Atlantic slave trade

Atlantic slave trade

Overview

The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the trans-atlantic slave trade, refers to the trade in slaves that took place across the Atlantic ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 from the sixteenth through to the nineteenth centuries. The vast majority of slaves involved in the Atlantic trade were Africans from the central and western parts of the continent, who were sold by Africans to European slave traders, who transported them across the ocean to the colonies in North and South America.
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The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the trans-atlantic slave trade, refers to the trade in slaves that took place across the Atlantic ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 from the sixteenth through to the nineteenth centuries. The vast majority of slaves involved in the Atlantic trade were Africans from the central and western parts of the continent, who were sold by Africans to European slave traders, who transported them across the ocean to the colonies in North and South America. There, the slaves were forced to labor on coffee, tobacco, cocoa, cotton and sugar plantations, toil in gold and silver mines, in rice fields, the construction industry, timber for ships, or in houses to work as servants.

The slave traders were, in order of scale: the Portuguese, the British, the French, the Spanish, the Dutch, and Americans. These traders had outposts on the African coast where they purchased people from local African tribal leaders. Current estimates are that about 12 million were shipped across the Atlantic, although the actual number of people taken from their homes is considerably higher.

The slave trade is sometimes called the Maafa
Maafa
The Maafa refers to the 500 years of suffering of Africans and the African diaspora, through slavery, imperialism, colonialism, invasion, oppression, dehumanization and exploitation...

by African and African-American scholars, meaning "holocaust" or "great disaster" in Swahili
Swahili language
Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

. Some scholars, such as Marimba Ani and Maulana Karenga use the terms African Holocaust or Holocaust of Enslavement. Slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 was one element of a three-part economic cycle — the triangular trade
Triangular trade
Triangular trade, or triangle trade, is a historical term indicating among three ports or regions. Triangular trade usually evolves when a region has export commodities that are not required in the region from which its major imports come...

 and its Middle Passage
Middle Passage
The Middle Passage was the stage of the triangular trade in which millions of people from Africa were shipped to the New World, as part of the Atlantic slave trade...

 — which ultimately involved four continent
Continent
A continent is one of several very large landmasses on Earth. They are generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, with seven regions commonly regarded as continents—they are : Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.Plate tectonics is...

s, four centuries
Century
A century is one hundred consecutive years. Centuries are numbered ordinally in English and many other languages .-Start and end in the Gregorian Calendar:...

 and millions of people.

Atlantic travel


The Atlantic slave trade came about after trade contacts were first made between the continents of the "Old World
Old World
The Old World consists of those parts of the world known to classical antiquity and the European Middle Ages. It is used in the context of, and contrast with, the "New World" ....

" (Europe, Africa, and Asia) and those of the "New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

" (North America and South America). For centuries, tidal currents had made ocean travel particularly difficult and risky for the boats that were then available, and as such there had been very little, if any, naval contact between the peoples living in these continents. In the fifteenth century however, new European developments in sea-faring technologies meant that ships were better equipped to deal with the problem of tidal currents, and could begin traversing the Atlantic ocean. In doing so, European sailors came into contact with societies living along the west African coast and in the Americas whom they had never previously encountered. Historian Pierre Chaunu
Pierre Chaunu
Pierre Chaunu was a French historian. His specialty was Latin American history; he also studied French social and religious history of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries...

 termed the consequences of European navigation "disenclavement", with it marking an end of isolation for some societies and an increase in inter-societal contact for most others.

As historian John Thornton
John Thornton (historian)
John K. Thornton is an American historian specializing in the history of Africa and the African Diaspora. He is a professor in the history department at Boston University.-Early life and education:...

 noted, "A number of technical and geographical factors combined to make Europeans the most likely people to explore the Atlantic and develop its commerce." He identified these as being the drive to find new and profitable commercial opportunities outside of Europe as well as the desire to create an alternative trade network to that controlled by the Muslim
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 Empire of the Middle East, which was viewed as a commercial, political and religious threat to European Christendom. In particular, European traders wanted to trade for gold, which could be found in western Africa, and also to find a naval route to "the Indies" (India), where they could trade for luxury goods such as spices without having to obtain these items from Middle Eastern Islamic traders.

Although the initial Atlantic naval explorations were performed purely by Europeans, members of many European nationalities were involved, including sailors from the Iberian kingdoms, the Italian kingdoms, England, France and Poland. This diversity led Thornton to describe the initial "exploration of the Atlantic" as "a truly international exercise, even if many of the dramatic discoveries [such as those of Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 and Ferdinand Magellan
Ferdinand Magellan
Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer. He was born in Sabrosa, in northern Portugal, and served King Charles I of Spain in search of a westward route to the "Spice Islands" ....

] were made under the sponsorship of the Iberian monarchs", something that would give rise to the later myth that "the Iberians were the sole leaders of the exploration".

African slavery



Slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 was practiced in some parts of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 before the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade. There is evidence that enslaved people from some African states were exported to other states in Africa, Europe and Asia prior to the European colonization of the Americas. The African slave trade
African slave trade
Systems of servitude and slavery were common in many parts of Africa, as they were in much of the ancient world. In some African societies, the enslaved people were also indentured servants and fully integrated; in others, they were treated much worse...

 provided a large number of slaves to Europeans
European ethnic groups
The ethnic groups in Europe are the various ethnic groups that reside in the nations of Europe. European ethnology is the field of anthropology focusing on Europe....

.

The Atlantic slave trade was not the only slave trade from Africa, although it was the largest in volume and intensity. As Elikia M’bokolo wrote in Le Monde diplomatique
Le Monde diplomatique
Le Monde diplomatique is a monthly newspaper offering analysis and opinion on politics, culture, and current affairs. It was first created mainly for a diplomatic audience as its name implies...

: "The Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

n continent was bled of its human resources via all possible routes. Across the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

, through the Red Sea, from the Indian Ocean ports and across the Atlantic. At least ten centuries of slavery for the benefit of the Muslim countries
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

 (from the ninth to the nineteenth). ... Four million enslaved people exported via the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

, another four million through the Swahili
Swahili people
The Swahili people are a Bantu ethnic group and culture found in East Africa, mainly in the coastal regions and the islands of Kenya, Tanzania and north Mozambique. According to JoshuaProject, the Swahili number in at around 1,328,000. The name Swahili is derived from the Arabic word Sawahil,...

 ports of the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

, perhaps as many as nine million along the trans-Saharan
Trans-Saharan trade
Trans-Saharan trade requires travel across the Sahara to reach sub-Saharan Africa. While existing from prehistoric times, the peak of trade extended from the 8th century until the late 16th century.- Increasing desertification and economic incentive :...

 caravan route, and eleven to twenty million (depending on the author) across the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

."

According to John K. Thornton, Europeans usually bought enslaved people who were captured in endemic warfare
Endemic warfare
Endemic warfare is the state of continual, low-threshold warfare in a tribal warrior society. Endemic warfare is often highly ritualized and plays an important function in assisting the formation of a social structure among the tribes' men by proving themselves in battle.Ritual fighting permits...

 between African states. There were also Africans who had made a business out of capturing Africans from neighboring ethnic groups or war captives and selling them. Thornton says that Europeans provided a large new market for an already existing trade. And while an African held in slavery in his own region of Africa might escape, a person shipped away was sure never to return. People living around the Niger River
Niger River
The Niger River is the principal river of western Africa, extending about . Its drainage basin is in area. Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea...

 were transported from these markets to the coast and sold at European trading ports in exchange for musket
Musket
A musket is a muzzle-loaded, smooth bore long gun, fired from the shoulder. Muskets were designed for use by infantry. A soldier armed with a musket had the designation musketman or musketeer....

s (matchlock between 1540–1606 but flintlock from then on) and manufactured goods such as cloth or alcohol.

European colonization and slavery in West Africa


Upon discovering new lands through their naval explorations, European colonisers soon began to migrate to and settle in lands outside of their native continent. Off of the coast of Africa, European migrants, under the directions of the Kingdom of Castile
Kingdom of Castile
Kingdom of Castile was one of the medieval kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. It emerged as a political autonomous entity in the 9th century. It was called County of Castile and was held in vassalage from the Kingdom of León. Its name comes from the host of castles constructed in the region...

, invaded and colonised
Conquest of the Canary Islands
The conquest of the Canary Islands by the Kingdom of Castille took place between 1402 and 1496. It can be divided into two periods, the Conquista señorial, carried out by Castilian nobility in exchange for a covenant of allegiance with the crown, and the Conquista realenga, carried out by the...

 the Canary Islands
Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

 during the fifteenth century, where they converted much of the land to the production of wine and sugar. Along with this, they also captured native Canary Islanders, the guanches
Guanches
Guanches is the name given to the aboriginal Berber inhabitants of the Canary Islands. It is believed that they migrated to the archipelago sometime between 1000 BCE and 100 BCE or perhaps earlier...

, to use as slaves both on the Islands and across the Christian Mediterranean.

As historian John Thornton remarked, "the actual motivation for European expansion and for navigational breakthroughs was little more than to exploit the opportunity for immediate profits made by raiding and the seizure or purchase of trade commodities." Using the Canary Islands as a naval base, European, and at the time primarily Portuguese
Portuguese people
The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

 traders then began to move their activities down the western coast of Africa, performing raids in which slaves would be captured to be later sold in the Mediterranean. Although initially successful in this venture, "it was not long before African naval forces were alerted to the new dangers, and the Portuguese [raiding] ships began to meet strong and effective resistance", with the crews of several of them being killed by African sailors, whose boats were better equipped at traversing the west African coasts and river systems.

