Transatlantic Slave Trade and its Consequences
As one of the most important events in the history of the modern world, transatlantic slave trade and slavery in general had many consequences economically, socially, and culturally. These consequences can be felt in the United States and even in Africa. Approximately 11.8 million people were taken from Africa to Europe and the United States between 1500 and 1860 ( Lovejoy ). These people, being forced to move form their native country of Africa, to Europe and America, played huge roles in defining the social and cultural setting of America. Often referred to as Creoles, the majority of women brought to the United States were of African descent, thus laying the demographic structure for the modern day United States ( Lovejoy). About 1/20th of the people taken from Africa were brought to the United States, ten times that number were brought to Brazil and the Caribbean Islands (Lovejoy). The economic impact on America and Africa is on that can be seen very easily. Initially started by Portuguese shipping companies, slaves were taken from the ” Gold Coast,” of Africa and brought to islands off the coast of Africa. Later, slaves played a huge role in colonization. Often a political status, many slaves were brought to the south in the United States to worked semi-skilled jobs, mainly on plantations. Two thirds of the slaves brought to America were taken to the tidewaters of Virginia and Maryland or to the lowlands of Georgia and South Carolina ( Lovejoy). These areas played significant roles in the economy, many popular figures at the time resided in those areas. People of high status often traded slaves for 3 things; Money, consumer goods, and military wares ( Lovejoy). The trade of those items for slaves affected the people in Africa as well. Many people were often enslaved in their own country within Africa, they were later moved to northern Africa or left to die. When the slaves were put to work on plantations, they learned quickly to do minimal work. This often resulted in the loss of money for slave owners. They would typically perform minimal work possible to avoid physical punishment (Bauer). They feared that if they were to work to their full potential, they would be beaten if they did not work that hard everyday, therefore, they set the bar low. Slave trade played major roles in the economy. The rich and important political figures all participated in slave trade within the U.S. Not only were there many economic consequences of transatlantic slavery, there were also many social consequences. Africans were often set to be in charge of their owners’ slaves. Typically, a slave owner would not live on the plantation with his slaves, so he needed somebody to look after them and punish them accordingly. The slave owner would often have multiple residencies because they lived in fear of revolt of the slaves ( Bauer). Socially, being that the person set to look after the slaves was often black as well, he learned how to crack a whip within a hair of the ear, thus making it appear as though he was whipping them as the owner had demanded ( Bauer). Another social issue that was noticed with the transatlantic slave trade to the Americas was that white’s often had sex with their slaves, this resulted in the current demographic status of the United States. Being that many of the slaves brought to the U.S. were from the same areas of Africa, they often shared many of the same views and values. Culturally, it is noted that many people of Muslim religion settled in Maryland ( Lovejoy). Not many women of muslim descent however, reached the Americas. Conditions that Africans were forced to deal with throughout the transatlantic journey were often brutal. Often times, they were forced to walk such long distances that they would parish. The effects of the slave trade were not only noticeable in America, but in Africa as well. Many young children and elderly people were often killed as a result of their “value” to european slave traders ( Lovejoy). Conditions on the ships were often unbearable; men were shackled together and forced so closely together they often could not even reach the bathroom bucket ( Brown). (honsafricanamerican.clevelandhistory.org) The journey often took 8 weeks, but could take up to 13 weeks( Brown) ! I cant imagine ever being locked up in a ship deck for that long of a time. (honsafricanamerican.clevelandhistory.org ) The conditions must have been absolutely pitiful, it makes my heart hurt at the very thought of the conditions Africans were forced to deal with throughout the slavery era. Being that most of the Africans on ships couldnt read or write, the tales of the journey were often passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. Noting that most slaves were unable to read and write, the social consequences of music, religion, and expression in general were extremely important to those brought to the Americas to be a slave. The impact of African culture is still very present and alive today. A question that comes to my mind after having done such research and reading on the transatlantic slave movement, is, how did more war not break out between Africans and those attempting to take them as slaves? I know for a fact that i would never give into such treatment. This just leads me to believe that they were often misled and coerced into boarding the vessels to come across the ocean. Numbers of people in Africa certainly took a downturn due to slavery and the transatlantic slave movement.
While doing my research, i began to watch this documentary, however i never finished the whole thing, but the first half hour alone is extremely interesting and definitely conveyed strong emotional reactions from me as well as my roomates when i showed them.
These websites provide great information on the Transatlantic slave journey:
Here are some images that i found useful in my understanding of the Transatlantic slave trade, as well as some other images that i just found interesting.
this image represents the gold coast of Africa