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Middle Passage

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Jump Start: Observe the above picture and complete and FIQ:1. What are some FACTS you know from looking at this image?2. What are some INFERENCES you can make from looking at this image? (Things you can tell but it might not say!)3. What are some QUESTIONS you have after looking at this image?


The Atlantic Slave Trade

Middle Passage

Main Idea

Between the 1500s and the 1800s millions of Africans were captured, shipped across the Atlantic Ocean, and sold as slaves in the Americas.



Native Americans

African Slaves

  • Shortage of labor in Americas led to beginning of Atlantic slave trade
  • European planters needed workers on sugar, tobacco plantations
  • Planters first used Native Americans; European diseases killed millions
  • Millions forcibly taken to Americas
  • Most from coast of West Africa
  • Some exchanged for firearms, goods
  • Others kidnapped on raids by traders

Origins of the Slave Trade

  • Slavery has existed in many parts of the world
  • People forced into slavery came from different walks of life
  • Farmers, merchants, priests, soldiers, or musicians; fathers and mothers, sons and daughters.
Captured Africans became part of network called the triangular trade

First leg, ships carrying European goods to Africa to be exchanged for slaves

Second leg, Middle Passage, brought Africans to Americas to be sold

Third leg carried American products to Europe

Trade Network


Horrific Conditions

Terrifying Situation

  • OlaudahEquiano wrote about conditions on slave ship:
  • “The stench of the hold…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, rendered the whole scene of horror almost inconceivable.”
  • Captive Africans chained together, forced into dark, cramped quarters below ship’s decks
  • Could neither sit nor stand
  • Journey lasted three to six weeks, ten to twenty percent did not survive

Middle Passage

imagining the horrors middle passage
Imagining the Horrors- Middle Passage
  • African Slave Trade- What words come to mind? Write down as many as you can. (1:29 secs)
  • On the Middle Passage- What are you feeling? Pain? Anger? Sadness? Etc. (3:34 secs)
  • White Americas’ Fear- What images come to mind? List as many as possible. (5:41 secs)
  • History of Black Slavery- What questions or thoughts do you have now? (4:30 secs)
    • Stop @ 1:20  1:28
    • Stop @ 3:00  3:10