UNESCO ASPnet logo
"Triangular Slave Trade"
A Report by: Eric Hager
A Triangle of Partnership and Solidarity

Organized by Jon K. Møller

Triangular Slave Trade, the term used for the trading of slaves from the 1500 to the mid 1800 between Europe, Africa, and the New World. During this report the author will tell you facts about the Triangular Slave Trade and how it operated. He will tell you who was responsible. Also the writer will tell you what was used as goods in this trade. The writer will explain the route that ships would take and what ships were used. He will show you many reasons why the Transatlantic Slave Trade (Triangular Slave Trade) was wrong. Those are a few subjects the writer will explain to you in this paper
The Triangular Slave Trade, the trading of slaves between 1500 and the mid 1800. It is also known as the Transatlantic Slave Trade. "This slave trade occupies a special place in the universal history of slavery on three counts: its duration, four centuries, the Black African child, women, and man; and its intellectual legitimization, and the cultural disparagement of Africa and Black people and the consequent construction of the ideology of anti-Black racism and its codification in the Code Noir," said Doudou Diene.
Now, the author will tell you who was responsible for all of this. First, lets talk about the Europeans' part in all of this. It was a profitable business and, considering the number of years it lasted, a familiar fact of life. Even so, in some ports that the Europeans used to trade, like Nantes, the slave-traders themselves were reluctant to call it by its name but instead as the "matter". Now, the role that the Africans played in the slave trade. There has always been a debate on the role of the Africans. For many years, the slave-traders hid behind what they saw an argument that the Africans made a regular practice of selling their fellow Africans. Africans on the other hand say it was the Europeans' fault. It is hard to say if it was the Europeans' or the Africans' fault because the slave trade was so complex.
The author is now going to tell you how Europeans would obtain slaves. The first method by which the Europeans acquired African slaves was through straightforward abduction. When Europeans landed on African coasts, they stopped at random places they thought might be good to find slaves and set out on man hunts. There were risks at obtaining slaves this way, evidence of this is by the massacre of 1446 of almost all members of the expedition led by Nuno Trictao near the Cape Verde peninsula. There were drawbacks to slave-raiding, one of them was you would be uncertain of the outcome of the raid. At the beginning of the 1500 the Portuguese were the first to start slave trading. However, even after this had become routine matter, raiding continued to provide slave-traders with an additional source of supply. The actual slave-trading was often called the roving trade. The roving trade was, when slave ships sailed along the coast and captured slaves until their ship was full.
In the early 1700, the English, Portuguese, and French agreed to make a joint declaration to the effect that the slave trade was justified only when it was involved slaves sold by Africans.
At its height, the slave trade was regarded by Africans as a kind of diabolical plot in which they had to be accomplices or perish.
The primary source of materials that are essential for documenting the economic, political, cultural, and social dimensions and consequences of the transatlantic slave trade exist in great abundance, but are not accessible by the public. They are neither located at one continent nor found in any single library, archive, museum, or other repository. Most records of the trade that have survived are scattered through out secular and religious repositories on the five continents that were involved in trade, Europe, Africa, North, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Millions of documents, ship logs, reports, artifacts, and other sources of evidence have been lost. Others are currently stored under climatic, environmental and other conditions that threaten their future. Hundreds of millions of documents on the four hundred year, transcontinental trade still exist which contain within them the base that is needed to rethink and rewrite the historical and cultural development of many African Cultures. Unfortunately, despite the fact that such records are known to exist, problems of preservation and access prevent those scholars, educators, and others who seek to unravel the mysteries of the trade from using them.
Barely nine years after the discovery of America, in the first year of the sixteenth century and by royal letters patent issued to the third governor of Hispaniola, Nicolas de Ovando, the use of black slaves in America was authorized for the first time. Four years later, in 1505, Bartlme de Las Casas wrote of African slaves working on the fortifications of the city of Santo Domingo on the Spanish island of that name. By 1520 there was approximately ten thousand working on sugar plantations and other work sites. There was such a high demand for slaves in the Americas that slaves made up for one third of the population.
