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Unformatted text preview: Migration of Africans to America: A Look at the Journey One of the largest folk migrations, and certainly the most appalling in history, was the African slave trade. Throughout its existence, slave ships brought about fourteen million Africans to the Americas, and killed millions more 1 . Each was ruthlessly transported by means of slave ships that were commonly known as gueineamen or slavers. In the early days of the slave trade, regular merchant ships were remodeled to carry human cargo. Later, larger ships were constructed especially for the transportation of slaves. 2 The slave trade became the essential part of an economic system of trading between Europe, Africa, and the Americas. The exchange of goods along these routes was referred to as the triangular trade. Although not necessarily in order, ships in the triangular trade carried goods between Europe, Africa, and the New World. To improve alacrity, the system was being developed primarily by sea captains from England and New England. 3 The triangular trade system was highly successful because each region produced goods which were not produced elsewhere, therefore they were considered extremely valuable to the others. 4 In the first leg of a slave ships journey, ships sailed from Europe loaded with goods such as guns and textiles to trade for slaves in Africa. The African traders were frequently mixed Afro-Europeans, seeing that they had an advantage over Blacks and Whites. 5 The second leg, known as the Middle Passage, brought slaves across the 1 Atlantic to ports in America, where they were traded for sugar, cotton, grain, and other raw materials. The last leg of the journey brought the ships back to Europe, where the raw materials were exchanged for goods to trade with the Africans for slaves, and the cycle begins again. The Middle Passage was the most infamous route of this triangular trade. Although danger constantly was present throughout the voyage across the Atlantic, the greatest danger to the slave ships always came when they were loading on the African coast. 6 Once aboard the ships, the slaves realized that they were being sent far away from home, and often there was violence even before the ship set sail. However, most of these uprisings were easily put down. Others jumped overboard and plunged from the ship into the sea, choosing to drown or be eaten by the sharks rather than be taken from their homeland. 7 This passage was the longest and most dreadful part of the journey of slave ships. With extremely tight packed loads of human cargo that reeked and carried both contagious disease and death, the ships would travel across the Atlantic on a miserable voyage. Although very profitable for slavers, this terrible course held very much depression and anguish for the slaves. The abhorrent and inhuman condition which the Africans were faced with on their voyage clearly displays the vast malevolence of the slave trade....
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