Between 1450 and the late 1800's, it
is estimated that between 10-15 MILLION
Africans were kidnapped and sold into slavery.
The expanding European empires in the
New World, in North, South, and Central America, lacked a
major resource - workers. At first, the European colonists attempted
to use Native Americans as a work force, but that did not work very
well. Native Americans could slip away, and return with others to
punish those who tried to enslave them.
The early colonists tried to bring
people from Europe to work in the New World, both as indentured
servants and as slaves. That did not work well either, especially in
the tropical regions. The Europeans were not used to a tropical
climate. Many died of disease. Some ran away and blended with other
The Portuguese soon discovered that
Africans were excellent workers. They were used to more tropical
climate conditions. The African people did not want to be slaves.
They had to be captured and forced into slavery. A business sprang
up - slavers. These were traders who captured and sold people into
Many captured people died on the
ships sailing to the New World. Conditions were terrible. People
were packed into the hold of ship without regard to their safety or
their most basic needs. The slaves who made it alive were strong
workers and resistant to disease.
The Slave Trade was incredibly
profitable and incredibly cruel. It ripped families apart. People
would come home from a hunt or from the fields and find their
families missing. In some cases, entire villages were captured. The
people in an entire village were rounded up and traded as slaves.
For over 300 years, slaves were
captured along the west coast of Africa, often with the active help
of African kings and merchants. Slaves were traded for beads,
textiles, brandy, horses, and guns.
Slavery was illegal in the
United States after the Civil War, but slaves continued to be traded
in Central and South America for another 40 years until finally
slavery was declared illegal in Central and South America as well.
Equiano we're looking for ..
and the Atlantic Slave Trade
Trade and Slavery