The Slave Trade in Colonial Charleston, South Carolina

Topics: Slavery, Atlantic slave trade, African slave trade Pages: 7 (2788 words) Published: May 9, 2011
The ways and reasons in which the slave trade in colonial Charleston, South Carolina was so relevant are surprisingly interesting. The slave trade was important economically and capitalistically speaking: the economy highly depended on the slave trade and was literally dominated by it in some states. Besides the economy, other reasons of its importance were implied in politics and business: what made it really big in Charleston and in South Carolina in general was that slaves ended constituting the majority which means that slavery was focussed much more in this state than in any other one. Another reason we can mention why the slave market was so alive in South Carolina and also well present in other states and islands is because whites considered the blacks to be inferior to them, considering an African to be the 3/5 of a human being at that time and so they gave themselves the right to run the African slave trade without hesitating, and it is amazing to know how the slave trade was able to last for so long before it was officially banned and abolished through politics and war, only 145 years ago in 1865 (common knowledge). Charleston has clearly been the slave trade leader in America during all that time and the upcoming explanation of this will let others know if they should agree or not with this argument. Charleston was once called Charles Towne, named after King Charles II of England during the American Revolution. The port of Charleston is located at the center of inland waterways and it expanded from St John’s River in Florida to the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. This port was the best located one since it went more largely into the midland than any other one in South Carolina (see map p.10). Charleston was told to be the “center of government and social life” (Littlefield, 1986, p. 93); what we mean is that Charleston was the main destination for slaves taken from Africa to North America. Slave labour helped to advance the production of goods that made the colony’s prosperity. Slaves that already lived in South Carolina could have been sold as auctions and this generally happened when planters settled debts when they retired or when the importations of slaves were banned for a short while because there were enough slaves in Charleston at that point. Even if slave importations could be paused, the slave sales in North America did not: In fact, the slave business in South Carolina was mostly focussed in Charleston, which served as an outlet for the distribution of slaves for practically the whole region between the lower Chesapeake and St. Augustine (Morgan, 1998). All this information helps to show that the city and port of Charleston were the biggest ones in all southern America throughout the eighteenth century and was the fourth biggest city in North America! The center of trade for southern America at Charleston helped benefit the merchants’ slave business. The distribution and transaction fees were smaller in Charleston than in other ports because merchants could gain faster there, there was the credit availability, better detailed business information on prospects for imported slave shiploads, and transportation rates for return shipments. Additionally, bigger vessels could be used where goods were focussed in a port and Charleston was a good one because of its great location and its Ashley and Cooper rivers that went past the city (Morgan, 1998). At Charleston, the slave business occurred all over town. At least 405 merchants paid taxes for imported black shiploads in the forty years past 1735 which shows that most merchants in Charleston would want to get into the slave business knowing it was the most competitive one of all. In this business, there was a large concentration of firms: Sixty per cent of slaves brought to Charleston during the colonial period were sold by only eighteen firms and only three of them brought in over twenty ships, which explains that to be a great slave trader, large...
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