The Atlantic Slave Trade
The changes in African life during the slave trade era form an important element in the economic and technological development of Africa. Although the Atlantic slave trade had a negative effect on both the economy and technology, it is important to understand that slavery was not a new concept to Africa. In fact, internal slavery existed in Africa for many years. Slaves included war captives, the kidnapped, adulterers, and other criminals and outcasts. However, the number of persons held in slavery in Africa, was very small, since no economic or social system had developed for exploiting them (Manning 97). The new system-Atlantic slave trade-became quite different from the early African slavery. The …show more content…
Africans also worked in silver, gold, copper, and bronze. Lastly, internal slave trade played a role in the economy. Slaves represented a small part of the total value of African exports (Klein 56).
The tendency of communities to specialize in some phase of economic activity made it necessary that they maintain commercial contact with other communities and countries in order to secure the things that they did not produce (Hope 16). Some villages, for example, specialized in fishing, others concentrated on metallurgy, while others made weapons, utensils, and so on. Traders traveled from place to place to barter and to purchase. Upon returning they were laden with goods that they sold within their own community (Hope 17).
As the Atlantic route expanded, accounting for nearly two thirds of all Africans leaving the continent, it created systems for the gruesome work of collecting and exporting slaves and brought the expansion of a system of slavery in Africa itself. The rising prices for slaves, steadily driven by increasing American demand, powerfully influenced local African developments where slave trade was well established. For example, in some cases such as Kingdom of the Kongo to the south of the Zaire or Congo River, slave trade was quickly organized from a region that had only limited slavery and became a steady exporter of slaves
The Atlantic Slave Trade was a part of African history that had made one of it's biggest impact on Africa's relation with the world and more importantly on the inner workings of the country itself due to its large-scale involvement of many of the people in the continent. Although the slave trade was so long ago the impact can still be seen in Africa's social workings within the people, its economy in the local and global market, and within the political landscape of the countries.
Slavery had been practiced in Europe and the Caribbean. This being said, it did not exist in the English mainland colonies because there was no shortage of labor. In the 1670s and 1680s the Chesapeake economy depended on tobacco which required a large labor supply. At the same time, fewer and fewer men and women were willing to become indentured servants for a variety of reasons. The tobacco planters found the answer to this shortage in the slave trade. In the years between 1492 and 1770 more Africans than Europeans came to the Americas. Most were imported as slaves to Brazil and the Caribbean and only about 260,000 came to the region that would later become the United States. The slave trade was part of the Atlantic economic system, which is often referred to as the triangular trade. Triangular Trade was a system in which slaves, crops, and manufactured goods were traded between Africa, the Caribbean, and the American colonies. The future of Europe, Africa, South America and, North America were now bound together in the triangular trade and Atlantic economic system that would affect millions of lives over the centuries.The traffic in enslaved people served as an essential part of the triangular trade system. Europeans purchased slaves from Africa and then sold them in their colonies in America. The slave trade also had political and economic consequences for the people of West Africa. For example it created the powerful kingdoms of Dahomey, as it changed traditional economics. Goods now were imported to the coast instead of the Mediterranean. It also affected the population of West Africa unevenly. The slave trade left a shortage of men able to work in areas such as the Gold Coast. This resulted in new opportunities for women and encouraged polygamy. Despite the slave trade economic
Being fully aware of the benefits of the slaves, the British elevated their importation and by the turn of the eighteenth century African slaves numbered in the tens of thousands in the British colonies (1). As the demands in tobacco increased, labor increased. Like the simple law of supply and demand. Ending of Royal African Company’s monopoly in 1698 encouraged more traders to enter the slave business -- thus making African slaves more accessible (4). As a result of their increased expense, their masters were stringent and determined to get as much out of them as possible thereby working them mercilessly (Faragher 2009, p. 83). Initially, the cost of slaves may have been more expensive but in the end the masters were able to keep them enslaved.
There are different experiences of the slave trade that are reflected in these documents such as those of an enslaved person (Olaudah Equiano), a European slave trader (Thomas Phillips – an English merchant), an African monarch (King Jao) whose kingdom and personal authority suffered from the slave trade, and an African monarch (Osei Bonsu) who opposed the ending of the slave trade. Of all the commercial ties that linked the early modern world into global network of exchange, none had more profound or enduring human consequences than the Atlantic Slave Trade. And in all these documents, we can see how people reacted differently to this system based on how they encountered it and how it affected them.
