The Social, Cultural, and Economic Impact of Transatlantic Slave Trade

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The Social, Cultural, and Economic Impact of the Transatlantic Slave Trade
Economic Incentives for Slavery

Genery and Hogendorn (1974) proposed that the unlimited supply of land in the Americas demanded an unlimited supply of labor to maximize profits. Indentured servants from Europe were too few in number to exploit the amount of land available for development. Native Americans had been decimated by disease, massacre, and displacement and the few remaining were often hostile to the idea living as slaves (Zinn, 1999).
Karl Marx captured the economics of slavery in brutal terms (, n.d.). A slave becomes, in the hands of a slave owner, an economic instrument intended to maximize the returns on an investment. Maximum exertion in the shortest amount of time is the economic formula that results. The relatively low labor costs produced by slavery fueled the expansion of agriculture in the Americas.

In the Beginning
A little after 1450 the Portuguese began to raid the coastal regions of the Western Sahara for Berber nomads (Thomas, 1997). These slaves were sold to households in Portugal and began to work side by side with other servants. The Caribbean became the next slave market in 1510 and the Portuguese and Spanish traders became the primary suppliers. However, there was a big difference in how the Africans were treated in the Caribbean. Rather than becoming household servants with some privileges, those ending up in the Caribbean were treated as animals
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