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Explain the development and the reason for change of the transatlantic slave trade

At the end of the 14th century to roughly 1870 millions of Africans were transported across the Atlantic Ocean by Europeans from Britain, Denmark, France, Holland Italy, Portugal and Spain. They did this by taking people from Africa against their will and were initially using them as servants for the rich first, and then Businessmen thought of a quick and easy way of making money that would expand Britain’s capacity and make the country wealthy.

They invented the transatlantic slave trade, which has been often referred to as the triangular trade. The first British, English slave trader to do this was Sir John Hawkins. In 1562 Captain John Hawkins high jacked a Portuguese ship carrying slaves on their way to Brazil. This is when the slave trade really began to take off.

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He had consent from the British navy, the lord mayor of London and Queen Elizabeth I. At this time it was not illegal to take part in the slave trade and as Britain was one of the leading worldwide economic forces there was a great demand to help sustain Britain’s current wealth and also to increase it by any means necessary.

He started off with three ships and one hundred crewmen. Between 1564 and 1569 he made three journeys to the Sierra Leone River, on which he takes a total of 1,200 Africans to cross the Atlantic to sell to other European settlers in the Caribbean islands. He used the triangular trade. The triangular trade was a route going from Britain to Africa, from Africa to the New World (Europe), and then back to Britain. The African slaves were sold to the colonies of the new world. This journey often took weeks or even months.

Ships would leave Britain with cargo all of the cheap manufactured goods such as pots, copper, pots glassware guns and ammunition, these would leave from ports such as London, Liverpool or Bristol and then travel to West Africa where they would be exchanged for slaves. The slaves would have been tightly packed to make maximum profit. Slaves were then taken to the Caribbean where they were exchanged again for sugar which was brought back to Europe and sold for a very large profit.

Therefore this was a great economic expansion for Britain as they had now acquired new colonies in the Americas not forgetting the islands of the Caribbean, where it was soon realized they had the correct growing conditions for crops and other goods which they needed in Britain at the time. Not only the use of slaves helped to produce goods that were a demand for Britain, but the slave was also a free source of labour which helped British traders maximizes their profits, therefore Britain as a whole could grow and maintain itself as an imperial power.

Before being forced on to the ships, the slaves would have been imprisoned in forts. During the 1720s they had taken nearly 200,000 slaves. Britain involvement in the slave trade grew enormously. By the 1790s there were nearly 480,000 African slaves were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in British Caribbean colonies, not knowing where they were going or even where they may end up. It was a competitive business but the African slaves fetched a lot at auction. On these trips, around 15 % of the slaves would die of starvation or disease. Some even committed suicide. Once the ships were scrubbed and cleaned it was then to be loaded with goods to take back to Britain.

These goods included coffee, cotton, ginger, rum, clothes, sugar, rice, tobacco, and hemp. This was the completion of the triangle when the ships returned to Britain. When the goods arrived in Great Britain they were sold to city merchants. This is how the business made its money. Once their money was made they would support their lifestyle or would be reinvested in property and land. Some other people that were involved in the slave trade were Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh, the Duke of York also owned some of the slave ships. To know which of the slaves belonged to the Duke of York he got his initials ‘DY’ branded onto their buttocks or their breasts, he did this to the 3000 slaves which he owned.

A small number of British reformers and liberals in the 18th century began to argue that slavery was evil. Something had to be done as it was seen as an inhumane way to treat other human beings. In 1772 lord Mansfield came to a decision and made it illegal to forcibly remove any person from England so therefore the slaves brought to Great Britain would not be able to be sent back to the colonies as against their will. In 1778 the House of Commons set up a committee to investigate the slave trade.

In 1780 the petition against the slave trade was presented to parliament by the Quakers. In May 1787 the society for the abolition of the slave trade was established and trying to raise public awareness. Influential supporters such as John Wesley and Josiah Wedgwood were strong believers of this campaign, which they later persuaded William Wilberforce who was also an MP, to be their spokesman in the House of Commons. William Wilberforce dedicated his life as a member of parliament to bring an end to the slave trade. Their aim was to inform the British public about the intense cruelty of the trade and the British connections in the sugar trade.

