The History of Triangular Trade

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1. Describe the key elements of the Triangular trade

What continents did this trade connect?

Slave trade connected the three continents of Africa, Europe and America hence triangular trade. Each of these continents played independent role such as; Africa acted as source of labor in form of slavery, Americas offered agricultural plantations while Europe who was the master of the trade acted as the owners of the plantation, suppliers of labour and various products associated with the trade.

What European powers were active in the slave trade?

Spain and Portugal were the first European powers who organized the slave trade but they were later joined by France, Italy, Britain, and the Netherlands. Britain however became the world leading power in slave trade (Hardy, 2014).

What were the significant commodities that were exchanged in the global trade?

The commodities that were exchanged in the global trade included; sugar, iron tools, lumber, chains, rope, sail cloth, naval supplies, barrels, metal fittings, rum, wine, indigo, molasses, tobacco, flour, guns, gold, rice, pots and pans, tea, salted fish, furniture, china dishes, textile, silverware, beads, glass, and slaves.

Europeans moved to Africa to reward and trade with some African kings and communities with brass pans, cotton, and guns in exchange for slaves and other valuables. Plantation owners then bought slaves from slave owners using suitable cutleries and hardware. Slaves would then work in the plantations owned by the Europeans to cultivate various products like tobacco, sugar, indigo, rice, rum, and cotton which the captains would then carry back to Europe.

2. What were the lucrative agricultural crops cultivated in the Americans for this trade

American had rich agricultural lands that favored the growth of sugarcane, cotton, tobacco, rice and indigo. These crops greatly contributed to the success of European economies and the retention of farming skills within America.

Explain how the American colonies helped the development of large scale agriculture

Americas was the destination of slaves from African who were to work within the sugar plantations. These slaves also came from the background where they were some skills in farming which would then prove useful in large scale agriculture. These slaves were also given little care by their white masters who particularly gave them little food after hard work and this gave them opportunity to utilized small parcels of ground that they were given. These tough conditions also gave them great hopes in agriculture as their only means of survival (Hardy, 2014).

To the Americas who were somehow free after the blacks took over farm duties, agriculture already became part of their culture and farming dictated their daily activities.  This meant that they replaced such activities like animal hunting and fruit gathering with small scale and large scale farming.  Soon after the exit of Europeans from the Americas, they left behind large skilled labor that would then take agriculture seriously to support their lives (Goucher et al. 1998).

3. Describe how sugar cultivation (and other commodities crops) led to the development of large scale agriculture

The history of Triangular Trade is directly connected to the production of sugar that led to the history of slavery and the exchange of labor and capital over the three continents. Production and trade of sugar became profitable due to higher prices it fetched. European investors like Portuguese therefore invested in the Caribbean and Brazil to expand the cultivation of sugar (Goucher et al. 1998). The increased demand of sugar also created other uses of sugar such as being a sweetener for coffee and tea. This in turn promoted the production of such correlated agricultural products. This eventually led to the development of large scale agriculture.

4. Describe the impact of the Triangular Trade on Europe’s economy

Europeans were the colonial masters during the 16th and 19th

centuries and they conquered vast lands within the Americas that they turned into agricultural purpose (Goucher et al. 1998). Before this time bee was the major source of sugar until the demand of sugar led to the first growth of sugarcane on the coast of Mediterranean until it was finally introduced in the Americas. The higher demand for sugar led also to an increase in demand of its correlated products like tea, coffee, and cocoa. So as to meet these high demands, European increased the production of sugar by sourcing laborers from Africa. Europeans therefore benefitted from low cost of labour and agricultural products were thus produced at low cost. The mass agricultural production resulted in large profit margins to the Europeans. Slaves thus produced large amounts of sugarcanes from which raw sugar, molasses and rum were manufactured. A lot of wealth was also acquired by the European powers by selling the slaves to other buyers.

Another great impact of the Triangular Trade to the economy of Europe is the benefit it gained from control the trade. European controlled trade contact between Europe to Africa, Africa to Americas and Caribbean, Caribbean to America and then Americas to Europe. This gave the European the monopoly of trade as only the European merchants were required for the shipment and supply of slaves and goods produced by the slaves. This kind of economic dominance not only gave Europe huge returns on investment but it also left Europe with merchants with large capital for investment and great entrepreneurial skills.

Works Cited

Goucher, Candice, LeGuin, Charles, & Walton, Linda, “Commerce and Change: The Creation of a Global Economy and the Expansion of Europe,” in In the Balance: Themes in Global History (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1998), 491–508.

Hardy, William, ‘The Rise and Fall of the Slave Trade,’ Open Learn, 25th February 2014.

November 24, 2023


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