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Unformatted text preview: Global Commerce and the Rise of
the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1450-1750
the Global Commerce
• World trade both expanded and became more highly integrated.
• An ever-wider amount and type of goods were
exchanged across the globe.
• None was more important than New World
silver, which gave Europeans a commodity that
they could exchange for Asian products.
• These ever-tightening circuits of trade had
diverse effects on different regions and their
relations with each other. • Europeans sent ships to Africa to buy slaves, then
ship the slaves to their colonies in North and South
America and the Caribbean.
• Slave merchants sold slaves to owners of
plantations that produced coffee, sugar, cotton, and
• Merchants then purchased raw materials (such as
timber, sugar, coffee) to bring back to Europe where
they were refined and then sold throughout Europe,
Europe’s colonies, and the rest of the world.
• The economic success of Europe during this
period was the direct result of a cheap source of
labor: African slaves.
labor: • By 1630, Portugal had sent 60,000 African
slaves to Brazil to work on sugar plantations;
by 1675, most African slaves were sent to
• By 1700, half of African slaves landed in
French and British colonies in the Caribbean.
• Between 1730 and 1765, more than half of
the population of the British North American
colonies were African slaves.
• By 1820, 11 million Africans had crossed the
Atlantic in chains. Many died en route.
Atlantic • The practice of slavery or human bondage
The has typically been the result of labor scarcity.
has • Slavery is as old as civilization itself.
• Slavery and the slave trade existed in Africa
Slavery prior to the arrival of Europeans.
• In the 17th century Arab and Muslim
slavers transported large numbers of
Africans across the Sahara or from the
Red Sea or East African ports to Muslim
• Africans also maintained slaves
• Slavery was not always a permanent
condition; slaves could integrate into local
populations and lose their servile status.
• In the Ottoman Empire, slaves could hold
high social positions. • Most African slaves were
Most captured by other Africans
through warfare or
kidnapping in the interior
of • The majority of slaves
The were between 14 and 35
years • They were sold to
They European traders along
the 3,500 mile long west
coast of Africa.
coast • Before their three
Before month trip across the
Atlantic their heads
were shaved, they
were stripped naked,
and some were
branded with red-hot
irons. • Men and women were
separated. • Men were shackled
Men together in leg irons.
together • Aboard the ships, Africans
were crammed into the hulls.
• Women were raped by the
sailors and officers, or
beaten if they refused their
• On the three month trip
many slaves fell victim to
dysentery, yellow fever,
• Up to 1/4 of the slaves died
en route to the Americas,
their corpses discarded at
sea. • If they survived the trip,
If African slaves were sold to
plantation owners in Brazil,
the Caribbean, or in the
North American colonies.
North • They were given new
They names, forced to learn their
master’s language, had no
social identity, forced to do
any job assigned to them.
any • Most slaves worked on
Most sugar plantations in the
Caribbean. • Slaves worked 15 to 17 hours per
• • • day.
They were only fed enough food
to keep them working.
In Brazil runaway slaves fled to
quilombos or hideouts in the
forests and back country, forming
their own social organizations.
Other slaves resisted by stealing
food, breaking tools, feigning
illness or stupidity.
Slave owners constantly felt the
threat of slave insurrection and
often beat or tortured their slaves
in order to put fear into them.
in • Slave trade led to gender-ratio imbalances
Slave • • •
• in Africa and America.
• Europeans traders preferred males,
and African sellers desired to keep
women as domestic workers
Imbalance of gender ratio in New World
meant little reproduction and a need for
continued purchases to increase labor
Male slaves outnumbered female in the
New World, but in slave-supplying regions
the opposite was true
Female-slave labor plantations developed
in parts of Africa.
Polygyny reinforced because of gender
Dahomean women asserted more power
and authority because of their numbers.
and • In some parts of Africa, the
In slave trade wreaked havoc.
• Feuding to control the
lucrative trade resulted in
civil war in the Kongo
Kingdom after 1665.
• Slavers became increasingly
proficient with European
firearms and easily captured
many slaves from targeted
populations. • The slave trade also helped some merchants and
The warlords to consolidate and extend political power
• Certain mercantile groups in central and West Africa
• Long-distance trade networks fostered the growth of
strong state systems
• The Asante state encompassed 250,000 square
miles in West Africa and displaced local political
• The Oyo empire performed a similar feat, linking
commercial networks in tropical rain forests to the
savannah areas to the north in West Africa
• Both states benefited from access European
firearms • Although the slave
Although trade enriched and
Africans, it cost Africa
• The Atlantic
shifted wealth from
the countryside to
• Many areas suffered
loss. Gustavus Vasa (Olaudah Equiano)
• Wrote the first slave
autobiography published in 1789
describing his experience from
the Gold Coast of Africa to the
West Indies to his freedom and
life in London.
• His account abuses, cruelty, and
violence against African slaves
in the West Indies helped the
abolitionist cause in the late 18th
century. European Responses to Slavery
• Slavery troubled many back in Europe.
• Some theologians, such as John Wesley,
condemned the practice of slavery as inconsistent
with Christian values. Yet, the churches often
defended slavery or simply ignored it.
• At a time when Europe was embracing the values of
constitutionalism and natural rights, they were
trafficking in human cargo for huge economic gains.
trafficking The End of the Slavery?
