Like possibly most of the Post-War USA, slavery is comparatively common in the Northeast, being a lucrative business with far-reaching implications. While certain peoples, particularly the Kebekwa, are common targets of slavers, anyone that is weak or vulnerable can/will be enslaved given the chance, meaning slavers and their operations are usually much more common in the frontier-regions away from the centralized nations along the coasts and major rivers. Likewise, slaves (and slavers) can be of any race or creed: the collar and the lash does not discriminate.
- Economics of Slavery
- Slaves are important across most of Post-War American because they can provide something most communities lack: power in the form of muscle. Even 300 years after the Great War, overwhelmingly-most societies (even the larger, more developed factions such as the NCR) are not even close to 100% (re)industrialization, and most "industries", agriculture especially, requires a lot of sweat, blood and tears to be viable, much less profitable. For most of the Wasteland, this is where slaves come in. Slaves allow for the production of goods without much in the way of costs, asides from the initial purchase and maintenance. Properly-managed slaves can grow the food and make the clothing and shelter they need to survive, and all of the production above that threshold is usually profit for the owner. And while farm-slaves are important aspects of most food-production, slavery is even more important, perhaps even intrinsic, to the production of "cash-crops", aka crops that are sold for profit as opposed to being stockpiled for food. Radcotton, tobacco, dyes, sugar, coffee, tea, spices, etc, all things that are in high demand (and therefore are high in value), and make the owners of so-called "plantations", large farming estates geared towards the production of cash-crops, very very wealthy indeed. And, since the hiring of workers would cut into their profits, the overwhelming majority of Post-War plantations are staffed mostly by slaves.
- Working on a plantation is hard, usually-dangerous work. A slave-driver in the New Colombia Confederacy, working on a sugar plantation, is recorded as saying "You can start out with 100 sweats (a common derogatory slur for slaves) working a sugar-tract, and in 5 years you won't have not a one left." Slaves suffer perhaps the highest mortality-rate of any group in the Post-War world, and the reasoning for this is multifold. Slaves, rather-obviously, do the majority of hard, heavy labor in most places, and this carries with it a correspondingly-increased risk for crippling/fatal injuries, infections, diseases and exhaustion. Couple this with the fact that overwhelmingly-most slaves lack anything even approaching-adequate medical care, nor adequate diets, and as one might predict the chances of death for a slave, even a strong healthy one, tends to be several times that of a non-enslaved person. This correspondingly means that there is a high demand for slaves, and the slaves themselves command high values, meaning an unscrupulous individual usually has a very good reason to try out the trade.
- In New Louisiana in 2362, a young male slave, healthy and fit, was recorded as selling for anywhere from 400 to 800 caps. A healthy female of breeding age was recorded for selling for about 1000 caps. Children tend to be cheaper, but they can be trained as the owner wants. Older individuals, those with injuries or deformities (such as impactful mutations) and those with a habit of trying to escape tend to be worth much less. On the other hand, those slaves with important skills, such as mechanics, carpentry or animal-husbandry, are recorded as selling for several thousand caps. Even a single slave is valuable enough to set up a slaver for quite some time, considering how the average free-farmer makes perhaps 100 or so caps per year. This also means that most "common" people in slave-holding areas are usually not going to own slaves (and, indeed, in much of the New Colombia Confederacy the ownership of slaves is what delineates the upper-class from the lower), and the recovery of escaped slaves is often as profitable as the capture of slaves is.
- Farming and agriculture are not the only tasks slaves are used for (although it is arguably the largest and most-profitable). Slaves are used for everything from the production of finished goods to use as house-slaves (from cleaners to …… less-savory tasks) and personal attendants.
- History of Slavery in the Northeast
- Before the establishment of the Commonwealth (of Massachusetts or the New England Commonwealth), slavery was the order of the day across most of the Northeast. While slavery was comparatively-uncommon in the regions that would eventually become the Commonwealth, the existence of the slave-trade was one of the major facets of the economy of the Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod regions; the pirates and smugglers that inhabited the region before the coming of the Commonwealth were majorly involved in the slave-trade, capturing the weak and defenseless up and down the coasts and shipping them south, to the New Confederacy, the Caribbean and even Mexico. Once the Commonwealth expanded into much of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine, they (almost-always through military action) shut down the pirates, smugglers and slavers in the region.
