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Eighteenth-century Anglo-American prize systems were highly organized enterprises for the provision of coerced labour. Offering whites opportunities to participate in a lucrative market, they extended the reach of American slavery beyond the shores of the Americas, reinforced slavery in North America and greatly limited opportunities for freedom for black seamen. Although Americans desired that their new nation provide greater individual liberty, the American prize system applied the same presumption – that captured black mariners were slaves – as had its British predecessor, resulting in the sale of hundreds of black seamen into slavery.

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