West African Slave Trade

The West African Slave Trade was a global event that focused on West Africa. It was the sale and ownership of another human being that was put into slavery. It was a “forced Migration” that lasted 300 years. It was an event that forced 15, 000, 000 people into slavery for a lifetime. From 1551 – 1850 about 15,000,000 people were brought into the slave trade it is said that roughly 5,000,000 did not survive, and may have immediately died before making through the shock of enslavement.

About 10,000,000 people in the western hemisphere survived and were sold on the auction block. Generations continued into slavery, the offspring was also brought into slavery. The owners liked the idea of their slaves reproducing. This meant their work force would grow without having to spend much money on slaves. About 250,000,000 lived in slavery throughout the 300 years. West Africa was the source of the slave trade. Between 1450 and the end of the nineteenth century, slaves were obtained from along the west coast of Africa with the full and active co-operation of African kings and merchants.

Slavery was also a traditional part of African society — various states and kingdoms in Africa operated one or more of the following: chattel slavery, debt bondage, forced labor, and serfdom. Ghana, Mali, Songhai were kingdoms that had large economies and supported large populations, they had knowledge of agriculture, and grew many different crops that sustained many people. Because of the West African Slave Trade, These kingdoms were affected by greed and would often go to war and capture prisoners to sell into slavery. Why West Africa? It was all about Economics.Europeans looked toward West Africa because of their knowledge of cultivation and technologies. Expanding European empires in the New World lacked one major resource — a work force. In most cases the natives had proved unreliable (most of them were dying from diseases brought over from Europe), and Europeans were no fit to the climate and suffered under tropical diseases.

Africans, on the other hand, were excellent workers: they often had experience of agriculture and keeping cattle, they were used to a tropical climate, resistant to tropical diseases, and they could be “worked very hard” on plantations or in mines.There were two kinds of slaves that were sold; the chattle slave who are productive or field slaves, who usually held a lower status, worked to produce marketable goods. And companion slaves a domestic or house slaves that performed menial household duties for their masters and had a more intimate connection with owner. The companion was recognized as human, usually raised and educated their owners children. A companions slave’s standard of living was much better than the chattle slave who was a field worker looked at as an animal.The chattle slave was more of a commodity to the owner in the hardest form of labor. Humanity was stripped of him was treated very badly and was worked to death.

Slaves were forced to work in cotton and tobacco fields. 90% of slaves were chattle slaves. Europeans needed money to hire a work force. Instead they invested by purchasing slaves who were forced work for no money. Shock of enslavement The people of West Africa went through a 5 step process that forced them into enslavement. The first would be captivity. Slave traders would come into the villages and drag the people out of their homes.

Or a captured soldier would be sold to slave trade. Slave traders were experienced; they immediately chained their victims by the neck onto a pole to keep the victims from running. Journey from the interior is the second step. The slave traders walked 20-50 mile with 10 captives at a time, keeping down the chance for a rebellion. By 1850 the slave traders were walking up to 100 miles having to go deeper into Africa. Some captives resisted by crippling themselves in hopes that the slave traders would just leave them behind, some may have succeeded, others may have been killed.Suicide would be their last option.

Another form of resistance would be collaboration, where the victim would “offer” to guide the slave traders to other villages where they would capture other young men for the slave trade. The third step to this process would be the collection centers. 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. Victims were taken to the coastal areas and put in dungeons that were castles built as collection centers.Meanwhile the slave traders gathered enough people to fill a ship to cross the Atlantic. The victims were placed in dark rooms with people of different ethnic groups and different languages making it very hard to communicate.

Once the slave traders had enough passengers for the ship, they would move the people by night, taking them to the bottom of the ship and not letting them come up to see daylight until they were miles away. The next step is the middle passage. In the 1550’s there “human cargo” for the slave trade.Levels were built within the ship with narrow walkways, and boards measuring 2 1/2 by 6’ft. were placed next to each other. As many boards as would fit were laid on each level of the ship. They placed as many as 300 boards for 300 people.

