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SLAVERY AND THE ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE Introduction Beginning in the 15th century, Europeans established a transatlantic slave trade. For over four centuries, they transported several million captured and enslaved Africans to the North and South American continents, to the Caribbean Islands and to Brazil…
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Download file to see previous pages The importing of African slaves became an essential, acceptable and profitable part of European commerce. Taking advantage of the internecine warring amidst African nations, Europeans forcefully removed Africans from their homeland, with the largest numbers from the Gold, Ivory and West Coasts. The cruel system of African slavery was uniquely different from other forms of slavery due to the brutal manner in which it was conducted, the treatment of African slaves as goods or personal property, and the great numbers of people who were captured as slaves, believed to be over 50 million. The one-way trip to the Americas was known as the “Middle-Passage”. One of the major debates among historians about the transatlantic slave trade argues the specific reasons for Europeans to enslave Africans during an extensive period spanning the 15th to the early 19th century. Thesis Statement: The purpose of this paper is to determine whether European motivation for the slave trade was related to profits, racism, or had another explanation. The Significance and Long-Term Effects of the Slave Trade Historian Marcus Rediker has explored not only the transatlantic slave trade, but also the slave ships by which the trade was carried out for centuries. The transportation of enslaved Africans and business transactions of slaves towards their use as forced labor, forms history’s greatest imposed migration. ...
Contrastingly, the loss of large numbers of its people led to extensive decline in Africa’s economy and political situation. Despite rich natural resources, the continent’s inability to overcome its low levels of development towards progress is attributed fully to its past of enslavement and depletion of its population3. However, other reasons such as the siphoning away of world financial aids meant for Africa’s development, by politicians in the weak political system, further undermines the continent’s future. Racism and the Brutality of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Significantly, racism is defined as white supremacy4, because no other race in the world has asserted itself to be the superior race; and used political or economic resources to impose oppression on others on the basis of race. The Europeans considered themselves as the superior race on the basis of their light skin color, and believed that dark skin genetically predetermined Africans as inferior, and suitable only for the status of slave. Thus, the Europeans developed deeply ingrained discrimination against the dark coloured Africans as “others” belonging to a lower class of humanity. This approach is also evident in the fact that Europeans did not enslave other Europeans because of an underlying commitment to individual rights. They considered other whites as similar to themselves, and consequently their equals. Since Africans were considered as different both physically and culturally, this “otherness” was the rationalization for enslaving, ill-treating and enforcing hard labor on them. Carl Degler5 and Winthrop Jordan6 supported this view of racism being key to Africans’ enslavement by the white Europeans. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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