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Slavery in Hispaniola and Mexico


Slavery had become common malpractice in many Spanish and French American colonies by the early 16th century. After Christopher Columbus arrived in America, a new opportunity for promoting the economy of European nations emerged. The idea of forced labor became a reality in many regions after the first Europeans settled in the Americas. This development resulted in slavery, thereby making it a critical social and economic institution in every colony. This paper gives a detailed analysis of the history of slavery in Hispaniola and Mexico’s slavery, evolution, existing ranks, its abolition, and similar malpractices encountered in the region today.

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Slavery is malpractice whereby human beings own, control, and dictate the daily activities of others. This kind of misbehavior has remained a significant part of the global society for ages. It also has become a form of dispute founded on culture, morality, and economic issues. Hispaniola and Mexico have endured harsh conditions of slavery in the past and are still facing various challenges today. The purpose of this paper is to give a detailed analysis of the evolution of slavery in Mexico and Hispaniola and the current issues many people continue to face today.

History of Slavery in Hispaniola and Mexico

Earliest Report of Slavery

Hispaniola is the name given to the island that the first Europeans settled permanently towards the end of the 15th century. This region is subdivided to form these two sovereign states: the Dominican Republic and Haiti (Olmstead & Rhode, 2016). Slavery in Hispaniola began after Christopher Columbus landed on the island. The affected natives were forced to undertake numerous roles without being paid. Slavery in Mexico did not take shape immediately after the first Europeans settled in the region.


By 1625, the economy of Haiti relied solely on slavery. This was seen as one of the best economic models for delivering positive results. However, the majority of the natives died due to diseases, torture, and war (“History of slavery,” n.d.). This created a new opportunity for kidnapping and forcing enslaved Africans to work in plantations. The malpractice continued until 1804 when the people staged the infamous Haitian Revolution.

In Mexico, landowners began to engage in conspiracies, protests, and rebellions since the move challenged their economic goals. This evolution resulted in a new practice whereby the indigenous could be held as laborers and not slaves. However, such citizens were usually punished severely or coerced. Within less than twenty years, many slaves could be found working in religious institutions, households, and textile companies (Olmstead & Rhode, 2016). This means that the number of indigenous slaves continued to shrink. The passage of different laws triggered new debates regarding the legitimacy of slavery and racism.


From the very beginning, colonialists took indigenous people and forced them to complete various roles. Following the introduction of large plantations in these two regions and the abolishment of slavery in the New World, a new practice emerged whereby landowners could enslave Africans to provide labor (Cohen, Penman, Boyle, & Vedantam, 2017). This kind of malpractice explains why the international slave trade thrived.

Ranking System of Slavery

Slave Hierarchy

In the two regions, class systems became powerful tools for dictating the way members of society interacted with each other. Cohen et al. (2017) define a “caste system” as a model that divides people in a specific community into ranked categories. In Hispaniola, enslaved persons were grouped at the bottom of the hierarchy. This was also the same case for Mexico in the late 15th century. However, the presented laws aimed at ending the enslavement of natives created a new ranking whereby Africans occupied the lowest rank.

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Slave Ordering

House slaves occupied the highest status followed by skilled artisans. Field hunts were at the bottom of the hierarchy. A social hierarchy was maintained in different plantations in both Hispaniola and Mexico (Lamp & Dundes, 2017). Such caste systems ensured that all slaves remained divided.

Group Treatment

Field hunts were treated harshly and worked under detrimental conditions in order to maximize production. House slaves and skilled artisans were treated in a modest or fair manner (Olmstead & Rhode, 2016). This arrangement maximized the level of control and reduced the chances of revolutions.

Abolition of Slavery in Hispaniola and Mexico

When Slavery was Abolished

The abolishment of this malpractice is not something that took place suddenly. Lamp and Dundes (2017) indicate that slavery in Hispaniola did not end until in the 19th century after the success of the upheavals recorded in different regions. However, Mexican abolishment began in the 16th century when different settlers were prevented from enslaving native citizens. However, the end of slavery would become a reality in the 19th century.

Reason for abolishment

The abolishment of slavery in Hispaniola did not take place within a short period after the arrival of European settlers. This was the case since the majority of the native encountered diverse challenges, including diseases and torture. Their reduction in numbers forced colonial powers to acquire Africans as laborers. The malpractice catalyzed the infamous Haitian Revolution. This upheaval would be informed by the pains, challenges, and heartaches many natives and Africans had to experience. In Mexico, new laws would be supported by the Spanish Crown to illegalize the enslavement of Native Americans. The second abolishment attempt in the 19th century would be informed by the effort to get rid of this malpractice (Miller, 2018). Slavery was, therefore, abolished because it was dehumanizing and against people’s natural liberties.

Subservient Groups

In Hispaniola, the Haitian Revolution became a critical event that led to the abolishment of slavery. The rebellion leaders were instrumental throughout the process, including Toussaint L’Ouverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Similarly, the end of slavery became a reality due to different literary works informed by the concept of enlightenment. This thought was inspired by great authors, such as Guillaume Raynal. They believed that the right time had come for all people to become free. The laws made by the French National Assembly in 1789 declared all men equal (Miller, 2018). Such contributions were also instrumental towards the abolishment of slavery in Mexico.

Slavery Today

Although slavery might have been abolished in Hispaniola, there are numerous malpractices that amount to human mistreatment. For example, many young people have to complete various activities without getting competitive salaries. The common types include domestic service and factory employees. They are usually identified by the name “restavek” (Ontiveros, 2016). Some underage individuals are forced to engage in sexual practices or suffer physical abuse. Child trafficking has also remained a major issue in this region. Similarly, some Mexicans are forced to work for several hours without receiving adequate wages. Women are smuggled to engage in sexual activities or forced labor.


The above discussion has identified slavery as a problem that has affected many people for centuries. The issues experienced in Hispaniola and Mexico explain why the global society should collaborate to find evidence-based solutions to these malpractices. This is necessary since they amount to human abuse and make it impossible for the victims to achieve their objectives. A new way of thinking will transform the world and empower more global citizens to taste the fruits of freedom.

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Cohen, R., Penman, M., Boyle, T., & Vedantam, S. (2017). An American secret: The untold story of Native American enslavement. NPR.

History of slavery in America. (n.d.).

Lamp, V., & Dundes, L. (2017). Not Haitian: Exploring the roots of Dominican identity. Social Sciences, 6(4), 132-141. Web.

Miller, J. W. (2018). My ancestor owned 41 slaves. What do I owe their descendants. American Magazine.

Olmstead, A. L., & Rhode, P. W. (2016). Cotton, slavery, and the new history of capitalism. Web.

Ontiveros, M. L. (2016). Is modern day slavery a private act or a public system of oppression? Seattle University Law Review, 39, 665-694. Web.

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