By 1494, the Portuguese king had entered agreements with the rulers of several West African states that would allow trade between their respective peoples, enabling the Portuguese to "tap into" the "well-developed commercial economy in Africa... without engaging in hostilities." "[P]eaceful trade became the rule all along the African coast", although there were some rare exceptions when acts of aggression led to violence; for instance Portuguese traders attempted to conquer the Bissagos Islands
Bissagos Islands
The Bissagos Islands or Bijagós Archipelago are a group of 18 major islands and dozens more smaller ones in the Atlantic Ocean with an area of 2,624 km2 and a population of 30,000...

 in 1535, which was followed in 1571 when Portugal, supported by the Kingdom of Kongo
Kingdom of Kongo
The Kingdom of Kongo was an African kingdom located in west central Africa in what are now northern Angola, Cabinda, the Republic of the Congo, and the western portion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

, was able to capture the south-western region of Angola
Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

 in order to secure its threatened economic interest in the area. Although Kongo later joined a coalition to force the Portuguese out in 1591, Portugal had secured a foothold on the continent that it would continue to occupy until the twentieth century. Despite these incidences of occasional violence between African and European forces however, many African states were able to ensure that any trade went on in their own terms, imposing custom duties on foreign ships, and in one case that occurred in 1525, the Kongolese king, Afonso I
Afonso I of Kongo
Mvemba a Nzinga or Nzinga Mbemba , also known as King Afonso I, was a ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo in the first half of the 16th century. He reigned over the Kongo Empire from 1509 to late 1542 or 1543.-Pre-reign career:...

, seized a French vessel and its crew for illegally trading on his coast.

Historians have widely debated the nature of the relationship between these African kingdoms and the European traders. Walter Rodney
Walter Rodney
Walter Rodney was a prominent Guyanese historian and political activist, who was assassinated in Guyana in 1980.-Career:...

 (1972) has argued that it was an unequal relationship, with Africans being forced into a "colonial" trade with the more economically developed Europeans, exchanging raw materials and human resources (i.e. slaves) for manufactured goods. He argued that it was this economic trade agreement dating back to the sixteenth century that led to Africa being underdeveloped in his own time. These ideas were supported by other historians, including Ralph Austen (1987). This idea of an unequal relationship was however contested by John Thornton (1998), who argued that "the Atlantic slave trade was not nearly as critical to the African economy as these scholars believed" and that "African manufacturing [at this period] was more than capable of handling competition from preindustrial Europe."

European colonization and slavery in the Americas



However, it was not just along the west African coast, but also in the Americas that Europeans began searching for commercial viability. European Christendom first became aware of the existence of the Americas after they were discovered by an expedition led by Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 in 1492. As in Africa however, the indigenous peoples widely resisted European incursions into their territory during the first few centuries of contact, being somewhat effective in doing so. In the Caribbean, Spanish settlers were only able to secure control over the larger islands by allying themselves with certain Native American tribal groups in their conflicts with neighbouring societies. Groups such as the Kulinago of the Lesser Antilles and the Carib and Arawak people of (what is now) Venezuela launched effective counter attacks against Spanish bases in the Caribbean, with native-built boats, which were smaller and better suited to the seas around the islands, achieving success on a number of cases at defeating the Spanish ships.

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, colonists from Europe also settled on the otherwise uninhabited islands of the Atlantic such as Madeira
Madeira
Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago that lies between and , just under 400 km north of Tenerife, Canary Islands, in the north Atlantic Ocean and an outermost region of the European Union...

 and the Azores
Azores
The Archipelago of the Azores is composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, and is located about west from Lisbon and about east from the east coast of North America. The islands, and their economic exclusion zone, form the Autonomous Region of the...

, where with no slaves to sell, exporting products for export became the main industry.

Sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries


The Atlantic slave trade is customarily divided into two eras, known as the First and Second Atlantic Systems.

The First Atlantic system was the trade of enslaved Africans to, primarily, South American colonies of the Portuguese and Spanish empires; it accounted for only slightly more than 3% of all Atlantic slave trade. It started (on a significant scale) in about 1502 and lasted until 1580 when Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 was temporarily united
Iberian Union
The Iberian union was a political unit that governed all of the Iberian Peninsula south of the Pyrenees from 1580–1640, through a dynastic union between the monarchies of Portugal and Spain after the War of the Portuguese Succession...

 with Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. While the Portuguese traded enslaved people themselves, the Spanish empire relied on the asiento
Asiento
The Asiento in the history of slavery refers to the permission given by the Spanish government to other countries to sell people as slaves to the Spanish colonies, between the years 1543 and 1834...

 system, awarding merchants (mostly from other countries) the license to trade enslaved people to their colonies. During the first Atlantic system most of these traders were Portuguese, giving them a near-monopoly during the era, although some Dutch, English, and French traders also participated in the slave trade. After the union, Portugal came under Spanish legislation that prohibited it from directly engaging in the slave trade as a carrier, and become a target for the traditional enemies of Spain, losing a large share to the Dutch, British and French.

The Second Atlantic system was the trade of enslaved Africans by mostly British, Portuguese, French and Dutch traders. The main destinations of this phase were the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 colonies and Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, as European nations built up economically slave-dependent colonies in the New World. Only slightly more than 3% of the enslaved people exported were traded between 1450 and 1600, 16% in the 17th century.

It is estimated than half of the slave trade took place during the 18th century, with the British, Portuguese and French being the main carriers of nine out of ten slaves abducted from Africa.

The 19th century saw a reduction of the slave trade, that accounted to 28.5% of the total Atlantic slave trade.

Triangular trade



European colonists initially practiced systems of both bonded labour and "Indian" slavery
Slavery among the indigenous peoples of the Americas
Slavery among the indigenous peoples of the Americas took many forms throughout North and South America. Slavery was institution among various Pre-Columbian indigenous peoples of the Americas; however, chattel slavery was introduced after European and African contact. Indigenous peoples have...

, enslaving many of the natives of the New World. For a variety of reasons, Africans replaced Native Americans as the main population of enslaved people in the Americas. In some cases, such as on some of the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 Islands, warfare and diseases such as smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

 eliminated the natives completely. In other cases, such as in South Carolina, Virginia, and New England, the need for alliances with native tribes coupled with the availability of enslaved Africans at affordable prices (beginning in the early 18th century for these colonies) resulted in a shift away from Native American slavery.


A burial ground in Campeche
Campeche, Campeche
San Francisco de Campeche is the capital city of the Mexican state of Campeche, located at,...

, Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, suggests slaves had been brought there not long after Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

 completed the subjugation of Aztec
Aztec
The Aztec people were certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the late post-classic period in Mesoamerican chronology.Aztec is the...

 and Mayan
Maya civilization
The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Classic period The Maya is a Mesoamerican...

 Mexico. The graveyard had been in use from approximately 1550 to the late 17th century.

The first side of the triangle was the export of goods from Europe to Africa. A number of African kings and merchants took part in the trading of enslaved people from 1440 to about 1833. For each captive, the African rulers would receive a variety of goods from Europe. These included guns, ammunition and other factory made goods. The second leg of the triangle exported enslaved Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas and the Caribbean Islands. The third and final part of the triangle was the return of goods to Europe from the Americas. The goods were the products of slave-labour plantations and included cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

, sugar
Sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

, tobacco
Tobacco
Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

, molasses
Molasses
Molasses is a viscous by-product of the processing of sugar cane, grapes or sugar beets into sugar. The word molasses comes from the Portuguese word melaço, which ultimately comes from mel, the Latin word for "honey". The quality of molasses depends on the maturity of the sugar cane or sugar beet,...

 and rum
Rum
Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses, or directly from sugarcane juice, by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak barrels...

.

However, Brazil (the main importer of slaves) manufactured these goods in South America and directly traded with African ports, thus not taking part in a triangular trade.

Labor and slavery


The Atlantic Slave Trade was the result of, among other things, labor shortage
Labor shortage
In its narrowest definition, a labor shortage is an economic condition in which there are insufficient qualified candidates to fill the market-place demands for employment at any price...

, itself in turn created by the desire of European colonists to exploit New World land and resources for capital profits. Native
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 peoples were at first utilized as slave labor by Europeans, until a large number died from overwork and Old World
Old World
The Old World consists of those parts of the world known to classical antiquity and the European Middle Ages. It is used in the context of, and contrast with, the "New World" ....

 diseases. Alternative sources of labor, such as indentured servitude, failed to provide a sufficient workforce.
Many crops could not be sold for profit, or even grown, in Europe. Exporting crops and goods from the New World to Europe often proved to be more profitable than producing them on the European mainland. A vast amount of labor was needed to create and sustain plantations that required intensive labor to grow, harvest, and process prized tropical crops. Western Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

 (part of which became known as 'the Slave Coast
Slave Coast
The Slave Coast is the name of the coastal areas of present Togo, Benin and western Nigeria, a fertile region of coastal Western Africa along the Bight of Benin. In pre-colonial time it was one of the most densely populated parts of the African continent...

'), and later Central Africa
Central Africa
Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda....

, became the source for enslaved people to meet the demand for labor.

The basic reason for the constant shortage of labor was that, with large amounts of cheap land available and lots of landowners searching for workers, free European immigrants were able to become landowners themselves after a relatively short time, thus increasing the need for workers.

Thomas Jefferson attributed the use of slave labor in part to the climate, and the consequent idle leisure afforded by slave labor: "For in a warm climate, no man will labour for himself who can make another labour for him. This is so true, that of the proprietors of slaves a very small proportion indeed are ever seen to labour."

African participation in the slave trade


Africans themselves played a role in the slave trade. The Africans that participated in the slave trade sold their captive or prisoners of war to European buyers. Selling captives or prisoners was common practice amongst Africans and Arabs during that era. The prisoners and captives that were sold were usually from neighboring or enemy ethnic groups. These captive slaves were not considered as part of the ethnic group or 'tribe' and kings held no particular loyalty to them. At times, kings and businessmen would sell the criminals in their society to the buyers so that they could no longer commit crimes in that area. Most other slaves were obtained from kidnappings, or through raids that occurred at gunpoint through joint ventures with the Europeans. Some Africans kings refused to sell any of their captives or criminals. King Jaja of Opobo
Jaja of Opobo
Jaja of Opobo was a merchant prince and the founder of Opobo city-state in an area that is now part of Nigeria. Born in Umuduruoha, Amaigbo in Igboland and sold at about age twelve as a slave in Bonny...

 refused to do business with the slavers completely.However, Kimani Nehusi notes that with the rise of a large commercial slave trade, driven by European needs, enslaving your enemy became less a consequence of war, and more and more a reason to go to war.

