in a letter to his brother-in-law John Winthrop in 1645, described the advantages: “If upon a Just warre [with the Narragansett Indians] the Lord should deliver them into our hands, wee might easily have men women and children enough to exchange for Moores, which will be more gaynefull pillage for us then wee conceive, for I doe not see how wee can thrive untill wee get into a stock of slaves sufficient to doe all our business, for our children’s children will hardly see this great Continent filled with people, soe that our servants will still desire freedom to plant for themselves, and not stay but for verie great wages. And I suppose you know verie well how wee shall mayneteyne 20 Moores cheaper than one Englishe servant.” 

“These two facets of justifiable enslavement-punishment for crime and captivity in war-were closely related. Slavery as punishment probably derived from analogy with captivity, since presumably a king or magistrates could mercifully spare and enslave a man whose crime had forfeited his right to life. The analogy had not been worked out by commentators in England, but a fairly clear linkage between crime and captivity seems to have existed in the minds of New Englanders concerning Indian slavery. “

“A contemporary account of Bacon’s Rebellion caustically described one of the ringleaders, Richard Lawrence, as a per­ l son who had eclipsed his learning and abilities “in the dark embraces of a Blackamoore, his slave: And that in so fond a Maner, … to the noe mean Scandle and alfrunt of all the Vottrisses in or 82 about towne.”

“From the first, then, vis-a.-vis the Negro the concept embedded in the term Christian seems to have conveyed much of the idea and feeling of we as against they: to be Christian was to be civilized, rather than barbarous, English rather than African, white rather than black. The term Christian itself proved to have remarkable, elasticity, for by the end of the seventeenth century it was being used to define a species of slavery which had altogether lost any connection with explicit religious difference.”

“In the Virginia code of 1705, for example, the term sounded much more like a definition of race than of religion: “And for a further christian care and usage of all christian servants, Be it also enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That no Negroes, mulatto, or Indians, although Christians, or Jews, Moors, Mahometans, or other infidels, shall, at any time, purchase any christian servant, nor any other, except of their own complexion, or such as are declared slaves by this act.” By this time “Christianity” had somehow become intimately and explicitly linked with complexion.”

“The 1705 statute S declared “That all servants imported and brought into this country, by sea or land, who were not Christians in their native country, (except Turks and Moors in amity with her majesty, and others that can make due proof of their being free in England, or any other christian country. before they were shipped, in order to transportation hither) shall be accounted and be slaves, and as such be here bought and sold notwithstanding a conversion to Christianity after wards.” 

As late as 1753 the Virginia slave code anachronistically defined slavery in terms of religion when everyone knew that slavery had for generations been based on the racial and not the religious difference. In significant contrast, the colonists referred to Negroes and by the eighteenth century to blacks and to Africans, but almost never to Negro heathens or pagans or savages. Most suggestive of all, there l’1 L.t  I’ seems to have been something of a shift during the seventeenth century in the terminology which Englishmen in the colonies ap­ tt1 plied to themselves. From the initially most common term Christian, at mid-century there was a marked drift toward English and \-..V free. After abou¡, taking the colonies as a whole, a new term appeared-white. 

By 1676 it was possi. ble in Virginia to assail a man for “eclipsing” himself in the “darke imbraces of a Blackamoore” as if “Duty consisted all together in the Antiphety of Complexions.” In Maryland ‘l–revised law miscegenation (1692) retained white and English but dropped the term Christian-a symptomatic modification. As early as 1664 a Bermuda statute (aimed, ironically, at protecting Negroes from  brutal abandonment) required that the “last Master” of senile Negroes “provide for them such accommodations as shall be convenient for Creatures of that hue and color until their death.” By the end of the ­tenth century dark had become an independent rationale’ for enslavement: in 1709 Samuel Sewall noted in his diary that a “Spaniard” had petitioned the Massachusetts Council for freedom but that “Capt. Teat alleged that all of that Color were Slaves.” 123 Here was a barrier between “we” and which was visible and permanent: the Negro could not become a white man. Not, at least, as yet.

