Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Transatlantic Slave Trade

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  Transatlantic Slave Trade: Quick facts
·1441 - The Portuguese begin the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

·1562 - Britain joins the Transatlantic Slave Trade and becomes the biggest transporter of slaves from the West African coast.

·Slaves are sold as chattels of their owners.

·Slaves have no rights to vote, enter any profession, hold public office, monies made from any enterprise belonged to their owner and could be taken off them if discovered.

·1730 - About 90% of Jamaica's population are of African origin.

·1780 - People begin to campaign against the slave trade.

·1807 - The British parliament abolishes slave trade.

·1833 - Britain abolishes slave trade in its colonies.

·1834 - Jamaica gains emancipation from slavery.

·1860 - With few resources; life has not improved for most of the ex- slaves, they rely on their passed down skills which their ancestors learned from Africa.

Transatlantic Slave Trade timeline

1441 AD
Portuguese ships transport the first slaves from West Africa
1448 AD
Portuguese set up the first slave trading post in Africa
1502 AD
The Spanish transport
the first African slaves  to American plantations
1562 AD
John Hawkins
becomes England
first slave trader
1570s AD
African slaves taken to Brazil by the Portuguese
1683 AD
Most indigenous
have been wiped out
1780s AD
People begin to campaign against the
slave trade
1791 AD
Slaves in Haiti revolt
and defeat British and
Spanish armies
1807 AD
Britain abolishes
the slave trade
1833 AD
Slave trade abolished in
British colonies
1861 AD
Slave trade
abolished in America
1876 AD
The rest of Europe
abolish slave trade


A song of lamentation

Come quickly back home, your mother is waiting; I your sister I'm waiting, your meal is getting cold. Fear is driving us cold, no one is going to eat; no one is taking your seat, until you come back home and never again, leave home.

Task: Make up a tune for this song.

Who do you think is singing this song and why?

Do you think this child ever returned home?

What damage do you think was done to this family as a result of losing their beloved child?

 A song of lamentation

A kidnapped child suffered one of four fates

·Taken on a Trans- Saharan route to North Africa to be sold in the slave market bound for the Mediterranean

· Taken to other parts of Africa to be used as domestic slave

·Taken to other parts of Africa to be employed on the land

·Taken to West African Trading posts to be sold to European Slave Traders bound for the West Indies, America or Brazil

Task: Imagine being separated from your family in a strange land. You have five minutes to write down as many feeling words as you can think of.


The Journey 

I was blind folded for most of the way
We walked all day and all night for three days.
We walked through the woods during the day and kept to the paths at night.
When I was too tired to walk, my captor carried me on his back.
When we arrived at the house, I dropped to the ground from exhaustion and was relieved temporarily from my anguish by sleep.
I was sold the next morning to a new master.

This child had only gone to check his rabbit trap, when he was pushed to the ground, his mouth gagged and a sack put over his head.

He had become a slave boy.


Why do you think the kidnapped was blindfolded?
Why do you think they walked all day and all night?
Why do you think the captor was in a hurry?
Why do you think they walked through the woods during the
day and kept to the paths at night?
How much do you think the kidnapped child was sold for?

Activity: You are the kidnapped. Write down all the things you are worried about.


Kidnapped Sold into Slavery

Once captured for slavery, the Slave could change hands several times, with each new master selling them on for a higher price. The main currency was the cowrie shells, a slave could be bought for as little as 50 cowrie shells, this rising at each new sale point reaching about 175 at the last point before reaching European Trading posts. The Europeans exchanged them for gifts of firearms, gunpowder, cutlasses, crossbows, gin, spice and luxury products like beads and woven cloth.

Slave Life - scenario 1

Kidnapped Scenario one

Taken on a Trans- Saharan route to North Africa to be sold in the slave market bound for the Mediterranean

These slaves ended up as:

·domestic servants

·sugar cane plantation workers.

Slave Life - Scenario 2

Taken to other parts of Africa to be used as domestic slaves.

These slaves ended up as part of the household in which they served. They were never maltreated but fortunes depended on:

·how rich the mistress or master was

·religious and traditional beliefs of owner; all religions and traditions forbid the maltreatment of slaves who are considered as fellow human beings

·some traditions have specific male roles which include being leader of the household; therefore all free born male will be entitled to eat first before a slave is given his or her share

All slaves had right to marry free born members of the household or the community.

All slaves had right to own their own property.

Slave Life - Scenerio 3

Scenario three

Taken to other parts of Africa to be employed on the land.

