Atlantic Slave Trade Summary

American History in Video:

Atlantic Slave Trade Summary

This video by Tanya Hart explores the horrors of slavery and the social impacts of the trade, which involved four continents. Goree, an island in Senegal, is a 15th century Mediterranean Sea Village famous for its use as a transit route for slaves. Over the last few centuries, historians have documented the events concerning slave trade in the Goree Island. Nonetheless, these are not the usual historical accounts of slave trade – the historians include vivid details of the events drawn from writings by the slaves themselves. For instance, the video includes vivid narratives of how Europeans captured slaves. The narrative depicts great European hostility, which involved burning of property and the killing of men women and children. The Europeans murdered children since they were young and could not provide the much-needed labor.

How the slave trade started and gained shape

The video provides viewers with an interesting account of how the slave trade started and gained shape. The new world (America) presented Europeans with vast opportunities for farming and other economic activities. However, the Europeans faced a critical problem, which was lack of enough labor force. Driven by the demand for labor, the colonies had nowhere else to obtain labor except from Africa. The demand for labor was significantly high in the West Indies, where slaves were brought to work in sugar plantations. The video presents an interesting aspect of slave trade in that, although the Portuguese started the trade, it had been part of African traditions for thousands of years. Wealthy and powerful African families had slaves of their own. However, slavery in the African continent was practiced on smaller scale.

Portuguese collaborators to acquire slaves in various parts of West Africa

The Portuguese used collaboration to acquire slaves in various parts of West Africa. They collaborated with African fishermen by luring them using alcohol, guns, clothes, and other material items. Goree Island comprised of a mix of cultures, including African cultures, Dutch, Portuguese, French, and British. It is at this island that La Maison Des Esclaves, the famous Point of No Return, is located. At this point, captured slaves were put in ships and taken to different destinations. Captured family members could end up in different countries, never to see each other again. Tight packing of slaves became common, whereby slaves were given the least possible space on a ship. This led to high number of deaths, with up to 20% of slaves dying while in transit. Most of the slaves were captured from Central and Western Africa. The Europeans could incite villages or tribes into violence in order to obtain a window of opportunity to capture slaves. It is sad to note that even after slavery came to an end, racism still persists in various parts of the world, including the US.


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