What were the legal and practical differences between say a Russian or Hungarian serf in the 18th century and an American Slave at the same time?

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    In theory, serfdom is a part of social contract, whereas slavery is a suspension of one's rights, either permanently or temporarily, legitimately or illegitimately. – called2voyage Aug 3 '16 at 15:21
  • An exception to the above is that "fair" imprisonment or mandatory community service, as administered legally for the remittance of crimes, is not usually considered slavery. Of course, "fair" is subjective. – called2voyage Aug 3 '16 at 15:26
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    Serfs are bound to the land; slaves are bound to an owner. Serfs may have some degree of civil rights or customary prerogatives. Slaves are chattel; since they are not recognized as human, they cannot have rights. For more details, you'll have to check Russian/Hungarian law. The one sentence summary is that American Slavery is one of the most dehumanizing, most reprehensible regime's in human history; serfdom is merely bad. – Mark C. Wallace Aug 3 '16 at 15:50
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    Yes, American Slavery was a particularly atrocious bout of slavery in the historical record on many counts, not the least of which was the fact that it was racially based. Also, I was going to make the same comment about being bound to the land versus the owner, but I wanted to keep my comments brief since I wasn't prepared to answer in full. – called2voyage Aug 3 '16 at 16:21
  • @TomAu Hm, that is about the 19th century rather than the 18th century, but I'm not sure how productive it is to have a question for each. – called2voyage Aug 3 '16 at 17:12