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Slavery and Triangular Trade By: Casey Bougher



Introduction Slavery is one of the biggest reasons triangular trade across the Atlantic became such a success. Transferring slaves across the Atlantic became increasingly popular for many countries during this time and it wasn't until years later when many of those countries realized the mistake they had made. Â Like every other mistake humans have made, there was global consequence we had to face after the abolishment of slavery. There is so much to learn and explore while researching this time period and the transatlantic slave trade and there is so much more to come ahead.

In modern America, almost every history class covers the topic of slavery. Many of us can't even comprehend what it was like because the majority of us were raised to accept one another as equals. So when we read stories from our classroom textbooks we fail to realize how many lives slavery affected and how large of an impact it had on our history. From 1450-1750 slave trade became popular among several nations. Europeans began trading much needed goods to Africans in exchange for hundreds of slaves. They would pack them in ships and sail to the Caribbean, Brazil, the U.S, and parts of Europe and Asia to be sold at market. Often times, slaves would be treated with little respect as if they were property. Most were overworked and experienced violent punishments from their masters. They were used as laborers and often times worked on plantations, farming the land. It affected thousands of lives across the world and many have written on firsthand accounts of slavery and the mistreatment of other men and women in multiple countries. Although there were some countries and a number of individuals who owned slaves that did not believe in physical punishment or verbal abuse, slavery was almost always brutal and only benefited the master. The treatment and use of an individual slave depended all on what country the slave was located to, what their job was, and most importantly, who their owner was.


passage was from Africa to the Americas. This route is often referred to as, “The Middle Passage,” in many scholarly texts. On this passage some goods were taken to be traded, but the majority of the cargos were slaves that were freshly captured and were ready to be sold at market. In return for the slaves, The Americas would trade Europeans for raw goods such as sugar, cotton, and tobacco. The third and final passage was then back to Europe where they would drop off the raw goods the slaves were traded for into Europe where it was then distributed and traded throughout the colonies. This trade system continued to work for Europeans for years after its development. It affected the world in such a way that the history books gave this system the name, Triangular

Origins Transatlantic slave trade first came about after Europeans found that they were in need of a reliable workforce that were immune to a tropical climate, seeing how the slaves that they already had were dying off because of the climate change they were required to endure was fatal. Soon the Portuguese discovered that they had a chance to trade Africans goods that they needed for slaves that would be helpful back in Europe. These slaves that they were agreeing to trade were African tribes that other Africans would capture and were in turn, forced into slavery. During this period in history, Europeans were becoming more successful at both trading and sailing due to the advancements in European ships that could now handle crossing a rough ocean such as the Atlantic. The Atlantic being the very ocean that contributed in the transformation of Europe into a more modern and well-rounded continent and helped make it into what it is today.. Later, in the 1600’s Europeans began trading with multiple countries across the Atlantic such as the United States, the Caribbean, Brazil, and other countries in Asia and South America. There were three steps, or journeys, involved in triangular trade just as there are three sides to a triangle. The first passage was from Europe to Africa. The Europeans would bring good such as tobacco, weapons, food, and other goods into Africa to trade for slaves. Often times, the guns and ammunition the Africans obtained were then used or involved in capturing and the enslavement of other Africans.  The second 3

Trade.” The interesting part about all of this is, that most of the goods being shipped to countries were those of pleasure instead of necessity. Things like coffee, sugar, and tobacco are all not necessary to survive but people seemed to want them so much that they will willing to cross the Atlantic and sell actual living people for them.

The slaves died for numerous reasons but starvation, dehydration, and mistreatment were among the top. After picturing living with a tribe, suddenly being captured and enslaved, brought to a mysterious ship with thousands of others you may have once known or cared for, and being shipped thousands of miles away from the place you once called home, it is somewhat easy to imagine many slaves giving up hope to survive on the journey across the Atlantic.

