National 5 History — Mandatory Content Unit I

National 5 History – Mandatory Content
Unit 1 – The Triangular Trade
These notes contain potential exam questions and relevant information which cover
the SQA illustrated areas of:
The organisation and nature of the slave trade:
Its effects on British ports, e.g. Liverpool, Bristol;
Its effects on African societies, e.g. Ashanti
Its effects on West Indian plantations.
Slave ‘factories’ on the African coast;
The economics and conditions of the ‘Middle Passage’.
A. The organisation and nature of the slave trade:
E.g. Explain why Britain became involved in the slave trade in the 18th century Labour shortage
 British owned plantations (Sugar, tobacco, cotton, coffee – prized goods sold for profit) needed many
workers. Labour shortage – native population dying out, convicts from Europe had been freed –
worked time)
 Caribbean Indians were not suitable for the work – they quickly died of disease and overwork.
 Europeans did not like the work and it was thought they could not work in a tropical climate.
 Africans were less likely to die from European diseases.
 Africans often had the farming skills needed to grow crops in a tropical climate.
 African chiefs were willing to exchange slaves for British goods. (Guns, metal, cloth, brandy, trinkets)
 The slave trade brought great wealth to Britain. Traders made a big profit on each slave they sold in
the West Indies. Europeans paid high prices for sugar, coffee, tobacco, and cotton more profit.
 Improvements in shipbuilding meant up to 700 slaves could be carried on a single ship = more profit.
 The government encouraged the slave trade because it brought in a lot of tax and increased British
naval strength.
E.g. Describe how the Triangular Trade operated
 The ‘triangular trade’ was the sailing route taken by British slave traders with three stages, the
outward passage, the middle passage, the home passage.
Stage 1
 Ships left British ports such as Liverpool, Bristol or London, loaded with textiles and goods such as
guns, alcohol, pots and pans for West Africa. This took around 40 days.
 On the African coast goods from Britain were exchanged for slaves – slaves were held in slave
factories on the west coast of Africa. This could take around 4-8 months trading as ships would go up
and down the coast to look for the best slaves.
Stage 2
 Slaves were then shipped across the Atlantic – The middle passage 40-69 days.
 On arrival in the West Indies the slaves were sold at auction and sugar, rum and tobacco were
bought. In southern states of USA slaves were sold and cotton bought.
Stage 3
 The goods were brought back to Britain arriving at ports such as Glasgow with tobacco or with cotton
for the Lancashire cotton industry.
CDHS LM 2013 Version 1
E.g. Explain why the profits made from the triangular trade were so high?
 Ships made a profit at each stage of the journey. A ship never made a voyage without cargo to sell. Ships
leaving Liverpool and Bristol were packed with cheaply produced products such as guns, alcohol, pots and
pans which are were exchanged for slaves. Captive market for our products.
 Slaves would be tightly packed on board, as many as possible ‘tight packed’ with little regard for their well
being to make more profit. Up to 700 slaves could be carried on a single ship
 Slaves could be sold at a big profit, each slave cost about £12 and sold for about £60 in the West Indies.
 In 10 years, from 1783-93 Liverpool merchants transported 305,000 slaves, resulting in a large profit.
 On the homeward passage, ships would be carrying sugar, cotton, coffee or tobacco which would be in
demand and so sold at a profit in Britain.
 The cost of fitting out a ship and crew was very small compared to the profits which could be made.
 Slave ships would spend as little on food for slaves as possible to keep costs low.
 In 1767 the Liverpool slave ship ‘Thomas’ is reported to have made a profit of £24,000 on a single voyage
round the triangle.
B. Effects of Triangular Trade on British ports, e.g. Liverpool, Bristol
E.g. Describe the ways Britain’s ports profited from the slave trade.
 Jobs = The slave trade created lots of jobs in ports. Thousands employed building and repairing slave
ships, as dock workers, shipbuilders, carpenters, rope makers, and sailors.
 Population = Port towns saw a growth in population due to the jobs opportunities. In 1700 Liverpool was
a fishing port with a population of 5,000 people. By 1800, 78,000 people lived and worked in Liverpool.
 Expand Ports = Involvement in the slave trade caused their docks to expand. New docks and warehouses
were built. Liverpool became an important centre of shipbuilding. By 1770 Liverpool was the leading
slave trade port with 40% of all slave ships
 Banks = Banks and insurance firms grew up in port towns as merchants needing finance and insurance for
their risky trips. (Liverpool’s Heywoods bank became Barclays)
 Money = Ports involved in the slave trade became wealthy Liverpool changed from a struggling fishing
port to one of the wealthiest.
 Rich People = The slave trade made Liverpool and Bristol merchants in the slave trade very wealthy as
they made a profit at each stage of the journey and West Indian produce e.g. sugar sold for a very high
price in Britain. In 1767 the Liverpool slave ship ‘Thomas’ is reported to have made a profit of £24,000 on
a single voyage round the triangle.
