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Slavery - Expert Assignment

The Reasons for the African Slave Trade
After the colonization of the Americas, the European rulers wanted to
establish a profitable economy to gain as much wealth as possible. Therefore,
they started an agricultural system that was focussed on cash-crops (cashcrop is a agricultural product that can be sold for a substantial profit).
Sugarcane was one of those cash-crops, but also tobacco, cotton and coffee.
Due to the fact that many of the Native Americans died during due to
diseases, malnutrition and forced labour, the European rulers were forced to
search for an alternative labour force. Also, the Natives were seen as unfit for
agricultural labour.
Since the Portuguese and the Spanish had good experiences with Africans,
they decided to ship many of them over to the Americas as slaves to build a
new labour force. Thus, a need for hard-working labour force greatly
increased the demand for African slaves that needed to be shipped to the
- Summarize the information above (in your own words) in about 5 to 6
sentences. You will have to explain this information later to the members of
your team.
Plantations are large, agricultural estates that are focussed on the production
of an agricultural product that yields a large profit (so-called cash-crops).
Often, plantations were focussed on the production of only one of those
crops, instead of focussing on the production of more than one crop. The
production, after is was harvested, was often sold to distant markets, mainly
located in Europe.
Plantations were often possessed by a rich, white farmer, that used slave
labour to work his lands and in his house. Numbers differ, but often there
were more than 100 slaves working on a single estate.
Examples of cash-crops are: coffee, cotton, sugarcane and tobacco. It is
interesting to know that all these crops are not necessary to sustain life itself
and are thus additional products to ones life-style (luxury products).
- Make a word-web of the information above. You will have to explain the
information later on to your team-members, so make sure you understand
everything completely.
The Triangular Trade
In 1518, the first Spanish vessel transported the first cargo of slaves to the
Americas. During the next two centuries, the trade in slaves grew
dramatically and became part of the triangular trade that marked the
emergence of a new world economy.
The pattern of the triangular trade connected Europe, Africa and Asia (the
Old World) with the American continents (the New World). European
merchant ships left Europe with a payload of European manufactured good
for Africa, such as guns, cloth and rum, where they traded their cargo with
African traders for slaves. The slaves where then shipped to the Americas and
sold at slave markets. Returning home to Europe, the ships brought back
products that were produced on the plantations, such as cotton, tobacco and
- Draw a simplified version of the image above in your notebook. Make sure
every leg of the Triangular trade (including the products) is mentioned. You
will have to explain the Triangular trade to your team-members later.
The Middle Passage
The Middle Passage was the second stage of the Triangular Trade.
During the Middle Passage, the slaves were transported from Africa to the
New World, where most of them ended up in the Caribbean and Brazil. In
total, more as ten million of slaves were brought to the Americas, where most
of them worked on the agricultural plantations.
Most European traders bought the slaves from African traders at the coast,
although some countries also had forts in Africa that were specifically
designed for this purpose. The Europeans traded the slaves with the Africans
for European products. The Africans themselves obtained the slaves by
capturing them or buying them. Most of the slaves were traded on the Gold
Coast, Ivory Coast and Slave Coast (which nowadays are called Ghana, Ivory
Coast, Benin, etc.)
During, and immediately after the transportation, many of the slaves died. As
you can imagine, the journey itself was not a very pleasant trip since the
slaves only had a little room. Most of the ships were packed with slaves to
make the transport as profitable as possible. It is estimated that around 15%
of the slaves died during transport. After arrival in the Americas, many slaves
were so exhausted that they quickly became sick (since they were also not
immune for the diseases that killed many of the Native Americans).
- Summarize the information above. Make sure you understand all of the
information since you will have to explain it to your team-members later on.
The Effects of the Slave Trade
The effects of the slave trade varied from area to area. Obviously, the trade
itself had tragic effects on the lives of individual victims and their families.
The slave trade led to the depopulation of some African areas and it deprived
many communities of their youngest and strongest men and women.
The increasing demand for slaves (from the European traders) also led to
increasing wars on the African continent. Coastal and near-coastal African
tribes, armed with European guns, raided neighbouring villages and tribes to
obtain slaves that could be traded. The European demand for slaves fuelled
an economy in which tribes started wars with other tribes for the sole purpose
of capturing slaves.
Besides the effect on demographics, the slave trade also had economical
effects. Due to the fact that many of the younger people were captured and
transported to the New World, the African continent suffered in an
economical way. According to some historians, this is why Africa nowadays
is still a developing continent. The European demand for slaves and the fact
that Europeans introduced guns and other weapons fuelled an era of violence
and wars that is still visible in contemporary Africa.
Also, the slave trade led to the rise of racism and segregation, where black
people are not seen as equal and similar to the white people. In many
Southern American states for example, there is still a heritage of racism and
- Make a word-web of the effects of the slave trade. Make sure that you
understand everything perfectly, since you will have to explain them to your
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