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Trans Atlantic Slave Trade

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    SCHOOL BASED ASSESSMENT RESEARCH PROJECT Caribbean History Caribbean Economy and Slavery Several West African Societies were well organized and quite prosperous before the coming of the Europeans. Since the time of the slave trade many theories point out that Africa is the cradle of civilization, it is the birth place of the human race. We should never believe the Eurocentric view that Africa was a dark continent inhabited by uncivilized savages pretending to be humans.

    False and negative views of Africa and Africans were used to justify the Transatlantic Slave Trade and colonization. However, in reality, the Ancient civilizations of Egypt, Ghana and Mali among others – some of which grew over 5000 years ago – made enormous discoveries in science, medicine, astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, and architecture long before they were known in Europe. Africans had crossed oceans by the time Europeans made their first journey to Africa and some of the European visitors to Africa recognized that societies were just as advanced or more so, than their own.

    In truth, contributions from Africans and the African continent to the shaping of the modern world are enormous and denied only because of the development of Eurocentric and racist views. Many Europeans thought that Africa’s history was not important. They argued that Africans were inferior to Europeans and they used this to help justify slavery. However, the reality was very different. A study of African history shows that Africa was by no means inferior to Europe. Forms of slavery existed in Africa before Europeans arrived.

    Some countries in the African continent had their own systems of slavery. People were enslaved as punishment for a crime, payment for a debt or as a prisoner of war. However, African slavery was different from what was to come later. * Most enslaved people were captured in battle. * In some kingdoms, temporary slavery was a punishment for some crimes. * In some cases, enslaved people could work to buy their freedom. * Children of enslaved people did not automatically become slaves. Expanding European empires in the New World lacked one major resource — a ork force. In most cases the indigenous peoples had proved unreliable (most of them were dying from diseases brought over from Europe), and Europeans were unsuited to the climate and suffered under tropical diseases. Africans, on the other hand, were excellent workers: they often had experience of agriculture and keeping cattle, they were used to a tropical climate, resistant to tropical diseases, and they could be “worked very hard” on plantations or in mines. For two hundred years, 1440-1640, Portugal had a monopoly on the export of slaves from Africa.

    It is notable that they were also the last European country to abolish the institution – although, like France, it still continued to work former slaves as contract laborers, which they called libertos. It is estimated that during the 4 1/2 centuries of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Portugal was responsible for transporting over 4. 5 million Africans. The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade began around the mid-fifteenth century when Portuguese interests in Africa moved away from the fabled deposits of gold to a much more readily available commodity — slaves.

    By the seventeenth century the trade was in full swing, reaching a peak towards the end of the eighteenth century. It was a trade which was especially fruitful, since every stage of the journey could be profitable for merchants — the infamous triangular trade. All three stages of the Triangular Trade (named for the rough shape it makes on a map) proved lucrative for merchants. It is the first part of long trip along the Atlantic Ocean. This first voyage takes around 6 or 8 weeks. The slave traders load their ships with goods in order to buy their live cargoes (the African slaves).

    The first stage of the Triangular Trade involved taking manufactured goods from Europe to Africa: cloth, spirit, tobacco, beads, cowrie shells, metal goods, and guns. The guns were used to help expand empires and obtain more slaves (until they were finally used against European colonizers). These goods were exchanged for African slaves. The “Middle Passage” was the journey of slave trading ships from the west coast of Africa, where the slaves were obtained, across the Atlantic, where they were sold or, in some cases, traded for goods such as molasses, which was used in the making of rum.

    However, this voyage has come to be remembered for much more than simply the transport and sale of slaves. The Middle Passage was the longest, hardest, most dangerous, and also most horrific part of the journey of the slave ships. With extremely tightly packed loads of human cargo that stank and carried both infectious disease and death, the ships would travel east to west across the Atlantic on a miserable voyage lasting at least five weeks, and sometimes as long as three months.

    Although incredibly profitable for both its participants and their investing backers, the terrible Middle Passage has come to represent the ultimate in human misery and suffering. The abominable and inhuman conditions which the Africans were faced with on their voyage clearly display the great evil of the slave trade. This is the last round of the triangular trade. The African slaves who survived to the atrocious Middle Passage are unloaded for being sold in the West Indies. The African slaves are sold on the boat or near the port in slave markets.

