One of the biggest blights of American History was the practice of legal slave trading and ownership during the days of the Atlantic-Slave Trade. The enforced migration of Africans to the Americas in conditions of slavery lasted from the middle of the sixteenth century until the 1860s and constituted the largest movement of people across the Atlantic until the middle of the nineteenth century. 1The repercussions of this practice are still felt to this day. Although slavery has been abolished it still exists today in underground forms of human trafficking, where people are bought and sold into slavery. This had a profound effect on people’s liberties and freedoms, as well as democracy back then and today.
The Atlantic Slave Trade or trans-Atlantic slave trade existed to satisfy the New World’s, need of labor and needed to supply for the huge demand of sugar, tobacco and rice to be able to trade with Europe.1 One thing that the New World lacked was a solid work force. In most cases the natives were unreliable (mainly because of deadly diseases brought over from Europe), and Europeans were not used to the climate and suffered because of the heat1. Africans, however, were excellent workers. They had plenty of experience of agriculture and taking care of cattle, they were used to a tropical climate, resistant to tropical diseases, and they could be "worked very hard" on plantations or in mines.1 This is why the Atlantic Slave trade came into play.
The Atlantic slave trade took place across the Atlantic Ocean from the 16th through to the 19th centuries. The majority of slaves transported to the New World were Africans, mostly from central and western Africa, sold by Africans to European slave traders who then transported them to North and South America. This stage of the Triangular Trade was called the Middle Passage. Most Africans struggled to make it thus far in the trade.
The “Middle Passage” was the deadly journey of slave trading ships that traveled from the coast of West Africa across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World. 3 The route was the most dangerous, longest and hardest journey of the Slave Trade. Africans were stripped of their freedom, and thrown into tightly packed ships, that stank and carried both horrible diseases and death.
On these slave ships, the captured Africans had no control over their own lives. The slave traders had complete control over them. For most of the day, slaves were kept in the bottom deck where Olaudah Eguinano describes, “Many a time we were near suffocation, from the want of fresh air, which we were often without whole days together3.” Below deck, slaves had little to no room, and they could not breathe fresh air. In the bottom deck, the slave traders also controlled what the slaves ate, drank, and what they did. Their diet was mostly horse beans and rice 4. Water was restricted to 24 ounces a day 5. Besides being told when to come on deck and when to eat, which was usually two times a day, the slavers forced the slaves to exercise or dance at times to maintain some physical stature 4. The Africans suffered from the lack of freedom, causing many to react. The most common reaction that occurred was suicide. They would either try and starve themselves, or jump over the boat with hopes of drowning in the Atlantic.6 This is because of their lack of freedom.
The captured slaves also had no rights of liberty. Meaning that this innocent, captured group of people had no power over what they can do with their lives. These slave masters controlled every aspect of their lives . The reason why the lack of liberty caused such an effect on this group of people is that they were treated awfully. It was and still is today inhumane on how these innocent people were treated this way.
Another big issue during the happening of the Atlantic-slave trade is democracy. Since it was the beginning of the new world, democracy was still trying to find its place.