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The atlantic slave trade 1460-1882 - Essay Example

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Although slavery has long been a part of human history, it took on its most disgraceful form under the Europeans and Americans in the Atlantic (or transatlantic) slave trade. “The disgrace which cloaks the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade is the inhumanity of treatment the slaves…
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The atlantic slave trade 1460-1882
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Download file to see previous pages The Atlantic slave trade took place from the mid-fifteenth to the late nineteenth century (roughly 1460 to 1882). It is estimated that at least 12.5 million Africans were forcefully transported from Africa during the trade. Many more besides died either during initial captivation, transportation or labour usually from diseases, malnutrition or being killed. This makes it one of the biggest mass migrations the world has ever witnessed made worse by the fact that it was not voluntary but forced, that too under harsh and inhumane conditions.
The Atlantic slave trade began in the mid-fifteenth century with the Portuguese. What enticed the Portuguese to the west coast of Africa was gold, but as we now know from history, following their arrival this quickly became not the Gold Coast but the Slave Coast of Africa. Initially, slaves were taken in raids, but then the Portuguese took to the idea of bartering. When they established a ‘factory’ on Arguim Island, it is said that they carried away a thousand slaves every year (Rawley, 2005:19). This was the first European trading settlement in West Africa. The Portuguese settlement on Cape Verdes in 1460 was another milestone because these islands “were to be important in the Atlantic slave trade, both as importers of slaves and as entrepots for traffic to the New World (ibid). In 1482 they founded the great trading post El Mina to organise the slave trade in West and Central Africa for the Atlantic markets. By now, the trade was in the hands of the Portuguese crown following the death of Prince Henry.
At that time, Europe was expanding its empires, and slaves provided a readily available workforce. Moreover, unlike indigenous Europeans, it was found that Africans “were excellent workers; they often had experience of agriculture and keeping cattle, they were used to a tropical climate, resistant to tropical diseases, and they ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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