European participation in the slave trade


Although Europeans were the market for slaves, Europeans rarely entered the interior of Africa, due to fear of disease and fierce African resistance. The enslaved people would be brought to coastal outposts where they would be traded for goods. Enslavement became a major by-product of internal war in Africa as nation states expanded through military conflicts in many cases through deliberate sponsorship of benefiting Western European nations. During such periods of rapid state formation or expansion (Asante
Asante
Asante may mean:*The Ashanti people of Ghana*The Ashanti Confederacy, a pre-colonial state in West Africa.*Asante Kotoko, a football club*Empire of Ashanti The ancient state of the ashanti that was powerful around the West African region...

 and Dahomey
Dahomey
Dahomey was a country in west Africa in what is now the Republic of Benin. The Kingdom of Dahomey was a powerful west African state that was founded in the seventeenth century and survived until 1894. From 1894 until 1960 Dahomey was a part of French West Africa. The independent Republic of Dahomey...

 being good examples), slavery formed an important element of political life which the Europeans exploited: As Queen Sara's plea to the Portuguese courts revealed, the system became "sell to the Europeans or be sold to the Europeans". In Africa, convicted criminals could be punished by enslavement, a punishment which became more prevalent as slavery became more lucrative. Since most of these nations did not have a prison system, convicts were often sold or used in the scattered local domestic slave market.

The Atlantic slave trade peaked in the last two decades of the 18th century, during and following the Kongo Civil War
Kongo Civil War
The Kongo Civil War was an internal conflict between rival houses of the Kingdom of Kongo. The war waged throughout the middle of the 17th and 18th centuries pitting partisans of the House of Kinlaza against the House of Kimpanzu...

. Wars amongst tiny states along the Niger River's Igbo-inhabited region and the accompanying banditry also spiked in this period. Another reason for surplus supply of enslaved people was major warfare conducted by expanding states such as the kingdom of Dahomey, the Oyo Empire
Oyo Empire
The Oyo Empire was a Yoruba empire of what is today southwestern Nigeria. The empire was established before the 14th century and grew to become one of the largest West African states encountered by European explorers. It rose to preeminence through its possession of a powerful cavalry and wealth...

 and Asante Empire.

The majority of European conquests, raids and enslavements occurred toward the end or after the transatlantic slave trade. One exception to this is the conquest of Ndongo in present day Angola
Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

 where Ndongo's slaves, warrior
Warrior
A warrior is a person skilled in combat or warfare, especially within the context of a tribal or clan-based society that recognizes a separate warrior class.-Warrior classes in tribal culture:...

s, free citizens and even nobility
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

 were taken into slavery by the Portuguese conquerors after the fall of the state.

Slavery in Africa and the New World contrasted


Forms of slavery varied both in Africa and in the New World. In general, slavery in Africa was not heritable – that is, the children of slaves were free – while in the Americas slaves' children were legally enslaved at birth. This was connected to another distinction: slavery in West Africa was not reserved for racial or religious minorities, as it was in European colonies, although the case was otherwise in places such as Somalia.

The treatment of slaves in Africa was more variable than in the Americas. At one extreme, the kings of Dahomey routinely slaughtered slaves in hundreds or thousands in sacrificial rituals, and the use of slaves as human sacrifices was also known in Cameroon. On the other hand, slaves in other places were often treated as part of the family, "adopted children," with significant rights including the right to marry without their masters' permission. In the Americas, slaves were denied the right to marry freely and even humane masters did not accept them as equal members of the family; however, while grisly executions of slaves convicted of revolt or other offenses were commonplace in the Americas, New World slaves were not subject to arbitrary ritual sacrifice.. New World slaves were treated in a way that was similar to livestock; they were very useful and expensive enough to maintain and care for, but still the property of their owners.

Slave market regions and participation



There were eight principal areas used by Europeans to buy and ship slaves to the Western Hemisphere. The number of enslaved people sold to the New World varied throughout the slave trade. As for the distribution of slaves from regions of activity, certain areas produced far more enslaved people than others. Between 1650 and 1900, 10.24 million enslaved Africans arrived in the Americas from the following regions in the following proportions:
  • Senegambia (Senegal
    Senegal
    Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...

     and The Gambia
    The Gambia
    The Republic of The Gambia, commonly referred to as The Gambia, or Gambia , is a country in West Africa. Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa, surrounded by Senegal except for a short coastline on the Atlantic Ocean in the west....

    ): 4.8%
  • Upper Guinea
    Upper Guinea
    Upper Guinea or la Haute-Guinée is a large plain covering eastern Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and extending into north western Côte d'Ivoire. Mostly forming the upper watershed of the River Niger, it is sparsely populated and is home to the Haut Niger National Park.Upper Guinea can also refer to...

     (Guinea-Bissau
    Guinea-Bissau
    The Republic of Guinea-Bissau is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Senegal to the north, and Guinea to the south and east, with the Atlantic Ocean to its west....

    , Guinea
    Guinea
    Guinea , officially the Republic of Guinea , is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea , it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau. Guinea is divided into eight administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures...

     and Sierra Leone
    Sierra Leone
    Sierra Leone , officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north and east, Liberia to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of and has an estimated population between 5.4 and 6.4...

    ): 4.1%
  • Windward Coast
    Pepper Coast
    Pepper Coast is the name of a coastal area in western Africa, between Cape Mesurado and Cape Palmas. It encloses the present republic of Liberia. It got its name from the melegueta pepper. The pepper is also known as the grain of paradise, which gave rise to an alternative name, the Grain Coast...

     (Liberia
    Liberia
    Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

     and Côte d'Ivoire
    Côte d'Ivoire
    The Republic of Côte d'Ivoire or Ivory Coast is a country in West Africa. It has an area of , and borders the countries Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana; its southern boundary is along the Gulf of Guinea. The country's population was 15,366,672 in 1998 and was estimated to be...

    ): 1.8%
  • Gold Coast
    Gold Coast (British colony)
    The Gold Coast was a British colony on the Gulf of Guinea in west Africa that became the independent nation of Ghana in 1957.-Overview:The first Europeans to arrive at the coast were the Portuguese in 1471. They encountered a variety of African kingdoms, some of which controlled substantial...

     (Ghana
    Ghana
    Ghana , officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located in West Africa. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south...

     and east of Côte d'Ivoire
    Côte d'Ivoire
    The Republic of Côte d'Ivoire or Ivory Coast is a country in West Africa. It has an area of , and borders the countries Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana; its southern boundary is along the Gulf of Guinea. The country's population was 15,366,672 in 1998 and was estimated to be...

    ): 10.4%
  • Bight of Benin
    Bight of Benin
    The Bight of Benin is a bight on the western African coast that extends eastward for about 400 miles from Cape St. Paul to the Nun outlet of the Niger River. To the east it is continued by the Bight of Bonny . The bight is part of the Gulf of Guinea...

     (Togo
    Togo
    Togo, officially the Togolese Republic , is a country in West Africa bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north. It extends south to the Gulf of Guinea, on which the capital Lomé is located. Togo covers an area of approximately with a population of approximately...

    , Benin
    Benin
    Benin , officially the Republic of Benin, is a country in West Africa. It borders Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east and Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. Its small southern coastline on the Bight of Benin is where a majority of the population is located...

     and Nigeria
    Nigeria
    Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

     west of the Niger Delta): 20.2%
  • Bight of Biafra (Nigeria
    Nigeria
    Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

     east of the Niger Delta
    Niger Delta
    The Niger Delta, the delta of the Niger River in Nigeria, is a densely populated region sometimes called the Oil Rivers because it was once a major producer of palm oil...

    , Cameroon
    Cameroon
    Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon , is a country in west Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the...

    , Equatorial Guinea
    Equatorial Guinea
    Equatorial Guinea, officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea where the capital Malabo is situated.Annobón is the southernmost island of Equatorial Guinea and is situated just south of the equator. Bioko island is the northernmost point of Equatorial Guinea. Between the two islands and to the...

     and Gabon
    Gabon
    Gabon , officially the Gabonese Republic is a state in west central Africa sharing borders with Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, and with the Republic of the Congo curving around the east and south. The Gulf of Guinea, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean is to the west...

    ): 14.6%
  • West Central Africa (Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola
    Angola
    Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

    ): 39.4%
  • Southeastern Africa (Mozambique
    Mozambique
    Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

     and Madagascar
    Madagascar
    The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

    ): 4.7%

African kingdoms of the era


There were over 173 city-states and kingdoms in the African regions affected by the slave trade between 1502 and 1853, when Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 became the last Atlantic import nation to outlaw the slave trade. Of those 173, no fewer than 68 could be deemed nation states with political and military infrastructures that enabled them to dominate their neighbors. Nearly every present-day nation had a pre-colonial predecessor, sometimes an African Empire
African empires
There have been a number of pre-colonial African kingdoms of varying size and influence:*Iron Age empires of North Africa*Medieval Islamic empires in North Africa and the Horn of Africa*The medieval Sahelian kingdoms...

 with which European traders had to barter and eventually battle.

Ethnic groups


The different ethnic groups brought to the Americas closely corresponds to the regions of heaviest activity in the slave trade. Over 45 distinct ethnic groups were taken to the Americas during the trade. Of the 45, the ten most prominent according to slave documentation of the era are listed below.
  1. The BaKongo
    Kongo people
    The Bakongo or the Kongo people , also sometimes referred to as Kongolese or Congolese, is a Bantu ethnic group which lives along the Atlantic coast of Africa from Pointe-Noire to Luanda, Angola...

     of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola
    Angola
    Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

  2. The Mandé of Upper Guinea
    Guinea
    Guinea , officially the Republic of Guinea , is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea , it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau. Guinea is divided into eight administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures...

