North Atlantic Slave Trade

Topics: Slavery, Atlantic slave trade, Africa Pages: 8 (2505 words) Published: September 14, 2010
Essay Question:
Edward Long justified slavery in 1774 by arguing that black Africans’ “narrow intellect” and “bestial smell” implied that they might almost be of a different species.

What part did racism play in establishing and maintaining the north Atlantic slave trade?

With the discovery and colonisation of the New World, white Europeans had to establish a workforce to perform the transformation of vast areas of land. Massive vegetation clearance, road construction, building development, establishing and maintaining food supplies and service to those who were entrusted with the management of the new found colonies, the demand for manual labour to establish the new colonies as independent identities from the mainland was a massive undertaking. The majority of white Europeans in the colonies during this time believed that manual, ordinary labour was far beneath their status; therefore, there was a requirement for sourcing ongoing cheap, ‘appropriate’ labour. The Atlantic slave trade, or Maafa as some African and African-American scholars call, was established and originated due to the need for cheap labourers. As the land was inexpensive and available, many free European immigrants were able to become landowners quite quickly, which in turn increased their need for workers in the New World. Millions of Africans were traded and kidnapped to labour on cotton, sugar, cocoa and coffee plantation, in houses to work as servants, in gold mines and in rice fields. Historical scholars who perceive quite different perspectives continue to argue about whether slavery was the cause of racism or racism was the cause of slavery between the white and blacks. One aspect that is very evident in either argument is that money was the root, however along with other evidence, the argument of slavery coming before racism has more support. Originally the first merchants who entered the slave trade did it to make money and to earn profits so they were willing to enslave anyone who could legally work for them for little or no cost, they weren’t necessarily prejudiced against the Africans. There were laws in place protecting the rights of white Europeans which meant plantation owners were unable to have complete control over people in order to enslave them, leaving the option of using Africans as their labourers. Furthermore, once the trade developed and a foundation of economic profit had been laid, racism began playing a rather large role within the white society to maintain many years of success for the reason that its primary function was built on financial terms. It became useful to the Europeans to view the black people as inferior beings, mere property to be used for trading, leading to a given notion that this practice was morally acceptable. This then began rumours of the black’s savagery and stupidity emerging into a new set of beliefs and an ideology that justified slavery. It was seen as “slave equals black, black equals slave” .The trade affected the communities within Africa, showing how racism is not the upmost main driver for the slave trade because many African tribal leaders were selling their own in exchange of military weapons and goods.

Another origin of racism in the civilised, white society includes the forms of supremacy that the white people had over the blacks. The whites managed to have unlimited power, giving them the ability to rule over the African people, resources, events and history; as soon as the Europeans touched down on Africa, all African power was lost. Power may be referred to as one’s ability to influence social structure upon communities, individuals and societies. This authority can also be used to influence people’s rights, choices, wishes and beliefs to being able to get things done and to make progress in achieving ones goals. Europeans saw themselves as being superior and thus used negative power to abuse and exploit the Africans. Once again the European countries...

Bibliography: Cooper, Thomas. Tracts, ethical, theological, and political. Warrington and London: np, 1789.
Cowley, Malcolm & Daniel P Mannix. Black Cargoes: A History of the Atlantic Slave Trade 1518-1865. New York: Viking Press, 1962.
Curtin, Phillip D. The Image of Africa: British Ideas and Action, 1780-1850. London: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1964.
Feldstein, Stanley. Once a slave: the Slaves’ view of Slavery. New York: William Morrow, 1971.
Long, Edward. The History of Jamaica. New York: Arno Press, 1972.
Macleod, Duncan J. Slavery, race and the American Revolution, London; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1974.
Ransford, Oliver. The Slave Trade: Story of Transatlantic Slavery. London: John Murray, 1971.
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Sillen, S. & A. Thomas. Racism and Psychiatry. Secaucus: the Citadel Press, 1979.
Simon-Aaron, Charles and Tamari Kitossa, the Atlantic slave trade: empire, Enlightenment, and the cult of the unthinking Negro. New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2008.
Turner, Patricia A. Ceramic Uncles & Celluloid Mammies: Black Images of Their Influence on Culture . California: Anchor Books, 1994.
[ 3 ]. Daniel P Mannix & Malcolm Cowley, Black Cargoes: A History of the Atlantic Slave Trade 1518-1865 (New York: Viking Press, 1962).
[ 4 ]. Charles Simon-Aaron and Tamari Kitossa, The Atlantic slave trade: empire, Enlightenment, and the cult of the unthinking Negro (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2008) ch 10-11.
[ 5 ]. Duncan J. Macleod, Slavery, race and the American Revolution (London; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1974), 167-169
[ 6 ]
[ 7 ]. A. Thomas & S. Sillen, Racism and Psychiatry (Secaucus: the Citadel Press, 1979)p 17
[ 8 ]
[ 9 ]. Thomas Cooper, Tracts, ethical, theological, and political (Warrington and London, np, 1789) p viii
[ 10 ]
[ 11 ]. Oliver Ransford, The Slave Trade: Story of Transatlantic Slavery (London: John Murray, 1971) 112,113
[ 12 ]
[ 13 ]. Bryan Edwards, The History, civil and commercial, of the British colonies in the West Indies (New York, AMS Press, 1966) 268.
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