After having read the text you should try to answer
Nicole`s and Stefanie`s questions!

Slaves are men and women who are somebody else's property. Their owner can buy and sell them just like any object. There have been slaves in many different parts of the world, and in many different times in history. There are still slaves today in parts of northern Africa.

When Europeans discovered the Americas, they soon found they could make a lot of money growing sugar in the West Indies and Brazil. But the wars and diseases they brought with them had killed off most of the native peoples there, so they needed workers. Growing sugar was hard, hot work, and Europeans were not prepared to do it themselves. Slaves from Africa solved their problem. Africans worked long hours cutting tough sugar canes under the blazing sun, and in the hot sugar-boiling sheds. From the late 17th century, slaves were also working in tobacco and cotton plantations, in North America.

The owners' comfortable lifestyle depended on the slaves. Slaves worked in their houses, cooking, cleaning, and caring for their children. Slaves looked after their horses and carriages and tended their pleasant gardens. Since slaves were so useful, owners sometimes treated them quite well. But they were harsh and cruel when they feared trouble. Owners were often afraid. There were soon many more slaves than Europeans.

Slaves did not accept their lives easily. Their gospel songs (spirituals) remind us how they longed for Africa, and hated their captivity. Sometimes they rebelled.

Slavery was becoming less profitable in the early 19th century and at the same time many white Americans and Europeans were beginning to realize how wrong it was. The British parliament passed a law abolishing slavery throughout the empire in 1833. It came into effect the following year. But some slaves in British colonies were not completely free until 1838.

In the USA there were few slaves in the Northern states by this time, but Americans in the southern states fought for the right to own slaves. In 1863, during the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation for the emancipation of slaves. Two years later, after the end of the war, the Congress of the USA abolished slavery throughout the country.

(taken from "Oxford Children`s Encyclopedia", OUP 96)


1. Where are still slaves today?
2. Where did slaves often work?
3. What did slaves have to do for the rich people?
4. Did the slaves accept their lives easily?
5. What were their songs about?
6. What did they sometimes do?
7. When did the British parliament pass a law abolishing slavery throughout the empire?
8. Were all slaves in the British colonies completely free in 1833?

9. What did Americans in the southern states fight for?
10. When was slavery abolished in the USA?


Nicole and Stefanie

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