Thursday, April 4, 2013


"The slaves Transporter: The Trans-Atlantic triangular trade,"  on 13 OCTOBER 2008, armin fischer / mare


At the beginning of the 19th Century saw a London company, the medical equipment sales, an unusual increase in demand for an instrument called "speculum oris" (mouth area). The metal spreader served doctors to open up a jaw cramp the patient's mouth by force - a brute therapy that has been used only rarely. Emerged as the leader of the serious Londones trading house of the matter on the ground, he came upon a dingy Liverpool shop, next to the window of thumb screws, hand and ankle cuffs and the chin retractor was - all equipment for slave ships: prisoners blacks who would rather die of hunger , enslaved and deported as was to be, with the "speculum oris" brutal levered the mouth to infuse them with food.

Had at that time, trade with African workers abducted long ago evolved into a veritable industry - therefore great need for torture and toggle tools, the minions of the slave traders.


250 years before the mass had begun to Menschenschinderei strange way, namely with the fact that a person wanted to save others from their drudgery: In the year 1514 was the Father Bartolome de Las Casas, a piece of land in the Spanish colony of Cuba is about. Land belonged to the indigenous Carib Indians around 100, which were held as slaves and forced to work on the plantations. As Las Casas realized how much suffering the Indians in their forced labor, and when he saw how many died as a result of disease and suicide, he suggested to his king, Charles V, Negro slaves who were considered to be docile and willing workers, for work introduce into the colonies. - This was the starting point for the transatlantic slave trade.

Las Casas, who had initially been just about the equality of the Caribbean Indians suspected (yet) had, he unleashed the avalanche. Later, when he saw what he had done, he went back to Spain and started a nationwide campaign against the slave trade - without success. Slavery had found a new territory and it should not give up so quickly again.


The colonists in South America and the Caribbean islands soon realized how much could they use the black slaves in the hard work under the unbarmherigen tropical sun, especially since most of them, from the African west coast (primarily from Sierre Leone, the Gold Coast , from Benin, Ghana and Angola) came, thanks to their innate sickle cell anemia against the rampant everywhere were resistant malaria. Soon were the conquerors of the Old World, a life without slaves no longer present. Finally, they were not drawn into the distance, in order to toil, no, they wanted to get rich quick, to live a comfortable life and let others work for themselves.

In the second half of the 16th Century, when the sugarcane cultivation began to expand on the islands, was the demand for slaves and more pressing. Instead of domestic slaves, mistresses, errand boys, and gardeners now have a different kind of "merchandise" was asked of pure slave labor for the grueling grind the sugar cane fields. Sun promoted above all the (European) demand for sugar, which was then a gold aufzuwiegendes luxury item, the deportation of millions of blacks.


Historically, this act of mass rape meant a step back in time to 1000 years. Because in Europe, slavery had long since replaced by the system of serfdom. The serfs, who were indeed "subject" and their masters, but they had freedoms that were unthinkable for slaves: they were a separate piece of farm marry country, carrying out a "private life" - all of course depending on the generosity and kindness of Lords . However, slaves were simply a "possession" as some nice boots or ox. They were given away, sold, raped, beaten, - no one cared about. It must be up to the time of the Roman latifundia go back to find a similar form of mass slavery, as from 16 Century by the "modern" nations of Europe was re-operated. And the number of Caribbean sugar and later cotton slave exceeded U.S. since ancient times for the first time those two million working slaves, who was one of the Roman Empire 100 BC. Transatlantic slavery was a "monstrous aberration in the history of the West" (H. Hobhouse). The number of Africans who were abducted over the centuries, the sea is difficult to estimate, it is about 20 million, only about 15 million living reached the goal.


In 1510 there were only a handful of sugar cane plantations on the Caribbean islands. 50 years later there were hundreds and sugar exports to Europe began. Another 50 years later, the Caribbean, the main producer and exporter of European sugar. And after dieTürken the traditional producing countries Cyprus, Crete and the North African coastal countries and occupied most of the Mediterranean sugar industry was destroyed, was for the commercial centers of the Old World Caribbean sugar not only welcome, no, he had suddenly become necessary. It increased at the end of the 16th Century is, could the demand continuously and the producers hardly meet her.

Hardly a plant was then won so labor intensive, such as sugar cane. The plant was monotonous manual labor, the harvesting of muscle-sapping drudgery. When boiling the plants in the "sugar house" caused temperatures of 60 degrees, which the workers were exposed for hours without a break. The plantation owners were suffering under permanent labor shortages. Supply of new slaves had to constantly ago.

