Sugnificant Roles in the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Topics: Atlantic slave trade, Slavery, African slave trade Pages: 7 (2295 words) Published: January 13, 2014
Significant Roles in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
Throughout the history of the world, there have been many countries and nations that have impacted and influenced the industry of the slave trade. The Transatlantic Slave Trade, in particular, had a very evident effect on the development of the history of society and humanity of the world. Spain was a nation that set the example of being the first European nation to abolish slavery, France believed slavery was the key to success and Britain was responsible for the transportation of millions of slaves. All three countries played a very important role in the slavery and transatlantic slave trade. Although there were many nations heavily involved in this catastrophe, there was one country that was the foundation of it all. Portugal was a powerful nation that influenced and stimulated slave trade amongst Europe through the authorization of Dum-Diversas, the exploration of Western Africa and the establishment of the Triangular Trade.

The slave trade is relevant to the transatlantic trading patterns which were established by many European nations as early as the mid-17th century. Trading ships would travel from Europe with intentions to trade manufactured goods to the West Coast of Africa for African slaves. It is estimated that approximately twelve million African slaves crossed the Atlantic Ocean on ships between the 16th century and 19th century.1 African and African-American scholars often refer to the slave trade as “Maafa” which “great disaster in the Swahili language. Other scholars also refer to this calamity as the “African Holocaust” or “Holocaust of Enslavement”.2 The Portuguese had a large impact on the issue. Afonso V of Portugal authorized slavery for the first time in his country in the year of 1452. The grandfather of Afonso V, John I of Portugal, influenced this idea before Afonso V was even born. John I had aimed to control navigation of the African coast in 1415 when he made the siege and conquest of the city of Ceuta.3 All along, the desire for control of the African coast has been present in the Portuguese power. After all, Portugal was the nation who had the most significant role in the transatlantic slave trade. Along with everything that Portugal had accomplished, Spain was another European nation that played a great role in the slave trade as they were the first European nation to use African slaves in the New World. In 1502, two of Spain’s critical leaders, Ferdinand and Isabella, gave the colonists of the Caribbean permission to import African slaves but the Spanish population in the New World at the time was far too low to implement all of the work needed to support the economic growth of the Spanish colonies. Within the first couple of years of Spanish presence in the Americas, a shortage of labor was caused by an outbreak of a tropical epidemic flu.4 The Native American population decreased as the outbreak spread throughout the land and Spanish colonists became more interested in the slave trade as the demand for labour increased. The first African slaves arrived by shipment to the New World in 1501.5 Despite the fact that Spain was the first country to use African slaves in the New World, they were also the first country to abolish slavery and the use of slaves in their colonies. The Spanish Emperor, Charles V, felt that through the arguments of the theologists and jurists, that slavery was a condemnation and an unjust act. In 1542, Spain was the first country to abolish slavery which set an example and influenced European nations greatly. Going back ninety years, in 1452, the papal bull Dum-Diversas had a great effect on the slave trade as it was introduced to Portugal for the first time. The Dum-Diversas was a formal proclamation issued by Pope Nicholas V which allowed Afonso V of Portugal, the King of Portugal who reigned from 1438-14776, to condemn any Saracens, pagans or unbelievers and enemies of Christ to hereditary slavery. An...

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