Interesting information about the transatlantic slave trade.
British economist Malachy Postlethwayt makes a statement about the importance of the African slave trade to European commerce
“The trade of Africa, as well to the French as the English, is the great foundation of their American commerce and navigation, as that alone supplies both nations with negroe- labourers to cultivate their west india colonies for sugars, indigo, cocoa, cotton, pimento, and all other estimable productions of the sugar colonies: and the commerce and navigation of America being the life and spirit of French European commerce; if England strikes at the root of the French African trade, she of course, cuts off the very stamina of the enemies trade and navigation to Europe as well as America.” The importance of the African expedition considered
By Malachy Postlethwayt pg ii
Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas, Spanish chronicler, highlights how great of workers the Africans were.
Como se llevasen muchos Negros de Guinea, porque era mas util el trabajo de un Negro, que de quatro indios."They took a lot of Negroes from Guinea because they were more useful. The work of one Negro was equal to that of four Indians" Decada I libro IX cap. V pg 223 Historia general de los hechos de los castellanos en las islas i tierra firme del mar oceano by Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas
The Europeans instigated and promoted the African slave trade in Africa
"That the Europeans were far from desiring to act as peacemakers among the Negroes(Africans); which would be acting contrary to their interest, since the greater the wars, the more slaves were procured" Andrew Brue, director of the Senegal Company
Homosexuality was introduced into Africa by the Europeans
William smith a English surveyor talks to a man named Charles wheeler who stayed in Africa for ten years. He said he had never heard of homosexuality or bestiality among the Africans.
"All the time i lived here (Africa), i never once heard of those detestable and unnatural crimes of sodomy and bestiality, so much practice among Christians (Europeans)" pg 248
William smith also accounts from his black female servant that homosexuality was introduced into Africa by the Europeans "the inhabitants of which, by the conflux of Europeans, of different nations residing among them, had learnt their vices, and particularly that detestable and unnatural one of sodomy." she goes on to say that the town of these inhabitants were destroyed by the African king " but he (king) fearing that their unnatural vices would communicate themselves to the other parts of his dominions, he commanded his chief captains to lead forth his army, and to destroy the inhabitants of this place both men, women, and children." pg 257-258
A new voyage to Guinea: describing the customs, manners, soil, manual arts ... By William Smith (surveyor.)
According to peter martyr, the Spaniards found Africans in Panama before their arrival. They were reported to be prisoners of war to the native Americans.
"mancipia ibi nigra repererunt ex regione distante a quarequa dierum spacio tantum duorum quae solos gignit nigritas, eos feroces atque admodum truces. ex aethiopia putant traiecisse quondam latrocinii causa nigritas, inque illis montibuus naufragos fixisse peden. cum his nigris odia excercent intestina quarequani, & sese servitio addicunt vicissim aut trucidant.
"The Spaniards found negro slaves in this province. they only live in a region one day's march from Quarequa, and they are fierce and cruel. it is thought that negro pirates of Ethiopia established themselves after the wreck of their ships in these mountains. The natives of Quarequa carry on incessant war with these Negroes. massacre or slavery is the alternate fortune of the two people." peter martyr Decadas III book I pg 71
The most rebellious slave on the plantation was the one directly from Africa.
"The Negroes that most rebel, are those brought from guinea, who have been inured to war and hardship all their lives; few born here (Carolina), or in other provinces have been guilty of these vile practices, except over-persuaded by the former (African), whose designs they have sometimes discovered to the christians (whites); some of whom have been rewarded with their freedom for their good services; but the reader must observe, that they are not allowed to be witnesses in any cases whatever, only against one another." The Natural History of North Carolina by John Brickell, John Lawson, J. Bryan Grimes 1737 pg. 247
The African slave trade cost the European nothing. (The Europeans did not pay for slaves)
"Our trade with Africa is very profitable to the nation in general; it has this advantage, that it carries no money out , and not only supplies our plantations with servants, but brings in a great deal of bullion (Gold and silver) for those that are sold to the Spanish west indies, beside gold dust, and other commodities, as red wood, teeth (ivory), guinea grain,&. some of which are re-exported. The supplying our plantations with Negroes is of that extraordinary advantage to us, that the planting sugar and tobacco, and carrying on trade there could not be supported without them; which plantations, as i have elsewhere observed, are the great causes of the increase of riches to the kingdom (England)." The Trade and Navigation of Great Britain considered... by Joshua Gee pg 25
When the Europeans first arrived in Africa, they came in as slave raiders and not slave traders. Gomes Eanes de Zurara documents the Europeans first arrival in west Africa and how they raided the coast for slaves.
