A which could be marketed “especially because these

A
little over four-hundred years ago, the English sent colonists from their
country over to North America to set up economically advantageous shipping
grounds to help England prosper. In 1613, John Rolfe exported the first tobacco
crop from Virginia back to England. From there (after more colonies were
established), numerous amounts of new raw goods were being sent back to Europe.
Although beneficial for the European economy, those in the new colonies did not
want to strain themselves with the labor of harvesting the raw goods. The
desire of working less among the English colonists sprouted the rise of the
third leg of the Triangle Trade: the African Slaves. Although the goods being
transported back and forth from the colonies and Europe were important, the
transport of Slaves to the New England colonies was important as well, if not
the most important. Before explaining how the slave trade was crucial to the
Triangle Trade and how it helped the European economy, we must define the
Triangle Trade and explain what goods were sent to the colonies, Europe, and
Africa.

            The Triangle Trade (or under a
darker name, the Transatlantic Slave Trade) was a trade route of how goods, raw
and manufactured, and slaves were transported between the New England colonies,
Europe, and Africa. Like all other countries in the Old World, England’s goal
of establishing colonies in the New World and transporting goods back was to
bring wealth into the mainland. According to Felipe Chamon, author of the
article “The Transatlantic Slave Trade”, the Europeans of the Old World
realized how easy it was to transport raw goods from the English colonies back
to the mainland. The colonies sent coffee, “tobacco, sugarcane, and cotton” to
Europe, all of which could be marketed “especially
because these products were difficult to get in Europe”.1 In return
for these popular crops, manufactured goods such as guns, cloth, and other
items such as these were sent back to the colonies. Since the crops from the
New World were so difficult to get, Europeans often sold these goods at high
prices, bringing income into their countries; however, as the demand for the
raw goods of the New World increased, so did the amount of labor that went into
harvesting these crops. This overall demand required the import of slaves into
the colonies to be established, and in exchange for slaves being sent to the
colonies, the Europeans of the Old World would send textiles, guns, and other
manufactured goods to the

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European Slave Traders in Africa.

Map of the Triangle Trade
Route

            For the purpose of sending harvested
crops back to Europe with little delay, the English colonies began participating
in the African slave trade just as the Dutch, French, and Spanish had already begun,
for trying to enslave the Native Americans would
often backfire in either resistance from the tribes or mass deaths due to
overwork and disease. Bringing in the African slaves was the “second of three stages of the
so-called triangular trade…in which slaves were brought from Africa to
the Americas”, which heavily impacted the economies of the countries in Europe in
a positive way2. By bringing in
Africans to perform the excruciatingly daunting tasks of harvesting crops for
Europe, not only did the profits of Old World countries receiving the crop
increase immensely, but the problem of starvation plaguing Europe was also
solved. These benefits positively reinforced the act of engaging in slave trade;
this time period was recorded to be when the largest number of slaves were
taken to the Americas, for the when the number of slaves increased, the number
of each crop harvested increased- a positive correlation. With this said, it
became clear that the slave trade leg of the Triangle Trade quickly became the
defining aspect of the trade route, thus changing the name Triangle Trade to
Transatlantic Slave Trade. However, although this promoted growth in the Old
World, the way slaves were procured were inhumane and appalling.

Although
slavery promoted the growth of Europe and the demands of the people in the Old
World were becoming increasingly satisfied, slaves were treated terribly while
they were being transported from Africa to the New World. From an excerpt from
the book An Account of the Slave Trade on
the Coast of Africa, written by Alexander Falconbridge, a late surgeon in
the African Trade, it is admitted that the people of Africa were being
kidnapped as slaves and treated as animals. Falconbridge wrote how black
traders would “seize the unfortunate man and woman, and dragging them
into the ship, immediately selling them” as well as how “kings and
principle men breed negros for
sale, as we do cattle”.3 Clearly the Europeans of
the Old World thought they were superior to the persons of color they were
enslaving and thus treated them as no more than animals they could use and
abuse. The Transatlantic Slave Trade and dehumanizing treatment of the African
slaves lasted for centuries, which lead to much larger problems in the future
(i.e. the American Civil War).

Ultimately
it is clear that the Triangle Trade would have been nothing if it were not for
the slaves of Africa. Though the products coming out of the colonies and Europe
were important for the economies of Old World countries, none of the harvested crops
and manufactured goods would have been possible if it weren’t for the hard work
of the enslaved group of people. In the end, the name Triangle Trade
transitioned into the Transatlantic Slave Trade based off of how crucial the
slave link was to the transport of goods between the colonies and Europe; the
name also brought attention to how cruelly the African people were treated
during this time period. As a modern society, we need to understand that the
Triangle Trade was essentially created not only to benefit the European
economy, but to justify the action of reinforcing slavery for many years to
come.

           

 

1 Chamon,
Felipe, “The Transatlantic Slave Trade”, (Guided History by Boston University,
accessed January 23rd, 2018)

2
Lewis, Thomas, “Transatlantic slave trade” (Encyclopedia Britannica: January 5th,
2018)

3
Falconbridge, Alexander, An Account
of the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa, (London 1788), 15