It was the Portuguese and the Dutch who dominated the trade for a long period. It is impossible to be precise, but in the four centuries between 1450 and 1850, over 10 million – perhaps near 12 million – slaves were transported from Africa, but only just over half a million (less than 5% of the total) were imported into areas which are now part of the United States. Jamaica, Cuba, and Haiti each imported many more slaves than the whole of the North American mainland. It is one more of the paradoxes of Southern slavery that the smallest importer of slaves into the Americas should by the 90th Century have the largest slave population. Blacks were part of the beginnings of American history, but their numbers remained very small throughout the nine 17th century. For 50 years at least, they were counted in hundreds rather than thousands, and even after a sport in the closing years of the century they totaled only 26,000 in 1700, 70% of them in Virginia and Maryland. For much of the 17th century, there was probably easier and more informal social contact between whites and blacks, at least at the lower end of the social scale, then in most later periods of American history. The most convincing explanation, offered by Winthrop Jordan and others, is that the institution of chattel slavery and the clear believe in the racial inferiority of the African marched hand-in-hand, with each supporting and reforms reinforcing the other. The exemption that the distinction between freedom and servitude must always be clear and unambiguous flows naturally from the attitudes and social structure of modern Western Society. However, things looked very different in the more hierarchical European Society, shipped by the presence or the legacy of feudalism, from which the settlers came.