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The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Barbara Anderson African Studies Center, UNC-Chapel Hill November 2008 How did the trans-Atlantic slave trade begin? Why did Europeans choose Africans?. Origins of the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

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the trans atlantic slave trade
TheTrans-Atlantic Slave Trade

Barbara Anderson

African Studies Center, UNC-Chapel Hill

November 2008

origins of the trans atlantic slave trade
Origins of the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
  • Begin with the Age of Exploration—the Portuguese, not Columbus!
  • African and Middle Eastern science and technology were central
  • Portuguese explore west coast of Africa, looking for Asia
european invasion and occupation of the americas
European Invasion and Occupation of the Americas
  • 1441 Portuguese in West Africa
  • 1492 Columbus
  • 1498 Vasco de Gama
  • 1500 Cabral to Brazil
  • 1517 Spain gives Portugal 1st Asiento
  • 1542 only African slaves in Spanish colonies
why did europeans need slaves




slave exports from africa
Slave exports from Africa

1450-1600 376,000 3.1%

1601-1700 1,868,000 16.0

1701-1800 6,133,000 52.4**

1801-1900 3,330,000 28.5

Total 11,698,000

**This is also the century that most Americans can trace their African ancestors to.

destination of slaves
Destination of Slaves

Europe 2%

U.S. (Mainland North Am.) 5%

Caribbean 42%

Brazil 38%

Spanish Am. 13%

africans did not sell their own
Africans did NOT “sell their own”:
  • Slavery in most of Africa
    • (and rest of the world!)
  • Long-distance trading
  • No racial or national identity
    • Local and/or lineage loyalty
  • Prisoners of War or other outsiders
  • African resistance occurred, but infrequent




places in the slave trade
Places in the slave trade
  • Liverpool
  • Senegambia
  • Dahomey
  • Kongo
  • Rio de Janeiro
  • Jamaica
  • Cuba
  • Charleston
  • Boston
where the ships were headed
Where the ships were headed

Goree Island, Senegal

venture smith 1729 1805
Venture Smith, 1729-1805
  • Born in West Africa
  • Enslaved at age 6
  • Marched to the coast
  • Sold to Rhode Island ship
  • Lived in colonial New England
  • Purchased self and family

Africans in America DVD

chicago and the slave trade
Chicago and the slave trade???
  • Many Black Chicagoans whose families moved here in the late 19th or early 20th century came from Mississippi
  • These Americans may have had ancestors who experienced the INTERNAL SLAVE TRADE, 1820-1860, having been marched or shipped from the Upper South
  • AND/OR they may have been brought directly in to the Lower Mississippi by the French during the colonial period, probably from Senegambia.
resources for teaching
Resources for teaching:
  • Africans in America 4-part video/DVD and web site
  • for narratives of Africans
  • for images of slave trade (also AIA above)
  • lesson plans and overview of slave trade
book resources for teachers
Book Resources for Teachers
  • Lindsay, Lisa (2008) Captives as Commodities: The Transatlantic Slave Trade
  • Thomas, Hugh (1997) The slave trade : the story of the Atlantic slave trade, 1440-1870
  • Klein, Herbert (1999) The Atlantic Slave Trade
  • Diouf, Sylvaine A. (1998) Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas
  • Wright, Donald (2000) African Americans in the Colonial Era, 2nd Ed.
  • Hine et al. (2006) The African American Odyssey (Textbook)