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The Atlantic Slave Trade


The Atlantic Slave Trade Nothing, which has happened to man in modern times has been more significant than the buying and selling of human beings out of Africa into ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Atlantic Slave Trade

The Atlantic Slave Trade
  • Nothing, which has happened to man in modern
    times has been more significant than the buying
    and selling of human beings out of Africa into
    America.W.E.B. DuBois

History of Slavery
  • The use of slavery can be traced back to the
    Neolithic Revolution
  • The first true slave society was Greece in the
    6th-4th centuries BC
  • - The Romans, Persians, Ottomans, Mongols, Inca,
    some Native American tribes, and the Hausa (of
    modern Nigeria) used some sort of slavery

History of Slavery in Africa
  • Most slaves were war captives or debtors
  • Slaves were given some rights, including the
    right to marry
  • Slaves were able to earn their freedom
  • Slavery was NOT based on race

History of Slavery
  • As early as 1300s, Europeans had used slavery in
  • Black Russian slaves were used on Italian sugar
  • Spain Portugal used captured Muslims
  • In the 15th century, Portuguese traders began
    sailing down the coast of West Africa
  • Traders came to the ports with various trade
  • Europeans brought gifts for local African leaders
    and paid taxes for the right to trade

  • The Arrival of Europeans in Africa

Slaves on the West Coast, circa 1833Oil on
CanvasBy François Auguste Biard
(1789-1882)Wilberforce House, Hull City Museums
and Art GalleriesUK/Bridgeman Art Library
Different African NationsCourtesy of the Library
of Congress, Washington, D.C.
The Slave Trade in Africa
  • Europeans mostly bought slaves from local African
  • Europeans did not travel into the interior of
    Africa, but rather paid African middlemen to
    capture slaves
  • Most slaves were captured in battle or kidnapped,
    some sold for debt or as punishment for an
  • Traders gave African slavers guns rum in
    exchange for slaves, making it a profitable and
    steady activity
  • Some traders captured Africans during raids
    along the coast

The Slave Trade in Africa
  • Most European African dealers had a complex
    network of trading alliances for gathering
    captives and marching them to the coast
  • Slaves were shackled to prevent escape, the
    march to the coast could last weeks or months
  • As many as half of the slaves died during these
    forced marches
  • Those who were too ill to continue were killed or
    left to die
  • Some escaped or attempted suicide through
  • Males accounted for about 2/3 of the Africans
    captured sold to European traders

Trade ItemsThe Library at The Mariners' Museum
The SelectionThe Library at The Mariners' Museum
Gate of No Return, 1990sGene Peters,
photographerCourtesy of the Gene Peters
  • The passageway of a slave fort was often the
    point of no return for captured Africans. Ottobah
    Cugoano wrote in 1787, "I was soon conducted to a
    prison, for three days...when a vessel arrived to
    conduct us away to the ship, ... there was
    nothing heard but the rattling of chains,
    smacking of whips, and the groans and cries of
    our fellow men. Some would not stir from the
    ground, when they were lashed and beat... I have
    forgotten the name of this infernal fort."

Growth of Slave Trade
  • The first people enslaved by Europeans in the New
    World were Native Americans
  • Most revolted, escaped, or died, creating the
    need to find labor elsewhere
  • After the conquest of Central South America in
    the 16th century, slavery became more important
  • Spain Portugal found natives uncooperative,
    relied more and more on Africans for slaves
  • Africans were knowledgeable of iron-working
  • By the 1700s, English colonies, such as in the
    Caribbean and N. America, used slaves for
    tobacco, cotton, rice cultivation

Europeans the Slave Trade
  • Spain took the early lead in importing Africans
  • - Slaves worked on plantations, gold silver
  • Portuguese surpassed Spanish in slave trade
  • Dutch dominated trade in the 1600s

England became leading carrier of enslaved
Africans in the 18th c.
  • - Transported nearly 1.7 million Africans to
    their colonies in West Indies
  • - 1672 King of England chartered the Royal
    African Company
  • - 1698 English Parliament ruled that any
    British subject could own slaves

Europeans the Slave Trade
  • Brazil was the largest participant in the African
    slave trade
  • Dominated the sugar market ? increased demand
    for cheap labor
  • - More than 40 of Africans in slave trade
    went to Brazil in 17th c.

