Slavery in the United States Black slaves played a major, though unwilling and generally unrewarded, role in laying the economic foundations of the United States—especially in the South. Blacks also played a leading role in the development of Southern speech, folklore, music, dancing, and food, blending the cultural traits of their African homelands with those of Europe.
About Indians died during the Atlantic crossing and were thrown into the sea. The Spanish failed in their experiment to make American Indians into slaves. When forced to work on sugar plantations in Cuba and the West Indies islands, they died by the hundreds. Small numbers of black African slaves were introduced into Spanish America as early as Since the Africans seemed to survive longer than the native Indians, the Spanish began to look eastward for a new source of slave labor.
The West African slave trade had begun.
This building on the coast of Africa once was a headquarters for the British slave trade. At first, white slave traders simply went on kidnapping raids, but this proved too dangerous for the Europeans.
Local African rulers and black merchants delivered captured people to these trading posts to sell as slaves to European ship captains. About 50 percent of the slaves were taken as prisoners during the frequent tribal wars occurring among the West African kingdoms. Another 30 percent became slaves as punishment for crimes or indebtedness.
The remainder were kidnapped by black slave traders. An African trader usually transported his slaves to a coastal trading station by binding them around the neck with leather thongs, each slave about a yard distance from each other. There were often 30 or 40 in a string.
The factor living at the trading station negotiated a price between the African slave trader and the slave ship captain. After making a deal with the factor, the traders transported the slaves in large canoes to the ship, riding at anchor just beyond the thundering surf. The factor supervised the branding and loading of the slaves onto the ship.
For land-bound Africans who had never seen it before, the ocean was a terrifying sight. Some slaves tried to escape by jumping into the sea, only to be devoured by sharks.
Gustavus Vassa, an African slave who later gained his freedom and wrote an account of his life, described his experience boarding a slave ship: I was immediately handled and tossed up to see if I were sound by some of the crew and I was now persuaded that I had gotten into a world of bad spirits and that they were going to kill me When I recovered, I found some black people about me.
I asked if we were to be eaten by these men with horrible looks, red faces and long hair.
This diagram shows how slave ships were packed. It was presented to a committee of the British House of Commons in They were then prodded into the dark, unsanitary hold of the ship. Alexander Falconbridge, an English slave ship doctor, wrote this description of typical slave quarters: They are frequently stowed so close, as to admit of no other posture than lying on their sides.
Neither will the height between decks These platforms are a kind of shelf, about eight feet in breadth, extending from the side of the ship towards the center. They are placed nearly midway between the decks, at the distance of two or three feet from each deck.
Upon these the negroes are stowed in the same manner as they are on the deck [floor] underneath. Women and children remained unchained and spent the voyage in separate quarters. All slaves slept on bare, rough wood. This, combined with the turbulent motions of the ship, often caused the skin on their elbows to wear down to the bone.
Two different loading philosophies were popular among slave ship captains. In good weather, and only during the day, the crew allowed the slaves on deck. Sometimes a slave could be subjected to force feedings by having his jaws separated for him by a device. Members of the crew entertained themselves by whipping the slaves to make them sing and dance.
Slave captains encouraged this activity under the premise that it prevented suicidal thoughts and even scurvy among the slaves.
After all, in order to maximize his profit, the captain needed live and healthy Africans at the end of the middle passage. Many Africans died during the middle passage due to smallpox, measles, malaria, and dysentery. During shipboard revolts, some slaves were killed.
Those who went insane were thrown overboard.Joseph Cinqué (c.
– c. ), also known as Sengbe Pieh, was a West African man of the Mende people who led a revolt of many Africans on the Spanish slave ship, La initiativeblog.com the ship was taken into custody by the United States Revenue Cutter Service, Cinqué and his fellow Africans were eventually tried for killing officers on the ship, in a case known as United States initiativeblog.com: c.
, British Sierra Leone. The treatment of slaves in the United States varied by time and place, but was generally brutal and degrading. Whipping and sexual abuse, including rape, were common. Teaching slaves to read was discouraged or (depending upon the state) prohibited, so as to hinder aspirations for escape or rebellion.
How Many Slaves Landed in the US?
How many Africans were taken to the United States during the entire history of Think of this as an instance of what we might think of as African-American. Start studying American Stories: A History of the United States (Chapter 1).
Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. The history of African-Americans has been a paradox of incredible triumph in the face of tremendous human tragedy.
African-American persons were shown much discrimination and were treated as second class citizens in the colonies during the development of the nation. Racism against African-Americans: many of the Africans brought to America starting in the 17th century arrived as slaves, kidnapped from their homelands in various parts of Africa.
A number of them were known to be royalty and literate.