  3. The Gbe
    Gbe languages
    The Gbe languages form a cluster of about twenty related languages stretching across the area between eastern Ghana and western Nigeria. The total number of speakers of Gbe languages is between four and eight million. The most widely spoken Gbe language is Ewe , followed by Fon...

     speakers of Togo
    Togo
    Togo, officially the Togolese Republic , is a country in West Africa bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north. It extends south to the Gulf of Guinea, on which the capital Lomé is located. Togo covers an area of approximately with a population of approximately...

    , Ghana
    Ghana
    Ghana , officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located in West Africa. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south...

     and Benin
    Benin
    Benin , officially the Republic of Benin, is a country in West Africa. It borders Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east and Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. Its small southern coastline on the Bight of Benin is where a majority of the population is located...

     (Adja, Mina, Ewe, Fon)
  4. The Akan
    Akan people
    The Akan people are an ethnic group found predominately in Ghana and The Ivory Coast. Akans are the majority in both of these countries and overall have a population of over 20 million people.The Akan speak Kwa languages-Origin and ethnogenesis:...

     of Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire
    Côte d'Ivoire
    The Republic of Côte d'Ivoire or Ivory Coast is a country in West Africa. It has an area of , and borders the countries Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana; its southern boundary is along the Gulf of Guinea. The country's population was 15,366,672 in 1998 and was estimated to be...

  5. The Wolof
    Wolof people
    The Wolof are an ethnic group found in Senegal, The Gambia, and Mauritania.In Senegal, the Wolof form an ethnic plurality with about 43.3% of the population are Wolofs...

     of Senegal
    Senegal
    Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...

     and The Gambia
    The Gambia
    The Republic of The Gambia, commonly referred to as The Gambia, or Gambia , is a country in West Africa. Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa, surrounded by Senegal except for a short coastline on the Atlantic Ocean in the west....

  6. The Igbo
    The Igbo in the Atlantic slave trade
    The Igbo in the Atlantic slave trade became one of the main ethnic groups enslaved in the era lasting between the 16th and late 19th century. Located near indigenous Igbo territory, the Bight of Biafra , became the principal area in obtaining Igbo slaves...

     of southeastern Nigeria
    Nigeria
    Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

  7. The Mbundu
    Mbundu
    The Northern Mbundu or Ambundu are a people living in Angola's North-West, North of the river Kwanza. The Ambundu speak Kimbundu, and mostly also the official language of the country, Portuguese...

     of Angola (includes Ovimbundu)
  8. The Yoruba
    Yoruba people
    The Yoruba people are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. The majority of the Yoruba speak the Yoruba language...

     of southwestern Nigeria
  9. The Chamba
    Chamba people
    The Chamba people of Nigeria and Cameroon that speak two distantly related languages: Chamba Leko, of the Leko–Nimbari languages, and Chamba Daka, of the Dakoid languages...

     of Cameroon
    Cameroon
    Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon , is a country in west Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the...

  10. The Makua of Mozambique
    Mozambique
    Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...


Human toll



The transatlantic slave trade resulted in a vast and as yet still unknown loss of life for African captives both in and outside of America. Approximately 1.2 – 2.4 million Africans died during their transport to the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

 More died soon upon their arrival. The amount of life lost in the actual procurement of slaves remains a mystery but may equal or exceed the amount actually enslaved.

The savage nature of the trade led to the destruction of individuals and cultures. The following figures do not include deaths of enslaved Africans as a result of their actual labor, slave revolts or diseases they caught while living among New World populations.

A database compiled in the late 1990s put the figure for the transatlantic slave trade at more than 11 million people. For a long time an accepted figure was 15 million, although this has in recent years been revised down. Most historians now agree that at least 12 million slaves left the continent between the 15th and 19th century, but 10 to 20% died on board ships. Thus a figure of 11 million enslaved people transported to the Americas is the nearest demonstrable figure historians can produce. Besides the slaves who died on the Middle Passage itself, even more slaves probably died in the slave raids in Africa. The death toll from four centuries of the Atlantic slave trade is estimated at 10 million. According to William Rubinstein, "... of these 10 million estimated dead blacks, possibly 6 million were killed by other blacks in African tribal wars and raiding parties aimed at securing slaves for transport to America."

African conflicts



According to Dr. Kimani Nehusi, the presence of European slavers affected the way in which the legal code in African societies responded to offenders. Crimes traditionally punishable by some other form of punishment became punishable by enslavement and sale to slave traders. According to David Stannard
David Stannard
David Edward Stannard is an American historian and Professor of American Studies at the University of Hawaii. He is particularly known for his book American Holocaust , on the genocide of the native American population.-Early life:He was born to Florence E. Harwood Stannard and David L. Stannard,...

's American Holocaust, 50% of African deaths occurred in Africa as a result of wars between native kingdoms, which produced the majority of slaves. This includes not only those who died in battles, but also those who died as a result of forced marches from inland areas to slave ports on the various coasts. The practice of enslaving enemy combatants and their villages was widespread throughout Western and West Central Africa, although wars were rarely started to procure slaves. The slave trade was largely a by-product of tribal and state war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

fare as a way of removing potential dissidents after victory or financing future wars. However, some African groups proved particularly adept and brutal at the practice of enslaving such as Oyo
Oyo Empire
The Oyo Empire was a Yoruba empire of what is today southwestern Nigeria. The empire was established before the 14th century and grew to become one of the largest West African states encountered by European explorers. It rose to preeminence through its possession of a powerful cavalry and wealth...

, Benin
Benin
Benin , officially the Republic of Benin, is a country in West Africa. It borders Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east and Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. Its small southern coastline on the Bight of Benin is where a majority of the population is located...

, Igala
Igala
Igala are an ethnic group of Nigeria. Igala practice a number of different religions, including animism, Christianity, and Islam.The home of the Igala people is situated east of the river Niger and Benue confluence and astride the Niger in Lokoja, Kogi state of Nigeria...

, Kaabu
Kaabu
The Kaabu Empire was a Mandinka Kingdom of Senegambia that rose to prominence in the region thanks to its origins as a former province of the Mali Empire...

, Asanteman, Dahomey
Dahomey
Dahomey was a country in west Africa in what is now the Republic of Benin. The Kingdom of Dahomey was a powerful west African state that was founded in the seventeenth century and survived until 1894. From 1894 until 1960 Dahomey was a part of French West Africa. The independent Republic of Dahomey...

, the Aro Confederacy
Aro Confederacy
The Aro Confederacy was a political union orchestrated by the Igbo subgroup, the Aro people, centered in Arochukwu in present day Southeastern Nigeria. Their influence and presence was across Eastern Nigeria into parts of the Niger Delta and Southern Igala during the 18th and 19th centuries...

 and the Imbangala
Imbangala
The Imbangala or Mbangala were 17th century groups of Angolan warriors and marauders who founded the kingdom of Kasanje.-Origins of the Imbangala:...

 war bands.

In letters written by the Manikongo
Manikongo
The Manikongo or MweneKongo was the title of the rulers of the Kingdom of Kongo, a kingdom that existed from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries and consisted of land in present-day Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo...

, Nzinga Mbemba Afonso
Afonso I of Kongo
Mvemba a Nzinga or Nzinga Mbemba , also known as King Afonso I, was a ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo in the first half of the 16th century. He reigned over the Kongo Empire from 1509 to late 1542 or 1543.-Pre-reign career:...

, to the King João III of Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, he writes that Portuguese merchandise flowing in is what is fueling the trade in Africans. He requests the King of Portugal to stop sending merchandise but should only send missionaries. In one of his letter he writes:
"Each day the traders are kidnapping our people—children of this country, sons of our nobles and vassals, even people of our own family. This corruption and depravity are so widespread that our land is entirely depopulated. We need in this kingdom only priests and schoolteachers, and no merchandise, unless it is wine and flour for Mass. It is our wish that this Kingdom not be a place for the trade or transport of slaves."

Many of our subjects eagerly lust after Portuguese merchandise that your subjects have brought into our domains. To satisfy this inordinate appetite, they seize many of our black free subjects.... They sell them. After having taken these prisoners [to the coast] secretly or at night..... As soon as the captives are in the hands of white men they are branded with a red-hot iron.


Before the arrival of the Portuguese
Portuguese people
The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

, slavery had already existed in Kongo
Kingdom of Kongo
The Kingdom of Kongo was an African kingdom located in west central Africa in what are now northern Angola, Cabinda, the Republic of the Congo, and the western portion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

. Despite its establishment within his kingdom, Afonso
Afonso I of Kongo
Mvemba a Nzinga or Nzinga Mbemba , also known as King Afonso I, was a ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo in the first half of the 16th century. He reigned over the Kongo Empire from 1509 to late 1542 or 1543.-Pre-reign career:...

 believed that the slave trade should be subject to Kongo law. When he suspected the Portuguese of receiving illegally enslaved persons to sell, he wrote in to King João III in 1526 imploring him to put a stop to the practice.

The kings of Dahomey
Dahomey
Dahomey was a country in west Africa in what is now the Republic of Benin. The Kingdom of Dahomey was a powerful west African state that was founded in the seventeenth century and survived until 1894. From 1894 until 1960 Dahomey was a part of French West Africa. The independent Republic of Dahomey...

 sold their war captives into transatlantic slavery, who otherwise would have been killed in a ceremony known as the Annual Customs
The annual customs of Dahomey
Every year in the Kingdom of Dahomey, a huge festival in honor of the ancestors was organized called the annual "customs".In the customs, the king would assemble the entire court, foreign dignitaries, and the populace...

