Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas

Restoring the Links

Gwendolyn Midlo Hall

Publication Year: 2005

Enslaved peoples were brought to the Americas from many places in Africa, but a large majority came from relatively few ethnic groups. Drawing on a wide range of materials in four languages as well as on her lifetime study of slave groups in the New World, Gwendolyn Midlo Hall explores the persistence of African ethnic identities among the enslaved over four hundred years of the Atlantic slave trade. Hall traces the linguistic, economic, and cultural ties shared by large numbers of enslaved Africans, showing that despite the fragmentation of the diaspora many ethnic groups retained enough cohesion to communicate and to transmit elements of their shared culture. Hall concludes that recognition of the survival and persistence of African ethnic identities can fundamentally reshape how people think about the emergence of identities among enslaved Africans and their descendants in the Americas, about the ways shared identity gave rise to resistance movements, and about the elements of common African ethnic traditions that influenced regional creole cultures throughout the Americas.Drawing on a wide range of primary and secondary materials in four languages, Hall explores the persistence of African ethnic identity among slaves in the Americas and the Caribbean. 

The first recorded instance of syphilis in Europe was made in 1494 when it ravaged the French troops that were besieging the city-state of Naples. It is thought that they … ah, shared the favors of some local ladies … with their Spanish allies who joined them for the seige.  The Spanish got it from Columbus’ returning sailors, who got it from the Americas.

Actually, the origin of syphilis is hotly debated. But the theory I just explained is the “traditional” explanation. If the theory is true, syphilis was the only New World disease brought to the Old World. It wasn’t exactly a fair exchange: measles, smallpox, and cholera are just the more famous of innumerable other plagues Europeans and Africans accidentally brought across the Atlantic.

The Folsom Point was crafted from flint some 10,000 years ago. Discovered in the 1920s on a joint expedition by this Museum and the Denver Museum of Natural History, this spear point is among the most important archaeological finds ever made on this continent.

The discovery of the Folsom Point, which was found embedded in a bison that has been extinct for 10,000 years, provided evidence that humans arrived in North America much earlier than scientists previously thought.

- American Museum of Natural Hustory