Slave Trade Questions and Answers
The Slave Trade
Who were the slaves?
slaves were millions of Africans that were forcibly transported overseas for a period of about 450 years.
of people from West Africa by British, European and African traders, and their mass transportation to the Americas
was known as the transatlantic Slave Trade.
A similar slave
trade, conducted by Arab and African traders over roughly the same period, saw millions of others transported from the continent's
east coast and enslaved in the Arab world.
Slavery had existed
for thousands of years, but this period saw the most widespread and systematic form.
did it begin?
Advances in ship
design and navigation enabled European traders to travel reliably to Africa.
were the first to begin capturing Africans and taking them back to Europe as slaves.
took the first African slaves to America
in 1503. Over the next century the slave trade developed as a lucrative commercial system.
Traders would export
manufactured goods to West Africa where they would be exchanged for slaves from African merchants.
The slaves were then transported across the Atlantic and sold for huge profits in the Americas.
Traders used the
money to buy raw materials such as sugar, cotton, coffee, metals, and tobacco, which were shipped back and sold in Europe.
By the end of the
18th century, Britain had come to dominate the trade, with around 150 slave
ships leaving Liverpool, Bristol, and London
many people were enslaved?
A database compiled
in the late 1990s put the figure for the transatlantic slave trade at more than 11 million people, but numbers are still contested.
The total number taken from eastern Africa and enslaved in the
Arab world is considered to be between 9.4 and 14 million. The figures are uncertain due to the lack of written records.
More than a million
people are thought to have died while in transit across the so-called 'middle passage' of the Atlantic
due to the inhuman conditions aboard the slave ships and brutal suppression of any resistance.
Many slaves captured
from the African interior died on the long journey to the coast.
the plantations, life expectancy was short because of poor diet and the back-breaking work. Slaves were branded with hot irons
and punishment for trying to run away or escape was whipping or execution.
What was the
effect on Africa?
|Slave Trade Questions and Answers
|Slave Trade Questions and Answers
The forced removal
of up to 25 million people made Africa's population stagnate or even decline during the slave trade, state many historians.
Some have argued
that some African kingdoms were more socially and economically advanced than many European countries before 1500.
In the 14th century,
the West African empire of Mali was larger than Western
Europe, and reputed to be one of the richest and most powerful states in the world.
to debate how and why African kingdoms and traders became so actively involved the slave trade.
Some suggest that
the demand for free labor from Europe and the lack of a wider concept of African "identity"
at the time allowed slavery to flourish.
Merchants in Britain,
the Americas, Europe and Africa became
very rich from the slave trade.
The trade also
created, sustained and relied on a large support network of shipping services, ports, and finance and insurance companies,
employing thousands of people.
were created processing the raw materials harvested or extracted by slaves in the Americas. Plantation
owners profited from the free labor provided by slaves.
The slave trade
contributed significantly to the commercial and industrial revolutions of the 18th and 19th Centuries. Cities such as Liverpool
and Amsterdam grew wealthy as a result of the trade in humans.
did it end?
The movement against
slavery began in the late 18th Century.
worked against the trade for more than 50 years, traveling Britain
to organize meetings and distribute abolitionist literature. He pioneered a string of tactics - including boycotts of goods
- which are still employed by campaign groups today.
of "slave narratives" from writers such as Olaudah Equiano helped to change public perceptions of slavery.
British MP William
Wilberforce campaigned vociferously against the trade for 35 years and is often given much credit for the parliamentary act
banning it in 1807, and the legislation which later freed and gave rights to slaves in British territories in 1833.
While the 1807
act made slave trading illegal on paper, it took a further 60 years of dedicated Foreign Office diplomacy and Royal Navy enforcement
to finally eradicate it.
In the United States, slavery officially ended with the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Emancipation Proclamation, however, was the foundation for that Amendment.
Are there still
is illegal in every country, it still exists in many parts of the world.
In A Persistent
Evil: The Global Problem of Slavery, a report published by the Harvard International Review in 2002, Richard Re suggested:
"Conservative estimates indicate that at least 27 million people, in places as diverse as Nigeria, Indonesia, and Brazil,
live in conditions of forced bondage"
While this figure
is far higher than the total transported during the historical slave trade, it represents a far smaller a proportion of the
current global population.
is often more complicated than "chattel slavery" - where one person simply 'owns' another as their material possession.
amount to slavery include sex trafficking and bonded labor, where a person's work is 'security' for a debt which they can
Sources: BBC News; Emancipation Proclamation; Thirteenth Amendment
Recommended Reading: The SLAVE TRADE: THE STORY OF THE ATLANTIC
SLAVE TRADE: 1440 - 1870. From School Library Journal: Thomas concentrates on the economics, social acceptance, and politics of
the slave trade. The scope of the book is amazingly broad as the author covers virtually every aspect of the subject from
the early days of the 16th century when great commercial houses were set up throughout Europe
to the 1713 Peace Treaty of Utrecht, which gave the British the right to import slaves into the Spanish Indies. The account
includes the anti-slavery patrols of the 19th century and the final decline and abolition in the early 20th century. Continued
Through the skillful weaving of numerous official reports, financial documents, and firsthand accounts, Thomas explains
how slavery was socially acceptable and shows that people and governments everywhere were involved in it. This book is a comprehensive
study from African kings and Arab slave traders to the Europeans and Americans who bought and transported them to the New World. Despite the volatility
of the subject, the author remains emotionally detached in his writing, yet produces a highly readable, informative book.