Slave Ships An estimated 10-15 million African slaves were transported across the Atlantic from 1500-1900‘s and slaves were being shipped even before then. Needless to say, the shipment of slaves was a dirty job. Almost always, the ship contained more slaves than it did crew for the ship. These massive ships would fit hundred and sometimes thousands of slaves at a time and transport them to many countries across the Atlantic looking to trade them for goods. Life aboard the ship was a harsh one, especially if you were a slave. These journeys would take a long period of time and the ship had little room for other cargo other than its slaves so you couldn’t expect all those slaves to get a meal that is big enough for a balanced diet. Most slaves would go hungry on the ships and would usually be packed up against one another either on the floor or on little wooden shelves as seen in the image on this page. As if this wasn't harsh enough, they more times than not, chained them or bound them together or to the ship with heavy uncomfortable chains. The conditions on these ships are said to be so bad that about 15% of the slaves that were shipped died crossing the atlantic or what is better known as the, “Middle Passage.”

Many make the mistake of thinking that Europeans transferred the majority of slaves into the U.S. However, the majority of slaves were transported into different parts of the Caribbean and Brazil. View the chart on the following page. As you can see the amount of slaves transported to these parts of the world far succeed the number of slaves being traded in America.


terial. Slaves would often work in cotton fields on their plantation because it was abundant in america and there was a high demand at the time for it to make clothing and other goods. The thing that really stands out about slavery in America is that slaves who had children while still under the control of their masters, would forfeit the freedom of their children. So if you were born and your mother was a slave, you were now a slave by association of your mother. Since this is the way things happened, multiple generations were born into slavery and may have never known the comforts and satisfaction of freedom.

Slavery in America Slavery began in America in 1619 when the first slaves arrived for trading by the Europeans. Slavery, as we all know was a big part of American life and culture until the abolishment of it in the states after the Civil War. Similar to many countries, slaves were treated as property and were sold at market like cattle. Slaves, because they were considered property and not actual people, were often mistreated and over worked. Many first-hand accounts of slavery in America often include stories of countless floggings and punishments that no human should have to endure. Punishments were usually handed out to the slaves that acted out of turn or were hard to control but sometimes the punishments were undeserved and purely based on prejudice.

Looking back on the pie chart on the other page, we can see that the majority of slaves were shipped to other countries, while America received a small potion. Though the amount of slaves being transported here was hardly comparable to the number going to other countries, it is still a substantial amount of human beings lives being changed forever. This number of people have had a huge impact on American culture and has played a huge role in what made us into what we are today. Refer to the chart on the following page for information on the demand for slaves in North America During this period.

American slaves usually worked and lived on huge work camps and farms called plantations where they would work off the land planting, harvesting, and manufacturing raw ma5

ceive heath care if they were hurt. For these reasons, the life of a slave was usually a short and brutal one. In the Caribbean and Brazil, slaves would most likely be working with sugar. planting, harvesting and processing sugar is a hard task to complete and the tools they used to complete the task were dangerous and if wasn't uncommon for them to hurt themselves. Even then, their masters would keep them working until they died off or were replaced with a fresh slave. During the, “Sugar Boom,” throughout the 1540’s-1640’s slaves were in high demand. The sugar boom was when Brazil and different parts of the Caribbean began producing large amounts of sugar and shipping it across the ocean and to other countries. This system was very profitable but they

Slavery in Other Countries Slave trade was becoming increasingly popular across the Atlantic from 1450-1750. In fact, the amount of slaves being traded nearing doubled from 1651-75 through 1701-25 as seen in the bar graph to the right. Why was this happening and why was it becoming so popular? The real reasons it became such a trend was because slaves were in high demand in a multitude of countries. In areas such as the Caribbean and Brazil where it is hot, the slaves would often work long hours farming raw materials such as coffee or sugar. This on top of malnourishment and mistreatment took a tool on many slaves’ bodies.

Number of Slaves Transferred Over the Atlantic From 1451-1870

Considering that theses slaves were not even receiving sufficient amounts of food and water, most wouldn't except to re6

needed a cheap work force. So as the sugar was sent out, the slaves were shipped in. This also effected the time period and

countries they were slaves in because they lacked the means of getting back home. They weren't being paid for working when they were slaves, so how can one expect to cross the atlantic with no money. Therefore, most got jobs which sounds good to most people but these newly freed slaves were considered non-skilled workers and as a result, they sometimes ended up doing the type of work they were doing as slaves. The impact the transatlantic slave trade had on Africa is hard to say because the poor record keeping and documentation at the time, but few things are clear. First, the population of Africa was greatly effected due to the millions of slaves being shipped out and that their economy was greatly effected. AFrica hasn't had the best track record of having the best economy but we have to consider what and how might Africa be different if the exportation of slaves never existed.

