Hardly can slave trade history be written without touching on the Atlantic slave trade and its total impact throughout the word. Slave trade and slavery became a legitimate trade in leading economic regions worldwide. Atlantic trade refers to trade in slaves which took place across the Atlantic Ocean from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. The majority of slaves were Africans who came from western and central African regions that are close to the Atlantic Ocean. They were sold by Africans slave dealers to the European traders who later transported them to their colonies in North and South America. The slaves were made to labor on coffee farms, sugar plantations and at the same time mined for gold and silver to the countries they were ferried. They were made domestic servants had no option but to adhere to the mistreatment they found from their masters.
Most of the foreign dealers of Atlantic trade were Portuguese, British, French, Germans Spanish and some Americans who came to Africa. The slave merchants established bases along the African cost where they coordinated and bought the slaves from the African dealers who captured the slaves. A lot of people were taken from their homes though there is no exact figure showing how much, but it ranges in millions. The Atlantic slave trade had effects on the life of the slaves and the parties who were involved like the foreign merchants who took part in the slavery. This essay will discuss the impacts of slavery to the parties involved.
Atlantic slave trade can be traced to have started as a result of trade contact between the Europeans and Africa early before fifteenth century. Over the centuries, the heavy tides along the Atlantic Ocean had been hindering their movements and making the trade and contact difficult. The existing naval by then could not beat the high ocean waves which made it difficult to contact other parts of the continent. The development of sea technologies enabled the European traders to develop ships which could cut the ocean tides. This allowed them to cut across the Atlantic Ocean and came into contact with West African and American societies living along the coast. This marked the end of the isolation of some societies which had never been in contact with others.
The existing evidences show that the slave trade had been in existence in Africa even before the European involvement. Slaves had been found in African states and other places through the accessible roots like the red sea, Swahili port of the Indian Ocean and others through Trans–Saharan caravan route. Europeans provided additional market to already existing slave trade. Slaves from Niger River were transported to European in exchange muskets.
The discovery of new lands by the Europeans enabled them to migrate and explore the opportunities which had not been explored by this native people. They established bases outside their continent and started to engage in trade with the Africa states mostly from West Africa. They acquired land for agricultural practices since they could afford the cheap labor from the African slaves. The Portuguese and other European counterparts moved their activities in the western coast of West Africa where they perceived to be harboring many opportunities. Portuguese used diplomacy within the West African countries to establish its base along the coast by enticing the African leaders which they successfully managed (Law 5). This practice by the Europeans was successfully applied even to America where they first experienced some resistance mostly along the Caribbean Island.
End of Slavery
The growing concern about the slave trade among the concerned parties as life of the slaves deteriorated at their own expense brought the need to end the slavery and the slave trade. End of slavery was also characterized by the industrial revolution in Britain which rendered human labor inefficient in the agricultural production. It all started with stopping of new slaves from Africa in entering the European or American continents in providing labor. The abolishment received stiff criticism by the people who had economically benefited from slavery as they were not ready to move from the tradition. Various anti-slavery campaigns were launched in ensuring the slavery, and the slave trade was abolished to totality. British and American lawmakers cited reasons related to slave rebellion being witnessed since they were exceedingly many and could outweigh their masters. This brought emotional moment to the parties and started to explore other options (Sharp & Schomp 56).
Other factors leading to the abolishment of the slave trade was the public awareness about the horror associated with slavery. The abolitionist in Europe and North America launched a campaign and wrote articles describing horrible condition of the slave ships and petitioned their legislators to abolish the trade. Legislations were passed to allow for the abolishment of this trade as it was illegitimate.
Effects of Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery
Atlantic slave trade brought many positive and negative effects to the parties who were involved including the nations involved. The most negative effects were on Africa who was the producer of slaves and the benefit passed to European and American nations. During the period of the slave trade, the population growth in Europe and America was steady due to the increased slaves that were brought in from Africa. This was at the expense of Africa whose population remained stagnant over the years since there were no measures put in place for baby boom. The merchants on trade got immense sums of money, which they used to acquire more properties in their mother countries and expanded their influence within the African coast.
The parties who were involved in the slave trade more-so nations benefited from the profits generated from the cheap labor. This had a direct impact on their economic growth. For instance, Britain used its profits from slavery to fund economic growth like the industrial revolution. This was a positive impact of Atlantic slave trade. Similarly, the plantation owners from Caribbean island funded the development of Steam engine and other related innovations as a result of the profits generated from the slave.
The African slaves who were taken to Europe and other nations suffered from respiration diseases as the weather affected them. They were attacked by tropical diseases as a result of unfamiliar territory and the harsh environmental they were placed. This eventually led to death of many slaves as a result of the environment characterized with hostility and heavy work throughout the day. Some were killed for religious festivals as others died on their way to Europe (Law 10)
Slave trade affected the demographic structure of the African society as many people were enslaved and left a vacuum which could not be filled. The large number of men who were transported to the European countries ensured few men remained in the society; hence women could not give birth to their absence, which brought an effect to the involved African slave Law 12). The number of children reduced as women increased with the older people forming the majority of the people in the African societies. The affected demographic structure led to mass famine, and hunger since the energetic people to labor in the domestic farms were absent and the weak that remained could not assist the entire population.
The African chiefs and empires who took part in the slavery got economic benefits from the European merchants who did not go to the villages to acquire the slaves. For instance, there were over one hundred city states and kingdoms who were involved in the slave trade in Africa with other European nations. They were equipped with military infrastructure which enabled them to acquire slaves from their neighbor nations (Law 15). They provided the Europeans with cheap labor, which was from the slaves in return for goods and military weapons to stabilize their kingdoms and territories from external attacks.
Atlantic slave trade was majorly dominated by Europeans countries after their explorations to the West African coast. European countries coordinated the transfer of cheap labor from Africa inform of slaves to their mother countries as they also settled and acquired farms in Africa. The Atlantic trade had a lot of impact before it was finally abolished since many Africans were transported to European countries and America. This led to high population growth in other countries, which provided labor. At the same time, the African kingdoms who were involved in the trade expanded their kingdoms as a result of the support they got from the European traders.