The Middle Passage
By: Daniel P. Mannix and Malcolm Cowley The Middle Passage, a common slave trade route in the late 1700’s, is one of the most horrific icons in world history. This article, written by Daniel Mannix and Malcolm Cowley, gives great information concerning how the slaves got there, the treatment of the slaves, slave behavior, and the voyages. In contrast to popular opinion, the majority of slaves brought to America were sold by other Africans, not captured by Europeans. Many of the tribes in Africa’s economy depended souly on the slave trade to provide income. Slaves could have gotten on the ship by committing juvenile crimes like stealing to being sold by their own families for a profit. The main source of slaves, though, was inter-tribal wars. The wars produced thousands of prisoners of war who were often captured and sold to the Europeans. Wars would often erupt for the soul purpose of the slave trade. It was a staple in many African economies back then. Once the slaves were sold, they were taken to the ships where the men were shackled twoby-two but the women were allowed to venture all throughout the boat, but usually stayed on deck. The ship life would best be described as torture. They were forced to live on two meals a day, but only if they were healthy. The sick slaves would not be given food and would often die a slow and painful death. At night, they would be packed into the cargo hold, still shackled, only given about the size of a coffin to sleep. There were no bathrooms on board, so the cargo holds were filth-ridden with human excretion. On a rough night at sea, the slaves would wake up with
their skin completely raw from rubbing against the splintered wood all night, sometimes down to the bone. They were treated like caged animals. There were differing views among slaving captains on how to run their ships. There were the “loose-packers” and the “tight-packers”. Loose-packers often kept their ships clean and did not carry as...
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