Commerce in People: The Atlantic Slave Trade

January 12, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Science, Health Science, Immunology
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AP World History Notes: Chapter 15

The Atlantic Slave Trade 

Lasted from about 1500 to 1866 About 12.5 million Africans taken from their societies About 10.7 million made it to the Americas  About 1.8 million (14.4%) died during the transatlantic crossing  Millions more died in the process of capture and transport to the African coast  didn’t even make it to the ships 

The Middle Passage 

Middle Passage  Enslaved

person’s journey from Africa to the Americas  Middle leg of the “Triangular Trade” pattern  Miserable journey  Packed

tightly together  Chained together  Many suffocated or died of disease (1 in 6)  Some committed suicide or went on hunger strikes

The Atlantic Slave Trade 

When slaves arrived in the Americas, they were sold at auctions  Used

as laborers, seen only as a unit for profit  Viewed as valuable property/things, NOT people

The Slave Trade in Context  

Idea of slavery = nothing new Before 1500 = Mediterranean and Indian Ocean regions were major areas of slave trading 

Many African societies practiced slavery themselves, as well as selling slaves into these networks  

Depiction of slaves in ancient Rome

Major source of slaves = southern Russia

Trans-Saharan slave trade = brought Africans to the Mediterranean East African slave trade = brought Africans to the Middle East and Indian Ocean area

The Slave Trade in Context 

Slaves have always been considered “outsiders” of their masters’ societies, but slavery came in many forms  examples: Some slaves could be assimilated into their owners’ households or communities  In some places, children of slaves were considered slaves; in other places they were considered free  Preference for female slaves in the Islamic world  Jobs of slaves differed depending on the region 

African slaves in the Islamic world

Slavery in the Americas: Something Different 

Immense size of the traffic of slaves Centrality of slave labor to the economies of colonial America Slavery based on plantation agriculture only Slaves treated as dehumanized property Slave status = inherited; little hope of freedom Racial dimension  Atlantic slavery came to be indentified with Africa and “blackness”

Origins of Atlantic Slavery 

Origins = lie in the Mediterranean = where Europeans first established sugar plantations 

After they learned about sugarcane and producing usable sugar from the Arabs Also set up sugar plantations on islands off the coast of West Africa

Sugar plantation work = difficult and dangerous 

Slavery became the source of labor because nobody would work under these conditions for the small wages being offered

Origins of Atlantic Slavery 

 Slave raiders in eastern Europe

Original slaves on these Mediterranean plantations = Slavic-speaking people from the Black Sea region 1453 = Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople Result = Official end of Byzantine Empire  Result = Ottomans now controlled Black Sea region  Result = Ottomans cut off Christian Europe from its major source of slaves 

Origins of Atlantic Slavery 

At the same time = the Portuguese were starting to explore the coast of West Africa 

Were looking for gold  but found an alternative source of slaves there

Result = when sugarplantations started in the Americas, Europeans already had ties to a West African source of labor supply

Origins of Atlantic Slavery 

Africa = primary source of slave labor for the colonies through a process of elimination Slavic-peoples = no longer available  Native Americans = quickly died off from European diseases  Europeans = Christians = exempt from slavery  European indentured servants = expensive and temporary 

Inspection and sale of an African slave

Origins of Atlantic Slavery 

To the Europeans, Africans were perfect for plantation labor because: Skilled farmers  Some immunity to tropical and European diseases  Not Christian  Relatively close and easy to get  Available in large numbers  Had darker skin  allowed the Europeans to view them as an “inferior” race 

“Testing an African Slave for Sickness”

The Slave Trade in Practice 

Slave raiding in Africa = unnecessary and unwise  African

societies = capable of defending themselves against European intrusion  African societies = willing to sell their slaves peacefully  Europeans = dropped like flies when entering Africa’s interior because not immune to tropical diseases

How Did the Slave Trade Work? 

Step 1: African merchants and political elites captured slaves and brought them to the coast of West Africa Step 2: Europeans waited on the coast (in ships or fortified settlements) to purchase these slaves Step 3: Europeans brought slaves to the Americas and sold them at slave auctions to plantation owners

The Slave Trade in Practice 

In exchange for slaves, African sellers wanted: European and Indian textiles  Cowrie shells (used as money in West Africa)  European metal goods  Firearms and gunpowder  Tobacco and alcohol  Decorative items, such as beads 

The Slave Trade in Practice 

African slave trade = hurt smaller societies within Africa  Raided

by larger, more powerful neighbors to conquer their people to sell as slaves  Lacked the protection of a strong state

Where Did These Slaves Come From? 

Slave trade drew mainly on the societies of West Africa Progressively moved into the interior of Africa as the demand for slaves picked up Slaves = drawn from marginal groups in African societies = prisoners of war, criminals, debtors, people who had been “pawned” during times of difficulty, etc.  

Those captured and sold = “outsiders” So Africans didn’t believe they were “selling their own people”

The Impact of the Slave Trade in Africa 

Slowed Africa’s population growth 

Simultaneously = populations of Europe, China, etc. were expanding

Causes: Loss of millions of people over 4 centuries  Economic stagnation caused by the slave trade  Political disruption caused by the slave trade 

Number of Slaves Traded During the Slave Trade

The Impact of the Slave Trade in Africa 

Slave trade = did not help Africa economically because: African merchants and elites who sold the slaves kept the money for themselves and did not invest in their African societies No technological breakthroughs in agriculture or industry to help increase the wealth of African societies

Proclamation of the New King of Dahomey in Africa The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.

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