 Buildings = Wealthy merchants spent their money building big houses, large estates and public buildings
were built. Liverpool Library and the Blue Coat hospital for the poor built by money from merchants in
slave trade.
C. Effects of Triangular Trade on African societies, e.g. Ashanti and on West Indian
E.g. Explain why African societies were keen to become involved in Slave trade
 Tradition = Slavery had existed in Africa before Europeans arrived. Slaves from other tribes were taken as
prisoners of war, in payment for debt or as a punishment for a crime.
 Goods = African kings wanted European goods such as brandy, cloth, pots and pans and were willing to
trade slaves for them.
 Guns = Europeans traded guns. Above all, African rulers wanted guns, which would give them power over
other chiefs. They needed to sell slaves to get them.
 Land = Using the guns, they could take over land from other tribes which increased their power.
 Wealth = Those who obtained a lot of guns became more powerful and could capture more slaves.
Selling slaves made many African chiefs very rich.
 Taxes = African chiefs made profits taxing the British trade ships to trade for slaves. Sometimes they also
demanded presents.
 Sell Supplies = they made money selling supplies of food and water for the middle passage from Africa.
CDHS LM 2013 Version 1
E.g. Describe the role of Africans in the slave trade
 Tradition = Slavery existed in Africa before Europeans arrived. Slaves were taken as prisoners of war,
in payment for debt or as a punishment for a crime.
 Raids = African chiefs / traders organised raids and wars to get slaves that they could sell. Ashanti
and Dahomey lived by organizing slave raids and grew powerful and wealthy as a result.
 Coast = Africans marched slaves to the coast in chains, often 100s of miles.
 Permission = tribe chiefs had to give European traders permission to trade.
 Sell = African chiefs / traders sold slaves to European traders. Tribe chiefs could demand his slaves
were bought first, regardless of quality.
 Price = African chief set the final price of slaves.
 No entry = African rulers stopped British traders going inland and taxed all ships that wanted to trade
for slaves.
 Sell supplies = they made money selling supplies of food and water for the middle passage from
E.g. Describe the impact of the Triangular Trade on African societies
 Population = Africa lost lots of people who were taken as slaves, possibly 20-30 million.
 Lack of men = Most of the slaves taken were males aged 15-25 – the most important working age
 Labour shortage = The loss of so many people damaged farm production = famine.
 War + Death = By providing firearms Europeans encouraged and increased warfare and political
instability in West Africa. Tens of thousands of people could be slaughtered in a single battle.
Slavery became a reason to go to war rather than a consequence.
 Powerful States = Ashanti and Dahomey lived by organizing slave raids and grew powerful and
wealthy as a result. Other less powerful societies were destroyed. By 1750, King Tegbesu of
Dahomey made £250,000 a year selling Africans into slavery. Under his reign, slavery became the
largest part of the kingdom’s income. When the British abolished the slave trade in 1807, the King of
Bonny wrote to Parliament to complain.
 Danger = The wars and kidnappings made Africa a dangerous violent place where people could no
longer live in peace and safety. Tribes who had lived in peace became enemies and their whole way
of life was destroyed
 Kidnapping = The benefits to be gained from slave trade led to a big increase raids and kidnapping.
 Famine = The destruction of crops and granaries in war led to starvation, plus less people able to
work the land to produce food.
 Empty land = Some of the best farmland in Africa was abandoned or destroyed and people moved to
less fertile areas to escape from slave raids and wars.
 Escape = People moved inland away from traditional areas to escape wars and kidnapping.
 Disease = Continual interaction between villages brought about by the migrations of slaves across
Africa helped the spread of diseases.
 Economic Development = The slave trade stopped economic development in Africa. Manufacturing
and crafts were destroyed by cheap European imports. African cloth makers could not compete with
cheap cloth from Britain. Slavery became the ‘normal’ way of life and making money.
 Racism = White traders who bought black people and packed them onto slave ships like cattle
believed themselves to be superior.
 Transport = Movement of slaves and goods across Africa led to improvement to transport networks.
African merchants developed road and river networks from interior to coast.
CDHS LM 2013 Version 1
E.g. Describe the effect of the Triangular Trade on the West Indian Plantations
Benefited plantations as provided much needed labour to counteract labour shortage due to
 Most of the native population had died out.
 Convicts and bondsmen from Europe were eventually freed.
 Tri trade ensured a constant supply of workers to do labour intensive work to produce goods which
could be sold at profit.
Slaves allowed tropical plants to be cultivated such as sugar, tobacco successfully for profit.
 Africans were used to working in the tropical climate.
