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Slavery has existed in many ancient cultures. Slavery appeared in the first civilizations such as Sumer in Mesopotamia. Ancient slavery represents a mixture of debt-slavery, the enslavement of prisoners of war and punishment for crime.
In ancient times in different parts of Africa slavery was widespread. Many of the pre-existing local African slave systems began supplying captives for slave markets outside Africa when in the 16th century the trans-Saharan slave trade, Indian Ocean slave trade and Atlantic slave trade began.
The first slaves were brought to the Americas in 1619 to Jamestown, VA. About 60 years later, the slave trade was booming in the British Colonies. European colonies depended on African slaves, as they were important in the production of sugar and coffee. The journey from Africa to the Americas was a horror that many did not survive.
Slavery has existed in all regions of Asia throughout its history and some forms of it still exist today.
Slavery was practiced widely in various forms in Europe during the Middle Ages, in the form of captivity, serfdom, and other types of unfreedom. Slaves became a form of internal or trans-border currency. As more and more of Europe Christianized, large-scale slave trade moved to more distant sources.
Some of the first countries that put an end to slavery, were located in Western Europe, around 1500. The Abolitionist Movement aimed to put an end to slavery as a practice. During the American Civil War, there were more than 4 million slaves working in the United States. The major political issue of the Civil War was the expansion of slavery from the Southern states to the Western States. Northern abolitionists wanted to stop the spread of slavery and even put an end to the practice altogether. "Emancipation Proclamation" changed the status of all enslaved Americans from slavery to freedom.
The end of slavery didn’t come in the 19th century and it continues into the 21st century. There are many forms of slavery in modern world, all of which involve people being forced to work against their will.