In the seventeenth and eighteenth century, the number of human exports from Africa began to soar. Over this time, 12. 8 million Africans were forcibly enslaved and shipped to Atlantic ports to be used for trade and sale. By 1 820, four slaves had crossed the Atlantic for every European. Salves were the most important reason for contact between Europeans and Africans. The Atlantic Ocean became a commercial highway that integrated the histories of Africa, Europe, and the Americas for the first time.
Around 1 670, the most populous English colony was not on the North American mainland, but on the Caribbean island Of Barbados. Since sugar was so desirable, from the mid-seventeenth century onward the English and French controlled islands of the Caribbean were home to many sugarcane plantations. Competition to control the region and sugar production was fierce. This competition affected to labor arrangements in the colonies. Because native populations had been wiped out, owners of Caribbean estates looked to Africa to obtain workers for their plantations.
The hot, humid environment in which sugarcane flourished was too much for sugar barons, causing them to spend little time on their plantations. Management fell to overseers, who worked their slaves to death. Despite having immunities to yellow fever and malaria from their homeland’s similar environment, Africans could not withstand the regimen. Inadequate food, atrocious living conditions, and filthy sanitation added to their miseries. Word of the terrible situation on these plantations museum gotten back to Africa, as many slaves were reluctant to get shipped here.
This can be seen in Captain Phillips’ urinal entry about his venture to purchase slaves as he states, “The Negroes are so willful and 10th to leave their own country, that they have often leaped out of the cannons, boats and ships, into the sea, and kept under water till they drowned, to avoid being taken up and saved by our boats, which pursued them; they having a more dreadful apprehension of Barbados than we can have of hell”. 1 These slaves believed drowning to death was better then going to work on these plantations, and it is sad that they were probably right.
Plantation managers treated their slaves as non-humans: for example, on the iris day all new slaves suffered branding with the planters seal. One English man commented that slaves were like cows, “as near as beasts may be, setting their souls aside. “2 The Atlantic system benefited elite Europeans, who gained new fortunes by exploiting the colonies’ natural resources and the African slaves’ labor. The English took Jamaica from the Spanish and made it the premier site Of Caribbean sugar by the sass. When the French seized half of Santos Domingo in the sass, they created one of the wealthiest societies based on slavery of all time.
This French colony exports eclipsed those of all Spanish and English Antilles combined. The capital, Port-AU-Prince, was one of the richest cities in the Atlantic world. The colony merchants and planters built immense mansions worthy of the highest Europeans nobles. All of this, however, was very detrimental to many of the inhabitants of Africa. This was a very dark time for many of those in Africa, while others prospered quite nicely because of the slave trade. States found in the middle of the continent were negatively affected by slave trade, because that is where any of the slaves were captured.
They were then sent to the port cities where they were then in the hands of moneylenders and traders. Here, English merchants relied on pawnshop, the use of human “pawns” to secure European commodities in advance of the delivery of their slaves. A secret male organization called Keep enforced payments of promised slave deliveries. If a trader failed to deliver on his promise, members of the Keep group were sold instead. The whole process behind the slave trade was very gruesome and high death rates occurred on the African side of the shipping. Once a slave was captured, their life expectancy was three years.
Even that was a lot, as many died on the ships before losing sight of Africa. Once captured, these slaves were stuck in holding camps where disease and hunger were rampant. They were then forced to board vessels in cramped and wretched conditions. Many did not make the trip to wherever they were going as many died from disease, starvation, or dehydration. A passage from a slave ship journal paints a good image of what life was like on one of these ships, “All the slaves and some of the crew are blind. The Captain, the surgeon, and the mate are blind.
There is hardly enough men left, out of our twenty-two, to work the ship. The Captain preserves what order he can and the surgeon still attempts to do his duty, but our situation is frightful. “3 Not even the captain and crew could escape the diseases of the ships; they were floating death traps. Because high mortality led to lost profits, slavers learned to carry better food and more fresh water. Still, when slave ships finally reached the New World ports, they reeked of disease and excrement. In moving so many Africans to the Americas, the slave trade ruined sex ratios, as most of the slaves shipped were adult males.
The gender imbalance made it difficult for Africans to reproduce in the Americas. Planters and slavers had to return to Africa often to obtain more captives. While male slaves outnumbered females in the New World, the opposite ratio was found in slave-supplying regions of Africa. In some states, such as the slave-supplying kingdom of Doomed, women were able to asset power because of their large numbers and heightened importance. Ultimately, though, the fact that women rose to power in a few societies did not diminish the destabilize affects of the Atlantic slave trade or the chaos it caused for many among African States.
Local political leaders and merchants were active suppliers of slaves in Africa. In some parts of Africa, the booming slave trade wreaked havoc as local leaders feuded over control of the traffic. In the Kong kingdom, civil wars raged for over a century. Most important to the conduct of war and the control of trade were firearms and gunpowder, which made the capturing of slaves highly efficient. Also, kidnapping became so prevalent that field rowers concealed weapons and left their children behind in guarded stockades. Some leaders of the Kong kingdom fought back, such as Queen Amazing.
Amazing was a masterful diplomat and a smart military planner. She managed to keep Portuguese slavers at bay during her long reign. Her message aimed to end the Kong civil wars and re-create a unified kingdom. Although she gained many followers, she failed to win support of leading political figures. She was later captured and killed. As some African merchants and warlords sold other Africans, their success enabled them to gain political power and grow wealthy. Their wealth financed additional weapons, with which they used to defeat neighbors and extend political powers.
Among the most powerful new states was the Saints state, which arose in 1 701 and expanded through 1750. This state benefited from its access to gold, which it used to acquire firearms to raid nearby communities. The state eventually controlled almost all of present-day Ghana. Through the Saints trading networks African traders bought, bartered, and sold slaves, who wound up in the hands of European merchants waiting in ports with vessels carrying manufactures and weaponry. Also active in slave trade and enriched by it was the Oho Empire.
This territory, which owned the main trade routes, linked tropical rain forests with interior markets of the northern Savannah areas. The empire’s strength rested on its impressive army who secured trade with Europeans. Every dry season, Oho armies marched on their neighbors to capture entire villages. Slavery and the emergence of new political organizations enriched and empowered some Africans, but they cost Africa greatly. For the princes, warrior, and merchants who organized the slave trade, their business enabled them to obtain European goods such as alcohol, tobacco, textile, and guns.
The Atlantic system also tilted wealth away from rural landowners and increasingly toward port cities. Across the landmass, the slave trade thinned the population. The Atlantic trade caused both the rise and fall of West African kingdoms. The Atlantic trade brought nothing but wealth and power for the Europeans. Being that they depleted the populations of Native Americans quite quickly after arriving in the New World, the Europeans relied on slaves from Africa to cake them money, and therefore, help them expand their land.
During this time, the world’s leading slave traders were also the world’s most important maritime powers. Without slaves, the European colonies would not have been able to flourish as much as they did, and the times would have been much more difficult for them.