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The Slaves in the United States and Australia's convicts lived from varying circumstances, while common difficulties were endured. Especially for African slaves, slavery in the US was a humiliating experience and the trade included the capture of men and women who were then shipped across the Atlantic (Eltis 141). While convicts were not captured or sold as prisoners, during their transport, they all faced common conditions, which were by way of ships. There were similar working conditions for both slaves and convicts, especially hard labor followed by torture. However, more privileges, liberties and freedoms were gained by convicts, which was not the case for African slavery in the United States of America (Ekirch 20). The country grew wealthy as production was made. Initially British transported their convicts to America until 1783 when the war of independence in America ended and British government had to find another place to send their prisoners.
Ships were used to transport slaves and convicts across the Atlantic to America and Australia respectively. Hundreds of slaves were chained tightly to plank beds in ships called Guineamen, which carried about 200 men (Eltis 143). The conditions were terrible since men, women, and children were overcrowded leaving little breathing pace. Food was inadequate and every slave was branded with the name of the owner under the breasts and arms with a hot iron. Similarly, the condition of transportation of the convicts chained in ships was terrible with many dying during the voyage (Ekirch 35). However, the ships for convicts were kept cleaner compared to those of slaves and there was a surgeon to cater for medical emergencies.
Convicts and slaves had limited freedoms and rights although it depended on several factors such as the owner, crime committed, and behavior (Ekirch 45). Slaves did not have much freedom unless those that had good masters and the skilled ones. They were not allowed to own businesses but only serve their owners. Convicts enjoyed more rights and freedoms although it also depended on the crime committed education level and profession, and the status in the society. Freed slaves were not allowed to own businesses but convicts had freedom to establish their own farms and start businesses building their wealth (Eltis 143). Slaves also faced a lot of discrimination in the United States because of color but convicts did not experience high levels of prejudice.
The working conditions for slaves and convicts were similar since it involved hard labor. Slaves used to work in plantations while others worked in the fields. Some worked as drivers, others in houses, while others worked in industries and were supposed to obey their masters. They were overworked, not allowed to own property, and denied other rights such as voting (Eltis 144). The working conditions of convicts varied depending on the masters they were assigned to serve. Good masters ensured the wellbeing of the slaves by providing food, good wages, and clothing (Ekirch 67). However, the wages were paid for work done during the convict spare time. The bad masters mistreated their convicts by giving them poor quality food, and overcharged them when buying essentials from their stores.
Slaves and convicts faced several challenges while on transit as well as working for their masters. They experienced similar conditions such as overcrowding during transportation and cruelty while serving their masters. However, convicts enjoyed more freedom and rights depending on factors such as skills, education, master assigned, and individual conduct.
Eltis, David. "Atlantic History in Global Perspective." Itinerario 23.02 (1999): 141-161.
Ekirch, A. Roger. Bound for America: The Transportation of British Convicts to the Colonies, 1718-1775. Oxford University Press, USA, 1987.
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