African slaves were treated like belongings, so that the Americans could benefit.
Slavery had always existed in Africa but once the trade started it increased greatly. The trade began due to labor needed in Spain's American empire. There were three legs to this trade. On the first leg merchant ships brought goods to Africa to be traded for slaves, on the second leg slaves were transported to the west indies and there they were exchanged for sugar type products, and on the third leg the sugar products were shipped to Europe or European colonies. The middle passage was the worst because hundreds of people would be packed below the deck of the ship. Normally half of the Africans on the ship would die. Families were very hurt by all the deaths in their families.
The transatlantic slave trade was normally followed in a triangular pattern. They traveled from Europe to Africa and through the Middle Passage, which took 6-8 weeks. People traded slaves for goods such as sugar a coffee beans.
For four centuries the Africans lived in fear and hatred. From the 15th century to the 19th century they were traded as slaves. These slaves would walk thousands of miles to get to the ships. Many would die on their way from lack of shelter or food. They would travel across the Atlantic for 60-90 days.
The identity of a slave was taken away, they only got to be known as a slave with no other name. They could vary from farmers, merchants, priests, soldiers, goldsmiths, and musicians. Most were also part of a family, but the only name they got was "slave."
Africans lived a very painful and shocking life. They went through painful deaths and beating, extreme sickness and watching family die. On occasion they had their families taken away from them to work somewhere else. Working from dusk to dawn every day without pay, many were ready to give up.
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Chapter 16, Section 4, “Turbulent Centuries in Africa,” p. 398-402