Slaves were Brought to the Americas, who Benefited?

When the Europeans branched out to develop the New World, they did so with the accepted work force that they had been using. Slavery for the Europeans was already a precedented fact of life and they saw no difference in utilizing this method for North America. This was a familiar arrangement, the use of indentured servants, and they saw no reason not to continue this labor system. Slaves were brought to the Americas, who benefited?

Among Africans and Arabs of the Middle Eastern region slave trading was no way new, what was new, however, were the voyages through the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas. Before 1492 slaves were shipped from West Africa to Europe with their primary market being the Atlantic islands which were owned by Spain and Portugal. However, new colonies were discovered, the Americas, and they needed a labor force. This new development brought a more intensified need for and new forms of slavery. The Europeans and the African Kings and merchants along the coastlines of Africa developed new relationships that benefited themselves. The number of slaves being sent were not enough, the demand grew due to the economic uptick in the mining industry and crop development in the Americas, kidnapping and forced captivity intensified in Africa with alarming speed. One of the first to benefit from the transatlantic slave trade was the African traders, the Kings and merchants, which led them to being extremely economically superior. Transatlantic trade to the Americas progression and development might have debilitated West Africans by harming their own people to an extent they did not understand along with making them economically dependent on foreign countries, as they still are today.[footnoteRef:1] [1: Engerman, L.S. and Inikori, E.J. (1992). Introduction: Gainers and Losers in the Atlantic Slave Trade. In S. Engerman and J Inikori (Ed), The Atlantic Slave Trade Effects of Economies, Societies, and Peoples, in Africa, the Americas, and Europe, (1-17). Durham and London: Duke University Press.

With this forced migration to the New World, the rich soil and tobacco growth exploding, was an economic gold mine as both tobacco and slaves became a hot commodity. The Europeans, through agreement with the Africans, began in 1619 to ship slaves to the first British colony of Virginia. The Transatlantic Slave Trade gushed money in Britain and other European countries so much so that it changed their fundamental make up forever. Slavery and trade made men rich, those men built huge extravagant mansions which in turn made the crafters of said mansions in high demand, which made them very well off. These men of wealth established banks, which in turn financed new businesses, which in turn made others wealthy as well. This was a circle of wealth and privilege spawned from slave trade.[footnoteRef:2] [2: Butel, Paul. The Atlantic. London: Routledge, 2002. Accessed February 28, 2019. ProQuest Ebook Central. Accessed February 28, 2019.]

The difference between the slave trading before the colonies and after was not only in the way the slaves were treated, but also that they were chattel slaves. In the time before there was a more kinship and flexible system, there was a chance that you could work your way out of being indentured and becoming a free person. They were also not always separated from their biological families or familiar homes and lands on a permanent basis. However, this system changed with a harsher, more extreme form of slavery system, the chattel slavery. These people’s lives meant nothing but a commodity, and an expendable one at that, they were purchased and sold in huge numbers leaving them as less than human beings. They were separated from their families and shipped across vast geographical regions. Unfortunately, these slaves were not treated with kinship, but to the whims of the owners. They could be treated as their owner wished, with severity and punishment, kindness and understanding, with or without rewards for good service; however, more often than not it depended on the temperament of their masters. The plantation owners reaped the benefits of these slaves through trade and their demanded hard work. As babies were born, they were born as slaves leaving them to be sold or put to work as desired by the owner, thus bringing in another benefit. [footnoteRef:3] [3: “The Atlantic Slave Trade | Colonialism, Slavery, and Race.” Accessed March 1, 2019.]

If we put slavery into the context of the time, we can see how desensitized the African Kings and merchants, the Europeans, and even the colonist in the Americas were. European’s had been dealing in slave trade since the early 1500’s, this was very cheap labor. Slavery was metamorphically the rudder on the ship that the transatlantic economy depended on. Large profits were made by all, the African Kings and merchants would make approximately 4 dollars’ worth of trade goods for each enslaved African, the Europeans total income tax from the colonies for goods was approximately 70%. Who profited, all three points of the triangle made great profits; salve ship owners from Britain made extremely large sums of money, the British slave trader that bought and sold these enslaved Africans, the Plantation owner whose crops were tended and harvested by an unpaid work, that if you add this fact along with the tobacco, rice, etc., income, these owners became very rich indeed. The factory owners in Britain who had a tremendous market for their goods, not to mention the building of industrial sugar plants to refine the imported raw sugar. Glassware was needed for the rum and other items to be bottled in, ordinary people who now had good paying jobs to keep up with demand, banks and bankers that were needed to hold the riches and finance the merchants, not to mention the fees and interest income; it was a never-ending profitable circle.[footnoteRef:4] [4: “Teachinghistory.Org.” Accessed March 1, 2019.]

The Americas slavery was defined by the chattel slave, however, as previously stated not all slaves were treated the same. If you were fortunate enough to go a large plantation, most slave workers were allowed to finish their assignment and then have the rest of the day free of white supervision. However, on the smaller farms, these slaves were not so lucky. They faced more scrutiny as they were working side by side with their masters and hired white labor. These slaves had little to no free time and never had the opportunity to interact with others that were enslaved. As we can see, The Americas along with Africa and the Europeans reaped the benefit of slavery much to the detriment of the African captives.

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Slaves Were Brought to the Americas, Who Benefited?. (2021, Feb 24). Retrieved June 25, 2021 , from

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