This is a must read for those who are interested in knowing how the enslavement of Africans started.
This a primary source
Benjamin Franklin was opposed to the slave trade because he feared that blacks would eventually take over America.
"Why increase the sons of Africa, by planting them in America, where we have so fair an opportunity, by excluding all blacks and Tawnys, of increasing the lovely white and red? But perhaps I am partial to the complexion of my country, for such kind of partiality is natural to mankind." Benjamin Franklin : The increase of mankind and the peopling of countries
George Washington the first president of the USA said the revolutionary war depended on the African american population
"We must use the Negroes or run the risk of loosing the war . . .success will depend on which side can arm the Negroes faster." George Washington to Colonel Henry Lee. December 20 1775 letter
According to Mungo park, the Africans in the interior thought the Europeans were cannibals because of the slave trade.
"They were all very inquisitive; but they viewed me at first with looks of horror, and repeatedly asked if my countrymen were cannibals. They were very desirous to know what became of the slaves after they had crossed the salt water (the Atlantic) . I told them that they were employed in cultivating the land, but they would not believe me; and one of them, putting his hand upon the ground, said, with great simplicity, "have you really got such ground as this to set your feet upon?" A deeply rooted idea that whites purchase Negroes for the purpose of devouring them, or of selling them to others, that they may be devoured hereafter, naturally makes the slaves contemplate a journey towards the coast with great terror, insomuch that the slatees (slave dealers) are forced to keep them constantly in irons, and watch them very closely to prevent their escape." The travels of Mungo park by mungo park pg 244-245
Alexander Hamilton confirms that the Louisiana purchase was due to the Haitian revolution.
"To the deadly climate of St. Domingo (Haiti), and to the courage and obstinate resistance made by its black inhabitants, we are indebted for the obstacles which delayed the colonization of Louisiana,” (Hamilton 130)
Purchase of Louisiana, [5 July 1803] Alexander Hamilton
The earliest and most serious slave rebellion in the so called New World occurred
on December 25, 1522 on the Spanish Caribbean colony of Hispaniola (Espanola),
which is modern day Dominican Republic and Haiti. Approximately thirty years after
Columbus first landed, slaves attempted to gain their freedom. Led by slaves from
the Wolof tribe brought from Senegal in West Africa, approximately 40 slaves
working on the sugar plantation of Governor Admiral Don Diego Colón, the son of
Christopher Columbus, conspired with other slaves working on nearby plantations. On
Christmas night, they struck, killing at least 9 white settlers on a nearby
plantation. After the rebellion was put down, many of the rebels managed to flee
and escape to the mountains where they would formed independent maroon communities.
Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo documents the rebellion.
(According to tradition, Diego Columbus himself was only saved by flight)
portrait of Diego Columbus
Not all African slaves were bought
Sir john Hawkins kidnapped 300 Africans
“Master john Hawkins, coming upon the coast of Sierra Leone, staid for some time; and partly by the sword, and partly by other means, got into his possession three hundred Negroes at the least.”
Voyages of the Elizabethan Seamen to America: Thirteen Original Narratives by Richard Hakluyt pg 8
Two years later, Sir John Hawkins destroys many African towns to obtain slaves.
"Two years after he (John Hawkins) went another voyage on coast of Guinea ; there he staid several days at the island of Sabula (Sambula?), where every day they took some of the inhabitants; burning and ravaging their towns: when compleated their number of Negroes, they set sail for the west indies."
The Naval History of England in all its branches from the Norman Conquest in the year 1066 to the conclusion of 1734 by Thomas lediard pg 141
Leave a reply