Why did Britain get involved in the Slave Trade?
The Renascence period was a time full of new music, extravagant architecture and fine art. All of these things causing an increasing demand for funds from the government. In the 1440’s the Portuguese started trading slaves for various things with the Americans. Britain found out about this trade whilst their pirates were raiding Spanish ships and found them abroad. John Hawkins made the first known British slavery voyage in 1562; this started a huge trade that the British would carry on for over 300 years. The increasing demand for such things like sugar and cotton made this a simple solution to the problem and also made them a huge profit. In 1665 alone 3750 tonnes of sugar were exported to the UK alone and this increased the value and need for slaves. As more people became involved the amount of voyages across the middle passage increased until 30,000 slaves were transported within around 5 years. The slave trade is often described as the Triangular Trade as it involves three main countries, Britain, Africa and America. The Africans wanted manufactured goods such as beads, cloth, hardware, rum, salt, and weapons so the British sailed over with plenty of this the trade with the kings for slaves. The African kings hired Africans to capture the slaves and bring them to the British; they would then be put in these ships and taken across to the Caribbean and traded for cotton, sugar, spices and tobacco amongst many other things. This trading system not only left the British with a huge profit but everyone involved, although the British never had slaves themselves, the benefitted hugely from their involvement.
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