2 THE TRANS-ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE Writing about slavery it is essential to show the importance of the so-called trans-Atlantic slave trade. The trans-Atlantic slave trade was the largest forced migration in the world. It created permanent ties between Africa and North America. It was the largest long-distance coerced movement of people in history and, prior to the mid-nineteenth century, formed the major demographic well-spring for the re-peopling of the Americas following the collapse of the Amerindian population. It was the trading, primarily of African people, to the colonies of the New World that occurred in and around the Atlantic Ocean.
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It lasted from the mid-15th to the 19th centuries. 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. The quiestion arisies why did the trade begin The answer is easy and rueful: expanding European empires in the New World needed work force. In most cases the indigenous peoples had proved unreliable -most of them were dying from diseases brought over from Europe-, and Europeans were not adapted to the climate and suffered under tropical diseases. The 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 “work very hard” on plantations or in the mines. Most of these enslaved people were shipped from West Africa and Central Africa and taken to North and South America to work as unpaid labor on sugar, coffee, cocoa and cotton plantations, in gold and silver mines, on rice fields, or in houses.
Over a period of almost four centuries, four milion Africans were transported to unknown lands. Captured from their homeland and seperated from their tribes and families they were enslaved in a new world, where all familiar customs were absent. If we look at the map showing the slave trade between the Europe, the West coas of Africa and The Americas we will see that the slave route form a triangle. It was also called the ???Rum Rum??? Three stages of the Triangular proved lucrative for merchants. The first stage of the Triangular Trade involved taking manufactured goods from Europe to Africa: cloth,alcohol, tobacco, beads, cowrie shells, metal goods, and guns. The guns were used to help expanding empires obtain more slaves. These goods were exchanged for African slaves.
The second stage of the Triangular Trade called the middle passage, involved shipping the slaves to the Americas. The third, and final, stage of the Triangular Trade involved the return to Europe with the products from the slave-labor plantations: cotton, sugar, tobacco, molasses and rum. It is worth to point out the origin of African slaves sold in the Triangular Trade. In fact Slaves for the trans-Atlantic slave trade were initially sourced in Senegambia and the Windward Coast. Around 1650 the trade moved to west-central Africa -the Kingdom of the Congo and neighboring Angola.
The transport of slaves from Africa to the Americas forms the middle passage of the triangular trade. Several distinct regions can be identified along the west African coast, these are distinguished by the particular European countries who visited the slave ports, the peoples who were enslaved, and the dominant African society who provided the slaves The trans-Atlantic slave trade is strongly connected with the African diaspora. According to Encyclopedia Britannica: it was the movement of Africans and their descendants to places throughout the world – predominantly to the Americas, then later to Europe, the Middle East and other places around the globe. Between 1500 and 1900, approximately four million enslaved Black Africans were transported to island plantations in the Indian Ocean, about eight million were shipped to Mediterranean-area countries, and about eleven million survived the Middle Passage to the New World. Much of the African diaspora was dispersed throughout Europe, Asia, and the Americas during the Atlantic Slave Trades.
Beginning in the 9th century, African slaves were taken from the northern and eastern portions of the continent into the Middle East and Asia. Then beginning in the 15th century, Africans were taken from much of the rest of the continent to Europe and later to the Americas. The Atlantic Slave Trades ended in the 19th century.The dispersal through slave trading represents one of the largest migrations in human history. The economic effect on the African continent was devastating. Some communities created by descendants of Black African slaves in Europe and Asia have survived to the modern day, but in other cases, blacks intermarried with non-blacks and their descendants blended into the local population. In examining the trans-Atlantic slave trade, it is important to focus on agricultural history because the majority of people in the Atlantic world lived on farms, producing crops and raising livestock.
During the era of the slave trade, 1514-1866, most sub-Saharan Africans from rural communities, forced across the Atlantic, continued their farming lives by working New World lands. They grew some familiar provisions, including crops imported from Africa, like Guinea corn or West African rice. However, many saw crops such as sugar, tobacco, coffee, indigo, cacao, or cotton, for the first time.