It is worth making still closer scrutiny of the terminology which Englishmen employed when referring both to themselves and to the two peoples they enslaved, for this terminology affords the best single means of probing the content of their sense of difference. The terms Indian and Negro were both borrowed from the Hispanic languages, the one originally deriving from (mistaken) geographical locality and the other from human complexion. When referring to the Indians the English colonists either used that proper name or called them savages, a term which reflected primarily their view of Indians as uncivilized, or occasionally (in Maryland especially) pagans, which gave more explicit expression to the missionary urge. When they to the colonists occasionally spoke of themselves as Christians but after the early years almost always as English.

          Source: White over black: American attitudes toward the Negro, 1550-1812 by Winthrop D. Jordan


First Three English Books On America: 1511-1555 A.D


In  The First Three English Books On America we find continuous commentary on the Moors spelled in  the book as Moores or blacke Moores.

“The three Books are all the oceanic voyages performed by the English in the reign of Henry VIII, which we have been able to trace. It was under Edward, that English sailors first began to creep down the African coast. In the first voyage to Barbary, there were two Moores, being noblemen, whereof one was of the King’s blood conveyed by the said Master Thomas Windham into their country out of England. Your humble at your commandment, James Alday”

“There is a Section called “How the King of Portugal Subdued certain places in India: and the rich City o Malacha” The special significance of these voyages lay in the then accredited proprietorship (through the Papal Bull, reprinted at pp. 201-204) of the Portuguese to the entire continent of Africa; and the intentional and studied ignorance of its coastline, in which the World was kept by that nation. Every English voyage to its west coast was therefore at once an act of revolt against the Papacy, and a challenge to the pretensions of Portugal. The First Voyage to Barbary in 1551, Described by James, Alday, Servant to Sebastian Cabot.”

“The original of the first voyage for traffic into the Kingdom of Marocco in Barbarie, begun in the year 1551, with a tall ship called the Lion of London, whereof went as captain Master Thomas Windham, as appeareth by this extract of a letter of James Alday, to the worshipful master Michale Locke, which Alday profetith himself to have been the first inventor of this trade.”

“The African sea coast, so honorably and so patiently discovered, was (by all laws, human and divine, hitherto accepted) the possession of its brave discoverers. It was, therefore, a new impulse, that made our English ships, passing the familiar Straits of Gibraltar on their left hand, to go forward southward, first to Barbary, and then to Guinea; cost what it might. Discoveries are made by successive steps, one after another; and the passage of English ships around the world and to the Eastern seas was but the succession and development of these first attempts to Marocco. All that we know of these Barbary voyages is preserved to us by Hakluyt, who collected his information fort to fifty years after the event and has thus transmitted it to us.”

“This book was originally published prior to 1923 and represents a reproduction of important historical work, maintaining the same format as the original work. While some publishers have opted to apply OCR (optical character recognition) technology to the process, the preservers believe this leads to sub-optimal results (frequent typographical errors, strange characters, and confusing formatting) and does not adequately preserve the historical character of the original artifact.”

“The preservers believe this work is culturally important in its original archival form. While we strive to adequately clean and digitally enhance the original work, there are occasionally instances where imperfections such as blurred or missing pages, poor pictures or errant marks may have been introduced due to either the quality of the original work or the scanning process itself. Despite these occasional imperfections, the preservers have brought it back into print as part of our ongoing global book preservation commitment, providing customers with access to the best possible historical reprints.”

“He is a moore and is name Raia Siripada. He is King of a greate poure, and hat vunder hym many other Kynges, Ilandes, and cities” See Page 257. “

“The king is a Moore, and is named Raia Sultan Mauzor. The lands of Molucca are five in number and are thus name, Tarenate, Tidore, Mutir, Macchian, and Bacchian. Of these, Tarente is the Chiefest. See Page 258.”

“Furthermore, all that is written hereafter of this Kyng and these regions, they learned by information of a Moore that was in the land of Timor. He affirmed the said Kynge owned kynges under his empyre, and hathe a porte in the sea name Canthan. See Page 260.”

West Africa 1743. Year: 1743. This great Historic Map print shows ancient “Aethiopia included West Africa from Gabon in the south to Niger, Mali, and Mauritania in the north.