the amount of slaves being traded. You can see the leap in amount of slaves going to both Brazil and the Caribbean on the graph on the following page. Notice the rate on the vertical axis is measured by the thousands. Outcome As stated earlier in the book, an estimated 10-15 million African slaves were captured and transported across the Atlantic. This is comparable to the amount of people who were captured and died in the holocaust in Europe. So the outcome and effect it had on the world was monumental.

Slavery’s impact on Europe, North America, Brazil, and the Caribbean were all different because the obvious difference in numbers being imported, but they all did it for their own benefit and all made money partaking in the trade. After

After slaves earned there freedom, they often times stayed in the very country they were slaves in. Some did this because they didn't want to go back to Africa, but most stayed in the 7

slaves were freed, they usually stayed in these areas of the world so e can assume that many countries experienced much diversity and the population of other ethnicities grew. Stepping aside from impact on the economy and of population statistics, the biggest impact it had was the hurt and unresolved feeling the slaves had on future generations. For further information and review on triangular trade, the treatment of slaves, and more fun facts that may appear on the quiz at the end, preview the video to the right where you will get a history crash course. This video covers triangular trade and expands on who did what, when, and gives explicit details.


man kinds past mistakes and research them for a constant reminder never to make them again.

Conclusion Transatlantic slave trade was practiced from 1450 to the 1800’s. This trading of slaves made it possible to trade triangularly across the ocean. This, later becoming known as triangular trade was practiced by many Europeans.They would go to Africa, trade goods and weapons to Africans in exchange for slaves and the Europeans would take those slaves, cross the Atlantic, trade with Brazil, the caribeans, and N. America for other goods that they would take back to Europe. Triangular trade proved to be very successful economically, especially for the Europeans, but the aftermath and the remaining prejudice from slavery was long-lasting and is still not fully resolved. Millions of slaves were transported, stripped of their freedom, and then were sold off like cattle. Many suffered many hardships and experienced countless violent acts of prejudice. It is easy to see why many generations find it hard to forgive those who were included in the capturing and enslavement of millions of Africans. The transportation of slaves across the Atlantic had a huge impact on many of economies and for many countries, helped mold their modern societies that we know today. All countries can do now is apologize to the families whom lives were effected, help them out, and learn from there mistakes. The most important thing is that we never forget what took place all those years ago. passing information along from generation to generation is how to teach the future of


Question 1 Who were the first to capture slaves and transport them across the Atlantic for trading?

A. Mexicans B. Americans C. Portuguese D. Germans

Check Answer

Question 2 What were huge slave farms called in America?

Question 3 Where were the majority of slaves transferred to?

A. Plantations

A. America

B. Home

B. Brazil

C. Labor Camp

C. Caribbean

D. Farms

D. Europe

Check Answer


Check Answer

Question 4 What was a popular good being traded at this time?

A. Pop B. Sugar C. Oil D. Candy

Check Answer

Question 5 Around what year were slave trading across the Atlantic most popular?

A. 1750 B. 1450 C. 10000 b.c. D. 1600

Check Answer


Question 6 Who would capture African Slaves?

A. Europeans B. Americans C. Other Africans D. Germans

Check Answer

Work Citation Research and information • "AAME : Image." AAME : Image. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2014. • "The Atlantic Slave Trade." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2014. • "Digital History." Digital History. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2014. • Naik, Abhijit. "Triangular Trade." Buzzle., 13 May 2010. Web. 19 Apr. 2014. • PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2014. • "Riches & Misery: The Consequences Of The Atlantic Slave Trade." OpenLearn. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2014 • "Slavery in America." A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2014 • The Atlantic Slave trade, second edition, David Northrup Pictures and Images • Book Cover photo • page 1, top photo • page 1, bottom photo • page 2 photo • page 3 photo • page 4 photo • page 5 chart • page 6, top left chart • page 6, bottom right chart • page 7, chart on left • page 7, photo on right

• page 8, video • page 9, photo

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