Richard Thornton | Aug 9, 2017 | 5
“Egyptian” slaves and bond servants in South Carolina
Their existence was erased from the history books!
This is a developing story. More thorough research will follow.
Many of you, like myself, have had African-American friends, who are extremely tall and gracile. They have a regal appearance that seems to belong to ancient murals in Ethiopia, Nubia or Egypt – but often as not becomes the front cover of a fashion magazine, Sports Illustrated or Forbes. They do not look like the people of West Africa, where the diabolical slave industry obtained most of its victims. How could this be?
Many others of you have discovered North African, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Middle Eastern or Turkish DNA markers in the genetic profile that was mailed back to you from the lab. You can find no record in your family’s memory when an ancestor came to America from those regions.
Principal Chief Lonzado Langley of the Savannah River Band of Uchee had found yet another example of America’s hidden history. South Carolina’s slave codes contained three classes of slaves – Native Americans, Africans and Egyptians. The “Egyptians” were specifically imported because of their knowledge of growing coastal (salt tolerant) varieties of rice and what is now called “Sea Island cotton” along the remainder of the Nile River Valley. How did these unfortunate people, living so far from the Atlantic Ocean become slaves in North America? Blame it on the Ottoman Turks.
Beginning around 1350 AD, the Ottoman Turks launched repeated invasions by land and sea of eastern Europe, with the goal of capturing the Vatican. The presumption was that if the Pope was captured and executed, all Christiandom would fall into the hands of Islam. Mohammed had predicted this military victory. The Sultan of the Ottoman Turks was merely fulfilling the words of the Qu’ran.
Initially, one Christian country after another fell to Islam. Within a century, a greatly weakened Constantinople fell. However, by the late 16th century, the rivers of gold and silver that the Kingdom of Spain was a obtaining in the New World tipped the balance of power. Increasingly superior European military technology and the resulting self-confidence on the battlefield eventually brought repeated disasters to the Turks from which they never recovered. The last attempted Turkish invasion of Europe occurred in 1718.
Hedging his bets, the Sultans filled the “grunt ranks” of their 16th and 17th century armies and navies with Christian conscripts and slaves captured in Sub-Saharan Africa. Win or lose, thousands of “infidels” would die because of each military campaign. At that time, a third of the population of the Ottoman empire was Christian. Egypt and Turkey were 1/3 Christian. Palestine and Lebanon were about 90% Christian. The Muslim slave trade in West Africa began around 700 AD and only ended in the mid-20th century – hence the reason that so many underclass citizens in Saudi Arabia are obviously Africans.
However, staggering casualties from these invasions, combined with repeated massacres of Christians in eastern Anatolia, Armenia and Assyria (3 million dead or enslaved) drastically reduced the number of Christian men available as cannon fodder. In order to meet their quotas, Muslim generals began raiding poor Muslim villages in the Nile Delta for sailors and the Upper Sudan for soldiers. Southern Sudan was Christian and had been protected by tenacious soldiers of the Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia for 1200 years.
The exact 1680s time period when Virginia was switching to the use of African slaves and Carolina was beginning to trade Native American slaves for African slaves, was when Turkey launched its largest land and sea invasion of Europe. Over 100,000 prisoners of war from the defeated Turks fell into European hands. It is quite likely that most of the African slaves imported into North America up until the 1700s, were actually prisoners of war. Female Native American slaves were used as breeders for more slaves.
The Egyptian farmers who knew how to grow rice in salt marshes and the Sudanese cotton farmers were the most valuable slaves of all. Because they were bred to exceptional Native American women, their offspring had physical features and assets that made them stand out among those enslaved. They were the Mercedes-Benz’s of the slave markets. It was economics that especially caused these people to have a separate legal identity in South Carolina and Virginia.
It is not clear how many Christian prisoners of war from Egypt and Sudan were enslaved in North America. Probably most Sudanese and Ethiopian Christians were kept in bondage. Lighter skinned Egyptian Coptic and Anatolian-Armenian Orthodox Christians were definitely imported as indentured servants. After seven years, they were free to go elsewhere, take a wife and perhaps are the “Christian Turks” encountered by early explorers of Tennessee and North Carolina such as the Gabriel-Needham Expedition in 1674.
And now you know . . .
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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history.Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.
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