Are the Africans brought over from the Transatlantic Slave Trade considered "immigrants"? Although I realize that they are forced to come to the US against their own wills, the definition of immigrant (according to the Google search "Definition of immigrant") is "a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country". Therefore, based on this definition, the Africans brought over should be considered immigrants. However, it still feels wrong to call them immigrants.

Are the Africans brought over from the Transatlantic Slave Trade considered "immigrants"?

  • Considered by whom? And for what purpose? Questions like this rarely have a single answer. – Colin Fine Jul 7 '20 at 19:08
  • @ColinFine I mean in general. This question occurred in a history class. – KingLogic Jul 7 '20 at 19:43
  • There is no answer in general. The question is based on the false premise that a word has a precise and universal definition. Some do. Many do not. – Colin Fine Jul 7 '20 at 19:45
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    I think the problem is the word come, which in context means decides to come or comes of their own accord. Therefore, Africans who were brought over don't meet the definition of immigrant. – Richard Kayser Jul 7 '20 at 21:09
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    I am voting to close this question as off topic: it is not a matter of usage at all. It is a matter of historical fact and the law at the time. Slaves had no civil rights under the law, immigrants did. – Tuffy Jul 7 '20 at 21:38

The slaves were termed "cargo". They were not considered immigrants as they were not considered to be fully human - they were commodities.

The slave deck itself was a living nightmare. To the slave traders, these human beings were cargo, and slave ships were especially designed to transport as many captives as possible, with little regard for either their health or their humanity. (Library of Congress "Immigration") https://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/immigration/african3.html

In the circumstances, the slaves were "immigrants" only in the broadest, modern, sense of the word. At the time they had the same status as cattle - which we would not call "immigrants".

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    Not only is what you reference specifically an article on an immigration site (making immigrants the natural pairing, even if in this case it would be qualified with forced), but the passage you cite is only talking about what the slavers thought, not what everybody else thought—in particular, those who were sympathetic to the slaves and those who fought to abolish the practice. Suggesting that everybody thought of these people as non-humans (you use the term cattle even though that doesn't appear anywhere in the article) is misleading and, frankly, offensive … – Jason Bassford Jul 7 '20 at 20:05
  • @Jason Bassford. The context of the article is how the current population mix of the USA came about. The term "immigration/immigrant" is not used of captives chained in the hold of a vessel and forcibly taken to a new land where they had no rights as they were not considered human. What the slavers thought is the only valid consideration - it really did not matter what the slaves thought at all nor did it matter what slave-owners thought. – Greybeard Jul 7 '20 at 20:32
  • @JasonBassford For the vast majority of the time that there was slavery, there was nobody who had any sympathy with them - I use the word "cattle" very obviously to bring a forceful comparison with the slaves rights: i.e. none. Slaves were goods to be bought and sold. I would now ask you to readdress your woeful comments You make the elementary error of assuming everyone was a William Wilberforce. - You make the error of assuming that the attitudes of the 18th century were anything like today's views - I am surprised at your ignorance on this matter which is currently in the news. – Greybeard Jul 7 '20 at 20:37
  • @JasonBassford doe you consider those brought as slave to be "immigrants"? – Greybeard Jul 7 '20 at 20:47

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