Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
The Atlantic slave trade began in the early sixteenth century and extended all the way to the late nineteenth century. It involved the transportation of millions of Africans to the Americas. These Africans were forced to leave their countries in order to become the slaves of the newly found American colonies. Just the journey across the seas to the America’s was highly inhumane cramming hundreds of people onto small boats. The reason that the African slaves were needed was because they were strong and good workers. The colonist had used the natives originally but they did not work as hard as they would have liked. The natives also had contracted small pox which took an enormous toll on them limiting the amount of slaves they had for labor. So they began trading and purchasing African slaves due to the fact that they had developed some immunity to these diseases. (McKay, Chap 21, pg 570)
In order to get a good perspective on what being a slave was like, we will look into a narrative written by Olaudah Equiano. Equiano was a native of Iboland who was captured at the age of eleven. He describes how some villagers would wait until the adults would go out in the plantations to work to abduct their younger children. Once Equiano was sold to the Europeans he says that they were treated horribly beaten and cramped on a very small boat. The reason that the slaves were treated badly could have been due to the fact that the Europeans had to pay a high price for them or just due to a lack of space. Equiano states “I was soon put down under the decks, and there I received such a salutation in my nostrils as I had never experienced in my life: so that with the loathsomeness of the stench and crying together, I became so sick and low that I was not able to eat, nor had I the least desire to taste anything.”(Edwards) As described by Equiano, the living conditions were unbearable and very unsanitary.
Slavery was especially easy due to the...