Clarkson was given the responsibility of collecting information to support the abolition of the slave trade. By doing so he went to gather evidence from some of the ports around Britain. This included interviewing 20,000 sailors and obtaining equipment used on the slave ships such as iron handcuffs, leg shackles and branding irons. During this investigation, it was discovered that the slave ship that was originally built to carry a maximum of 451 people, where it was transporting more than 600 slaves which broke the limit of the number of slaves permitted to carry.

People got a view of the ships he drew with women, men and children chained together and crammed in the lower deck of the ship.

Some of the ways that were used to inform people about slavery were to bring out anti-slavery books, make anti-slavery medallions crockery and bronze figures, abolitionist prints, posters and pamphlets. Also, anti-slavery rallies were held. This had to be done because so few people could vote.

Women played a big part in the anti-slavery movement but were not eligible to be represented in the British parliament. Items such as bracelets, hairpins with pictures painted on them of the slaves were worn to publicize their support of the course. The first all women’s society was formed in Birmingham in 1825. As the campaigners gained popularity some of the women wrote short stories and poems about the slave trade to inform people about what was going on. The women also boycotted slave-grown produce.

A number of Africans were involved in the abolition and teamed up with British abolitionists to put an end to the trafficking of innocent human beings.

The slavery abolition act is passed in 1833; however, it came into force in 1834. This meant that it forbids possession of all those enslaved, within the British Empire. Finally, the Transatlantic slave trade had ended. Any ship captain caught with slaves on board would be fined one hundred pounds per slave and their ship would be confiscated. It took centuries of resistance and decades of campaigning for this to be done.

The Transatlantic slave trade lasted for centuries and due to this, historians believed that the effects of the slave trade ended African economic development while supporting the Europeans process of urbanisation and industrialization.

Africa is a large continent. Which its population is made up of many cultures and societies. By the 18th century, slaves had become Africa main export which at this period was seriously seeing Africa become further and further behind the economic development progress as the years passed. Kingdoms grew as a result of the slave trade and many old ones were destroyed. When the Europeans came to Africa to take slaves they would exchange goods such as guns and gunpowder.

Therefore this created civil wars between different kingdoms and the Africans themselves were trying to capture one another for slavery, which then became a growing demand for such European goods. The export of so many people left Africa’s population permanently declining compared to other parts of the world. Also because it was mainly man or teenage boy the Europeans were taking there was hardly any strength for work to be done. The African countries that are most disadvantaged today are the ones that the slaves were taken from. This explains why there is poverty in Africa today.

During the 18th century, this was very much the opposite for Europe and Britain.

Not only was the slave trade a factor in helping bring the country to industrialize and help achieve capitalism but it boosted the countries economic imperialism. The slave trade completely changed the outlook of Britain. Britain became more powerful than ever before, with the creation of new technologies such as the steam engine and led to the numerous new banks which show this effect today. There was also a large resounding black community in Britain. After the abolition, there were a lot of racial attitudes. However, Africans and the Caribbean’s brought a lot of culture into European society.

However, there is a very clear image that the slave trade had an enormous and positive impact on Britain but had a very negative impact on Africa in economic gain. This showed a lot of shame amongst many citizens at how the minority of both Europe and Africa will stoop to satisfy their greed, agreed which developed through the slave trade and remains with us still today.

The consent demand for profit drove many men to do the evilest things as the outcome of the trade was the reward. This held many to remain silent about what they saw. Again these to can be seen in our system of global capitalism today, where we are buying materials that are made by modern-day slaves.

To help me complete my essay I used the following resources

Michael Woods

Impact of Empire: The British Empire 1585-the Present

By authors: James Byrom, Christopher Culpin, Michael Riley

The slave trade By author Hugh Thomas

www.channel4.com/history/microsites/H/history/a-b/britains_slave_trade.html

www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/slavery

slave trade.par wikipedia.org/

Wiki/William_Wilberforce ligament.UK/

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