Unscrupulous traders recognized early on that there was merit in these times with the trade of black workers to a lot more money than if you had to work for the slaves themselves. Originally, the black slaves from the European hub Lisbon had been shipped to the New World. (Although most Europeans were once nothing more than a chimera idea of ​​the continent of Africa, there was already a thriving Negro slave market - served by pirates and Arab merchants.) But that was not enough anymore. By 1530 they sent the first slaves directly from Africa to the Caribbean - the incipient triangular trade between Europe, the West African coast and the Caribbean islands of slavery gave a new dimension.

This business was as follows: predominantly English, Spanish and French ships brought inferior goods to West Africa, often coarse cloth, iron goods and alcohol, sometimes firearms, gunpowder and ammunition, which they exchanged with native slave-traders against "living goods". Often, local chiefs were spurred on to wage war against other tribes, but to make prisoners, who were then enslaved. When the ship was finally crammed with slaves in chains down - sometimes 600 or more, it stood out to sea across the Atlantic. After six to eight weeks, the Caribbean ports and reached the slaves were sold one by one. Major trading centers were Port Royal and Kingston, Jamaica. If the living cargo was on board, conceived the ships rum, molasses and crude, refined sugar, and once entered, favored by the prevailing westerly winds, the trip home.

The traders made enormous profits. In the early days of the triangular trade a male slave on the African Gold Coast for 2 to 3 pounds could be bought - equivalent to the price of a not quite new musket. The selling price in the Caribbean was approximately 25 pounds, sometimes much higher - depending on demand. A profit margin of 700 percent more marked the lower limit. Here, the cost accounting of the slave ship "La Fortuna" from Havana, 1827 (From: Christopher Lloyd, The Navy and the Slave Trade):

Travel expenses (All amounts in U.S. dollars)

Cost of a ninety-ton schooner 3700

Freight, 200 000 10 900 cigarettes and 500 doubloons

Clearance and hush-money 200

Total costs including wages, etc. 20 747

Costs for the return

Commission of captain for 217 slaves 5565


3959 sale of the vessel

Sale of 217 slaves, 77 469

Total revenue 81 419

Total cost 39,980

Net profit 41 439

The circumstances were under which housed the slaves aboard the ships and transports were horribly: On sometimes five, sometimes temporarily stowed between decks, they lay on the bare wooden planks. The decks were built on each other so closely, often only meters distance, that was impossible to stand upright. For men, women, boys and girls there were separate departments. The two men were with iron fetters each chained together. Thus, the pent-like animals at least were able to relieve themselves standing on the decks of some wood or metal buckets, depending on my mood and were carefully emptied the team more or less regularly. The "trip" lasted for slaves - including wait times at ports - up to three months. In good weather they were taken to forced on deck where they can drum (or whip) proposals were to dance - because they were supposed to remain mobile. Many used this opportunity to jump overboard, because they preferred death in the sea, the never-ending suffering in the bowels of the ship.


Some figures say more than many descriptions: According to the official (English) calculation was allowed to take the slave ship "Brookes" with a length of 30 meters, maximum width of 7.5 and 482 slaves on board (in fact there were mostly on the 600). Of this was for a male slave sized room 1.80 * 0.40 m, for a woman to 1.50 * 0.40 m. For a guy were calculated 1.50 * 0.35 m, for a girl 1.35 * 0.30 m. That died under these conditions during the crossing often thirty percent of the slaves from fever, dysentery, malnutrition and many other reasons, was not unusual. - However, for each lost slave trader meant economic losses, sat down over the years by those masters, the slaves (and crew) and better dealt with by the lowered mortality.

The triangular trade was was essentially a business of large European seafaring nations, but also the Germans involved in human trafficking: At the behest of the Brandenburg Elector Friedrich Wilhelm I was a squad of soldiers on 1 Tres Puntos in January 1683 at the Cape in what is now Ghana, on land and built a trading fort. The fort was nothing more than a kennel, which bought up the local merchants on the coast of slaves prior to transfer to overseas prison. On the right shoulder to them, the four letters "CABC" burned (Electoral Brandenburg African-Companie) were. Overall, the Brandenburg were directly responsible for the sale of approximately 30,000 Africans to the Americas. But because the profits were not expected to be high, the German interest lasted not long. Already sold in 1721, the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I, the trade continued, "Large Fredericksburg" to the Dutch.

