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Slavery in the united states was the legal institution of human chattel enslavement primarily of africans and african americans that existed in the united states of america in the 18th and 19th centuries slavery had been practiced in british america from early colonial days and was legal in all thirteen colonies at the time of the declaration of independence in 1776. Slavery was practiced throughout the american colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries and african slaves helped build the new nation into an economic powerhouse through the production of . Packing slaves onto a deck of a slave ship called the brookes the iconic brookes print designed in plymouth uk in 1788 depicted the conditions on board the slave ship the image portrayed slaves arranged in accordance with the regulated slave trade act of 1788. Mauritanias endless sea of sand dunes hides an open secret an estimated 10 to 20 of the population lives in slavery but as one womans journey shows the first step toward freedom is