In previous years, most Africans who have came to America were slaves who were purchased through the international slave trade. White colonists viewed Africans as uncivilized and ‘turned to the international slave trade to fill their labor needs.’ The white English settlers knew nothing of any other culture; people were thought to be white or Christian, anything else was ‘uncivilized’. Slavery served for two purposes; a labor system and racial control in a white country.
The slave trade was important in building the colonial empires of European nations and in creating the wealth that later produced the Industrial Revolution. Africans were being Europeanized and at the same time European Americans were being Africanized. The slave trade created a way of communication for the movement of crops, agricultural techniques, diseases and medical knowledge between Africa, America, and Europe.
The African population increased before Europeans arrived, suggesting the complex ways of the African agricultural methods. The skill of farming came from the skill in the production of iron, which the new farming techniques necessary to sustain larger populations originated. As the population grew, tasks were specialized that led to technical improvements. By the time Europeans reached the West African coast, extensive urban settlement, advanced architecture, elaborate are, and a complex political organization. Many communities of West Africa had complex religious rites, organized regional trade, codes of law, and complex political organization.
The slave trade begun when a Portuguese captain, Ruy do Sequeira, went to the coast of Benin and received permission to trade for gold, ivory, and slaves. European powers raided Africa’s coasts for slaves and marched in the interior kidnapping helpless people. Slaves were sold by the African sellers in return for European guns, bars of iron, copper, brass pots and tankards, beads, rum and textiles.
For a long period, African societies were involved in an overland slave trade, which transported slaves from West Africa across the Sahara Desert to Roman Europe and the MiddleEast. It was designed to provide the nations trading in the Mediterranean with soldiers, household servants, and artisans rather than agricultural ‘outsider’, being captured in war, by selling themselves into slavery for money to the family, or by committing a certain crime. Slaves had restricted rights but were protected under the law and were entitled to education, marriage, and parenthood. The status of a slave was not passed on to their children.
Slavery arose within ancient Greece and Rome, the Aztec and Inca empires, African societies, modern Russia and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. When the Europeans found gold and silver mines in Mexico and Peru; also when they discovered a new form of gold in production of sugar, coffee, and tobacco their demand for labor grew greatly. The Indians were the obvious sources of labor. Black slaves were the strength of the western world.
Sugar was the product that changed the African slave trade. Sugar became more of a necessity in the diet of Europeans; so plantations were needed which meant more laborers. Adult males were preferred over females and children because females were needed in homes; they were ‘the chief agriculturists’ in society and too valuable. After the establishment of the New World sugar plantations, Europeans were at war constantly for trading rights on the West African coast. Those of higher authority, whom were responsible for supplying European plantations in the New World with portions of slaves became an issue of European diplomacy. The Dutch won the rights of the coasts in Africa and slaves were transported across the Atlantic in Dutch ships.
The English lagged behind in becoming a part of the slave trade. Charles II attempted to break the English into the trade organization. He gave a charter to the Royal Adventurers to Africa; a joint stock company. The companies were able to carry slaves to England’s plantations. The African Company’s monopoly was destroyed because of the pressure on Parliament by merchants who wanted their rights to participate in the trade. When the English slave trade was given to individual entrepreneurs, it grew greatly.
Most slaves that came to English North America were from West Africa and most were still enslaved in Angola. Slave activities in these areas were responsible for the population decrease. Once slaves were captured, they would march to the sea in lines, like a train of people fastened together. Men, women, children marched for weeks; some even attempted to commit suicide or die of hunger and exhaustion. When they arrived to their destinations, they were placed in prison until it was time to be inspected. The ‘good’ slaves were separated from the ones who were imperfect; those rejected were called Mackrons. This type of treatment was necessary because it’s the process at which the slaves are selected and bargained for. The psychological process attempted to take away their self-respect and the identities of the slaves. After a purchase was made, the slave would be marked with a hot iron signifying the company whom purchased him or her, whether the Spanish, English, French, Dutch, or Portugese. They would return to their area until a cargo would arrive. Some slaves would arrive in canoes to the ships in the harbors. Most slaves would drown themselves. The stay on the ship was brutal, if a slave would get sick on the voyage; they would be thrown off the ship. Some were forced to eat body parts of the other dead slaves and some were beaten harshly. Some slaves tried to starve themselves, however, they would suffer with brutal whippings or having hot coals placed on their mouths. When they arrived to the New World, they would be auctioned off to a New World master, then taken to their home. They had to adapt to this new environment, new language, new work routines, and a life of brutality.
Although the English colonists were familiar with the use of slave labor, they didn’t turn to Africa to solve the problem of making ‘labor-intense crops’. The thought of Africans being uncivilized made it easier to enslave them, but the English was in the New World to become wealthy and build religious and political places of safety. After enslaving the Indians, all ideas about enslaving Africans were gone. English colonists employed Africans in their sugar fields in the West Indies. Labor force in the Southern colonies transformed from white’s who were laborers and few blacks, to blacks laboring for a lifetime. It shifted to a slave agricultural economy because English entering the African slave trade gave the Southern colonists an opportunity to buy slaves cheaper. Cheap labor was what the tobacco and rice planers were looking for, so when the price decreased, the demand for black slaves increased. The Africans imported into the Chesapeake colonies grew and the white servants were very rare.
As the number of slaves grew rapidly, laws were made for controlling their activities. Slaves were reduced from a human being to a piece of property. Slavery was passed on to the offspring of the slave. Early in the seventeeth century, blacks were able to work of lands for a certain amount of time then would have free time for themselves, hire out their labor, buy land, moved as they pleased, and even own slaves themselves. Then Africans began getting treated horribly; marriage between black and white was considered ‘Disgracing the nation’. Eventually interracial marriages was banned. Slaves lost their right to testify in court, to participate in commercial activity, to hold property, to participate in politics, to travel without permission, and to get married or become a parent. In some colonies, slaves were prohibited the right of education and religion. Slaves were banned from being released by owners; this was to enable freedom and discourage those free from helping Africans gain liberty. The larger the ‘specter’ of black revolt, the greater effort of the white society to neutralize it by restricting the rights and activities of slaves. The colonizers created a labor system, which kept the Africans at the bottom of the social and economic pyramid. Slaves kept their degraded positions, they became degraded in the eyes of Europeans.
Most Africans who have came to America were slaves who were purchased through the international slave trade. They were ridiculed by the white colonists. Slavery served for two purposes; a labor system and racial control in a white country. . There was nothing of more importance than the enslavement of Africans.
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