Forum #2 (Chapters 2 and 3):
How did the Atlantic slave trade began, and how did the slave trade within Africa compare/contrast to the later slave trade with the Europeans? In order to operate huge tracts of land as effective farms, the white land owners of the New World, which included what later became America, the Caribbean, and South America, sought slaves from Africa to do the work required to make the white men rich. Slave trade between Africa and the Americas began soon after Columbus arrived in the New World, but it grew slowly at first. For about the first hundred years, starting in the early 1500s, it was mainly indentured white servants brought from Europe, and Native Americans, who worked the farms, partly because slaves were too expensive at the time to be bought in mass numbers. Slavery had already existed worldwide for thousands of years, including in Africa, before the first slaves were brought to America. Black slaves in the millions were captured by other blacks, as well as by Arabs and others, in the interior of the African continent, and sent to other countries, largely to Muslim nations. Though Africans had also enslaved other Africans for thousands of years before slave trade with the Americas, and slaves living in Africa were sometimes subject to abuse and death that non-slaves were not, it was not marked by the same kind of lifelong servitude as occurred to African slaves outside Africa. Slavery as practiced by Africans was originally similar to European serfdom, which was the condition of most white Europeans at the time. Slaves could marry, own property and even own slaves, and slavery usually ended after a certain number of years of servitude. Also, African slavery was never passed from one generation to another. However, since the slave trade between Africa and other countries was rather different from European serfdom, largely because slaves were less often allowed to become free, were more often considered property, and it was practically impossible for them to return to their home countries, along with the color of their skin setting them apart from non-African populations, it set the stage for accentuating perceived power differences between light-skinned and dark-skinned people worldwide, and helped fuel the further abuses to follow. Slave trade specifically between Europe and Africa began about 50 years before Columbus came to America, started by Portugal and Spain, with the Dutch joining in soon after; England was the last to join in this trade. Slaves were sent to west coast ports in Africa, and shipped to other countries, mostly to Spain and Portugal. Soon after European settlers arrived in the New World, the slave ships began transporting some slaves to North and South America and the Caribbean islands. Only a little more than 3 percent of the total number of slaves exported to the Americas were traded between about 1500 and 1600. Even at this early stage, they were sold as property, like horses and cows, the men and women were kept on the plantations, and in return for their labor, received meager food and housing. During this first hundred years of European agriculture in the New World, during which natives throughout the Americas were robbed of their lands (due to the mentality of greed that the riches of the New World fostered in many Europeans, and set the stage for what was to follow), farms eventually expanded to massive size, requiring far more workers than could be supplied by indentured servants and natives; also, massive numbers of natives had died due to diseases brought by Europeans, further reducing their "contribution" to the work force. The slave trade served as the source for replacement workers. During the next 100 years, between about 1600 and 1700, about 16 percent of the total number of slaves sent to the Americas was traded. In 1642, Massachusetts became the first colony to legalize slavery, though it already existed without significant opposition. Expansion...
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