The Middle Passage
  • The Middle Passage was the journey of slave ships
    across the Atlantic Ocean
  • This voyage could take anywhere from 30 to 50
    days in good conditions, or 60 to 90 days
    depending on conditions or destination
  • One Danish slave ship, the Kron Printzen, sank in
    a storm in 1706 with more than 800 slaves on
  • In 1738, the Dutch slave ship Leuden became
    stranded during a storm
  • To prevent panic, the crewlocked hatches to the
    slave decks abandoned ship more than 700
    Africans drowned

The Middle Passage Stowage
  • Captives were taken on board, stripped naked, and
    examined thoroughly before being placed below in
    the hold
  • Men were packed together below deck secured by
    leg irons
  • Forced to crouch or lie down
  • Women children were given separate quarters
  • Some slave ships were less packed, trying to hold
    off sickness death along the voyage
  • Other ships were more tightly packed, hoping that
    increased load would offset deaths lead to a
    better profit

Plan of the British Slave Ship Brookes, 1788.
This plan shows how tightly Africans were packed
aboard slave ships.
Body Positions of Slaves in Hold of French Slave
Ship Aurore, 1784From Dessins extraits du livre
de Jean Boudriot "Traite et navires négriers
Monographie de l'Aurore," 1984 reprintThe
Library at The Mariners' Museum
  • Many slave ship captains forced their human
    cargoes to lie spoon-like so as to occupy as
    little space as possible. So-called tight packing
    was one way to maximize profits.

Ankle and Wrist Shackles Used Onboard Slave Ship
Aurore, 1784From Dessins extraits du livre de
Jean Boudriot "Traite et navires négriers
Monographie de l'Aurore," 1984 reprintThe
Library at The Mariners' Museum
Leg Shackles Used Onboard Slave Ship Aurore,
1784From Dessins extraits du livre de Jean
Boudriot "Traite et navires négriers Monographie
de l'Aurore," 1984 reprintThe Library at The
Mariners' Museum
Vue du Cap Français et du Navire La
  • On this French slave ship from Nantes, an iron
    fence kept the human cargo from the ship's
  • From Capitaine Gaugy, Troisième Voyage d'Angole,
    1772-1773Courtesy of the Musée du Château,
    Nantes, France

The Middle Passage Illness Death
  • Seasickness was common and the heat was
  • Lack of sanitation resulted in constant threat of
  • Fever, dysentery (the flux) and smallpox were
  • Captives ate twice a day, and were force-fed if
  • Poor and insufficient diet
  • Ten people eating from one bucket, unwashed hands
    easily spread disease

The Middle Passage Illness Death
  • The death rate for captives on board slave ships
    was 20
  • Body of captive who did not survive would be cast
  • England France created laws to regulate
    conditions on ships, more out of concern for the
    crew rather than the captives

Slave Deck of the Albatroz, 1845Lt. Francis
Meynell, Royal Navy, artistCourtesy of the
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England
Danse de Nègres
  • After about a week at sea, the captives were
    brought on deck twice a day in fair weather.
    Chained to the deck, they were given food and
    water. Then, often "under the menace of the
    whip," they were forced to exercise by
    "dancing."From La France Maritime, 1837-1842The
    Library at The Mariners' Museum

Enduring the Middle Passage
  • Many Africans had never seen the ocean, white
    men, or ships before (The Mariners Museum)
  • Various peoples of Africa had different tongues
    and customs, yet they formed strong new bonds of
    kinship during the passage
  • Central Africans who were sent to Brazil used
    the Kimbundu term malunga which roughly
    translates to shipmates (The Mariners Museum)

  • Africans resisted through individual acts as well
    as organized revolts
  • Many committed suicide by jumping overboard
  • Brutal punishment for uprisings and even minor
    acts of resistance
  • Crew saw revolts as justification for their
    harsh treatment of captives

