Trans Altlantic Slave Trade

2 February 2018

The Trans-Atlantic slave trade was a transportation of mostly West African slaves over a period of three and a half centuries across the Atlantic Ocean to America and Europe. An estimated twelve million men, women, and children were taken from their African homelands to be used as slaves. The slave trade provided a great labor force for America and both the United States and African economies became increasingly reliant on European trade as America was receiving free labor and Africa was selling off their own people for goods.

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This resulted in a huge impact on the imperial and economical expansion of both locations. The economic, social and political impact on the Indigenous people was extensive as they were regularly forced into terrible living conditions with long hours on plantation farms and were often beaten and starved. Britain played the biggest role in the fight for the abolition Of the slave trade with the most notable abolitionist being William Wildflower. The Act for the abolition in Europe of the slave trade was signed into law by King George the third on the 25th March 1807.

This was only to stop the actual raiding not to stop the use of slaves; slavery was abolished 27 years later. America took a much longer time, only abolishing slavery when the 13th amendment to the constitution was ratified in the year 1865. Although unethical and problematic the slave trade was beneficial for the economic expansion in both Africa and America and was very profitable. Plantation owners gained large profits by utilizing unpaid labor and grew very wealthy, particularly from cotton in South Alabama, the Caribbean and South America.

This new found wealth was due to European companies paying large sums Of none for the quality cotton. The slave ship owners also benefited significantly as a result of the slave trade, most making huge profits. The slaves were treated predominantly as cargo and as less than people. They were frequently confined in claustrophobic conditions with little food and severe punishments. When in America, the slaves had the potential to be sold for around $800, in today’s currency it is equivalent to approximately $10,000.

Africa was not at its optimum function during the 300 years of the slave trade. There were major deprivations of labor, with them being inconveniently left tit the elderly and infirmed. The trade was removing men and women from their society. These lost numbers were needed to reproduce and repopulate Africa, and their labor was needed for their vouch communities. Their work was of higher demand in their homeland, yet was forced to work for the benefits of other countries that mistreated and disrespected them.

Those with high intelligence, talents and abilities were taken and used as slaves, not utilizing their respective talents. Whilst the rest of the world was moving towards the industrial revolution, Africa was being left behind, major lacking n knowledge about hygiene and medicine. Their life spans were still very short and were dying at a young age whilst losing millions of slaves which affected the birth rate. The benefits for Africa were that ship owners would often trade goods for the slaves, these goods included; material, tobacco, coffee and liquor.

The economic impacts caused by the slave trade on the indigenous people were they were not earning a living through the labor, which resulted in a nonexistent income to support their families, ultimately creating an unhealthy economy in the African society. The absence of the bourse resulted in a dwindling workforce in African society, therefore slowing any future economic growth. Socially, the indigenous were not accepted as members of society, rather seen as irrelevant to the fabric of the social classes.

They were not perceived as people and were not communicated with in a respectful or sophisticated manner. This resulted in issues for the indigenous in social communication. The slave trade impacted on the indigenous politically as they were not allowed a contribution to the political decisions made in regards to the society in which they worked. Plantation owners in the slave trade played a major role as they used slaves to grow their crops whilst gaining immense profits through the use of unpaid workers.

They were the perpetrators of the slave trade and made their living by abusing the work done by the slaves. The plantations grew in popularity when moved from Europe to America, particularly sugar, tobacco and cotton. The rise of cotton initiated towards the end of slavery in the 1 ass’s in the Elicited States. It was a huge success with over 60 percent of the four million slaves across America working in cotton from sunrise to sunset. The slaves that worked in fields were usually labeled as ‘unskilled’ with ‘skilled’ slaves being responsible for the crucial judgments such as when cane was ready for harvest.

When tobacco leaves were right for picking or when sugar juices were ready were among the responsibilities of ‘skilled’ slaves. Plantation owners were well known for treating their slaves as property or commodities. Visitors to plantation crops were often shocked at how many times they saw the physical abuse Of the slaves which was often a whipping if they did not perform their jobs to a high standard. Female slaves were also known to have been frequently sexually abused. Violence was the greatest threat and the foundation to a successful system. It was a long difficult road to abolition.

Some countries had a peaceful transformation whilst others turned to civil wars. The fight for abolition of the slave trade in England was a movement led by a small committee in Britain created in 1 787 including William Dilly, George Harrison, Samuel Hoarer, John Lloyd, Joseph Woods, and Thomas Clarion. As none of committee were members of parliament they quickly liaised they needed someone of stronger influence if they were to make gains toward their aim of abolition. It was this cause that inspired the well known William Wildflower to begin his journey in the fight for freedom of slaves.

