Ch 18

Nicholas Martin
Ap World
The Atlantic System and Africa, 15501800
Thesis: Life in the colonies was mainly focused on selfish economy and the exploitation of
African slaves alongside the products traded for the.The Motherlands all struggled to gather
monopolies and compete with other powerful trading nations.
Plantations in the West Indies
Colonization before 1650
● Spanish settlers introduced sugar-cane to the West Indies, shortly after 1500, but
these colonies soon fell due to colonization in the West.
● After 1600 the West Indies revived as a focus of colonization.
● Tobacco was disapproved by King James I of England, but by 1614 seven
thousand shops around London sold tobacco
● Due to a multitude of damaging entities chartered companies took control of the
colonies in exchange to give the monopoly to the crown which proved to be
successful under the labor of indentured servants.
● The portuguese first developed sugar plantations along the African coast, then in
Brazil around 1600; becoming the biggest producer with the help of the Dutch.
● Spanish King Philip II inherited the throne of Portugal in 1580 after the Dutch
rebellion of 1560 resulting in banned tobacco trade.
● By 1645 the last of the Brazilian Dutch had been driven away.
● The Dutch West India Company seized the African trade station of Elmina from
Portuguese in 1638 and took the port of Luanda in 1641.
Sugar and Slaves
● In 1640 Barbados economy depended mostly on tobacco grown by both
indentured and free Europeans,
● Barbados became the wealthiest and most prosperous of England’s American
colonies under African sugar farms.
Plantation Life in the Eighteenth Century
Technology and Environment
● Harvesting of sugar required simple tools including spades, hoes, and machetes;
however, the refinigning of sugar required large mills and boiling of the juice.
Many sugar farmers refuse to rotate their crops resulting in nutrient poor soil and
Slaves’ Lives
● Only 2 or 3 percent of the slaves were house servants with 70% doing hard labor
under use of force.
● Work was split based on age and health, but nursing mothers still had to work the
● Men outnumbered women
● Planters rewarded skilled slaves, and punish those who didn't work with whips.
● Sunday and Christmas week were the only times slaves had work off aside from
meal times.
● Dysentery plagued many slaves but was unable to match that of newly arriving
Africans who experienced a 33% mortality rate from unknown diseases
● Rebellious slaves were near endless.
● African culture was thought to be the cause of rebellion and thus landowners
required slaves to learn the colonial language and practice Catholic rituals.
Free White and Free Blacks
● Free people were divided by class in descending importance from plantation
owners, French nationalists, small business owners, and finally free blacks
● Monopolies on sugar plantations resulted in extremely high plantation costs and
rich landowners who translated their power into into political power.Manumission
was almost unheard of in the English colonies.
● Communities of runaway slaves known as maroons were common in Jamaica
and Hispaniola.
● Jamaican maroons, signed a treaty in 1738 that recognized their independence
in return for stopping others from becoming maroons
Creating the Atlantic Economy
Capitalism and Mercantilism
● The system of royal monopoly control of colonies and their trade as practiced by
Spain and Portugal in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries proved to be inefficient
and expensive. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the two new
institutions of capitalism and mercantilism established the framework within
which government-protected private enterprise participated in the Atlantic
● The mechanisms of early capitalism included banks, joint-stock companies, stock
exchanges, and insurance.
● The instruments of mercantilism included chartered companies, such as the
Dutch West India Company and the French Royal African Company, and the use
of military force to pursue commercial dominance.
● The French and English eliminated Dutch competition from the Americas by
defeating the Dutch in a series of wars between 1652 and 1678. The French and
the English then revoked the monopoly privileges of their chartered companies
The Atlantic Circuit
● The Atlantic Circuit was a clockwise network of trade routes going from Europe to
Africa, from Africa to the plantation colonies of the Americas (the Middle
Passage), and then from the colonies to Europe.
● The Atlantic Circuit was supplemented by a number of other trade routes: Europe
to the Indian Ocean; Europe to the West Indies; New England to the West Indies;
and the “Triangular Trade” among New England, Africa, and the West Indies.
● increased demand for sugar in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe was
associated with an increase in the flow of slaves from Africa to the New World.
● Disease, maltreatment, suicide, and psychological depression all contributed to
the average death rate of one out of every six slaves shipped on the Middle
Passage. Disease was the single most important cause of death, killing the
European crew of the slave ships at roughly the same rate as it killed the slaves
Africa, The Atlantic, and Islam
The Gold Coast and the Slave Coast
● European trade with Africa grew tremendously after 1650
● African merchants were discriminating about the types and the amounts of
merchandise that they demanded in return for slaves and other goods, and they
raised the price of slaves in response to increased demand. Europeans,
competing with each other for African trade, were unable to present a strong,
united bargaining position.
● Exchange of slaves for firearms contributed to state formation in the Gold and
Slave Coasts. The kingdom of Dahomey used firearms acquired in the slave
trade to expand its territory, while the kingdoms of Oyo and Asante had interests
both in the Atlantic trade and in overland trade with their northern neighbors
● The African kings and merchants of the Gold and Slave Coasts obtained slaves
from among the prisoners of war
The Bight of Biafra and Angola
● There were no sizeable states—and no large-scale wars—in the interior of the
Bight of Biafra; kidnapping was the main source of people to sell into slavery.
● In the Portuguese-held territory of Angola, Afro-Portuguese caravan merchants
brought trade goods to the interior and exchanged them for slaves, whom they
transported to the coast for sale to Portuguese middlemen, who then sold the
slaves to slave dealers for shipment to Brazil.
● Angolan, droughts forced refugees to flee to kingdoms in better-watered areas,
where the kings traded the grown male refugees to slave dealers in exchange for
Indian textiles and European goods
Africa’s European and Islamic Contacts
● In the centuries between 1550 and 1800, Europeans built a growing trade with
Africa but did not acquire very much African territory. The only significant
European colonies were those on islands; the Portuguese in Angola; and the
Dutch Cape Colony, which was tied to the Indian Ocean trade rather than to the
Atlantic trade.
Muslim territorial dominance was much more significant, with the Ottoman
Empire controlling all of North Africa except Morocco and with Muslims taking
large amounts of territory from Ethiopia. In the 1580s, Morocco attacked the subSaharan Muslim kingdom of Songhai, occupying the area for the next two
centuries and causing the bulk of the trans-Saharan trade to shift from the
western Sudan to the central Sudan.
Religious law forbade the enslavement of fellow Muslims; Even so, some Muslim
states south of the Sahara did enslave African Muslims.
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