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Atlantic Slavery Essay The origins of Atlantic slave trade date back to 16 th century, when Portugal began to establish a permanent trade posts on Western coast of Africa. At the same time, there was a huge shortage of laborers in the newly discovered areas of New World. European settlers tried to enslave Native Americans first, but they proved to be poor slaves, often preferring to commit suicide then to lose their freedom. At the same time, Portuguese merchants in Africa were being approached by the local tribal leaders, who offered slaves in exchange for the commodities of European civilization, such as guns.
The article Atlantic Slave Trade, which can be found at Wikipedia web site, tells us: Europeans usually bought slaves who were captured in wars between African kingdoms and chiefdom's, or from Africans who had made a business out of capturing Africans and selling them. (Wikipedia). In other words, the legacy of slavery existed in Africa long before the arrival of Europeans. Thus, Portugal was the first European nation, which began to profiteer from selling African slaves to Americas. When profitability of slave trade became obvious, the other European nation became involved in it, as well. By 17 th century, slave trade became an important part of colonial countries economies. Holland, England, France and Spain were actively taking advantage of this new type of trade.
Therefore, it appears that the real reason why civilized European nations found it morally acceptable to trade human beings, was purely economical. As practice shows, the considerations of morality come secondary, during any kind of economic activity. Atlantic slave trade was not the exception. This is why it is wrong to think of slave trade in terms of genocide, as many Black historians do. There was only one way for the Black people, at the time, to add to the progress of human civilization to become slaves, because it is the trade that stimulates the scientific and cultural progress. Basically, Black people in Africa, back then, had only one choice whether to be shipped to Americas as slaves, or to continue killing each other in countless tribal wars, while not benefiting anybody.
The slave trade, at the time, was being often referred to as triangular trade. Various goods, such as guns and industrial products were being brought to Africa from Europe. There, they would be exchanged for slaves, who would be put on the same ships and taken to a New World. After this, the ships would be loaded up with colonial goods, such as tobacco, sugar and cotton to be brought to Europe. Thus, the profit could be made 3 times during one round trip. Nevertheless, it goes without saying that Atlantic slave trade is strongly associated with unimaginable brutality.
It is estimated that around 12 million people were being shipped from Africa as slaves, up until year 1800. The slave quarters on ships were often overcrowded, thus adding to the rise of mortality among enslaved people. Only 80 %- 70 % of transported slaves on each ship would survive the trip, which could last for months. Slaves were being a subject of inhuman treatment, while en route, because it was believed that only this would break down their spirit. Cristiane Taubira-Delannon in her article The Slave Trade: a Crime Against Humanity says: There is no possible way to really measure the horror of the slave trade and the abomination of slavery. Logbooks, since they were tampered with, do not reveal the extent of forays, the sufferings of exhausted and aghast children, the desperate and utter confusion of women, the utter distress of men.
They do not mention the terrible groans of the slaves who were thrown overboard ballasted. They deny the rape of terrified young girls (Taubira-Delannon). The Christian religion played very important role in justifying slave trade, from the ethical point of view. Black people were being referred to as the descendants of Ham, who was cursed by God.
According to the Christian fable, Hams descendants were doomed to remain as other nations servants. Modern Christians try look away from the fact that their holy book contains endorsement of slavery; nevertheless, it is a fact. Morton Smith and Josef Hoffman in their book What the Bible Really Says are making a good point about Christian religion being collectively responsible for encouraging slave trade by saying: There is no reasonable doubt that the New Testament, like the Old, not only tolerated chattel slavery (the form prevalent in the Greco-Roman world of Pauls time) but helped to perpetuate it by making the slaves obedience to their masters a religious duty (Morton, Hoffman, p. 145). Another factor, which made Atlantic slave trade possible, is the fact that Africans were not being considered by Europeans as humans, in full sense of this word. Their primitive ways of living caused many Europeans to suggest that Black people will be much better off, if they become part of Western civilization, even if this involved their enslavement. This argument was not altogether deprived of logic.
Nowadays, the descendents of Black slaves in America enjoy much higher living standards than their brethren's in Africa. Sometimes they travel to Africa in search of their spiritual roots, but as practice shows, they rarely want to come back again. There is no denying that Atlantic slave trade resulted in immeasurable amounts human suffering. However, it was legal at the time. Slavery helped to establish the economies of every country in North and South America, with probable exemption of Canada. There are many things that are not moral, but nevertheless, they are necessary.
For example, a lot of people get deported from America today, often to their deaths, because of their illegal status this is immoral practice, but it is legal. The same was with Atlantic slave trade. Therefore, it is wrong to over dramatize this issue, especially given the fact that it happened centuries ago. History is not a fairy tale; it has always been a constant struggle between nations and races for the place under the sun. It is important to understand that Atlantic slave trade was bound to be established, during the colonial times. This is why we need to think of it as regrettable, but fully explainable part of our history, instead of referring to it as genocide and demand monetary compensation.
Bibliography: Atlantic Slave Trade. 2007. Wikipedia. 2 Mar. 2007. web Jackson, Thomas What is Racism? . 2 May. 2001. Racialist Library. Stormfront. 2 Mar. 2007 web Smith, Morton and Hoffman, Joseph. What the Bible Really Says.
Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1989. Outsiders around Africa: 16 th century AD. 2007. History World. 2 Mar. 2007. web Taubira-Delannon, Cristiane The Slave Trade: a Crime against Humanity. 2000. Christiane Taubira.
Org. 2 Mar. 2007. http: // 209. 85. 135. 104 /search? q = cache: egypt-view: web
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