American History : The Slave Trade Essay

American History : The Slave Trade Essay

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Prior to taking this Modern African History class, I knew next to nothing about the subject; however, due to its heavy influence on American history, I had previously learned about the Atlantic slave trade, but even that was limited to what was considered relevant to the United States. This base of knowledge included an understanding that Africans were sent over in large ships in terrible conditions and then sold to plantations in South America and the Southern States of the U.S. for sugar, rum, and cotton. Those goods would then be traded in Europe for goods that would be used to buy more slaves in Africa. Once sold into slavery, Africans and their decedents were part of the horrendous plantation system. I quickly learned in class that there was so much more that went into the Atlantic slave trade than that can be summarized in a few sentences. I noticed several gaps in the western narrative of the African slave trade. There are four main dimensions to the Atlantic slave trade that are often overlooked in standard history classes: the Numbers, the Profits, the suffering, and the racism. I want to delve into these four dimensions to get a fuller, less biased picture of the slave trade. In terms of numbers, there have been estimated from 1 million to 100 millions slaves. However, these numbers are hard to calculated from lack of data and it has been speculated that slave rebellions in the middle passage have led to large misclacualtions. Also, that number does not address the even larger number of lives the slave trade affected including the people in the villages back in Africa. The profit dimension belonged to the Europeans. The triangular trade route proved itself as one of the most economically efficient systems in history bec...


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...sing white people as slaves had many disadvantages. Firstly, supply became difficult as most indentured servants served for only a fixed set of time and then was free. This means they had to repeatedly refresh the work force. Also, it was easy for white servants to escape because they blended in and did not seem like a runaway slave. To top it off, many indentured servants expected to land at the end of his or her contract. This is when Negro slavery became an attractive idea. Africans were in a strange environment and unfamiliar with the local language and culture. They could not escape their position. Their obvious difference in appearance made it harder for them to run away because they could be easily identified. The racial difference also made it easier to justify the cruelty that comes with slavery because the Europeans could separate themselves from them.



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American History : The Slave Trade Essay

- Prior to taking this Modern African History class, I knew next to nothing about the subject; however, due to its heavy influence on American history, I had previously learned about the Atlantic slave trade, but even that was limited to what was considered relevant to the United States. This base of knowledge included an understanding that Africans were sent over in large ships in terrible conditions and then sold to plantations in South America and the Southern States of the U.S. for sugar, rum, and cotton....   [tags: Slavery, Atlantic slave trade, Middle Passage]

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