Saturday, 24 March 2012


Europeans tried in the 15th century to find a route to the east and with that the history of slave trade, by the Europeans, began. Not oblivious at first, at that stage, but looking back it was the first step towards it.
When they were looking for that route to the east, they came to Africa and discovered America.
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to land on the west coast of Africa. After colonizing several of the Atlantic Islands, they set up trading post at Elimina on the mainland in 1481. It serviced to trade with the local people for gold and silver.
In the 16th century Portuguese and many other Europeans set up trade posts along West Africa.  At the end of the 16th century 31 trade posts were set up along the Guinea coast.  By that time the dirty trade of slavery began.



The American colonies were desperate for labour and the new settlers were greedy. The American natives were made to work in sugar plantations and silver mines but in terrible conditions. Those who refused were slaughtered and others died of diseases which the European brought with them. The population declined and the demand for labour grew. Therefore the Portuguese started to bring over African slaves.
In the 17th century the English established its first colony in Virginia. It was a centre for tobacco farming. The French started to colonize on the mainland as well as Martinique and Guadeloupe. They grew sugar-cane.



At first the European traders were opportunist and adventurers. They simply kidnapped a few Africans from West Africa. When demand grew in the 17th century it started to change into a regular trade. They exchange guns and alcohol for African slaves. Even some African chiefs saw the chance of getting rich and made sure the human cargo was there to be loaded onto the ships.
Europeans increased the demands and they organized raiding parties further afield. They dragged many thousands of men, women and children out of their homes. When there was a war between two kingdoms, which wasn't seldom, the prisoner-of-war were sold to the slave traders. The Europeans knew that the Africans were eager to have firearms which they willing supplied for human cargo.
The newly captured slaves were herded to the forts on the coast. Of course, all bound and chained. Many died before they reached there. Then they were tightly backed into pens, barracoons, inside the fort. They had to wait sometimes for weeks or even months there until the salve trader, known as captain, came and bought them.
On board of the ship they were chained below in cramped conditions. There was no room to stand up. A few washing facilities and buckets for their toilets. Diseases spread quickly in the stinking hold. The journey could last about seven week in good weather. It is not known how many were shipped but a good estimate was about 12 millions and about one million died on the journey.
After that came the slave life on the plantations. The owners had only one idea that they were there to work. They cut sugar-cane in the Caribbean, dug the fields of tobacco, rice farms in the USA, cooked, sewed, drove carriages and shod horses. The reward for all that was ill-treatment. They handed out terrible punishment like whipping, mutilation or even killed them.
They had no rights or very few and the owner who saw them just as a possession, bought them or sold them.
However, the slaves did not just take everything what was handed out to them. They pretended not to understand, broke farm machinery or 'went slow'. They built strong family network to get support. Their religion which styled a new Christianity uniquely to their own. There were many slave rebellions. The 1791 rebellion in Haiiti overthrew the white rule.
In Britain the Quakers and Methodists started to speak out against slavery in the 17th century. In the 18th century the public opinion was widely spread to stop slavery. In 1787, an Abolition Society was formed and they campaigned for the abolition of slave trade but not slavery. Thomas Clarkson collected information from sailor who worked on the slave ships and MP William Wilberforce used that information to make it legal.
In 1807 the abolition of the slave trade became law. The USA followed in 1808 and France in 1814. However, slavery remained. In the British West Indies were 600,000 slaves. In 1833 the Emancipation Act was finally passed which stated that all children under six were free, house slave freed in four years and all field slaves in six years. In the meantime they would carry on working without pay. This caused problems and in 1838 all slaves were freed.
The anti-slave movement started in the USA and by 1827 the Northern states with many people living in cities and working in factories, the slavery was abolished. The Southerners who had slave working in the plantation opposed the abolition. In 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected as president.
The South refused to accept the President Lincoln and 11 states broke away from the USA. In 1861 Civil War broke out. Slaves escaped to join the Northern Army. On 1 January 1863 Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. After the war in 1865 the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was introduced. Slavery was illegal throughout the USA.
To separate the seed from the cotton fibre by hand was a lengthy process. That was the reason cotton wasn't grown widely. In 1793 an American inventor Eli Whitney devised the cotton gin. The machine carried out this task. After that cotton was grown widely. This again demanded a great labour-force. Cotton became a great profit and it was called 'King Cotton'.

At the time when slavery existed and accepted the landowners were sons of rich families going out there to get rich. They were spoiled all their lives and thought they were something high above, even in their own country.
Furthermore, a lot of cruelties came from overseers who weren't very bright and felt powerful. Both groups didn't know any better, but for a few who had really manners. But that is all history and supposed to be history.
However, these people were taken from their homeland and families in the most cruel way and shipped worst than pigs. From generation to generation they still longed for the homeland which is understandable. At the beginning of the 20th century the blues became known and it shows after three or four generation the longing is still there and why not.
What is not acceptable anymore that they still being put down on a lower level. Even now in the 21st century atrocities are happening and only because they are black. Surely by now the white man should be a bit further in their manners and education. They forget that these people earned them a magnificent wealth for their families and country under the most terrible conditions.
I am not black but any prejudice is hurtful because there is nothing you can do about it. They weren't asked how they wanted to be born and neither were the whites. These ignorant whites use it because they know they have one over them because there is nothing to fight back with.


  1. "They were spoiled all of their lives"? You would think that people that feel they can call others Racist, they would know not to lump all people in one sterotype. Now that is Racist!!

  2. Thank you, Anonymous, for your visit and your interesting comment.