Slavery Essay

Topics: Slavery, Atlantic slave trade, British Empire Pages: 5 (1977 words) Published: March 2, 2013
Slavery Essay
From the 17th century until the 19th century, almost twelve million Africans were brought to the New World against their will to perform back-breaking labour under terrible conditions. The British slave trade was eventually abolished in 1807 (although illegal slave trading would continue for decades after that) after years of debate, in which supporters of the trade claimed that it was not inhumane, that they were acting in the slaves’ benefit, etc. Slavery was a truly barbaric, and those who think that they can control what another group of people eat, where they sleep, whether they are to live or die, or even whether they are to be bought or sold, are acting on a totally inhumane level. Slaves in the British colonies in the Caribbean worked on the sugar plantations which helped make the empire rich. Portugal and Britain were the two most ‘successful’ slave-trading countries accounting for about 70% of all Africans transported to the Americas. Britain was the most dominant between 1640 and 1807 when the British slave trade was abolished. It is estimated that Britain transported 3.1 million Africans (of which 2.7 million arrived) to the British colonies in the Caribbean, North and South America and to other countries. The early African companies developed English trade and trade routes in the 16th and 17th centuries, but it was not until the opening up of Africa and the slave trade to all English merchants in 1698 that Britain began to become dominant. The slave trade was carried out from many British ports, but the three most important ports were London (1660-1720s), Bristol (1720s-1740s) and Liverpool (1740s-1807), which became extremely wealthy. Under the1799 Slave Trade Act, the slave trade was restricted to three ports. Conditions on the slave ships were very unhygienic and poor. The ships were usually made in this way and had conditions such as: Living conditions

there are two ways for the captains to load their boats with slaves. One system is called loose packing to deliver slaves. Under that system, captains transported fewer slaves than their ships could carry in order to reduce the disease and deaths among them. The other system is the cruellest one and is called tight packing. This system was based on the fact that the more slaves they had the more profit they could make. They carried as many slaves as their ship could carry, and often more. In the ship's hold, the slaves were chained ankle to wrist, with barely any place to move. Death

Suicide attempts occurred daily and in painfully cruel ways. Slaves tried jumping overboard and even asked others to strangle them. One of the most common ways to avoid further punishment on the journey was to avoid eating. Starvation suicide attempts became so common that a device was introduced to forcefully open the mouths of slaves who refused to eat. Slaves believed that their death would return them to their homeland and to their friends and relatives. To prevent slaves from killing themselves, sailors began chopping the heads off of corpses, implying that when they died, they would return to their homes headless. Food and water:

Food was a very big problem for the slaves and the captains. The captains often thought that food was too expensive, and tried to buy as little food as they could. Some captains chose to take a sufficient amount of food, believing that healthy slaves would be worth the cost of the food. Many captains simply decided to buy as less food as possible, even if much of their "cargo" died of starvation. Once in America, the slaves on plantations were often treated cruelly. They were forced to work for long hours. Slaves were kept in primitive cabins with terrible living conditions. Many were subjected to whipping or other forms of punishment. Slaves could be sold at any time. Many families were broken up through the slave trade. Aside from problems for the slaves, slavery was an unsustainable economic system. Slaves were...
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