The Definition of Slavery in Eighteenth-Century Thinking*

John W. Cairns

in The Legal Understanding of Slavery

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199660469
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745508 | DOI:
The Definition of Slavery in Eighteenth-Century Thinking*

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This chapter discusses the definition of slavery during the 18th century. It first takes a look at the various definitions of slavery during the Roman, early modern, and modern periods. Next, it discusses some 18th-century cases on slavery and studies slavery in terms of ownership and of powers that a person exercises over another. The latter part of the chapter focuses on the opinions of judges on slavery and the nature of slavery, as well as modern law on slavery. It also studies the concept of de facto slavery and the efforts to identify colonial slavery with Roman slavery.

Keywords: 18th-century slavery; powers; judicial opinions; modern law; nature of slavery; de facto slavery; colonial slavery; Roman slavery

Chapter.  13642 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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