A superb addition and highly recommended.
Slave Trade, Slavery, and Early
History of Slavery in the United
States of America
Civil War and Slavery: The South, Slave Trade, Slaves and Slavery
Civil War and the Confederate Army: Blacks, African Americans,
Slaves, and Slavery
Slave Trade: Questions and Answers
Slave Trade, Slavery, Early
Antislavery and the Underground Railroad
Distribution of Slaves in United
Total Slave Population in United
States, by State
Slave Percentages of the Total
Population in Southern States
Distribution of Slaves in the
The Atlantic Slave Trade and
the Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad Homepage
Abolitionists and the American
Uncle Tom's Cabin
(Wordsworth Classics), by Harriet Beecher Stowe (Author). Description: Edited and with an Introduction and Notes by Dr Keith
Carabine, University of Kent at Canterbury. Uncle Tom's Cabin is the most popular, influential and controversial
book written by an American. Stowe's rich, panoramic novel passionately dramatizes why the whole of America is implicated in and responsible for the sin of slavery, and resoundingly
concludes that only 'repentance, justice and mercy' will prevent the onset of 'the wrath of Almighty God!'.
Recommended Reading: American Slavery, American Freedom. Description: "If it is possible to understand the American paradox, the marriage of slavery and freedom, Virginia is surely the place to begin," writes Edmund S. Morgan in American Slavery, American Freedom,
a study of the tragic contradiction at the core of America.
Morgan finds the key to this central paradox in the people and politics of the state that was both the birthplace of the revolution
and the largest slaveholding state in the country. With a new introduction. Winner of the Francis Parkman Prize and the Albert
J. Beveridge Award. Continued below...
About the Author:
Edmund S. Morgan is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University
and the author of Benjamin Franklin. Morgan was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2000.
Viewing: Slavery and the Making of America (240 minutes), Starring: Morgan Freeman; Director: William R. Grant.
Description: Acclaimed actor Morgan Freeman narrates this compelling documentary, which features
a score by Michael Whalen. Underscoring how slavery impacted the growth of this country's Southern and Northern states; the
series examines issues still relevant today. The variety of cultures from which the slaves originated provided the budding
states with a multitude of skills that had a dramatic effect on the diverse communities. From joining the British in the Revolutionary
War, to fleeing to Canada, to joining rebel communities in the U.S. the slaves sought freedom in many ways, ultimately having
a far-reaching effect on the new hemisphere they were forced to inhabit. AWARDED 5 STARS by americancivilwarhistory.org
Reading: Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America (Simon & Schuster) (February 5, 2008) (Hardcover). Description: In 1858, Abraham Lincoln was known as a successful Illinois
lawyer who had achieved some prominence in state politics as a leader in the new Republican Party. Two years later, he was
elected president and was on his way to becoming the greatest chief executive in American history. What carried this one-term
congressman from obscurity to fame was the campaign he mounted for the United States Senate against the country's most formidable
politician, Stephen A. Douglas, in the summer and fall of 1858. Lincoln challenged Douglas
directly in one of his greatest speeches -- "A house divided against itself cannot stand" -- and confronted Douglas on the
questions of slavery and the inviolability of the Union in seven fierce debates. As this
brilliant narrative by the prize-winning Lincoln scholar Allen Guelzo dramatizes, Lincoln would emerge a predominant national figure, the leader of his
party, the man who would bear the burden of the national confrontation. Continued below...
the great issue between Lincoln and Douglas was slavery. Douglas was the champion of "popular sovereignty," of letting states and territories decide
for themselves whether to legalize slavery. Lincoln drew a
moral line, arguing that slavery was a violation both of natural law and of the principles expressed in the Declaration of
Independence. No majority could ever make slavery right, he argued. Lincoln lost that Senate
race to Douglas, though he came close to toppling the "Little Giant," whom almost everyone
thought was unbeatable. Guelzo's Lincoln and Douglas brings alive their debates and this whole year of campaigns and underscores
their centrality in the greatest conflict in American history. The encounters between Lincoln and Douglas engage a key question
in American political life: What is democracy's purpose? Is it to satisfy the desires of the majority? Or is it to achieve
a just and moral public order? These were the real questions in 1858 that led to the Civil War. They remain questions for
Reading: The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom: A Comprehensive
History (Dover African-American Books). Description: This pioneering work was
the first documented survey of a system that helped fugitive slaves escape from areas in the antebellum South to regions as
far north as Canada. Comprising fifty
years of research, the text includes interviews and excerpts from diaries, letters, biographies, memoirs, speeches, and other
Roots (Four-Disc 30th Anniversary Edition) (DVD) (573 minutes). Description:
Based on Alex Haley's best-selling novel about his African ancestors, Roots followed several generations in the lives of a
slave family. The saga began with Kunta Kinte (LeVar Burton), a West African youth captured by slave raiders and shipped to
America in the 1700s. The family's saga is depicted up until the Civil War where
Kunte Kinte's grandson gained emancipation. Roots made its greatest impression on the ratings and widespread popularity it
garnered. On average, 130 million - almost half the country at the time - saw all or part of the series. Interesting fact:
Alex Haley was also the founding father of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Public Affairs Office.