 Africans were farmers who knew a lot about growing crops such as cotton, sugar, coffee in tropical
 Africans were more resistant to European diseases
 Cheap constant source of Labour to do hard back breaking work required on plantations such as
 Plantations owners became wealthy from selling their produce in triangular trade. Output increased.
 Made the West Indies, the most profitable part of the British Empire. At end of 18th century Britain
made 4 million from West Indian Plantations, but only I million from the rest of empire.
D. Slave ‘factories’ on the African coast
E.g. Describe the way slave factories operated on the West African coast.
 Europeans set up permanent trading camps or forts on the West African coast. They lived there
themselves, collecting slaves to sell to passing slave ships. These slaver outposts became known as
‘slave factories’.
 Slaves were captured by African chiefs were taken to slave factories on the coast.
 Slaves were examined by surgeons and placed in different categories and those who were judged fit
were bought by the factory’s owning company.
 The purchased slaves were kept locked up in the slave factory’s cells or compounds until a slave ship
arrived to take them overseas
 Slaves were held in factories/prisons, often for weeks at a time
 Factories were often heavily fortified to protect them from attack
 Hundreds were imprisoned together. Cape Coast Castle slave factory in what is now modern day
Ghana could hold up to 1,000 slaves in its underground dungeons.
 Slaves were held in chains, they were often beaten and whipped by their captors
 Factories often near mouths of great rivers like Congo or Niger where diseases like Malrais were
 Slave ships sailed to factories to barter/buy slaves.
 Slaves would eventually be transferred onto slave ships for transportation across the Atlantic to
America/West Indies.
E. The economics and conditions of the ‘Middle Passage’
E.g. Describe what happened to slaves at the end of the Middle Passage.
 Slaves were made to look as healthy as they could to be sold for more money.
 They were fed well for a number of days before
 Slaves were shaved to look better, older slaves had their grey hair dyed
 They were washed in fresh water to look better
 Their skin was rubbed with palm oil or beeswax to make it shine
 Older slaves or sick ones were often left aside, ‘refuse’ slaves, to die
 Slaves were auctioned off to plantation owners.
CDHS LM 2013 Version 1
E.g. Describe conditions for slaves during the Middle Passage / Explain why many slaved died on the
Middle Passage
 Clothes = Slaves stripped naked.
 Separation = Men and women put in separate holds. Women and children often allowed to stay on
deck where air was better. But no protection from wind rain and sun.
 Food = slaves were fed unfamiliar food which made them ill – rice, yams, horse beans mashed
together. Forced to eat in groups with a leader who told them when to eat and swallow, force-fed
using jaw openers
 Chained = Men often chained together in pairs or more below deck. Slaves were chained and
movement was restricted. If a slave died, the body could remain in the hold for hours, still chained to
other living slaves.
 Sanitation = Slaves were unable to go to the toilet and had to lie in their own filth. Sickness quickly
spread. The state of the hold would quickly become unbearable – dark, stuffy and stinking. The heat
and the foul air were so bad that a candle would not burn.
 Cramped = Tight ‘like books on a shelf’ vs Loose pack. Most tight in 18th century. The men were in
chains and lay crammed together on specially built shelves. They had to remain lying flat on their
backs, as there was not enough space for them to sit up.
 Violence = common, punishments to prevent revolt, abuse of female slaves was common. Any
resistance was dealt with harshly by floggings from the crew.
 Daily Routine = Washed daily and inspected for illness. – Viewed as cargo so had to be looked after
to arrive in good condition.
 Exercise = occasional exercise on deck was forced on the slaves to keep them healthy for sale. Slaves
were usually forced to dance on deck for an hour a day to keep them fit.
 Health = illness and disease were common. Stench and lack of fresh air in hold, seasickness and heat
stroke. Tight pack / disease spread quickly. There was a lack of sanitation. Stench. No ventilation,
dysentery and smallpox
 Death and Suicide = dead, sick slaves were thrown overboard, some preferred death and threw
overboard. Nets put up to stop them. More than 500,000 Africans died on British ships during the
horrific ‘middle passage’.
 Property = slaves viewed as cargo. Thrown overboard if shortage of supplies. Zong case – insurance
E.g. Describe the ways in which slaves would be sold in the West Indies.
 Preparation at end of middle passage = see answer above
 Auction = an auctioneer sold the slaves individually or in lots (as a group), with the slaves being sold
to the highest bidder.
 Posters advertised auctions
 Scramble = Here slaves were kept together in an enclosure. Buyers paid the captain a fixed sum
 Once all the buyers had paid, the enclosure gate was thrown
 Buyers rushed in together and grabbed the slaves they wanted
 Slaves branded to stop being switched.
 Refuse
 Slaves left behind were called ‘refuse’. They were sold cheaply to anyone who’d take them, often
leading to their quick death through over work.
CDHS LM 2013 Version 1
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