These slaves ended up:

·in work houses mainly mud huts with an overseer

·the overseer was normally very harsh as they had risen up the rank themselves as slaves

·an overseer could get very rich from pilfering

·work all day with little time for rest at night

·occasionally would kill the overseer at night and escape

·could be freed due to hard work

·could generally find their own way home from studying the sun movements and enquiring about directions from traders 

·generally learnt lots of farming skills for when they returned home as free men

·probably the only set of slaves who ever returned home.

Slave Life - Scenario 4

Scenario four

Taken to West African Trading posts to be sold to European Slave Traders bound for the West Indies, America or Brazil. 

These slaves had the worst deal of all:

·from the moment they were sold to the Europeans they stopped being fellow human beings but considered tools of husbandry to be used on plantation farms; mainly sugar and cotton

·they were auctioned at European slave markets

·they were treated cruelly

·they were in most cases, brand marked

·they were often put in chains for punishment

·they were chattels and had no rights

·they could be killed for a fine of £15

·were often slaves for life

·their children were born into slavery and became slaves themselves

A Slave's Life across the Seas

Different fates also awaited slaves taken to West African Trading posts to be sold to European Slave Traders bound for the West Indies, America or Brazil.

    They could end up: 

·sold in the West Indies or Brazil or America

·working for plantation owners

·working as domestic slaves

·bought by a naval officer and spend rest of life on sea.

·end up as a pirate

·some eventually earned enough money to buy their own freedom (very few, as masters were reluctant to loss them)

·none ever returned to their homeland in Africa as they did not know where they had come from. 

They were poked and weighed at the slave auction markets to see how fit they were before being purchased. Read Olaudah Equiano's account here: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ism/slavery/americas/olaudah_arrival.aspx



You are the slave ship from Europe. You are being interviewed by The Atlantic News for your role in the slave trade.  Prepare your answers to the following questions. Include facts and figures from your research.
 It is claimed you played a prominent role in this trade, that:
·you transported millions of Africans to their death
·even though most of the slaves had never seen the sea, you tossed them about making them wish for death
·you stank so much, the slaves were ill most of the time
·that when they wanted death as a way out of their misery, your side nets stopped them from jumping into the sea
·that so many slaves were packed inside of you, they could only lie sideways or sit up straight during the journey
·at the end of the journey, the slaves were so traumatised, they were weak and exhausted, they had no fight left in them so had to yield to whatever the masters demanded.


[slaves Exposed For Sale] Image
I do not know, who I hold most responsible for my predicament.
·My African Captor
·The white slave trader or
·My plantation master 

What do you think of this statement? Debate this as a class.

Task 2: Research a slave's life on the plantations and write a report on this.

Good Fortune

You are lucky enough to have been bought by a Royal Navy Officer, who is very kind to you. All the other crew members are also very kind to you. Make a dairy entry of the day your ship was engaged in battle with a French Ship.

Slaves punishments

You are a domestic slave, write about the day you got into trouble. What did you do? What punishment was meted out to you? How did you feel about Saying thank to the master at the end of the punishment?

 Research the punishments slaves were subjected to and write an explanation text on how the metals punishment objects worked.

Opportunity knocks

Job vacancy

Captain Shipmate
requires a steward.

Apply in person

You are a cabin crew on the Royal Navy ship.

This advert appears one morning.

Apply for this position, stating your qualifications and experience;  do not forget to include that:

·You have learnt to read and write

·You know some maths and good at calculating

·You are industrious

·Can do any job on the ship

Put on trial

It is 22nd October 1718, you are Black Caesar, a pirate crew member on board Black Beard's ship. Black Beard is dead and you are now on trial for piracy and if found guilty will be hung. Write a defence speech to try to save your life.


Include facts about why you became a pirate.


Consider this statement and in role complete the following activities:

‘Surely, this is a new refinement in cruelty'

                                                             Olaudah Equiano

Write a public notice for a meeting to discuss abolition of slave trade with Key note speakers on its evils.

You are William Wilberforce, prepare the speech you will deliver to the House of Parliament to convince them to abolish trade.

You are a defence lawyer for a runaway slave. Prepare your address to members of the jury to not only acquit him but to set him free.


Breaking news: The director of Atlantic News has just received a tip off that the British parliament is about to announce the abolition of slave trade. You are the special correspondent assigned to the case.  Write the questions you will be asking the emancipated slaves as they receive the news in the West Indies.

What do you think their answers will be?

Write these down too.


It is all over. You are a research student studying -The Impact of the slave trade in our society; you are looking for evidence of black presence in Britain. Produce an A to Z booklet on this. Follow the national archive web site link to help you.