In this article, we will discuss the most controversial and disheartening event of human history. People often neglect the severity and horror of the Slave trade, which changed the life of numerous people. At the same time, many think that the slave trade started with the Europeans enslaving African people, but in reality, the slave tradition is an old practice that existed in almost all ancient civilizations. The Slave tradition was assumed to originate from Mesopotamia and then afterward practiced throughout the other ancient civilization. Today, however, we will study the Atlantic slave trade, which was full of tragedy and cruelty across continents.
The Origin of the Atlantic Slave trade
The Atlantic slave trade was a global segment of the slave trade. It transported between 10 and 12 million enslaved Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas, from the 16th to the 19th century. The Atlantic slave trade was the largest forced migration in human history. Before the invasion of European countries, Africa didn’t have stability in their empires and hence was divided into many states, which resulted in the ‘Partition of Africa.’ By the time the Europeans started importing the Africans to America, Europe had a long history of trading slaves.
Due to the lack of governance and less unification among the African states, the Europeans didn’t have to fight and conquer Africa but trade the slaves with them. The fellow Africans captured and sold other Africans to the European traders for goods such as textile, metal tools, and guns.
Journey of Slaves overseas
Slaves were introduced to the Americas for the first time in 1619, when twenty males from Africa were brought to Jamestown, Virginia. This signifies the start of the American slave trade, which continued for many more years.
As demand for slave labor expanded in America and other western regions, countries like the Dutch, Portugal, and England began trading and transporting slaves in huge quantities via enormous ships. Numerous infections were transmitted among the slaves and crew members due to over-packing and a lack of sufficient sanitization. Between ten and twenty million slaves were carried to America by the horrific voyage of ships. An estimate of 10-15 percent of the captives died on their way to America, and those who survived faced worse conditions than the slave ship.
The Labor and Slavery
European colonies relied on African slaves to produce sugar and coffee on the islands. Additionally, many African slaves were sold to masters in Brazil, Spanish, and Americans for agricultural and home labor. The slaves were forced and beaten to work at least 12 hours a day. Slaves did all types of work, including housework; artisans and the majority worked as agriculture producers. The slaves imported in southern America make only a total of 5% of the Atlantic slaves.
Slaves in the Brazilian region lived in terrible conditions, cultivating and processing sugar for ten months of the year. The job of extracting sugar from canes was so daunting and exhausting that slaves had a life expectancy of about 25-30 years.
The slaves in the American region were tortured and beaten to obey the order and work continuously, but the Americans quickly understood that if they keep the slave healthy and safe from the unnatural deaths, it will soon result in an increase of work potential as well as the growth of the population of slaves. Although their masters often dehumanized the slaves for them to work efficiently, this was usually done by beating and treating them in such a way that they felt different from others and were born to live this way.
Slave labor powered the industrial revolution in Britain, providing cheap cotton for the textile industry and propelling Britain forward in the industrialization race. Slavery, according to the ancient philosopher Aristotle, was a natural phenomenon, and humans were divided into two categories: slaves and non-slaves. As a result, it was determining people’s mental processes throughout history.
The Abolishment of Slavery
After years of exploitation and enslavement, the people reached their peak in the 1780s, when more and more people began to voice their displeasure with the authorities and the implications of slavery and the brutality of this system. Slaves’ first act of rebellion was to flee from their masters. Slave revolts escalated and expanded across Southern America, with many slaves taking matters into their own hands and murdering their masters. To stop the slave movement from turning radical, the owners decided to go harsher on the slaves, thus banning their free time and extending their work hours.
The slave trade was finally abolished due to a number of circumstances, including the objections of millions of ordinary people in Europe and the United States. Millions of Africans also contributed to the abolition of slavery by continuously resisting enslavement and rebelling against slavery.
Denmark, which had been involved in the slave trade, was the first country to prohibit it through laws enacted in 1792 and implemented in 1803, and Britain soon followed in 1807, imposing hefty fines on any slave found onboard a British ship. The Royal Navy prevented other countries from conducting the slave trade by declaring slaving to be the same as piracy and punishable by death. Following the united states banned building or use of ships to trade the slaves.
So, the long-fought battle of cruelty and inferiority ended with the abolishment of slavery.