. As one of West Africa's principal slave states, Dahomey became extremely unpopular with neighbouring peoples. Like the Bambara Empire
Bambara Empire
The Bamana Empire was a large pre-colonial West African state based at Ségou, now in Mali. It was ruled by the Kulubali or Coulibaly dynasty established circa 1640 by Kaladian Coulibaly also known as Fa Sine or Biton-si-u...

 to the east, the Khasso
Khasso
Khasso or Xaaso was a West African kingdom of the 17th to 19th centuries, occupying territory in what is today Senegal and the Kayes Region of Mali. Its capital was at Medina until its fall....

 kingdoms depended heavily on the slave trade
African slave trade
Systems of servitude and slavery were common in many parts of Africa, as they were in much of the ancient world. In some African societies, the enslaved people were also indentured servants and fully integrated; in others, they were treated much worse...

 for their economy. A family's status was indicated by the number of slaves it owned, leading to wars for the sole purpose of taking more captives. This trade led the Khasso into increasing contact with the Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an settlements of Africa's west coast, particularly the French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. Benin
Benin Empire
The Benin Empire was a pre-colonial African state in what is now modern Nigeria. It is not to be confused with the modern-day country called Benin, formerly called Dahomey.-Origin:...

 grew increasingly rich during the 16th and 17th centuries on the slave trade with Europe; slaves from enemy states of the interior were sold, and carried to the Americas in Dutch and Portuguese ships. The Bight of Benin's shore soon came to be known as the "Slave Coast".

King Gezo of Dahomey
Dahomey
Dahomey was a country in west Africa in what is now the Republic of Benin. The Kingdom of Dahomey was a powerful west African state that was founded in the seventeenth century and survived until 1894. From 1894 until 1960 Dahomey was a part of French West Africa. The independent Republic of Dahomey...

 said in the 1840s:
The slave trade is the ruling principle of my people. It is the source and the glory of their wealth…the mother lulls the child to sleep with notes of triumph over an enemy reduced to slavery…


In 1807, the UK Parliament passed the Bill that abolished the trading of slaves. The King of Bonny (now in Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

) was horrified at the conclusion of the practice:
We think this trade must go on. That is the verdict of our oracle and the priests. They say that your country, however great, can never stop a trade ordained by God himself.

Port factories


After being marched to the coast for sale, enslaved people waited in large forts called factories. The amount of time in factories varied, but Milton Meltzer
Milton Meltzer
Milton Meltzer was an American historian and author best known for his history nonfiction books on Jewish, African-American and American history...

's Slavery: A World History states this process resulted in or around 4.5% of deaths during the transatlantic slave trade. In other words, over 820,000 people would have died in African ports such as Benguela
Benguela
Benguela is a city in western Angola, south of Luanda, and capital of Benguela Province. It lies on a bay of the same name, in 12° 33’ S., 13° 25’ E...

, Elmina
Elmina
Elmina, is a town in the Central Region, situated on a south-facing bay on the Atlantic Ocean coast of Ghana, about 12 km west of Cape Coast...

 and Bonny reducing the number of those shipped to 17.5 million.

Atlantic shipment


After being captured and held in the factories, slaves entered the infamous Middle Passage
Middle Passage
The Middle Passage was the stage of the triangular trade in which millions of people from Africa were shipped to the New World, as part of the Atlantic slave trade...

. Meltzer's research puts this phase of the slave trade's overall mortality at 12.5%. Around 2.2 million Africans died during these voyages where they were packed into tight, unsanitary spaces on ships for months at a time. Measures were taken to stem the onboard mortality rate such as enforced "dancing" (as exercise) above deck and the practice of force-feeding enslaved people who tried to starve themselves. The conditions on board also resulted in the spread of fatal diseases. Other fatalities were the result of suicides by jumping over board by slaves who could no longer endure the conditions. The slave traders would try to fit anywhere from 350 to 600 slaves on one ship. Before the shipping of enslaved people was completely outlawed in 1853, 15.3 million enslaved people had arrived in the Americas.

Raymond L. Cohn, an economics professor whose research has focused on economic history
Economic history
Economic history is the study of economies or economic phenomena in the past. Analysis in economic history is undertaken using a combination of historical methods, statistical methods and by applying economic theory to historical situations and institutions...

 and international migration
International migration
International migration occurs when peoples cross state boundaries and stay in the host state for some minimum length of time. Migration occurs for many reasons. Many people leave their home countries in order to look for economic opportunities in another country. Others migrate to be with family...

, has researched the mortality rate
Mortality rate
Mortality rate is a measure of the number of deaths in a population, scaled to the size of that population, per unit time...

s among Africans during the voyages of the Atlantic slave trade. He found that mortality rates decreased over the history of the slave trade, primarily because the length of time necessary for the voyage was declining. "In the eighteenth century many slave voyages took at least 2½ months. In the nineteenth century, 2 months appears to have been the maximum length of the voyage, and many voyages were far shorter. Fewer slaves died in the Middle Passage over time mainly because the passage was shorter."

Seasoning camps


Meltzer also states that 33% of Africans would have died in the first year at seasoning camps
Seasoning (slave)
Seasoning was a process conducted during the Atlantic slave trade for the purpose of "breaking" slaves.-History:The practice conditioned the African captives for their new lot in life; newly arrived African captives would have to be trained into the daily rigors that await them in the Americas...

 found throughout the Caribbean. Many slaves shipped directly to North America bypassed this process; however most slaves (destined for island or South American plantations) were likely to be put through this ordeal. The enslaved people were tortured for the purpose of "breaking" them (like the practice of breaking horses) and conditioning them to their new lot in life. Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

 held one of the most notorious of these camps. Dysentery
Dysentery
Dysentery is an inflammatory disorder of the intestine, especially of the colon, that results in severe diarrhea containing mucus and/or blood in the faeces with fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, dysentery can be fatal.There are differences between dysentery and normal bloody diarrhoea...

 was the leading cause of death. All in all, 5 million Africans died in these camps reducing the final number of Africans to about 10 million.

European competition


The trade of enslaved Africans in the Atlantic has its origins in the explorations of Portuguese
Portuguese people
The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

 mariners down the coast of West Africa in the 15th century. Before that, contact with African slave markets was made to ransom Portuguese that had been captured by the intense North African Barbary pirate attacks on Portuguese ships and coastal villages, frequently leaving them depopulated. The first Europeans to use enslaved Africans in the New World were the Spaniards who sought auxiliaries for their conquest expeditions and laborers on islands such as Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 and Hispaniola
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

, where the alarming decline in the native population had spurred the first royal laws protecting the native population (Laws of Burgos, 1512–1513). The first enslaved Africans arrived in Hispaniola in 1501. After Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 had succeeded in establishing sugar plantations (engenhos) in northern Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 ca. 1545, Portuguese merchants on the West African coast began to supply enslaved Africans to the sugar planters there. While at first these planters relied almost exclusively on the native Tupani for slave labor, a titanic shift toward Africans took place after 1570 following a series of epidemics which decimated the already destabilized Tupani communities. By 1630, Africans had replaced the Tupani as the largest contingent of labor on Brazilian sugar plantations, heralding equally the final collapse of the European medieval household tradition of slavery, the rise of Brazil as the largest single destination for enslaved Africans and sugar as the reason that roughly 84% of these Africans were shipped to the New World.

Merchants from various European nations were later involved in the Atlantic Slave trade: Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, Brandenburg-Prussia
Brandenburg-Prussia
Brandenburg-Prussia is the historiographic denomination for the Early Modern realm of the Brandenburgian Hohenzollerns between 1618 and 1701. Based in the Electorate of Brandenburg, the main branch of the Hohenzollern intermarried with the branch ruling the Duchy of Prussia, and secured succession...

, Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, and Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. As Britain rose in naval power and settled continental North America and some islands of the West Indies, they became the leading slave traders. At one stage the trade was the monopoly of the Royal Africa Company, operating out of London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, but following the loss of the company's monopoly in 1689, Bristol
Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

 and Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 merchants became increasingly involved in the trade. By the late 17th century, one out of every four ships that left Liverpool harbour was a slave trading ship
Slave ship
Slave ships were large cargo ships specially converted for the purpose of transporting slaves, especially newly purchased African slaves to Americas....

. Other British cities also profited from the slave trade. Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

, the largest gun producing town in Britain at the time, supplied guns to be traded for slaves. 75% of all sugar produced in the plantations came to London to supply the highly lucrative coffee houses there.

New World destinations


The first slaves to arrive as part of a labor force appeared in 1502 on the island of Hispaniola
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

 (now Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

 and the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

). Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 received its first four slaves in 1513. Slave exports to Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

 and Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

 started in 1526. The first enslaved Africans to reach what would become the US arrived in January of 1526 as part of a Spanish attempt at colonizing South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

 near Jamestown
Jamestown, South Carolina
Jamestown is a town in Berkeley County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 97 at the 2000 census.As defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and used by the U.S...

. By November the 300 Spanish colonists were reduced to a mere 100 accompanied by 70 of their original 100 slaves. The enslaved people revolted and joined a nearby native population while the Spanish abandoned the colony altogether. Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 received its first enslaved people in 1533. El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

, Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

 and Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 began their stint in the slave trade in 1541, 1563 and 1581 respectively.

The 17th century saw an increase in shipments with enslaved people arriving in the English colony of Jamestown
Jamestown, Virginia
Jamestown was a settlement in the Colony of Virginia. Established by the Virginia Company of London as "James Fort" on May 14, 1607 , it was the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States, following several earlier failed attempts, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke...

, Virginia in 1619, although these first kidnapped Africans were classed as indentured servants and freed after seven years; chattel slavery entered Virginia law in 1656. Irish immigrants brought slaves to Montserrat
Montserrat
Montserrat is a British overseas territory located in the Leeward Islands, part of the chain of islands called the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies. This island measures approximately long and wide, giving of coastline...

 in 1651, and in 1655, slaves arrived in Belize
Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

.

