The Slavery Of The Slave Ship Essay

The Slavery Of The Slave Ship Essay

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When thinking of slavery, especially through an American perspective, plantations, harsh beatings, and runaway slaves are often what comes to the forefront of thought. What is often overlooked when looking at the history of slavery, are the slave ships, which transported the enslaved people away from their homes and their freedom. The slave ship was a hell-like environment that was intended to turn the fighting human spirit, which had only known freedom, to a broken and subdued spirit, not even recognized as human. Human beings were turned into a commodity, justified by the idea that were being done a favor. Further justified by the idea that Europe and North America’s economic prosperity were of more importance than human lives. The slave ship was a factory that turned a human being into a slave. Slavery was an institution that dehumanized people in the name of economic prosperity and profit. This can be clearly seen through looking at the life of the slaves aboard the ships taking them to Europe and America.
Conditions aboard the slave ships were life threatening at best. The slaves had to endure cramped quarters on the lower deck of the ship. Sometimes spending up to 16 hours a day in these dark, poorly ventilated quarters. Sickness spread quickly in conditions like this, even though sick slaves were isolated and treated by doctors to stop the spread of disease, it rarely proved effective. Not only did the slaves face unbearable living conditions and disease, they also faced the threat of violence and abuse. Slaves were disciplined harshly in an attempt to lessen the ideas of insurrection. Women lived in fear of being sexually assaulted and raped by the sailors, as well as abused if they fought back. Rediker stated, when spe...


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...untry’s, as well as an individual’s, economic prosperity was valued over human life. Millions of human lives were lost at the cost of power, prestige, and wealth. While this is a very bleak picture of the past, throughout the existence of Atlantic slavery, we see small glimmers of humanity. The terror and horror of the slave trade and what took place on the slave ships cannot, and should not, be masked by lessening the horror of what happened. However, we must not merely focus on the horror of the slave trade, we must also focus on the humans involved. Taking away the identity of individuals involved, and labeling it as one big horrific event, would hardly do the victims and survivors of this tragedy justice. Atlantic slavery is more than a historical tragedy, it was a time when millions of individual lives were lost, for the sake of another individual’s prosperity.

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