In most slave owning societies a small minority of slaves known as venacles (people born in slavery) were authorized to mate and live together, on however precarious a basis. They did not have the right to save money except to obtain their manumission from their owner. Their children, if there were any, belonged to the mother's owner. They were not considered "persons", they had no kinship ties and no social or political standing. They were therefor more trusted than close relatives who could be rivals, and in some cases rose to position of considerable influence.
There were roughly 39,000 voyages from Africa to the New World. This was instrumental in the birth of commercial wealth in the Americas. The time it would take to cross the Atlantic ocean on an average slave ship would take roughly 5 to 12 weeks. The three major products used by Europeans traded for slaves were Gunpowder, Brandy, and Seashells.
Some of the components used in the "triangular of trade" were: When a ship would leave Europe with manufactured trade goods, bound for the western coast of Africa. The goods would then be traded for slaves in Africa, and these slaves were then transported to the Caribbean and the Americas for sale.
Ghana, Africa was one of the sites where there was tremendous slave trade during the transatlantic slave trade (Triangular of Slave Trade) period. Many ships from Europe came here to bring slaves to the New World.
Charleston, West Virginia was one of the major sites in America where slaves were auctioned and traded for.
In America, when the slaves were originally landed, all Europeans got for the slaves was money. But after the slaves started producing goods they would eventually make it so America and Europe would trade directly for goods.
‘Slave trader' was a well known name among the tribes of Africa. Many were given a choice of becoming a traitor to their own people and trade them for weapons or become slaves themselves. Most of them chose to become traitors of their people.
Some people compare slave ships to a can of Sardines, but Africans would have worse conditions than this. A slave would have been packed alive with other men only being able to get up to use the ships bathroom, or urinate over the ships side, if they were lucky. If another man died he would be thrown over board or left to rot. Most of those who survived the ships terror would live a life of hard labor. Families would be separated, and sometimes would be sent to two different parts of the country. If you were a beautiful young African Queen, you had a good chance of becoming a sex slave to all of your masters (men of course). Over the years this is a reason for all the tension between blacks and whites.
The black people died of exhaustion, disease, or the harsh beating the ship owners gave, not including starvation and dehydration from being in the hot sun all day. Over this period 970 were transported on a ship called Cintra, and 214 slaves died on this ship.
You see in the graph above the ratio to slaves that died and crew that died. (comm.: "no graph received") You might wonder why if there was many slaves on the ship and not even a quarter as many crewman, why didn't they just take over the ship. The slaves were in shackles and handcuffs, and where trapped below and not able to get out. Plus the slaves were really scared, and didn't know what was going on and where they were going.
The picture above (comm: "picture not received") is not what a slave ship really looked like. There is a few differences. A real ship wouldn't have oars on the side. Although the rest is kinda what a slave ship would look like.
The author of this report had a interesting time when he wrote it. He had tons of information which he used. It took him a while but he has learned mass amount of information. He would like to thank Mr. Berkowitz for giving him a chance to learn about the worlds past. Even though that isn't the greatest. If everyone would learn this stuff maybe some of the mistakes that have been made in the past will not happen again.

Works Cited:

Douglas, Frederick. Autobiography of Frederick Douglas. The Library of America, 1994.
Bancroft, Frederic Slave Trading in the Old South Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1959
Curtin, Philip D. The Atlantic Slave Trade. The University of Wisconsin Press, 1969.
UNESCO Slave Route Project-Welcome
http://www.saltdal.vgs.no/prosjekt/slavrute/publications/unesco_publ1.htm, 2/27/99

Triangular Slave Trade

By Eric Hager

Mr. Berkowitz
World History
5 March 1999

Projects - Home page
Projects - Home
Norwegian Main Page
Norwegian Main Page
English Main Page
English Main Page
Mail me for comments!
Comments, etc.