Slavery played an important role in the development of the American
colonies. It was introduced to the colonies in 1619, and spanned until the
Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The trading of slaves in America in the
seventeenth century was a large industry. Slaves were captured from their homes
in Africa, shipped to America under extremely poor conditions, and then sold to
the highest bidder, put to work, and forced to live with the new conditions of
There was no mercy for the slaves and their families as they were
captured from their homes and forced onto slave ships. Most of the Africans who
were captured lived in small villages in West Africa. A typical village
takeover would occur early in the morning. An enemy tribe would raid the
village, and then burn the huts to the ground. Most of the people who were taken
by surprise were killed or captured; few escaped. The captured Africans were
now on their way to the slave ships. “Bound together two by two with heavy
wooden yokes fastened around their necks, a long line of black men and women
plodded down a well-worn path through the dense forest. Most of the men were
burdened with huge elephants' tusks. Others, and many of the women too, bore
baskets or bales of food. Little boys and girls trudged along beside their
parents, eyes wide in fear and wonder” (McCague, 14).
After they were marched often hundreds of miles, it was time for them to
be shipped off to sea, so that they could be sold as cheap labor to help harvest
the new world. But before they were shipped off, they had to pass through a
slave-trading station. The slave trade, which was first controlled by Portugal,
was now controlled by other European nations. In the late 1600's, Spain,
Holland, England, France and Denmark were all sending ships to West Africa. The
slave trade was becoming big business (Goodman, 7).
Selection of the slaves by the traders was a painstaking process. Ships
from England would pull up on the coast of Africa, and the captains would set
off towards the coast on small ships. “If the slave trader was a black chief,
there always had to be a certain amount of palaver, or talk, before getting down
to business. As a rule, the chief would expect some pr...
... middle of paper ...
...m for slave owners, because they wanted the most
efficiency out of their slaves as possible. In some places doctors were called
in to treat blacks as well as whites.
The slave trade played an important role in the growth of the American
colonies. Without the trading of slaves in the seventeenth century, American
plantations would not have prospered into the export empire that they were.
Buckmaster, Henrietta. Let My People Go. Boston: Beacon Press, 1941.
Davis, David Brion. Slavery and Human Progress. New York: Oxford University
DuBois, William Edward Burghardt. The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade to
United States of America. New York: Schocken Books, 1969.
Goodman, Walter. Black Bondage: the Life of Slaves in the South. New York:
Straus & Giroux, 1969.
Howard, Richard. Black Cargo. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1972.
McCague, James. The Long Bondage 1441-1815. Illinois: Garrard Publishing
Stampp, Kenneth M. The Peculiar Institution. New York: Borzoi Books, 1982.
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