Wednesday, August 02, 2006

European slave trade

The later European or Transatlantic slave trade from Africa to the Americas originated around 1500, during the early modern period of European exploration of West Africa and the establishment of Atlantic colonies in the Caribbean, South and North America when growing sugar cane (and a few other crops) was found to be a lucrative enterprise. Slaves were usually captured by African tribes in raids or open warfare or purchased from other African tribes. Many tribes were happy to get rid of their enemies by capturing and selling them for trade goods--usually whiskey, swords, guns and gold.

Whole tribes were often captured and sold, not just the warriors. (Mintz, S. Digital History Slavery, Facts & Myths) A large number of slaves in the Atlantic slave trade were transported from what is now Guinea, the Congo, Angola and other parts of West Africa. It is believed that about 11-12 million men, women and children were transported in ships across the Atlantic to various ports in the New World--mostly to Virginia and the islands in the Caribbean from 1500 to 1850. Far from docilely accepting their imprisonment, some transported Africans actively resisted the brutality of their captors. African slaves are known to have engaged in at least 250 shipboard rebellions during the period of the transatlantic crossings. (Mintz, S. Digital History Slavery, Facts & Myths)