Western Africa As A Major Source Of Slaves For The Americas

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Western Africa as a major source of slaves for the Americas When in the middle of the fifteenth century the Portuguese, originally in search of gold, exported the first slaves from West-Africa, a decade of African oppression and dependency on the European colonisers began. During the time of mercantilism most of the West-African slaves ended up as plantation workers in the American colonies. Reasons for the so-called black holocaust as well as the West-African history from the beginning of slavetrade till ist final abolition in the mid nineteenth century you can find in this essay In the fifteenth century Portugal was the dominating power in the world. When the first Portuguese reached the West-African coast they were mainly interested in tropical goods as ivory, pepper, gum and, above all, gold. First trading stations were established. But soon they discovered another useful source they could get from this region: cheap workforce in form of slaves. The next 150 years Portugal imported slaves, mainly from the Kongo-Angola region, to work in Europe or already on American plantations. In the 17th century a new kind of economic ideology, called mercantilism, spread from Western Europe. Mercantilism was a system to strenghten the national economy and guarantee gradual growth. Therefore every country should have their own colonies. The idea was to import raw materials from the colonies, manufacture them and send the manufactured goods back to the colonies. Out of the idea of mercantilism new worlds powers as Holland, Britain and France developed. They occupied new colonies in Central and South America and also had trading stations along the West-African coast. Now how was it that slavetrade between West-Africa and America rose so rapidly and became so profitable? After a short period of time the European colonisers found cheaper and easier ways og getting tropical products which led to a trade deficit with Africa. African leaders were highly dependent on the wealth they got from trading with the Europeans and so they looked for other items Europeans might be interested in. This question was easily answered. When the colonisers found out that the Caribbean Islands were very suitable for the cultivation of sugar, they built many plantations there. But natives were not able to work on these farms. Many of them died because of European diseases such as the small pox, or simply fled. Europeans weren?t able either, because they couldn?t handle with the tropical climate. The perfect workforce for the plantations was found in black slaves from Africa. As the Europeans discovered the usefulness of sugar as a sweetener, the demand for this tropical product rose and equally the demand for the black slaves from Africa. This was the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade. The transatlantic slave trade was a kind of circle system. Slaves were shipped from Africa to America to work on the plantations, sugar was imported from America to Europe and Europe ...

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