“The chief city of Ethiope where this great Emperor is resident, is called Amaciz being a fair city, whose inhabitants are of the color of an olive. There are also many other cities, as the city of Saua upon the river of Nilus where Th[e] emperor is accustomed to remain in the former season. There is likewise a great city named Barbaregaf: And Afcon from whence it is said that the Queene of Saba came to Iresulaem to here the wisdom of Salomon. This citie is but little, yet very fare and one of the chief and tributaries to The [e]mperour of Ethiope. In this province are many execdynge higher mountains upon the which is said to be the earthly Paradise: And some say that there are trees of the sun and moon whereof the antiquity maketh mention: yet that none can pass thither by reason of great deserts of a hundredth days journey. Also beyond these mountains is the cape, Buona Speranza. And to have said thus much of Afrike it may suffice. ‘See Page 374.”

1737 map Hase, Johann Matthias, 1684-1742.
“Africa secundum legitimas projectionis stereographicae regulas et juxta recentissimas relationes et observationes in subsidium vocatis quoque veterum Leonis Africani. . . .” Copperplate map, with added color, 45 x 57 cm. [Historic Maps Collection]
“the King being a blacke moor (although he not so blacke as the rest) See page 376.

King Raia Siripada, whose kingdom is detailed In ‘Magellan’s Voyage; the diaries of Antonio Pigafetta’ in the area of Brunei in Borneo; approx 1521


Source:  The First Three English Books On America: ?1511-1555 A.D. : Being C…

English Institutions And The American Moor


James Alton James (17 September 1864, Jefferson, Wisconsin – 12 February 1962, Evanston, Illinois) was a United States educator and historian. He spent two years at the Platteville Normal School, and then, after teaching high school two years to pay for the University, entered the University of Wisconsin, where he graduated as valedictorian with an LL.B. in 1888. He received a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1893.

He was superintendent of schools in Darlington, Wisconsin, 1888–90; professor of history in Cornell CollegeIowa, 1893-97. He became a professor of history at Northwestern University in 1897, becoming professor emeritus in 1935. He was head of the history department for over two decades, and was also the chairman of the graduate student work at the university 1917-1931. He was a member of several educational and historical societies.

In his book English Institutions and the American Indian: By James Alton James is found the following passages in relation to Moors.

“By far the largest number of slaves belonged to the first of the three classes, that is, captives taken in war. “Man-stealing was made a criminal offense.”

It is argued that children born in the colony were not slaves; upon this point, however, there are wide differences of opinion. See Moore, History of Slavery in Mass., 15-28 “

“The discussion pertains chiefly to negroes. “Public Sentiment and opinion against Slavery were first aroused and stimulated in America in the latter part of the seventeenth century by Sympathy for the Christian captives, Dutch and English, who were enslaved by the Turks and the pirates of Northern Africa.” Whereas y unnatural practice in this state of holding certain persons in Slavery, more particularly those transported from Africa & y’ children born of such persons is contrary to y’ laws of Nature, a scandal to profiteers of the Religion of Jesus, & a disgrace to all good Governments, more especially to such who are struggling against Oppression & in favor of y’ natural & unalienable Rights of  human nature.”

The dread and alarm through the Peqoud attacks caused the colonists to take captives when possible. Governor Winthrop, reporting in 1637 an attack and defeat of this tribe, says:

” The Prisoners were divided, some of those of ye river and the rest to us. Of these we sent ye A letter of I645 to Governor Winthrop discloses the Puritan inner consciousness on the subject of slavery It suggests another method of dealing with the Indian captives A war with the Narragansett is verie considerable to this plantation for I doubt whether it be not synne in us having power in our hands to suffer them to maintain the worship of the devil which their powwayes often doe 21

If upon a just warre the Lord should deliver them into our hands wee might easily have men women & children enough to exchange for Moores which will be more gaynefull pilladge for us than we conceive for I don’t see how we can thrive until we get into a stock of slaves sufficient to doe all our business for our children’s children will hardly see this great Continent filled with people soe that our servants will still desire freedom to plant for themselves & not stay but for verie great wages

And I suppose you know very well how wee shall maintain 20 Moores cheaper than one Englishe servant. A similar view with regard to the desirability of negroes and the propriety of an exchange of Indians for them was maintained by the United Colonies.

In the early years of this confederacy of I643 it was agreed that Indians were no longer to be kept in prison because of the cost of maintenance. The delinquents or their tribe might make reparation. If this were not done then the magistrates were to Deliver up the Indians ceased to the party or parties in damaged either to secure or to be shipped out & exchanged for negroes as the cause will justly beare English Institutions and the American Indian.”

Click Here to Read Moor English Institutions and the American Indian: By James Alton James