• • • •
• Between 1791 and 1803, the French island colony of
San Domingue erupted in a slave revolt that would
later be called the Haitian Revolution.
Led by a barely literate slave named Tousaint
L’Ouverture, the island’s slave fought off the French,
Spanish, and English forces until declaring
independence in 1803.
The Haitian Revolution was the only successful slave
revolution in the New World. It was never recognized
by the United States out of fear that its own slaves
would follow suit.
In 1807, the slave trade was abolished by the English.
In 1833, the British abolished slavery in their colonies,
allowing slaves to become free, but still indentured to
their former masters.
In 1865, the United States abolished slavery.
Slavery continues to this day in some parts of the
world: parents sell their children, young girls become
sex Europeans and Asian Commerce
• When Europeans first
When arrived by sea to Asia,
they were eager for
spices such as pepper,
cloves, nutmeg, and
• Portuguese had
established a “trading
post empire” in the Indian
Ocean in order to control
the flow of commerce.
• They required traders to
possess passes, and
partially blocked the
routes throught the Red
• But they were never able
to fully control trade in
the Indian Ocean.
the Europeans and Asian Commerce
• Spain challenged Portugal’s
Spain • •
• • supremacy in the eastern
themselves in the Philipine
Islands (named after the
Spanish king, Philip II), where
they created a large colonial
The Philipines were of little
interest to China and Japan.
The Spanish acquisition was
The territory remained under
Spanish control until the
Spanish-American War when
the United States took control
after defeating the Spanish.
Tributes, taxes, conversion to
Catholicism, • In the 13th century Japan was a loose
collection of domains ruled by powerful local
lords called daimyo, who had broad powers
over peasants and commanded private
armies of warriors called samurai.
• The daimyo existed alongside a weak
central government and an imperial family.
• The Japanese political system resembled
feudal Europe about the same time.
• The decentralized system was largely due
to Japan’s rugged geography; settlements
were largely isolated from one another.
• Much of Japanese politics and culture were
based on Chinese models. But Chinese
centralization was never quite as successful
• Many administrative functions fell on the
local administrators rather than central
authority. • Integration with Asian trade
exposed Japan to new external
pressures. But the Japanese
dealt with these pressures more
effectively than the Ottoman,
Safavid, Mughal, Ming Empires.
• Rivalries among the daimyo
did not produce autonomous
and fragmented regimes.
• Instead, a single ruling family
emerged called the Tokugawa
• Japan remained free of foreign
exploitation. • At the end of the 16th century several
military leaders attempted to unify Japan.
• Totyotomi Hideyoshi conquered his
rivals with the approval of the Emperor.
• After Hideyoshi, one of the daimyos,
Tokugawa Ieyasu took power for himself
and in 1603 declared himself “shogun” or
military Totyotomi Hideyoshi
(1542-1616) • Ieyasu moved the center of
authority away from Imperial
Kyoto to a castle town called
Edo (later renamed Tokyo).
• Ieyasu had swamps drained,
forests cleared, hills leveled,
canals dredged, bridges built,
and the shoreline extended in
order to build his city.
• By the time of Iesyasu’s
death in 1616, Edo had a
population of 150,000.
• Provinicial villages paid taxes
to the daimyos who then paid
the central shogunate
administration. • In the 17th century, Japanese
agriculture thrived with new farming
techniques and reclamation
• The Japanese population grew
from 10 million in 1550 to 16 million
in 1600 to 30 million by 1700.
• In foreign affairs, Hideyoshi
launched a plan to unsettle China as
the main power of East Asia.
• He sent an army to the Korean
Peninsula, but had difficulty
subduing the Korean people and he
also faced troops at the Chinese
• But, a more pressing problem was
the arrival of Europeans to Japan.
the • By the end of the 16th century, the Portuguese
began to arrive in Japan followed by Spanish
Franciscans, and the Dutch and English, all setting up
trading posts in the south western islands.
• Japanese officials welcomed trade initially, but they
became uneasy with European Christian intolerance
of local Japanese beliefs.
• The shoguns issued decrees preventing conversion
to Christianity and attempted to ban its practice.
• Japanese Christians rebelled in 1637, but they were
crushed by the government and the European
missionaries were deported.
missionaries • Commercially, the Tokugawa government was concerned that
increased trade might pull the various regions of Japan apart from
the capital city.
• Eventually, only the Dutch were allowed to trade, confined to a
small island near Nagasaki. The Dutch were permitted to unload
only one ship per year, and under strict supervision.
• However, trade with Chinese and Koreans flourished.
• When the Russians arrived in 1697, the Japanese used the
northern island of Ezo as a buffer to manage contacts. As the
Russians became more aggressive in trade, the Tokugawa
annexed Ezo and it became the Japanese island of Hokkaid o, the
fourth Japanese island.
• In regulating contacts with outsiders, Japanese rulers were able
to consolidate their power and keep internal upheavals to a
• The Tokugawa lasted until 1867 when the Meiji came to power.
• As Europeans settled the New World they
As established colonies in order to extract the rich
natural resources available in the Western
• After having killed most of the indigenous
populations through disease, Europeans began to
purchase slaves from Africa and transported them
across the Atlantic to work in mineral mines and
• During the African Slave Trade 11 million Africans
were transported across the Atlantic Ocean in
• Even more suffered the effects of European
colonialism for the next few centuries.
Terms • Triangular Trade
• San Domingue
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