As in Europe in the 17th Century, the coffee drinks, tea and cocoa have been popular, it was the sugar industry a huge boost because without sugar, so it was thought that all three would barely edible. The growth rates of glucose production increased exponentially now, the European palate would be spoiled. In Jamaica, began to develop huge monocultures, in 1783 there were 100 plantations, for example. On each of these worked about 500 slaves.


Around the year 1800 was as good as each gram of sugar that was consumed in England, cultivated by slaves and produced. The English population was about this time around 9 million, and the sugar consumption was at least 17 pounds per capita per year, equivalent to a total consumption of over 70 000 tonnes. "Since that year, the equivalent of a black man just two tons (sugar, dA), was equivalent to the total consumption of over 35 000 black slaves that were worn in the islands. Or otherwise. For every 250 Englishmen every year ... had let a black man his life "(H. Hobhouse) - With the other sugar-importing nations have behaved much differently, of course not.

In 1789 the French Revolution was under the motto "Liberty - Equality - Fraternity", 1783, the Americans fought for independence from England. The U.S. Constitution, which in many respects most advanced of its time, guaranteed to every citizen the right to "personal happiness". In many countries of Europe there was now striving for emancipation and against state authorities, and the voices multiplied, that something like slavery with the modern thinking is to not agree more.


However, it took decades to what was presented in European parliaments in lofty speeches in the distant colonies came into play. England abolished slavery, for example, officially launched on 1 August 1834 with a five-year "apprenticeship" for the former slaves who were then free and independent citizens. France also needed by the year 1830, to struggle through to the abolition of the slave system. The last legal slaves transported to Brazil took place in 1854, and until 1870 the slaves were free in the Spanish colonies. The United States had U.S. citizens banned in 1800 the slave trade, yet it should - just as the Caribbean and South American slave system began to disintegrate - of all Americans to be those pioneers of democracy, a new breeding ground for the last slave-owning society of modern times prepared: the cotton fields of the southern United States.

By 1750, the manufacture of cotton cloth more complicated and thus more expensive than that of silk. The onset of industrial revolution in England, then changed to a great extent the textile industry. The use of automatic processing of the finished yarn cotton fabric was much cheaper. What was missing was the cotton wool. As the sugar, they also came from the New World, this time from the southern United States, more precisely, from North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.


Beginning of the 19th Century exploded cotton exports from the U.S. to Europe: 1830 there were 100 million pounds in 1840 already 800 million and 1850 more than 2 billion pounds. At the same eight-fold in 1784-1861, the number of black slaves in North America - at the end of 4 million. To meet demand, the cotton fields had to be increased constantly. Per hundred acres of new cotton land was needed while 10 to 20 new slaves. But the supply was a problem. The U.S. itself had banned the slave trade with third countries, the domestic trade in 1800 and 1807th The port cities of Savannah, Ga. and Charleston, South Carolina, developed the transit point for illegally smuggled from South America and the Caribbean slaves. But that was not enough, and so arose, especially in the states of Virginia, North and South Carolina and Maryland, a final, perverse business of human goods: the "slave breeding", and if you made sure, the calculation of the dealers that each a slave plantation ever enough "suitable for breeding producers" were available, were 25 to 40 percent of women "produce" a baby a year. - Were allowed to marry the other hand, slaves and monogamous life, was only at 10 to 15 percent can be expected with young ...

This system with its inhuman excesses were in the second half of the 19th Century simply no longer tenable, the one on moral grounds, on the other, but also for economic, for long has been questioned by investors in the cotton business, that the slave economy was actually more efficient than wage labor.

But slaves represented material values ​​for their owners, without compensation to which they do not want: The estimated "value" of all slaves in North America was 1850 more than 2 billion gold dollars, which met at that time about ten times the budget of the United States. The problem was not to bring per stroke of the pen from the table. The North American States advocated for many decades for the final abolition of slavery, the stubborn, cotton-producing south, but wanted to hold on to it at all costs. The issue of slavery was one of the main reasons for the American Civil War, which began 1861st After four years of carnage was dominated by the superior in all areas north.

This was the end of the last great slave-owning society. - The cultivation of cotton, however, went on after the war, with record crops - produced by free workers. [Armin Fischer, mare, Transatlantic, April 1997]


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  20. "Tens of millions"? Not quite. 12 million is the general concensus (still a lot though). Also, 30% dying underway is too high and estimate. There were never 600 slaves on board of a slave ship, since these would never fit in a ship of that time.
    In all, not a good article. Too much cliché's and overestimates, which have been proven wrong already.



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