The Transatlantic Slave Trade 

Shortages of native people to work in New World - led to slaves brought from Africa

  • Worked on cotton and sugar plantations, in mines or as domestic servants in Central, South or later North America.

Portugal controlled the Atlantic slave trade

  • First brought Africa slaves to sugar plantations
  • They had the contact to supply slaves to Spanish plantations in New World 
  • They shipped slaves to their own plantations in Brazil
  • 12.5 million salves - shipped from Africa to North and South America between 16th and 19th centuries
    • They were taken on board, stripped naked and examined from head to toe by the captain or surgeon
  • About 1.8 million died on the way (the Middle Passage)
    • conditions on board were appalling (awful)
      • Men were packed together below the deck, they were chained for most of the voyage
        • The space was so cramped, they were forced to crouch or lie down
      • Women and children were kept in separate quarters, sometimes on deck
        • Allowing limited freedom of movement 
        • Also exposed them to violence and sexual abuse from the crew
      • The air in the hold was foul and putrid 
        • Seasickness was common and heat was oppressive
        • The lack of sanitation and suffocating conditions meant there was a constant threat of disease
          • Epidemics of fever, dysentery (the "flux") and smallpox were frequent 
        • Captives endured these conditions for about two months, sometimes longer
      • In good weather, captives were brought on deck in midmorning and forced to exercise
        • They were fed twice a day and those refusing to eat were forced fed
      • Those who died were thrown overboard