Everyone has their own understanding of what slavery is, but there are misconceptions about the history of “slavery”. Not many people understand how the slave trade initially began. Originally Africa had “slaves” but they were servants or serfs, sometimes these people could be part of the master’s family. They could own land, rise to positions of power, and even purchase their freedom. This changed when white captains came to Africa and offered weapons, rum, and manufactured goods for people. African kings and merchants gave away the criminals, debtors, and prisoner from rival tribes. The demand for cheap labor was increasing, this resulted in the forced migration of over ten million slaves. The Atlantic Slave Trade occurred from 1500 to 1880 CE. This large-scale event changed the economy and histories of many places. The Atlantic Slave Trade held a great amount of significance in the development of America. Africans shaped America by building a solid foundation for the country.
The Atlantic Slave Trade portrayed the lack of empathy and compassion many Europeans felt toward the treatment of African slaves. Europeans used slavery to advance their own economic standings and seemed to care little on how slavery uprooted African culture and society. As the Industrial Revolution sparked a more intense trading system across the Atlantic, the demand for African slaves dramatically increased. Slaves were seen as a “Necessary Evil” as described by Thomas Jefferson. American Colonies thrived off the backs of African slaves; agricultural production soared in the colonies, feeding the mother countries the raw materials they needed for factory production.
The transatlantic slave trade began in the 15th century, after the Portuguese started exploring the coast of West Africa. This had a long term effect on Africa because even though it started out benefiting the upper class in Africa, the long term effect was devastating. When Europeans started to enter Africa, they enjoyed “the triple advantage of guns and other technology, widespread literacy, and the political organization necessary to sustain expensive programs of exploration and conquest”(Doc 4). Africa’s relations with Europe depended on common interests, which Europe did not share. Europe’s contact with Africa, involving economic exchanges and political relationships, was not mutually beneficial.
With the European discovery of the New World, African slave trade began to grow. Slaves were traded and bought and then shipped to some other place and then sold. Europeans would trade things for slaves then bring them to places like the West Indies and sell them. They would then buy goods and bring the goods back to Europe. This was the triangular trade system. Slaves played a vital role in trade all over the world, old and new. Although African slavery had already existed, there were many reasons as to why it was needed during the Atlantic World and there were many effects of this.
The Slave Trade in Colonial America The first blacks in the American Colonies were brought in, like many lower-class whites, as indentured servants. Most indentured servants had a contract to work without wages for a master for four to seven years, after which they became free. Blacks brought in as slaves, however, had no right to eventual freedom. The first black indentured servants arrived in Jamestown in the colony of Virginia in 1619.
The Atlantic Slave Trade involved the forced intercontinental migration of West Africans across the Middle Passage during the 17th to 19th centuries. Between twelve and fifteen million slaves were exchanged between Africa, Europe and the Americas, together with raw materials and manufactured goods.
With the slave trade in Africa, African rulers controlled it. As shown in Sacred Hunger, few European adventurers went inland. The slave traders’ holds were referred to factories. During the African slave trade, Africa was a major market for European goods such as textiles and guns. The slave trade on the African West coast became central to wealth for the leaders in Africa. The
During the Atlantic Slave Trade the Africans played many roles which help to shape the history of slavery. Most of which is said to have no documentation, but rather kept alive by storytelling or in songs. However, direct reports and accounts have been captured in one way or another. Many African tribes raided villages and sold their captives as slaves, ironically some of them were captured by other raiding parties and became slaves themselves. The Ashantee tribe used its army to capture slaves and sold them to the European traders, other tribes such as Oyo, and Fon were deeply involved in slave trading. The great leader Oba initially forbade the sale of slaves but eventually
The village economy was particularly interesting, and Olaudah's descriptions are very revealing. His people needed guns because other villages had them. The guns were brought to Africa by the Europeans, who used them to trade. (That the Europeans both supplied and fulfilled this need bears mention.) Olaudah states that he had never seen a European; his people traded with wandering merchants who acted as middlemen. These middlemen traded guns for potash, which they probably used in trade again elsewhere. Later in his life Olaudah also saw iron pots, crossbows, and European cutlasses among African people. This clearly illustrates the trade that developed between coastal tribes and Europeans, and the existence of middlemen who worked along established trade routes.
Slavery has played a strong role in African society from as early as prehistoric times, continuing to the modern era. Early slavery within Africa was a common practice in many societies, and was very central to the country’s economy. Beginning around the 7th century, two groups of non-African slave traders significantly altered the traditional African forms of slavery that had been practiced in the past. Native Africans were now being forced to leave the country to be used as slaves. The two major slave trades, trans-Saharan and trans-Atlantic, became central to the organization of Africa and its societies until the modern era. Slavery and the slave trade strongly affected African society, and