Atlantic Slave Trade and
the Columbian Exchange
Atlantic Slave Trade
Slavery had existed for hundreds of years prior to
becoming an institution in N. America.
As natives started dying off, the colonies looked to
Africa for slaves. Africans were not as vulnerable to
disease, many had farmed before, and they had little
knowledge of the land and no ties to the native tribes.
In other words, there was nowhere they could hide.
The buying and selling of Africans for work in the
Americas was called the Atlantic slave trade.
Between 1500 and 1870, nearly 10 million Africans
were transported to the United States.
Atlantic Slave Trade
Spain and Portugal were the early leaders in the slave
trade. They were often brought to work on the sugar
As more colonies grew, there was a greater demand
for cheap labor. Sugar, tobacco, and coffee
plantations were some of the areas that slaves worked
Some African rulers even participated in the slave
trade. Merchants would capture members of other
tribes and sell them to Europeans. Leaders had been
selling slaves to Muslims and they saw no difference
in selling them to Westerners. As profits grew, the
slave trade grew also.
Transatlantic trading network.
On one route, Europeans took goods to the
west coast of Africa. They traded these goods
The Africans were then sold into slavery in the
Merchants would then bring back sugar,
coffee, and tobacco to Europe to sell.
This was the voyage that took Africans from their
native country to the Americas.
Voyage was often cruel, with Africans packed into
unsanitary conditions in the lower decks of ships.
Hundreds would die along the way from disease or
abuse from the ship’s crew. There are accounts of
some committing suicide by jumping into the sea.
Nearly 20% aboard each slave ship died en route to
Slavery in America
Upon arriving, they were immediately sold to
the highest bidder.
Slavery was a horrible existence. They lived
on little food and worked extremely long
hours. They were in tight living conditions
without the common comforts of their owners.
They were subject to regular beatings and
Children of slaves were also considered slaves.
Consequences of Slave Trade
Africa lost generations of its people.
Firearms were introduced into Africa, which helped
to spread conflict in the continent.
Many colonies would not have survived if not for the
labor provided by the slaves.
African art, music, and food have gone on to
influence American society.
Many countries in Western Hemisphere now have
substantial African-American populations.
This is the global transfer of food, plants, and animals
during the colonization of the Americas.
Ships brought a large selection of items that many
Europeans had never seen before such as tomatoes,
squash, pineapples, and tobacco.
Corn and potatoes were the most important because
they were inexpensive to grow and nutritious.
Europeans also introduced livestock to America such
as horses, cattle, and pigs and food such as yams,
bananas, and black-eyed peas.
Disease was also a large part of the Columbian
Growth in overseas trade led to the Commercial Revolution.
This was a new wave of business and trade practices in the
15th and 16th centuries.
Capitalism grew. This is an economic system based on private
ownership and the investment of wealth for profit.
Another business venture that developed was the joint-stock
company. This was a number of people pooling their wealth
for a common purpose. These helped established colonies.
European nations adopted a policy of mercantilism. This was
a theory that a country’s power depended on its wealth. Thus,
the goal of every European country was to get as much wealth
Favorable balance of trade could increase wealth because
you were selling more goods than you bought.
Changes in European Society
Commercial Revolution spurred the growth of
towns and the rise of the merchant class.
Merchants rose in status because they
controlled a lot of wealth.
Commercial Revolution increased the wealth
of European nations and the power of their
rulers more than anything else.
The First Thanksgiving
Pre-Columbian Native American population
was 10-12 million.
As Europeans started to colonize, a plague
swept through the country.
Smallpox, influenza, and other diseases
decimated the Native population.
Why do you think the Native Americans were
so susceptible to disease?
King James had this to say about the plague- “Thanks to
Almighty God in his great goodness and bounty towards us for
sending this wonderful plague among the savages.”
In 1617, disease swept through the New England area, killing
90-95% of the coastal population.
Disease helped to inspire the warm reception that the Pilgrims
received. Villages were so weakened that they aligned with the
Pilgrims out of fear of other tribes.
Howard Simpson- “Villages lay in ruins because there was no
one to tend them. The ground was strewn with the skulls and
bones of thousands of Indians who had died and none was left
to bury them.
Mayflower was initially going to Jamestown.
Only 35 out of the 102 passengers were Pilgrims. The rest
were people seeking fortune in the Virginia tobacco farms.
Some historians suggest that the Pilgrims may have hijacked
the ship or misled the other passengers and went to the New
England area on purpose. Other historians believe they had no
real destination in mind.
What is true is that the Plymouth Company already had
detailed descriptions of the area provided a couple years earlier
by Squanto, a member of the Wampanoag tribe.
Fishing off of the New England coast was already being done
so they knew that food was available to them.
The Pilgrims may have also wanted to avoid being under
Anglican control, since they had just left England for that very
The Mayflower (re-creation)
Meeting the Natives
Squanto was one of the first Natives to greet the
Pilgrims. His entire village was nearly wiped out by
disease years earlier.
His first impression of the Pilgrims was that they
smelled bad. He tried to get them to bathe, but they
Squanto had learned English as a boy.
He was captured by an English captain in 1605 and
spent 9 years in England before sailing back home.
He was kidnapped again in 1614 and sold into slavery
in Spain. Squanto escaped and made it to England,
where he then took another trip back home.
The Natives Help Out
The Pilgrims started receiving help the second day
they were in Plymouth. This is from a Pilgrim’s
journal: “We marched to the place we called Cornhill,
where we had found the corn before. At another place
we had seen before, we dug and found some more
corn…In all we had about ten bushels, which will be
enough to seed. It was with God’s help that we found
this corn, for how else we could have done it, without
meeting some Indians who might trouble us.”
More Native Help
“The next morning, we found a place like a
grave. We decided to dig it up. We found first
a mat, and under that a fine bow…We also
found bowls, trays, dishes, and things like that.
We took several of the prettiest things to carry
away with us, and covered the body up again.”
What does that sound like?
Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn,
squash, and pumpkins. He also introduced
them to the indigenous turkey, which we eat
Several days were set aside in the Fall of 1621
for feasting. This was the first Thanksgiving.
Some evidence suggests, however, that the
Spanish had a similar celebration starting in
1565 in St. Augustine, Florida.
First Thanksgiving Meal
Had enough to feed 53 Pilgrims and 90 Indians
More Thanksgiving Facts
Squanto died from a fever in 1622.
Eastern Indians had actually observed an Autumnal
Harvest for centuries.
George Washington set aside several days for
Thanksgiving starting in 1789, though it wasn’t a
national holiday yet.
Lincoln proclaimed it a national holiday in 1863.
Franklin Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving back a week
in 1941 in order to provide an economic boost.
The Pilgrims were not commonly known as Pilgrims
until the 1870’s.
The Pilgrims weren’t even included in the tradition
until the 1890’s.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will
celebrate it’s 80th anniversary this year.
Takes place in New York City.
Mr. Potato Head sneaks up on
unsuspecting New Yorker
Thanksgiving week is one of the busiest travel
weeks of the year, behind only Christmas.
78% of all workers in U.S. are off on
Thanksgiving Day football games have
become an American tradition.
Some families and friends play in their
backyard, while others watch the NFL on
Detroit Lions have hosted a Thanksgiving
game every year since 1934.
Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving in
recent years. Go Packers!
Day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping
day of the year.
Referred to as “Black Friday” because retailers
get into the black (making a profit) in sales.
Retailers provide great deals as incentive to
175 million shoppers.
$11 billion dollars spent.
Have a Great Thanksgiving!