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Slave traders mainly transported enslaved Africans from Africa to other parts of the globe, particularly the Americas, as part of the transatlantic slave trade. The slaves were also sold in the nations to which they had been moved as part of this enterprise. Slave trade took place between the 16th and 19th centuries, and the middle passage of the triangle-shaped trade route was used by the slave merchants. The majority of the African slaves who participated in the trade were kidnapped by their fellow Africans in the West African countries and some in the Central African countries. And a small number of the slaves was captured directly by the European slave traders who conducted small coastal raids.
The transatlantic slave trade grew regarding size and profitability over the centuries and as it was being practiced. New ways of performing the business were developed, and the methods that could be used to improve profitability were also deduced. It was easier to carry the trade and make more profits (Tannenbaum n.p).
The European and American traders were engaged in barter trade with the local Africans in West African countries. They exchanged their goods with Negro slaves. Most of the goods that were used in the barter trade were obtained from England, the slave merchant, the ships, capital, and sailors were drawn from the rich countries that had powerful commercial strengths and that had boats on the sea. Large amounts of money were used in the slave trade, and there was a ready market for the slaves. Plantation farms in countries such as France show their profits grow because they were utilizing the labor that was being offered by these slaves. An example of how the market profits surged for the merchants that took part in the trade can be seen from Liverpool. According to Tannenbaum, Liverpool had 878 ships that were involved in the slave trade, and the ships were used between 1783 and 1793. The slaves who were shipped by the boats provided by Liverpool were 303, 737 and the value of all these transactions were £15,186,850. The gross profit returns for Liverpool were $12,294,116 this is after all the deductions of commissions and other charges that were incurred during the trade have been made. The merchants could make a profit of 30% on every slave that they were selling. Because of the high returns that were being made from the trade, many people in Liverpool joined in the business and even some small traders. Everyone in Liverpool had a share in the trade. Due to the trade, many industries were opened in the England and other countries, and the industries were to produce the goods that were to be used in the barter trade. Both the market and economic sectors were expanding due to the business. The importance of the slaves has been looked at, and the slaves are accredited to developing some of the Great Britain cities such as Liverpool. Their contribution to the growth of industries and the industrial revolution has also been noted.
Nzinga Mbemba was the King of Kongo, and he had embraced the Portuguese culture. He even agreed to be converted to Christianity and became a Catholic, after baptism, he changed his name to Afonso. He allowed the Portuguese priests to spread their message throughout his kingdom and also approved the use of the Portuguese products. The products were brought into the Kongo kingdom by a Portuguese sailor who had come into the territory earlier before he returned with the products and the priests. Afonso was baptized together with his son whom he sent to Portugal to be educated; he later became a Catholic bishop. King Afonso of Kongo embraced the religion that was being spread by the Portuguese because he believed that the values of the Catholic church were proper. He agreed to allow the Portuguese to traverse his kingdom and carry out their trading expeditions (Letter of Nzinga Mbemba (Afonso) of Kongo to the King of Portugal, 1526. 34). However, the nation of Alonso began to diminish as the decades went by and the Portuguese made more inroads into the territory. The Portuguese used ruthless methods to conduct trade in the kingdom and to capture slaves. Because of this, King Afonso wrote to the King of Portugal in 1526 urging him to control his people who were trading in his territory. He wanted the King of Portugal to respect their alliance and ensure that they should follow the guidelines of the Catholic church. The letter that was written by King Afonso to protest the activities of the Portuguese in his kingdom.
Viewing human slaves as a commercial product was consequential, there was no respect for the rights of the people who were being traded as slaves. Their family members and other people who depended on them could feel the pain of losing their beloved ones. Because of the disregard of their human rights, the conditions in which they were shipped were not proper (History. 19.3 Documents Concerning the Slave Ship Sally n.p). The working conditions were also poor, the slaves worked without being paid, and there were no incentives that could help them in case they were faced with any problem. The slaves were viewed as commercial products, and because of this, many of the captured slaves were active men and women who could have helped in developing the countries and kingdoms that they had been caught. One of the consequences of this approach was the deterioration of kingdoms, for instance, the Kongo kingdom. From the documents, it can be seen that the trade was extensive and profitable. Many people were involved in the business, and many benefits were obtained from the trade. Because of the transatlantic trade, the industrial revolution was started, the economic growth and the development of several cities in the world. There were many economic benefits of the business and the way that it influenced the lives of the people. This is according to Tannenbaum's excerpt; however, the other documents express a different view on how the trade was made. They present the business as an exceedingly brutal undertaking that negatively affected the lives of the people who were involved in the trade. Apart from the Tannenbaum’s article, the other documents describe the business as cruel and that which destroyed the lives of many people in the West African countries and other kingdoms that took part in the trade. Even if there were several benefits of the trade as presented in the document by Tannenbaum, there are also many adverse effects that were caused by the business, and that led to the destruction of lives of many people.
Frank Tannenbaum, "The African Slave Trade," excerpt from his 1946 book.
Source for Patterns of the Worlds History. 19.3 Documents Concerning the Slave Ship Sally, Rhode Island, 1765.
Source for Patterns of the Worlds History. Letter of Nzinga Mbemba (Afonso) of Kongo to the King of Portugal, 1526.
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