Map 32 atlantic trade routes by the late seventeenth

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Map 3.2 Atlantic Trade Routes By the late seventeenth century, an elaborate trade network linked the countries and colonies bordering the Atlantic Ocean. The most valuable commodities exchanged were enslaved people and the products of slave labor. Chesapeake tobacco and Caribbean and Brazilian sugar were shipped to Europe, where they were in demand. The profits paid for African laborers and European manufactured goods. The African coastal rulers took payment for slaves in European manufactures and East Indian textiles. Europeans purchased slaves from Africa for resale in their colonies and acquired sugar and tobacco from America, in exchange dispatching their manufactures everywhere. European nations fought bitterly to control the Atlantic trade. The Portuguese dominated at first, but were supplanted by the Dutch in the 1630s. Between 1652 and 1674, England and the Netherlands fought three wars—conflicts over naval supremacy 49
that largely centered on the slave trade. The Dutch lost out to the English, who controlled the trade through the Royal African Company, chartered by Charles II in 1672. The company maintained seventeen forts and trading posts, dispatched to West Africa hundreds of ships carrying English goods, and transported thousands of slaves to the Caribbean colonies. Some of its agents made fortunes, yet even before the company’s monopoly expired in 1712, independent traders carried most of the Africans imported into the colonies. In the fifty years beginning in 1676, British and American ships transported an estimated 689,600 captured Africans, more than 177,000 of them in vessels owned by the Royal African Company. By the middle of the eighteenth century, American tobacco had become closely associated with African slavery. An English woodcut advertising tobacco from the York River in Virginia accordingly depicted not a Chesapeake planter but rather an African, shown with a hoe in one hand and a pipe in the other. Usually, of course, slaves would not have smoked the high- quality tobacco produced for export, although they were allowed to cultivate small crops for their own use. West Africa and the Slave Trade Most of the enslaved people carried to North America originated in West Africa. Some came from the Rice Coast and Grain Coast, but even more had resided in the Gold Coast, Slave Coast, and the Bight of Biafra (modern Nigeria) and Angola. Certain coastal rulers—for instance, the Adja kings of the Slave Coast—allowed the establishment of permanent slave-trading posts in their territories. Such rulers controlled Europeans’ access to bound laborers and simultaneously controlled inland Africans’ access to desirable trade goods. The slave trade affected West African nations unevenly. It helped to create such powerful eighteenth-century kingdoms as Dahomey and Asante (formed from the Akan States), while rulers in parts of Upper Guinea, especially modern Gambia and Senegal, largely resisted involvement with the trade. Traffic in slaves destroyed smaller polities and disrupted traditional economic patterns. Agricultural production intensified, especially

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