By 1802 Russian colonists noted that "Boston" (U.S.-based) skippers were trading African slaves for otter pelts with the Tlingit
Tlingit
The Tlingit are an indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast of America. Their name for themselves is Lingít, meaning "People of the Tides"...

 people in Southeast Alaska.
Distribution of slaves (1519–1867)
Destination Percentage
Portuguese America 38.5%
British America (minus North America) 18.4%
Spanish Empire 17.5%
French Americas 13.6%
British North America 6.45%
English Americas 3.25%
Dutch West Indies 2.0%
Danish West Indies 0.3%


The number of the Africans arrived in each area can be easily calculated taking into consideration that the total number of slaves was close to 10,000,000.

Economics of slavery


The plantation economies
Plantation economy
A plantation economy is an economy which is based on agricultural mass production, usually of a few staple products grown on large farms called plantations. Plantation economies rely on the export of cash crops as a source of income...

 of the New World were built on slave labor. Seventy percent of the enslaved people brought to the new world were used to produce sugar
Sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

, the most labor-intensive crop. The rest were employed harvesting coffee
Coffee
Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

, cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

, and tobacco
Tobacco
Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

, and in some cases in mining
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

. The West Indian colonies of the European powers were some of their most important possessions, so they went to extremes to protect and retain them. For example, at the end of the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

 in 1763, France agreed to cede the vast territory of New France
New France
New France was the area colonized by France in North America during a period beginning with the exploration of the Saint Lawrence River by Jacques Cartier in 1534 and ending with the cession of New France to Spain and Great Britain in 1763...

 (now Eastern Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

) to the victors in exchange for keeping the minute Antillean island of Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe is an archipelago located in the Leeward Islands, in the Lesser Antilles, with a land area of 1,628 square kilometres and a population of 400,000. It is the first overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. As with the other overseas departments, Guadeloupe...

.

In France in the 18th century, returns for investors in plantations averaged around 6%; as compared to 5% for most domestic alternatives, this represented a 20% profit advantage. Risks—maritime and commercial—were important for individual voyages. Investors mitigated it by buying small shares of many ships at the same time. In that way, they were able to diversify a large part of the risk away. Between voyages, ship shares could be freely sold and bought.

By far the most financially profitable West Indian colonies in 1800 belonged to the United Kingdom. After entering the sugar colony business late, British naval supremacy and control over key islands such as Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, Trinidad
Trinidad
Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the two major islands and numerous landforms which make up the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. It is the southernmost island in the Caribbean and lies just off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. With an area of it is also the fifth largest in...

, the Leeward Islands
Leeward Islands
The Leeward Islands are a group of islands in the West Indies. They are the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles chain. As a group they start east of Puerto Rico and reach southward to Dominica. They are situated where the northeastern Caribbean Sea meets the western Atlantic Ocean...

 and Barbados
Barbados
Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is in length and as much as in width, amounting to . It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about east of the islands of Saint...

 and the territory of British Guiana
British Guiana
British Guiana was the name of the British colony on the northern coast of South America, now the independent nation of Guyana.The area was originally settled by the Dutch at the start of the 17th century as the colonies of Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice...

 gave it an important edge over all competitors; while many British did not make gains, a handful of individuals made small fortunes. This advantage was reinforced when France lost its most important colony, St. Dominigue (western Hispaniola, now Haiti), to a slave revolt in 1791 and supported revolts against its rival Britain, after the 1793 French revolution in the name of liberty. Before 1791, British sugar had to be protected to compete against cheaper French sugar.

After 1791, the British islands produced the most sugar, and the British people quickly became the largest consumers. West Indian sugar became ubiquitous as an additive to Indian tea. It has been estimated that the profits of the slave trade and of West Indian plantations created up to one-in-twenty of every pound circulating in the British economy at the time of the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 in the latter half of the 18th century.

Effects


World population (in millions)
Year 1750 1800 1850 1900 1950 1999
World 791 978 1,262 1,650 2,521 5,978
Africa 106 107 111 133 221 767
Asia 502 635 809 947 1,402 3,634
Europe 163 203 276 408 547 729
Latin America and the Caribbean 16 24 38 74 167 511
Northern America 2 7 26 82 172 307
Oceania 2 2 2 6 13 30

World population (by percentage distribution)
Year 1750 1800 1850 1900 1950 1999
World 100 100 100 100 100 100
Africa 13.4 10.9 8.8 8.1 8.8 12.8
Asia 63.5 64.9 64.1 57.4 55.6 60.8
Europe 20.6 20.8 21.9 24.7 21.7 12.2
Latin America and the Caribbean 2.0 2.5 3.0 4.5 6.6 8.5
Northern America 0.3 0.7 2.1 5.0 6.8 5.1
Oceania 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.4 0.5 0.5

Historian Walter Rodney
Walter Rodney
Walter Rodney was a prominent Guyanese historian and political activist, who was assassinated in Guyana in 1980.-Career:...

 has argued that at the start of the slave trade in the 16th century, even though there was a technological gap between Europe and Africa, it was not very substantial. Both continents were using Iron Age technology. The major advantage that Europe had was in ship building. During the period of slavery the populations of Europe and the Americas grew exponentially while the population of Africa remained stagnant. Rodney contended that the profits from slavery were used to fund economic growth and technological advancement in Europe and the Americas. Based on earlier theories by Eric Williams, he asserted that the industrial revolution was at least in part funded by agricultural profits from the Americas. He cited examples such as the invention of the steam engine by James Watt
James Watt
James Watt, FRS, FRSE was a Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer whose improvements to the Newcomen steam engine were fundamental to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution in both his native Great Britain and the rest of the world.While working as an instrument maker at the...

, which was funded by plantation owners from the Caribbean.

Other historians have attacked both Rodney's methodology and factual accuracy. Joseph C. Miller has argued that the social change and demographic stagnation (which he researched on the example of West Central Africa) was caused primarily by domestic factors. Joseph Inikori provided a new line of argument, estimating counterfactual demographic developments in case the Atlantic slave trade had not existed. Patrick Manning has shown that the slave trade did indeed have profound impact on African demographics and social institutions, but nevertheless criticized Inikori's approach for not taking other factors (such as famine and drought) into account and thus being highly speculative.

Effect on the economy of Africa



No scholars dispute the harm done to the enslaved people themselves, but the effect of the trade on African societies is much debated due to the apparent influx of goods to Africans. Proponents of the slave trade, such as Archibald Dalzel
Archibald Dalzel
Archibald Dalzel was a British adventurer and Governor of the Gold Coast .He went to Africa as a surgeon in 1763 and returned to England in 1770. During this time he served four years as governor of Whydah...

, argued that African societies were robust and not much affected by the ongoing trade. In the 19th century, European abolitionists, most prominently Dr. David Livingstone
David Livingstone
David Livingstone was a Scottish Congregationalist pioneer medical missionary with the London Missionary Society and an explorer in Africa. His meeting with H. M. Stanley gave rise to the popular quotation, "Dr...

, took the opposite view arguing that the fragile local economy and societies were being severely harmed by the ongoing trade. Historian Walter Rodney
Walter Rodney
Walter Rodney was a prominent Guyanese historian and political activist, who was assassinated in Guyana in 1980.-Career:...

 estimates that by c.1770, the King of Dahomey
Dahomey
Dahomey was a country in west Africa in what is now the Republic of Benin. The Kingdom of Dahomey was a powerful west African state that was founded in the seventeenth century and survived until 1894. From 1894 until 1960 Dahomey was a part of French West Africa. The independent Republic of Dahomey...

 was earning an estimated £250,000 per year by selling captive African soldiers and enslaved people to the European slave-traders.

Effects on the economy of Europe


Some have stressed the importance of natural or financial resources that Britain received from its many overseas colonies or that profits from the British slave trade between Africa and the Caribbean helped fuel industrial investment. It has been pointed out, however, that slave trade and West Indian plantations provided only 5% of the British national income during the years of the Industrial Revolution.

Eric Williams
Eric Williams
Eric Eustace Williams served as the first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. He served from 1956 until his death in 1981. He was also a noted Caribbean historian, and is widely regarded as "The Father of The Nation."...

 tried to show the contribution of Africans on the basis of profits from the slave trade and slavery, and the employment of those profits to finance England's industrialization process. He argues that the enslavement of Africans was an essential element to the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

, and that British wealth is a result of slavery. However, he argued that by the time of its abolition it had lost its profitability and it was in Britain's economic interest to ban it. On the other hand, Seymour Drescher and Robert Anstey have both presented evidence that the slave trade remained profitable until the end, and that reasons other than economics led to its cessation.

Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 in his influential economic history of capitalism Das Kapital
Das Kapital
Das Kapital, Kritik der politischen Ökonomie , by Karl Marx, is a critical analysis of capitalism as political economy, meant to reveal the economic laws of the capitalist mode of production, and how it was the precursor of the socialist mode of production.- Themes :In Capital: Critique of...

 claimed that '...the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signaled the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production.' He argued that the slave trade was part of what he termed the 'primitive accumulation' of European capital, the 'non-capitalist' accumulation of wealth that preceded and created the financial conditions for Britain's industrialisation.

Demographics


The demographic effects of the slave trade are some of the most controversial and debated issues. More than 12 million people were removed from Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 via the slave trade, and what effect this had on Africa is an important question.

Walter Rodney
Walter Rodney
Walter Rodney was a prominent Guyanese historian and political activist, who was assassinated in Guyana in 1980.-Career:...

 argued that the export of so many people had been a demographic disaster and had left Africa permanently disadvantaged when compared to other parts of the world, and largely explains the continent's continued poverty. He presented numbers showing that Africa's population stagnated during this period, while that of Europe and Asia grew dramatically. According to Rodney, all other areas of the economy were disrupted by the slave trade as the top merchants abandoned traditional industries to pursue slaving, and the lower levels of the population were disrupted by the slaving itself.

