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The Atlantic Slave Trade and the Treatment of Slaves By: Nicole Page

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The Atlantic Slave Trade and the Treatment of Slaves By: Nicole Page

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Slavery has been a tragic part of human societies as far back as we can trace it (401). Although linked to warfare, it is not certain how slavery came to be. Nevertheless, the trend of slavery began to prosper rapidly as it became a large and important part of the transatlantic trade system that linked Europe, Africa, and the European colonies in the Americas; by the late1500's, in the West Indies and the cities of South America, black slaves surpassed the white population. The African peoples who were captured suffered terrible hardships as they were dehumanized and torn away from there families and culture.

Slaves were obtained in an unorganized and inhumane fashion. Merciless slave drivers, largely made up of African middlemen, would barge into an unsuspecting African home and snatch up potential slaves by any means possible. At the drop of a dime, families were torn apart, and lives were ruined. These unfortunate slaves were chained together by the feet and hands. On certain occasions, a "Y" shaped stick was secured around the necks of two slaves as they were forced to march on to their impending doom.

The next phase that was in store for the bound captives determined whether they would become a slave or die. Many of the Africans taken aboard the slave ships and transported along the Middle Passage did not live to see the shores of North America. The death toll was large and hard to avoid due to overcrowding and deplorable conditions. Many died along the voyage due to epidemics of disease, which spread like wildfire on the tightly packed vessel. Others would find ways to kill themselves such as refusing to eat or throwing themselves overboard when they had the chance. In one account, an African named Olaudah Equiano describes the condition of the ship he was on: "The stench of the hold while we were on the coast was so intolerably loathsome that it was dangerous to remain there for any time.... The shrieks of the women and the groans of the dying...