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					The Atlantic Slave Trade
     • The Atlantic Slave Trade was the
       most significant link Africa had to
       the larger Atlantic World in early
       modern times.
     • African peoples received
       European goods for slaves.
     • Firearms were the most common.
Europeans and Africans Trade
  • By the 15th and 16thc when the
    Europeans ventured to Africa, the
    slave trade was well-established.
  • European influence caused it to
    expand dramatically.
  • Affected the development of
    Atlantic settlements.
The Early Slave Trade
  • Earliest European slave traders
    were Portuguese.
  • They learned that they could buy
    slaves instead of capturing them.
  • Increased the numbers of slaves
    they brought home.
Cape Verde

             Sao Tome
Slavery Expands
  • Meanwhile, disease had reduced
    the native populations in Spanish
  • Spanish looked for laborers for the
    Caribbean and the Americas.
  • In 1518, the first shipment of slaves
    went directly from west Africa to
    the Caribbean where the slaves
    worked on sugar plantations.
Slavery Expands Continued
  • By the 1520s, the Spanish had
    introduced slaves to Mexico, Peru,
    and Central America where they
    worked as cultivators and miners
  • By the early 17th Century, the
    British had introduced slaves to
    North America
Triangular Trade Continued
 – European goods (cloth ,metal
   wares, and firearms) went to Africa
   and were exchanged for slaves.
 – Slaves were then shipped to the
   Caribbean and Americas where they
   were sold for cash or sometimes
   bartered for sugar or molasses.
 – Then the ships returned to Europe
   loaded with American products.
• Typical
  Trade Route
“Molasses to rum to slaves Who sail the ships
  back to Boston Ladened with gold, see it
  gleam Whose fortunes are made in the
  triangle trade Hail slavery, the New England
   – Song from the play 1776
 • The capture of slaves was violent.
 • As European demand grew,
   African chieftains raided
   neighboring societies.
 • Others launched wars to capture
The Middle Passage
 • Slaves were force-marched to
   holding pens before being loaded
   on ships
 • The trans-Atlantic journey was
   called the “Middle Passage”
 • The ships were filthy, hot, and
• The Middle
The Middle Passage Continued
     • Most ships provided slaves with
       enough room to sit upright, but not
       enough to stand
     • Others forced slaves to lie in chains
       with barely 20 inches space
       between them
The Middle Passage Continued
  • Men were “housed” on the right;
    women on the left; children in the
    middle. The human Cargo was
    jammed onto platforms six feet wide
    often without sufficient headroom for
    an adult to sit up.
The Middle Passage Continued
The Middle Passage Continued
   • Crews attempted to keep as many
     slaves alive as possible to maximize
     profits, but treatment was
     extremely cruel
   • Some slaves refused to eat and
     crew members used tools to pry
     open their mouths and force-feed
• Daily "dancing" was enforced
  on many slave ships as a form
  of exercise. People were made
  to hop in place in their shackles
  and exercise by swinging their
  arms. The crew walked among
  them with whips or cat-o'-nine-
  tails to compel the forced
The Middle Passage Continued
       • People were thrown overboard
         due to shortages in supplies or
         an outbreak of disease.
       • Cargo (human beings) was
         often insured so that there was
         no financial loss.
Slaves Left to Die
     • Often people that were
       unhealthy or sick were left
  • When the slave ship docked, the
    slaves would be placed in a pen.
  • They would be washed and covered
    with grease or tar to make them
    look healthy.
  • They would also be branded with a
    hot iron to identify them as slaves.
• Slaves were sold at auctions
• Buyers physically inspected the
• Auctioneers had slaves perform
  various acts to demonstrate their
  physical abilities
 • “We were not many days in the merchant’s custody,
   before we were sold after their usual manner... On a
   signal given, (as the beat of a drum), buyers rush at
   once into the yard where the slaves are confined, and
   make a choice of that parcel they like best. The noise
   and clamor with which this is attended, and the
   eagerness visible in the countenances of the buyers,
   serve not a little to increase the apprehension of
   terrified Africans... In this manner, without scruple, are
   relations and friends separated, most of them never to
   see each other again. I remember in the vessel in
   which I was brought over... there were several
   brothers who, in the sale, were sold in different lots;
   and it was very moving on this occasion, to see and
   hear their cries in parting.”
    – Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of
       Olaudah Equiano
   • Most African slaves went to the
     Caribbean or South America.
   • Plantations produced crops like
     sugar, tobacco, indigo, and cotton.
   • Crops were exported for profit.
Caribbean and South America
      • Disease, brutal working conditions,
        and poor sanitation and nutrition
        resulted in high mortality rates.
      • Owners imported mainly male
        slaves and allowed few to establish
        families which resulted in low
• Between 1501 and
  the 1860s, at least
  twelve million African
  men, women, and
  children were
  transported in the
  transatlantic slave
  trade. Among them
  were farmers,
  fishermen, cattle
  notables, scholars,
  slaves, musicians, as
  well as political and
  religious leaders.
North America
 • Diseases took less of a toll in North
   America and living conditions were
   usually less brutal
 • Plantation owners imported large
   numbers of female slaves and
   encouraged their slaves to form
   families and bear children
Forms of Resistance
  •   Work slowly
  •   Sabotage
  •   Runaway
  •   Revolt
Slavery Continues
  • Abolishing the slave trade did not
    end slavery
  • British ships patrolled the west
    coast of Africa to halt illegal trade
  • The last documented ship that
    carried slaves across the Atlantic
    arrived in Cuba in 1867
Impact of Slave Trade in Africa
     • Some states like Rwanda largely
       escaped the slave trade through
       resistance and geography
     • Some like Senegal in west Africa
       were hit very hard
     • Other societies benefited
       economically from selling slaves,
       trading, or operating ports
Impact of Slave Trade in Africa
    • As abolition took root in the 19th
      Century some African merchants
      even complained about the lose of
      their livelihood
    • On the whole, however, the slave
      trade devastated Africa
Impact of Slave Trade in Africa
    • It deprived Africa of a huge fraction
      of their population.
    • It distorted African sex ratios
      because ~ 2/3 of slaves were male.
    • The introduction of firearms
      increased the level of violence

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