    Different kinds of purchasing exist (for example the auction). The African slaves are bought with plantation’s goods, money or exchange bills. Slaves being sold After an entire cleaning of the ships, it is uploaded with sugar, rum, spices, cotton and others goods from West Indies and English America. Now the ship I ready to sail to Europe with its cargo and to finish its twelve months trip. Slaves Being Sold. A strong movement emerged in 18th-century Britain to put an end to the buying and selling of human beings.

    This campaign to abolish the slave trade developed alongside international events such as the French Revolution, as well as retaliation by maroon communities, sporadic unrest, and individual acts of resistance from enslaved people in the British colonies. The campaigners faced a long and difficult struggle. These early activists included men such as Thomas Clarkson and George Fox, who argued that the only way to end the suffering of enslaved Africans was to make the slave trade illegal by banning British ships from taking part in the trade.

    Those involved came together in 1787 to form the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Despite opposition from a variety of people with vested interests, the abolitionists and their supporters persisted. In 1806, Lord Grenville made a passionate speech arguing that the trade was ‘contrary to the principles of justice, humanity and sound policy’. When the bill to abolish the slave trade was finally voted upon, there was a majority of 41 votes to 20 in the Lords and a majority of 114 to 15 in the Commons.

    On 25 March 1807, the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act entered the statute books. Nevertheless, although the Act made it illegal to engage in the slave trade throughout the British colonies, trafficking between the Caribbean islands continued, regardless, until 1811. The trans-Atlantic slave trade seriously affected the demographic growth of many African societies directly, and had a more subtle impact on many others. As stated above, the disruption caused by the forced migration of many young men from villages meant a shift in marriage patterns as the number of marriageable men declined.

    For many societies on the West coast of Africa during the trans-Atlantic slave trade, populations either declined, remained constant, or had very little growth, usually suffering a varying disproportion between the numbers of men and women. For the Upper Guinea Coast, for example, slave exports were great enough during the latter half of the eighteenth century to reduce the regional population, and halt growth into the first decade of the nineteenth century. During this period the ratio of men to women dropped to below eighty men per one hundred women.

    In those societies where there were few slaves taken, population growth was more constant, although demographic effects of the slave trade were still a factor. The disruption caused by inter-tribal warfare and the capturing of slaves for the European market often heightened the effects of natural disasters such as disease or famine. The effects of a famine could be greatly magnified if fewer people of a village were available to produce food, and a higher death toll as a result would reduce the population even more.

    As well, the continual interaction between villages brought about by the migrations of slaves across Africa facilitated the spread of diseases, further disrupting the growth of populations. These disruptions were especially devastating for the region of Angola, where an increase in slave exports in the nineteenth century resulted in an even greater decline in population. It has been estimated that in 1600, the population of Africa stood at about 50 million people, or thirty per cent of the combined populations of the New World, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

    By 1900 the population of Africa had grown to 70 million, but made up only ten per cent of the total combined population. Furthermore, the population of Africa in 1850 has been estimated to have been only about half of what it would have been had slavery and the slave trade not been a factor in African history. Bibliography * Notes from Mrs Biggerstaff * Claypole William, Caribbean Story, Carlong Publishers, 1980 * Gilmore John, Empires and Conquests, Carlong Publishers, 2003 * http://www. ucalgary. ca/applied_history/tutor/migrations/four5. tml Appendices Carriers Country| Voyages| No. of Slaves| Portugal| 30,000| 4,650,000| Spain| 4,000| 1,600,000| France| 4,200| 1,250,000| Holland| 2,000| 500,000| Britain| 12,000| 2,600,000| British North America & USA| 1,500| 300. 000| Denmark| 250| 50,000| Other| 250| 50,000| Letter of 1701 written Bosman, the chief factor at the Dutch trading post of Elmina. When these slaves come to Fida they are put in prison all together and when we treat concerning buying them, they are thoroughly examined by our surgeons, even to the smallest member…

    Those which are approved as good are set on one side; and the lame or faulty are set by as invalids; which are bere called mackrons. These are such as are above five and thirty years old, or are above five and thirty years old, or are maimed in arms, legs, hands or feet, have lost a tooth, are grey-haired or have films over eyes; as well as those which are affected with any venereal distemper, or with several other diseases.

    The invalids and maimed being thrown out… the remainder are numbered and in the meanwhile a burning iron with the arms or name of the Company lies in the fire; with which ours are marked on the breast… I doubt not this trade seems very barbarous to you, but since it is followed by mere necessity, it must go on; but we yet take all possible care that they are not burnt to hard, especially the women, who are more tender than the men. Thomas, Clarkson

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