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The African Slave Trade. Beginnings The African slave trade is believed to have started in 1441 when a ship sailing for Prince Henry of Portugal returned.

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Presentation on theme: "The African Slave Trade. Beginnings The African slave trade is believed to have started in 1441 when a ship sailing for Prince Henry of Portugal returned."— Presentation transcript:

1 The African Slave Trade

2 Beginnings The African slave trade is believed to have started in 1441 when a ship sailing for Prince Henry of Portugal returned with 12 African for sale into slavery. The slave trade would continue for the next 400 years and involved 12 to 15 million Africans. Portugal, Spain, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and the United States would all profit from the trade.



5 Slavery had existed since ancient times. The Greeks, Romans, and other ancient societies had practiced slavery. The African Slavery was different in 3 important ways. 1. It involved many more people than before 2. Slaves were treated much harsher than before 3. Unlike before, Race and racism will be the major factor in determining who would be a slave

6 Capture The journey into slavery started when people were captured by rival tribes in the interior of Africa Many African tribes depended on slavery in order to buy European goods

7 Once captured, the people would be forced to marched to west coast of Africa Sometimes the forced march could be as long as 500 miles and take up to 8 months to reach the coast


9 If a captive became sick or injured during the march, they would be left behind to die a sure death


11 Slave “Castles” Upon arrival at the coast, captives would be lock in a dungeon beneath one of fifty “castles” constructed by Europeans along the coast until shipment to America


13 Slave “Factories” Often the people would be sold by the “castle” to a “factory”. They would be worked until a slave ship arrived. Then the “factory” would sell them to the ship’s captain

14 At the Slave “Factory” people would often be branded to show ownership

15 The Middle Passage After purchase, Africans would be chained to each other and placed below deck They would remained chained below deck for most of the eight weeks it took to make to voyage to America There were two ways of loading the slave ships: “Tight Pack” and “Loose Pack”

16 “Tight Pack” Africans were loaded using every available space on the ship As many as 1000 people would be chained below deck Picture on the bottom shows a “Tight Pack”

17 “Loose Pack” Europeans also gave the Africans more space under the “Loose Pack” It was done so more people could survive the voyage and be sold into slavery in the Americas Picture on top shows the “loose Pack”

18 Nightmare Conditions in the slave hold was terrible! It was poorly ventilated, hot, humid, infested with filth and diseases Africans would be chained in the hold for most of the day The average time to cross the Atlantic was 8 weeks

19 Death Death on the Middle Passage was common 20% of the Africans would not survive the voyage Most died of disease but cruel treatment, mutinies, and suicides were also factors in the alarming death rate

20 Africans, sick with disease, were often thrown overboard at the first symptom signs



23 “Dancing” on the Middle Passage Sometimes Africans would be brought on the top deck for fresh air, a salt water bath, and exercise. Europeans called the exercise “Dancing the slaves”

24 Mutiny! There are over 300 documented incidents where Africans tried to win their freedom by overpowering their captors Most mutinies took place within the sight of land and were unsuccessful

25 La Amistad The most famous successful mutiny took place in 1839 on board the Spanish slave ship La Amistad 53 African captives took control of the ship off the coast of Cuba

26 The La Amistad mutiny was led by Joseph Cinque who had used a nail to free himself and the others

27 The Amistad Africans Trial After the mutiny, the Africans were arrested and tried for murder in the United States. In 1843 the case reached the U.S. Supreme Court

28 The Amistad Africans were represented by former president John Quincy Adams He was 73 years old and had not appeared before a court in 30 years He would argue for 8 hours in their defense

29 The Court Rules The Supreme Court ruled that the Africans had not committed a crime and should be returned to their home in Africa This is the ONLY time in the 400 year history of the slave trade that Africans were returned to their home

30 Slave Auctions Those Africans who survived the Middle Passage were offered for sale into slavery at a slave auction. Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans were the main action places

31 Slavery Images

32 End of the Nightmare In 1807 Great Britain was the first nation to make the African slave trade illegal The United States outlawed the trade in 1808. African continued to be smuggled into the U.S. until 1862 The last Middle Passage voyage took place in 1888 when a Portuguese slave ship sailed to Brazil

33 Thirteenth Amendment The United States finally abolished the institution of slavery in 1865 with the ratification of the 13 th Amendment to the Constitution

34 P. S. John Newton who is the author of the famous gospel hymn Amazing Grace was a captain of a slave ship for the Royal African Company until he found religion He was ordained a minister and spent his later years working to outlaw the slave trade

35 Amazing Grace Amazing grace! How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see. Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved; How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed.

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