It was his parliamentary talents that made it possible to begin and strike the biggest attack on the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This speech and many others are to thank for the banning of the British slave trade in 1807 which eventually lead to the act that emancipated Britain’s slave that passed in 1833, 27 years later. Unfortunately America did not have such a smooth ruinations into abolition. Their county split in half and a civil war began. The Confederates were for slavery against the Union run by Abraham Lincoln who was opposed to slavery.

The union eventually won the almost five year war resulting in the death of approximately 620,000 people. Slavery officially ended in the United States when the 1 13th amendment to the constitution was agreed in the year 1865, 32 years after the British. Source A is well known abolitionist William Wilderness’s speech on anti slavery, delivered on Tuesday the 12th of May in the House of Commons 1789. When the speech was levered, Parliaments had no official record of speeches given unlike now. Speeches from the 18th century were recorded by newspapers which could very easily alter the speech to serve their own political agenda.

In saying this, Wilderness’s speech is still considered a very informative primary source. The speech was written to convince the House of Commons, to vote in favor of abolishing the Atlantic slave trade and to change and influence the outcome of the slaves. This speech was the beginning of the movement and was successful in influencing its audience. “As soon as ever I had arrived thus far n my investigation of the slave trade, I confess to you sir, so enormous so dreadful, so irremediable did its wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for the abolition.

A trade founded in iniquity, and carried on as this was, must be abolished, let the policy be what it might, let the consequences be what they would, I from this time, determined that would never rest till I have effected its abolition. ” This was the closing statement in Wilderness’s speech and was a very strong finish but the tone is very emotive by using the words ‘dreadful’, “iniquity ‘and “l will never rest until… This is not usually the path politicians take when delivering speeches but the emotive language may have caused the audience to realize the intensity of the problem slavery was creating to the indigenous peoples.

Source A would be very useful to historians studying the Trans-Atlantic slave trade for both the fight for abolition and the economic, social and political impact on indigenous peoples. It would provide them with primary source information and evidence and would be a great insight into the methods of abolition tactics used. To help understand the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, a pop of the official medallion of the British anti-slavery society gives an informative insight. It is a secondary source as it is only a copy and was originally issued in 1 795 by Josiah Westwood, a nonconformist.

The jaspers medallion featured a knelling slave with the words written underneath stating “Am I not a man and a brother? ” This was based on an original design of the seal for the committee of the anti-slave trade movement, established earlier that year by Thomas Clarion. Westwood sent the medallions to Benjamin Franklin where they became a very successful with influencing the audience with women wearing them in the hair, as necklaces and some had them as ornaments. The motive behind the source was to raise awareness of slave abolitionists and to encourage the population of Britain to get behind them and support their mission.

Source B would be useful to historians studying the fight for abolition of the slave trade as it gives an insight to the types of methods abolitionists used. It would be considered reliable although a drawing of the original medallion as it is quite a simple design and not much could be changed. The motive of the source as to inform the general public and to persuade them to support anti- slavery movements. The tone of the source is emotive as they were trying to make people sympathies the slaves so the words are presented as a plea from the kneeling slave, this adds to what is known about the case.

The source is limited as there is not much information and without previous knowledge of the subject it would be very hard for a historian to learn much from this source alone. Source B would not be very useful if needed for the entire topic of the trans-Atlantic slave trade but for the aspects of the fight for he abolition of slaves and the social impact of the slave trade on Indigenous peoples, it would provide historians with beneficial evidence to back their studies.

The trans-Atlantic slave trade had major impacts on the African society in many aspects throughout the time in which the trade occurred and for years after it was abolished. It impacted greatly on the indigenous economically, socially and politically. Plantation owners played a major role in the expansion of the slave trade as they encouraged growth through the use and abuse of slaves for their agricultural needs. It was these inhumane conditions that led to the fight for abolishment to hasten and increase in importance.

Abolishment was efficient in the British society whereas the Americans were not so easily influenced, as it was only after a civil war that slave labor in America was eradicated and outlawed. These series of events left an imprint in the fabric of the African, American and European history each in varying ways. Some may be seen as positive impacts, whereas the enslavement of Africans will always be perceived as a horrific occurrence in history that is not to be repeated.

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