The Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Sale of Slave in the Colonies The slave trade came out of the imperialistic desires of the larger European nations of Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, France, and England. The Portuguese were first to land in Africa in the 1400’s, desiring to trade with the African Kingdoms. The need to expand and colonize new territories led Europeans into India, Africa, China, Japan and the East Indies. This also led to Columbus’s famed voyage to the West Indies. Columbus enslaved the natives, but when they died off from disease and exhaustion, Europe looked to Africa for a workforce. The idea of slavery was not a European concept though, and it existed in Africa for thousands of years. The Portuguese arrived in Senegambia, Benin, and Kongo to find an already thriving slave industry. Sudanese horsemen would invade the forest regions and capture West Africans, mainly young women and children, from stateless societies. The Transatlantic Slave Trade would shift this pattern by seeking the sale of men. Europeans did not capture slaves in Africa, rather they bought them from slave traders. Interethnic rivalries produced the slaves of the 16th century, as warfare broke out between the various peoples and prisoners would be sold into captivity. What shifted the need for slaves following the early 16th century? At first, only the Portuguese imported a small number of slaves for sale on the Iberian peninsula, but it was Columbus’s voyage and need for a work force in the West Indies that drove the slave trade thereafter. Sugar was a commodity in high demand in Europe, and late tobacco, rice and indigo drove the need for slaves upwards in the Americas. Slavery in the America’s differed from the type seen in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Slaves were viewed as chattelor personal property- and had no rights. 6.5 million African slaves were transported to Brazil and other Spanish colonies during the 16th century The Dutch soon pushed the Portuguese out of West Africa and became the primary slave traders, while also moving sugar production to the West Indies With the rise of tobacco, England soon went to war with the Dutch to control the Atlantic Slave Trade and dominated the industry for centuries after. The English Industrial Revolution was funded by the sale of slaves and production of sugar, tobacco, and indigo in the 18th century. The cheap manufactured goods were sold in Africa and traded for slaves. A triangular trading system developed from both England and the colonies. One brought sugar back to England, while the other brought sugar back to the colonies to make rum. The wars that occurred during the formation of the West African states led to a high number of available slaves. European traders would provide firearms to these various regions and profit of these wars. Warfare spread inland and slaves would be marched for hundreds of miles to the coast. Slaves were rounded up in “factories,” which acted as a HQ for slave traders. Slaves were split up from their families and ethnic groups, and then inspected, and branded if seen fit to work. Held in factories for several weeks or even months, the slaves would row them out to large ships for a voyage lasting 2-3 months, and sometimes up to 6 months. Doldrums and hurricanes were a sailors worst nightmare, and also the chance of running into a competing European nations ships could delay the voyage. Slave ships (called slavers) were packed tightly, exceeding the recommended load of slaves for the trip. What was the lower deck like on a slaver? Give explicit examples. Slaves were packed on planks measuring 5.5ft by 1.3ft and had about 20” of headroom. They were also chained to another slave, and epidemics such as dysentery, scurvy, and other illness killed 1/3rd of the cargo. Slavers would need to stop at the Guinea Coast for food supplies for the Africans who were unaccustomed to European food. Each slave would be given a spoon and would share a bucket of cooked vegetables with about 10 other slaves. Many times they lost their spoon and would have to eat with unwashed hands, leading to disease. Captains would generally skimp on the food supply to maximize profit and this led to a higher mortality rate on the ships. Some from disease and others from depression and starvation. Disease caused a large number of death on the slavers. Malaria, yellow fever, measles, smallpox, hook worm, scurvy and dysentery threatened the lives of both slaves and crew members. What led to the ships unsanitary conditions? The ship would only have 4 toilet buckets below deck, and many who were too weak to reach them would excrete where they lay. Regarded only as numbers in the captains log, the slaves died by the thousands on these voyages. Advances in the ships’ surgeons reduced these numbers greatly over time. Resistance and revolt were common occurrences at sea as many slaves chose fighting or death to a life of slavery. Most of the rebellions took place either on the shore or just off the coast of Africa, but some took place on the open sea where there was no chance of escape, only death. Suicide and starvation were also forms of resistance employed by slaves. Crew members would use hot coals or a metal mouth opening device to force feed slaves who refused to eat. In the section entitled “Cruelty,” there is a debate about how much cruelty there was aboard the slavers. Quickly read this section and discuss your thoughts. Women on slavers were targeted by the male crew members to appease their sexual appetites. Since women were only worth half the amount of a male slave, there were fewer of them brought aboard. Those who were on board were less valued by the crew and therefore abused both physically and sexually. The slaves would be prepared for landing in the West Indies on board the ship. They would be allowed to bathe, shave, and move about on the deck. The islands of Barbados and Martinique would be used to give the slaves bound for the Caribbean or North America rest. The process of selling the slaves was long and drawn out. The ships captain would haggle prices with the traders and may sell at various ports. The slaves would be oiled up to hide blemishes and scars, some would be “plugged” with hemp to keep the dysentery hidden, and they would then be closely inspected by buyers. Seasoning was a process that made new Africans more like Creoles, or slaves born in America. This was a disciplinary process in which slaves would be converted into harder workers with better attitudes. They would be given Christian, generic, or classical names. Also, they would have to learn the European languages. Many retained some African linguistics resulting in a Creole dialect. Old Africans and Creoles were in charge of training the new Africans, and many overseers were stern Africans who used the whip to establish order. This arrangement did benefit the new Africans though, since the Creoles and old Africans would acclimate them to the new world and teach them how to build, farm, and survive. What criteria deemed a slave as seasoned? 1) Survival: many slaves died in the arduous process of seasoning. 2) Adapting to food and climate: the cooler climate and food unfamiliar to West Africa. 3) Learning the language: slaves needed to speak a Creole dialect good enough to take orders. 4) Psychological: slaves could not be suicidal. How did Africans cope with the lose of family and identity? Forming extended families with shipmates and plantation workers, as well as retaining memories, culture and tradition. What factors led to the fall of the Atlantic Slave Trade in the early 19th century? England grew morally opposed to the trafficking of slaves, but also the industrialized nation was not dependent on slavery either. The slave trade was abolished by Britain in 1806 and by the US in 1807. Many defied these laws, and even the African kingdoms of Guinea and Central Africa fought to continue this trade. The English, French, Belgians, and Portuguese used this issue of the slave trade as an excuse to establish colonial empires in Africa.