As Joseph E. Inikori argues, the history of the region shows that the effects were still quite deleterious. He argues that the African economic model of the period was very different from the European, and could not sustain such population losses. Population reductions in certain areas also led to widespread problems. Inikori also notes that after the suppression of the slave trade Africa's population almost immediately began to rapidly increase, even prior to the introduction of modern medicines. Owen Alik Shahadah also states that the trade was not only of demographic significance in aggregate
Aggregate data
In statistics, aggregate data describes data combined from several measurements.In economics, aggregate data or data aggregates describes high-level data that is composed of a multitude or combination of other more individual data....

 population losses but also in the profound changes to settlement patterns, exposure to epidemics, and reproductive and social development potential.

Legacy of racism


Professor Maulana Karenga states that the effects of slavery were that "the morally monstrous destruction of human possibility involved redefining African humanity to the world, poisoning past, present and future relations with others who only know us through this stereotyping and thus damaging the truly human relations among peoples." He states that it constituted the destruction of culture, language, religion and human possibility.

End of the Atlantic slave trade




In Britain, America, Portugal and in parts of Europe, opposition developed against the slave trade. Davis says that abolitionists assumed "that an end to slave imports would lead automatically to the amelioration and gradual abolition of slavery.". Opposition to the trade was led by the Religious Society of Friends
Religious Society of Friends
The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...

 (Quakers) and establishment Evangelicals such as William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce was a British politician, a philanthropist and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. A native of Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, he began his political career in 1780, eventually becoming the independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire...

. The movement was joined by many and began to protest against the trade, but they were opposed by the owners of the colonial holdings. Following Lord Mansfield's decision in 1772, slaves became free upon entering the British isles. Under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

, the new state of Virginia in 1778 became the first state and one of the first jurisdictions anywhere to stop the importation of slaves for sale; it made it a crime for traders to bring in slaves from out of state or from overseas for sale; migrants from other states were allowed to bring their own slaves. The new law freed all slaves brought in illegally after its passage and imposed heavy fines on violators. Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, which had been active in the slave trade, was the first country to ban the trade through legislation in 1792, which took effect in 1803. Britain banned the slave trade in 1807, imposing stiff fines for any slave found aboard a British ship (see Slave Trade Act 1807). The Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

, which then controlled the world's seas, moved to stop other nations from continuing the slave trade and declared that slaving was equal to piracy
Piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

 and was punishable by death. The United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 passed the Slave Trade Act of 1794
Slave Trade Act of 1794
The Slave Trade Act of 1794 was a law passed by the United States Congress that limited American involvement in the trade of human cargo. This was the first of several acts of Congress that eventually stopped the importation of slaves to the United States. The owning of slaves would later be made...

, which prohibited the building or outfitting of ships in the U.S. for use in the slave trade. In 1807 Congress outlawed the importation of slaves
Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves
The Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves of 1807 is a United States federal law that stated, in accordance with the Constitution of the United States, that no new slaves were permitted to be imported into the United States. This act ended the legality of the U.S.-based transatlantic slave trade...

 beginning on January 1, 1808, the earliest date permitted by the United States Constitution
Article One of the United States Constitution
Article One of the United States Constitution describes the powers of Congress, the legislative branch of the federal government. The Article establishes the powers of and limitations on the Congress, consisting of a House of Representatives composed of Representatives, with each state gaining or...

 for such a ban.

On Sunday 28 October 1787, William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce was a British politician, a philanthropist and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. A native of Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, he began his political career in 1780, eventually becoming the independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire...

 wrote in his diary: "God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the Reformation of society." For the rest of his life, William Wilberforce dedicated his life as a Member of the British Parliament to opposing the slave trade and working for the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. On 22 February 1807, twenty years after he first began his crusade, and in the middle of Britain's war with France, Wilberforce and his team's labors were rewarded with victory. By an overwhelming 283 votes for to 16 against, the motion to abolish the Atlantic slave trade was carried in the House of Commons. The United States acted to abolish the slave trade the same year, but not its internal slave trade which became the dominant character in American slavery until the 1860s. In 1805 the British Order-in-Council had restricted the importation of slaves into colonies that had been captured from France and the Netherlands. Britain continued to press other nations to end its trade; in 1810 an Anglo-Portuguese treaty was signed whereby Portugal agreed to restrict its trade into its colonies; an 1813 Anglo-Swedish treaty whereby Sweden outlawed its slave trade; the Treaty of Paris 1814
Treaty of Paris (1814)
The Treaty of Paris, signed on 30 May 1814, ended the war between France and the Sixth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars, following an armistice signed on 23 May between Charles, Count of Artois, and the allies...

 where France agreed with Britain that the trade is "repugnant to the principles of natural justice" and agreed to abolish the slave trade in five years; the 1814 Anglo-Netherlands treaty where the Dutch outlawed its slave trade.


With peace in Europe from 1815, and British supremacy at sea secured, the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 turned its attention back to the challenge and established the West Africa Squadron
West Africa Squadron
The Royal Navy established the West Africa Squadron at substantial expense in 1808 after Parliament passed the Slave Trade Act of 1807. The squadron's task was to suppress the Atlantic slave trade by patrolling the coast of West Africa...

 in 1808, known as the 'preventative squadron', which for the next 50 years operated against the slavers. By the 1850s, around 25 vessels and 2,000 officers and men were on the station, supported by some ships from the small United States Navy, and nearly 1,000 'Kroomen'—experienced fishermen recruited as sailors from what is now the coast of modern Liberia. Service on the West Africa Squadron was a thankless and overwhelming task, full of risk and posing a constant threat to the health of the crews involved. Contending with pestilential swamps and violent encounters, the mortality rate was 55 per 1,000 men, compared with 10 for fleets in the Mediterranean or in home waters. Between 1807 and 1860, the Royal Navy's Squadron seized approximately 1,600 ships involved in the slave trade and freed 150,000 Africans who were aboard these vessels. Several hundred slaves a year were transported by the navy to the British colony of Sierra Leone, where they were made to serve as 'apprentices' in the colonial economy until the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. Action was taken against African leaders who refused to agree to British treaties to outlaw the trade, for example against 'the usurping King of Lagos', deposed in 1851. Anti-slavery treaties were signed with over 50 African rulers.

The last recorded slave ship to land on American soil was the Clotilde, which in 1859 illegally smuggled a number of Africans into the town of Mobile, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama
Mobile is the third most populous city in the Southern US state of Alabama and is the county seat of Mobile County. It is located on the Mobile River and the central Gulf Coast of the United States. The population within the city limits was 195,111 during the 2010 census. It is the largest...

. The Africans on board were sold as slaves; however, slavery in the U.S. was abolished 5 years later following the end of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 in 1865. The last survivor of the voyage was Cudjoe Lewis
Cudjoe Lewis
Cudjoe Kazoola Lewis is considered the last person born on African soil to have been enslaved in the United States when slavery was still lawful.-Life:...

 who died in 1935.
The last country to ban the Atlantic slave trade was Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 in 1831. However, a vibrant illegal trade continued to ship large numbers of enslaved people to Brazil and also to Cuba until the 1860s, when British enforcement and further diplomacy finally ended the Atlantic trade.

Abolition argument



The Abolitionists argued that the slave trade changed the face of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, pushing them into constant wars as a result of the Europeans' ever-growing demands for slaves. They argued that even in Africa, the Africans' lives revolved around the slave trade's needs through the constant wars and battles to secure enough slaves for the Europeans. Although people avoided mentioning the horrid living conditions of slave trade ships out of fear of the animosity it could cause, the abolitionists incorporated the high mortality rates in their argument against slavery. Even though the abolitionists incorporated the idea of European superiority in their platform, they argued the slave trade hindered the progress of African race. They, however, had to contend with those who invested in the slave trade, who argued that the slave trade was essential for the survival of the economy. Others argued that despite the cruel conditions on the ships, the overall conditions of Africa were worse. The debate over slavery went on for decades before abolition was finalized.

African Diaspora


The African Diaspora
African diaspora
The African diaspora was the movement of Africans and their descendants to places throughout the world—predominantly to the Americas also to Europe, the Middle East and other places around the globe...

 which was created via slavery has been a complex interwoven part of America history and culture. In the United States, the success of Alex Haley
Alex Haley
Alexander Murray Palmer Haley was an African-American writer. He is best known as the author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family and the coauthor of The Autobiography of Malcolm X.-Early life:...

's book Roots: The Saga of an American Family
Roots: The Saga of an American Family
Roots: The Saga of an American Family is a novel written by Alex Haley and first published in 1976. It tells the story of Kunta Kinte, an 18th-century African, captured as an adolescent and sold into slavery in the United States, and follows his life and the lives of his descendants in the U.S....

, published in 1976, and the subsequent television miniseries based upon it Roots
Roots (TV miniseries)
Roots is a 1977 American television miniseries based on Alex Haley's fictional novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Roots received 36 Emmy Award nominations, winning nine. It also won a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award. It received unprecedented Nielsen ratings with the finale still...

, broadcast on the ABC network
ABC Network
ABC Network may refer to any of the following:*American Broadcasting Company, a private television network in the United States.*Asahi Broadcasting Corporation, regional radio and television broadcaster in Japan....

 in January 1977, led to an increased interest and appreciation of African heritage amongst the African-American community. The influence of these led many African-Americans to begin researching their family histories
Family history
Family history is the systematic narrative and research of past events relating to a specific family, or specific families.- Introduction :...

 and making visits to West Africa. In turn, a tourist industry grew up to supply them. One notable example of this is through the Roots Homecoming Festival held annually in the Gambia, in which rituals are held through which African-Americans can symbolically 'come home' to Africa. Issues of dispute have however developed between African-Americans and African authorities over how to display historic sites that were involved in the Atlantic slave trade, with prominent voices in the former criticising the latter for not displaying such sites sensitively, but instead treating them as a commercial enterprise.

