Atlantic Slave Trade


AtlanticSlave Trade

AtlanticSlave Trade

  1. The was primarily rooted in the need for cheap labor in plantations in different parts of the world.

  • The increasing demand for sugar in Europe made sugarcane cultivation very profitable. This drove the need for cheap labor which could only be obtained from slaves. The demand for slaves was increased by heightened cultivation of rice, coffee, indigo and tobacco in varied parts of the globe.

  • The low cost of slave labor emanated from the fact that they were literary owned by their masters, in which case they did not have the customary rights as human beings.

  • The pattern formed two triangles. In one, traders took English goods to West Africa in exchange for Slaves, who they took to West Indies in exchange for sugar, which was eventually taken back to England on the final leg of the triangle (Hine et al, 2012). In the second triangle, Americans from New England colonies took sugar to West Africa in exchange for slaves who they took to West Indies, who they exchanged for molasses or sugar- sugar syrup- that they took home for distillation.

  1. The slave experiencing were considerably similar irrespective of the parties who enslaved them.

  • Slavery in Africa still happened without the entry of Europeans. Occasionally, wars broke out with the winning armies taking the inhabitants of the conquered villages and towns. Irrespective of their origin, slaves usually had to walk several miles to the coasts where they would be sold to European traders.

  • At the coasts, the slave traders had fortified structures called factories, in which the slaves would be held (Hine et al, 2012). Usually, families would be immensely divided and separated so as to avert the possibility of resistance and rebellions.

  1. Voyage across oceans were slaves deathbeds.

  • Slaves would then undertake the frightening voyage across the oceans, an experience that was undoubtedly new to most of them. This was accomplished in slaves ships, which became increasingly bigger with time. Often times, slaves would dread the experience ahead of them, in which case they would jump into the oceans, where they would eventually drown.

  • Even in instances where they did not drown in the oceans, the mortality rates for slaves were extraordinarily high as a result of epidemics that resulted from the unsanitary conditions in the ships (Hine et al, 2012). Indeed, it is estimated that two thirds of the slaves who left Africa never reached their destination as they died either in the sea or on the Caribbean island when undergoing “seasoning”.

  • According to witness accounts, there is little space for the slaves in the ship and little ventilation unless they go to the deck of the ship (Hine et al, 2012). This was often reserved for one group at a time, with the decks being surrounded by nets to prevent them from jumping to the sea.

  • However, the breathing space became larger with time as more slaves died in the course of the voyage. Ships would leave ports with sufficient food supplies for the slaves and their crews.

  • Diseases were also prevalent as a result of deficiency of hygiene especially in handling of food, which usually was composed of porridge and stew.

  • As much as it was acknowledged that it was profitable to feed the slaves well, the captains usually skimped on supplies so as to save their money. This often increased the malnutrition and eventual deaths of slaves.


Hine,D.C., Hine, W &amp Harrold, S (2012).African American A Concise HistoryVolume 1 Fourth Edition. New York: Pearson