- In the Empire of New York, slavery was a common practice on the country-estates of the upper-class, and even disregarding 'actual' slavery, serfdom is the order of the day, with potentially as many as 60-70% of the "commoner" population being serfs. Serfs, while not slaves, are similar in that they do not have the freedom to go and so as they will. Secured to their landlords estates through debt-bondage, serfs have curtailed rights and almost-always lack privileges (such as the privilege to leave their masters estate without permission, or the privilege of weapon-ownership), meaning the difference between serfdom and slavery is usually, at least in the case of New York, rather academic.
- The Kebekwa of northern New England and New York have effectively always been involved with the slave-trade, usually on both ends of the lash. The hundreds of disunited tribal nations and bands means they are relatively-"easy pickings" for slavers willing to make the trek up to their settlements, and the Kebekwa are notorious for raiding their neighbors, both the "yanqi" (non-Kebekwa) and other Kebekwa peoples. The slave-trade is one of the major money-makers for the Kebekwa, competing with the fur-trade and the maple (syrup and sugar) trade, and a substantial portion of the Kebekwa sold as slaves are sold by other Kebekwa.
- Implications of Slavery:
- The Commonwealth of Massachusetts/New England Commonwealth is the only nation in the Northeast to make slavery completely illegal, and is by-far the largest nation east of the Mississippi to do so. All slaves that enter the Commonwealth are legally considered to be freed, and a substantial portion of the Commonwealth's growing population is made up of slaves escaped from other regions. The Commonwealth wiping out the pirates and smugglers that plagued coastal southern New England for generations has had a drastic effect on the slave trade of most of eastern North America; the "fast and easy" method of sailing up and down the coast picking up captures is now no longer feasible for overwhelmingly-most slavers, since the Commonwealth Navy rules the waves of the region, and are ready and willing to board any ships they see. This means that most slaves out of the region are transported overland, usually down the Ohio river, and this drives up the difficulty (and therefore expense) of slave-trading. The Commonwealth largely views this as a good thing, and also treats those caught at slaving very harshly: those engaged in the slave-trade are legally considered to be bandits (which likely isnt too far off the mark), and the go-to punishment for banditry is hanging. The Commonwealth is also very vocal about abolition, decrying the use of slave-labor and in some rare cases exerting economic pressure on trade-partners to stop or at least lessen the usage of slaves. Those trade-partners usually throw the Commonwealth's "hypocrisy" back in their teeth: the Commonwealth is dependent on the products of slavery, from the raw materials for mills, raw cotton especially, to the food and luxury products the populace of the Commonwealth quite happily consume.
- The Empire of New York has two opposing views on slavery; the views of the Empress and the views of the landed nobility. The Empress (Her Imperial Majesty Cecilia Cates II, the Duchess of Manhattan, the Countess of Saratoga) having become introspective in her old age, has cooled on slavery, to the point where she has freed all slaves in her private and Imperial demenses and supports abolitionist proposals in the Council of Assemblies. However, she is opposed by most of the Peers of the Realm, who depend on slavery and serfdom to produce the wealth generated on their private estates. The Empress has managed to win a few minor victories in the Council of Assemblies in spite of this opposition, however: the importation of new slaves into Imperial territory has been prohibited. However, since communication is slow in the Empire, this law is largely ignored and the slave trade in the frontiers of New York are as bustling as ever.
- The Kebekwa, isolated as they have always been, have not been that much affected (regarding slavery, at least) by the efforts of the other two nations. They continue to raid other settlements for slaves, and continue to be raided. With the closing of the New England coast to slavery, the new hubs of trade are Ronto (along Lake Ontario and therefore the Great Lakes as a whole) and The Pitt (at the intersection of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers).
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