'Back to Africa'


In 1816, a group of wealthy European-Americans, some of whom were abolitionists and others who were racial segregationists, founded the American Colonization Society
American Colonization Society
The American Colonization Society , founded in 1816, was the primary vehicle to support the "return" of free African Americans to what was considered greater freedom in Africa. It helped to found the colony of Liberia in 1821–22 as a place for freedmen...

 with the express desire of returning African-Americans who were in the United States to West Africa. In 1820, they sent their first ship to Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

, and within a decade around two thousand African-Americans had been settled in the west African country. Such re-settlement continued throughout the 19th century, increasing following the deterioration of race relations in the southern states of the US following Reconstruction in 1877.

Rastafari movement


The Rastafari movement
Rastafari movement
The Rastafari movement or Rasta is a new religious movement that arose in the 1930s in Jamaica, which at the time was a country with a predominantly Christian culture where 98% of the people were the black descendants of slaves. Its adherents worship Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia , as God...

, which originated in Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, where 98% of the population are descended from victims of the Atlantic slave trade, has made great efforts to publicize the slavery, and to ensure it is not forgotten, especially through reggae
Reggae
Reggae is a music genre first developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s. While sometimes used in a broader sense to refer to most types of Jamaican music, the term reggae more properly denotes a particular music style that originated following on the development of ska and rocksteady.Reggae is based...

 music.

Apologies


In 1998, UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 designated August 23 as International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, August 23 of each year, the day designated by UNESCO to memorialize the transatlantic slave trade. That date was chosen by the UNESCO Executive Board's adoption of resolution 29 C/40 at its 29th session. Circular CL/3494 of...

. Since that occurrence, a number of events surrounding the recognition of the effect of slavery on both the enslaved and enslavers have come to pass.

On 9 December 1999 Liverpool City Council
Liverpool City Council
Liverpool City Council is the governing body for the city of Liverpool in Merseyside, England. It consists of 90 councillors, three for each of the city's 30 wards. The council is currently controlled by the Labour Party and is led by Joe Anderson.-Domain:...

 passed a formal motion apologising for the City's part in the slave trade. It was unanimously agreed that Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 acknowledges its responsibility for its involvement in three centuries of the slave trade. The City Council has made an unreserved apology for Liverpool's involvement and the continual effect of slavery on Liverpool's Black communities.

At the 2001 World Conference Against Racism
World Conference against Racism
The World Conference against Racism are international events organised by the UNESCO to struggle against racism ideologies and behaviours. Four conferences have been held so far, in 1978, 1983, 2001 and 2009...

 in Durban
Durban
Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and the third largest city in South Africa. It forms part of the eThekwini metropolitan municipality. Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism...

, South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, African nations demanded a clear apology for slavery from the former slave-trading countries. Some nations were ready to express an apology, but the opposition, mainly from the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 blocked attempts to do so. A fear of monetary compensation might have been one of the reasons for the opposition. As of 2009, efforts are underway to create a UN Slavery Memorial
UN Slavery Memorial
United Nations Slavery Memorial, officially "The Permanent Memorial at the United Nations in Honor of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade," is a sculpture to be placed at the UN headquarters in New York City as a permanent reminder of the long-lasting effects of slavery and the...

 as a permanent remembrance of the victims of the atlantic slave trade.

On January 30, 2006, Jacques Chirac
Jacques Chirac
Jacques René Chirac is a French politician who served as President of France from 1995 to 2007. He previously served as Prime Minister of France from 1974 to 1976 and from 1986 to 1988 , and as Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.After completing his studies of the DEA's degree at the...

 (the then French President) said that 10 May would henceforth be a national day of remembrance for the victims of slavery in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, marking the day in 2001 when France passed a law recognising slavery as a crime against humanity
Crime against humanity
Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, "are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings...

.

On November 27, 2006, then British Prime Minister Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

 made a partial apology for Britain's role in the African slavery trade. However African rights activists denounced it as "empty rhetoric" that failed to address the issue properly. They feel his apology stopped shy to prevent any legal retort. Mr Blair again apologized on March 14, 2007.

On February 24, 2007 the Virginia General Assembly
Virginia General Assembly
The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, established on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members,...

 passed House Joint Resolution Number 728 acknowledging "with profound regret the involuntary servitude of Africans and the exploitation of Native Americans, and call for reconciliation among all Virginians." With the passing of that resolution, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 became the first of the 50 United States to acknowledge through the state's governing body their state's involvement in slavery. The passing of this resolution came on the heels of the 400th anniversary celebration of the city of Jamestown, Virginia
Jamestown, Virginia
Jamestown was a settlement in the Colony of Virginia. Established by the Virginia Company of London as "James Fort" on May 14, 1607 , it was the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States, following several earlier failed attempts, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke...

, which was the first permanent English colony to survive in what would become the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Jamestown is also recognized as one of the first slave ports of the American colonies.

On May 31, 2007, the Governor of Alabama, Bob Riley
Bob Riley
Bob Riley may refer to:* Bob Riley, 52nd Governor of Alabama* Bob C. Riley, acting Governor of Arkansas for 11 days in 1975* Bob Riley , sports car designer and founder of Riley Technologies...

, signed a resolution expressing "profound regret" for Alabama's role in slavery and apologizing for slavery's wrongs and lingering effects. Alabama is the fourth Southern state to pass a slavery apology, following votes by the legislatures in Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

, Virginia, and North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

.

On August 24, 2007, Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone
Kenneth Robert "Ken" Livingstone is an English politician who is currently a member of the centrist to centre-left Labour Party...

 (then Mayor of London
Mayor of London
The Mayor of London is an elected politician who, along with the London Assembly of 25 members, is accountable for the strategic government of Greater London. Conservative Boris Johnson has held the position since 4 May 2008...

) apologized publicly for London's role in the slave trade. "You can look across there to see the institutions that still have the benefit of the wealth they created from slavery", he said pointing towards the financial district, before breaking down in tears. He claimed that London was still tainted by the horrors of slavery. Jesse Jackson
Jesse Jackson
Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr. is an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to...

 praised Mayor Livingstone, and added that reparations should be made.

On July 30, 2008, the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 passed a resolution apologizing for American slavery and subsequent discriminatory laws. The language included a reference to the "fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow" segregation.

On June 18, 2009, the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 issued an apologetic statement decrying the "fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery". The news was welcomed by President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

, the nation's first President of African descent.

Further reading

  • Anstey, Roger: The Atlantic Slave Trade and British Abolition, 1760–1810. London: Macmillan, 1975. ISBN 0333148460.
  • Clarke, Dr. John Henrik: Christopher Columbus and the Afrikan Holocaust: Slavery and the Rise of European Capitalism. Brooklyn, N.Y.: A & B Books, 1992. ISBN 1881316149.
  • Curtin, Philip D: Atlantic Slave Trade. University of Wisconsin Press, 1969.
  • Daudin, Guillaume: "Profitability of slave and long distance trading in context: the case of eighteenth century France", Journal of Economic History, 2004.
  • Diop, Er. Cheikh Anta: Precolonial Black Africa: A Comparative Study of the Political and Social Systems of Europe and Black Africa. Harold J. Salemson, trans. Westport, Conn.: L. Hill, 1987. ISBN 088208187X, ISBN 0882081888.
  • Drescher, Seymour: From Slavery to Freedom: Comparative Studies in the Rise and Fall of Atlantic Slavery. London: Macmillan Press, 1999. ISBN 0333737482.
  • Emmer, Pieter C.: The Dutch in the Atlantic Economy, 1580–1880. Trade, Slavery and Emancipation. Variorum Collected Studies Series CS614. Aldershot [u.a.]: Variorum, 1998. ISBN 0860786978.
  • Franklin, John Hope: From Slavery to Freedom, 3rd ed. New York: Knopf, 1967.
  • Gomez, Michael Angelo: Exchanging Our Country Marks (The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and AnteBellum South). Chapel Hill, N.C.: The University of North Carolina Press, 1998. ISBN 0807846945.
  • Hall, Gwendolyn Midlo: Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas: Restoring the Links. Chapel Hill, N.C.: The University of North Carolina Press, 2006. ISBN 0807829730.
  • Horne, Gerald: The Deepest South: The United States, Brazil, and the African Slave Trade. New York, NY : New York Univ. Press, 2007. ISBN 9780814736883, ISBN 9780814736890.
  • James, E. Wyn: "Welsh Ballads and American Slavery", Welsh Journal of Religious History, 2 (2007), pp. 59–86. ISSN 0967-3938.
  • Klein, Herbert S.: The Atlantic Slave Trade (2nd ed. 2010)
  • Lindsay, Lisa A. "Captives as Commodities: The Transatlantic Slave Trade". Prentice Hall, 2008. ISBN 9780131942158
  • McMillin, James A. The final victims: foreign slave trade to North America, 1783–1810. (Includes database on CD-ROM) ISBN 9781570035463
  • Meltzer, Milton: Slavery: A World History. New York: Da Capo Press, 1993. ISBN 0306805367.
  • Northrup, David: The Atlantic Slave Trade, (3rd ed. 2010)
  • Rodney, Walter: How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press; Revised edition, 1981. ISBN 0882580965.
  • Rodriguez, Junius P., ed. Encyclopedia of Emancipation and Abolition in the Transatlantic World. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2007. ISBN 9780765612571.
  • Solow, Barbara (ed.). Slavery and the Rise of the Atlantic System. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. ISBN 0521400902.
  • Thomas, Hugh: The Slave Trade: The History of the Atlantic Slave Trade 1440–1870. London: Picador, 1997. ISBN 033035437X.
  • Thornton, John: Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400–1800, 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press, 1998. ISBN 0521622174, ISBN 0521627249, ISBN 0521593700, ISBN 0521596491.
  • Williams, Chancellor: Destruction of Black Civilization Great Issues of a Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D., 3rd ed. Chicago: Third World Press, 1987. ISBN 0883780305, ISBN 0883780429.

External links