In the 1500’s Europeans began to think that slaves were the most important item of African trade. The Atlantic slave trade began in the 1500’s because they needed labor in Spain’s American Empire. Each year, trader ship tens of thousands of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic to work on tobacco and sugar plantations in America. When slaves were traded, they were exchanged for textiles, metalwork, rum, tobacco, weapons, and gunpowder. Slave trade increased as people wanted slaves in America and people wanted luxury goods in Africa. The Atlantic slave trade formed one part of a three legged trade network known as the Triangular Trade. The first leg was where merchant ships brought goods to Africa to be traded for slaves. The second leg or the Middle Passage was when the slaves were transported to the West Indies. On the third leg, products like sugar, and molasses that were exchanged for slaves were shipped to European colonies in America. For African Slaves, the Middle Passage was a nightmare. Africans were put below the decks of slave ships. These African women, men, and children were crammed which caused disease from brutal mistreatment. In the 1500’s, historians estimated about 2,000 African Slaves were sent to America to work on farms. The 1780’s about 80,000 Slaves were sent to America which made a huge increase. Slave trade finally stopped in the 1800’s. An estimate of 11 million went to America to work and about 2 million died. The Slave trade caused the decline of some African states and the ride of others.