Revolt on a Slave Ship, before 1851From William
Fox, A Brief History of the Wesleyan Missions on
the West Coast of Africa Courtesy of the Milton
S. Eisenhower Library, The Johns Hopkins
Olaudah Equiano
  • - Kidnapped sold into slavery as a child
  • - Eventually earned price of his freedom by
    careful trading saving
  • - Later became involved in movement to abolish
    the slave trade
  • - His narrative describes the horrific Middle
    Passage experiences of slaves

Published The Interesting Narrative on the Life
of Olaudah Equiano in 1789
Slave Ship Captains Story
  • John Newton, from Liverpool, was the captain of a
    slave ship who eventually became an Evangelical
  • Read prayers twice a day to his crews
  • However, Christianity did not change his views on
  • "I think I should have quitted the slave trade
    sooner had I considered it as I now do to be
    unlawful and wrong.
  • Wrote the hymn Amazing Grace
  • Later spoke out against slavery

Arrival in the Americas
  • I was then put up to salethe people who stood
    by said that I had fetched a great sum for one so
    young a slave. I then saw my sisters led forth
    and sold to different owners. Mary Prince,
    from The History of Mary Prince, A Former West
    Indian Slave, 1831
  • Slaves were washed, shaved, and rubbed with palm
    oil to disguise sores wounds
  • Sometimes there was a scramble in which buyers
    were given a signal to rush for the
    fittest-looking slaves

A Slave Auction in Richmond, VirginiaFrom The
Illustrated London News, September 27, 1856The
Library at The Mariners' Museum
Nineteenth-Century Engraving
  • This nineteenth-century engraving suggests the
    humiliation Africans endured as they were
    subjected to physical inspections before being

TO BE SOLD on board the ship Bance Island,
1780sCourtesy of the Library of Congress,
Washington, D.C.
  • Africans were sold individually or in lots soon
    after they landed in the Americas. This notice
    states that a number of the captives were immune
    to smallpox--a claim aimed at increasing their

Arrival in the Americas
  • Creoles slaves born in the Americas
  • Worth 3xs the price of unseasoned Africans
  • Old Africans - Lived in the Americas for some
  • New Africans - Had just survived the middle
  • Creoles Old Africans would instruct or
    assist new Africans
  • Developed own cultural heritage based on stories
    of ancestors, music, traditions, etc.

Source http//
Slavery in the Americas
  • Much harsher than slavery in Africa
  • Worked on sugar, rice, tobacco, and cotton
  • 18 hour days, sunrise to sunset
  • Encouraged to have many children in order to
    increase labor force
  • Racism and brutal treatment
  • Known as chattel lost rights as human beings

The Transatlantic Slave Trade
  • More than 11 million Africans were brought to the
    Americas during three hundred years of the slave
    trade (The Mariners Museum)
  • Majority sent to Brazil Caribbean
  • Millions more Africans died
  • Most of the African slaves arrived between 1701
    and 1810

Results of the Slave Trade
  • The Effects in Africa
  • - Numerous cultures lost generations of their
    fittest members
  • - Families torn apart never reunited
  • - Introduced guns to the continent of Africa
  • - Brought their art, music, religion, food to
    influence American societies

Estimated Annual Exports of Slaves from Western
Africa to the Americas, 15001700
Figure 21. Estimated Annual Exports of Slaves
from Western Africa to the Americas, 15001700.
  • Source John Thornton, Africa and Africans in the
    Making of the Atlantic World, 14001680 (New
    York Cambridge University Press, 1992), 118.

Estimated Slave Imports by Destination, 14511870
The Atlantic and Islamic Slave Trades
Map 21. The Atlantic and Islamic Slave Trades.
Not until 1600 did the Atlantic slave trade
reach the proportions of the Islamic slave trade.
This map shows the principal sources of slaves,
primary routes, and major destinations.
  • http//
  • The Mariners Museum, http//
  • The Terrible Transformation, PBS,