The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
A slave can be defined as a person who is the property of and wholly subject to another, a bond servant or a person entirely under the domination of some influence or person. Slavery was well recognized in many early civilizations. Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, the Akkad Ian Empire, Assyria, Ancient India, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, the Islamic Caliphate, the Hebrews in Palestine, and the pre-Columbian civilizations of the Americas all had either a form of debt-slavery, punishment for crime, enslavement of prisoners of war, child abandonment or birth of slave children to slaves. However, as the sixteenth century approached, so did the change in the way slavery would be looked at, for years to come. The Atlantic slave trade became the name of the three part economic cycle that involved four continents for four centuries and millions of people. The Atlantic slave trade or the middle passage, triangular trade and slavery affected the economy of Europe, Africa and the Americas in both negative and positive aspects. Starting in the 1430’s Portuguese were the first to sail down the coast of Africa to search for gold and jewels. The Portuguese had to extend their power across the co+ast because Sub-Saharan Africa’s trade routes were controlled by the Islamic Empire. By 1445, The Portuguese conquered three African countries and created trading posts. This allowed them access to Europe across the Sahara. Initially, the Portuguese traded copperware, cloth, tools, wine and horses for pepper, ivory and most importantly gold. The first slave purchase is said to have taken place in 1441 when the Portuguese caught two African males while they were along the coast. The Africans in the nearby village paid them in gold for their return. Eventually, they developed the idea that they could get more gold by transporting slaves along Africa’s coast. The Muslims were enticed by the idea of slavery as they used them as porters and for profit. Portugal had a monopoly on the export of slaves in Africa for more than two hundred years. This encounter is the beginning of one of the most tragic events in history, the Atlantic triangular trade (Thomas 1997). A triangular trade evolves when a region has export commodities that aren’t required in the region which its major imports come and provides a method for trade imbalances. The triangular trade is named for the rough shape it makes on a map. It worked like a triangle between all the colonies that were involved. For centuries the world was took part in its most successful trading system. There where nearly fifteen million Africans were shipped to both North and South America for more than three-hundred. Slaves, cash crops and manufactured goods were the most traded between the Americas, Europe and Africa. The Europeans controlled the first stage of the trade by carrying supplies for sale and trade such as, cloth, spirit, tobacco, beads, shells, metal goods and guns. This was their method of which were used to help expand empires and capture more slaves. These goods were exchanged for purchased and kidnapped African slaves (www.nmm.ac.uk/freedom/viewTheme.cfm/theme/triangular). African kings and merchants would capture the slaves or organize campaigns ran by the Europeans. The motives of the Europeans were based on one thing; they lacked a major source, a work force. It was stated that the Indigenes people were unreliable and Europeans were unsuited to the climate. However, Africans had experience in agriculture, keeping cattle, content with the climate. Africa soon became reliant on the slavery of their people and the profits that came along with it. The next stage involved the slaves being transported by voyage to the Americas and Caribbean, the middle passage (PBS. “The African Slave Trade and the Middle Passage.” http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part1/1narr4.html). The middle passage was a perilous, horrendous journey slaves made across the Atlantic Ocean...
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Lovejoy, Paul. “The Volume of the Atlantic Slave Trade: A Synthesis.” Cambridge Journals: The Journal of African History. 23. no. 04 (1982): 473-501.
Thomas, Hugh. The Slave Trade: The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1440-1870. New York City, New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc, 1997.
Walvin, James, and Victor Howard. ” Slavery and the Slave Trade: A Short Illustrated History.” Taylor & Francis Online. 12. no. 6 (1984): 127.
http://www.whispersofangels.com/secrets.html. Web. 15 Feb. 2013
I found this site useful to assist with direct quotes and comments from the slaves
Barbot, John. “Slave Trade Documents – HistoryWiz Primary Source Africa.” Slave Trade Documents – HistoryWiz Primary Source Africa. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2012.
http://www.mariner.org/captivepassage/. Web. 15 Feb. 2013
This website provides very thorough presentation of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
http://www.nmm.ac.uk/freedom/viewTheme.cfm/theme/triangular. Web. 16 Feb. 2013-
This website talks about the triangular trade and how it has had effects on the society of today
http://www.understandingslavery.com/ 2011 Understanding Slavery, Web. 5 Feb. 2013
This site goes through an extensive explanation of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
O,Dr. “The Middle Passage Experience.” HubPages. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2013. http://dro.hubpages.com/hub/drotengho
This article is about the mistreatment that slaves were subjected to and how they were spoken to
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