By the 1750’s – 1800’s Ships were packed to the fullest. They had 2 people per plank, chained down to the plank for a period of 2 ? – 3 months. Most of the people died during the middle passage. Many had never been on a ship, sick and laying in their own waste. Thousands of slaves died during transportation.They were kept chained up in excessively cramped conditions without sufficient food, water, or exercise, throughout the long Atlantic voyage to the Americas and West Indies. They were not fed properly; dying from disease or depression, the slave traders had no interest in their well-being.

The dead were thrown into the ocean; millions of people were thrown into the ocean throughout the 300 years of slave trading. The human cargo ships were also known as “death ships”, and could be identified by the smell death and waste when high wind blew and ships sailed into port.Because of their malnutrition and poor physical appearance, people were brought to the deck of the ship and forced to exercise, 10 at a time. This provoked attempts of either overpowering the men on the ship, to jump off the ships, or attack the slave traders which led to either suicide or getting killed. Some of the men were able to overpower the ships and unchain the slaves, some ships never made it to the ports, because of the overpowering of the ship, or because of the certain weather conditions. The 5th step of the process would be the final step.Once arrived at the port the victims would be taken to cells to wait for the auction.

Looking very weak, doctors were hired specifically to help the victims look presentable. Once the slaves had been worked on, they were put on display for people to choose and bid on. The victims were stripped down to bareness, people would “check” the people, looking at their bodies, teeth, and even checking for lice. Once the people made these observations, the bidding would begin. Now the victims became slaves for the rest of their life. These were the 5 steps that forced a free person into enslavement.This brought the Transatlantic Slave Trade or triangular trade.

Also known as the “Golden Triangle”. The profits made from the global trade of sugar, tea and coffee were the major driving force behind the triangular trade. For centuries it provided substantial quantities of venture capital for the industrial revolution and the development of the western European economy. The Transatlantic Slave Trade consisted of three journeys: 1). The outward passage from Europe to Africa carrying manufactured goods. 2). The middle passage from Africa to the Americas or the Caribbean carrying African captives and other ‘commodities’.

). The homeward passage carrying sugar, tobacco, rum, rice, cotton and other goods back to Europe. African survival The first years for the colonists were very difficult; there was limited amount of food. The West African slaves had knowledge of certain technologies that resulted in the production of food. This was a process used in West Africa, the people made their own “fishing nets”. The people would find streams that would lead to fish population, closing in sections and trapping fish in large amounts. They also used concoction.

Which is a method used by extracting the oxygen in the water, this made the fish rise to the surface. Other technologies like Cattle ranching, the cultivation of rice and sugar were also expanding in the western hemisphere. The concept of rice cultivation was introduced to the colonial South Carolina 20 years into the colony. Economics, this was a way the colonists made money. The rice cultivation became one of the main crops in colonial South Carolina. The West African people also built shelters using materials available to them, and building shelters out of the West African design.Because colonial South Carolina had swamp areas in their environment, transportation was very difficult.

The West African built the main type of transportation which was a small watercraft or canoe of the West African design. The colonists could have not survived if not for the West African slaves. All these methods used were a form of African survival in direct form. From 1739-1820 the population of people coming directly from West Africa was growing. These people had been free people, not born into slavery.The chances for rebellion grew, and slaves were outnumbering their owners. September 9, 1739 was the day of the Stono Rebellion; it was the largest rebellion mounted by slaves against slave owners in colonial America.

The Stono Rebellion’s location was near the Stono River in South Carolina. Slaves in the Carolina wanted to reach St. Agustine FL, because the Spanish had spread the word that slaves were going to be free there and land will be given to them. 100 slaves rise up against the colonists, get to an armory, trying to escape to the swamps of Florida.The inexperienced slaves were, encountered by the experienced militia, resulting in the killing of 30 colonists and 60 slaves. Uncomfortable with the increasing numbers of blacks for some time, the white colonists had been working on a Negro Act that would limit the privileges of slaves. This act was quickly finalized and approved after the Stono Rebellion.

No longer would slaves be allowed to grow their own food, assemble in groups, earn their own money, or learn to read. Some of these restrictions had been in effect before the Negro Act, but had not been strictly enforced.

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