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HIST102: Early Globalizations - East Meets West (1200s-1600s)

Unit 10: Africa, Africans, and the Atlantic Slave Trade   While much of Africa followed its own trajectory of progress in the post-medieval period, the rise of European trade and influence still had a profound impact upon African societies.  Perhaps the greatest—and most horrific—effect upon Africa was the Atlantic slave trade.  The forced removal of Africans to the New World was first started by the Portuguese in what is now Sierra Leone in the 1400s.  Soon after, English, Dutch, Portuguese, and French traders began to enslave and sell Africans to benefit New World plantation societies.  The result was an incredibly profitable system of enslavement that transformed European empires, colonial societies, and the world economy.
 

In this unit, we will examine the impact of the many—and complex—facets of the Atlantic slave trade.  We will examine how the trade came into being, who was involved, why it was so profitable and so deadly, how it affected Africa and Africans, and why it ended.

Unit 10 Time Advisory
This unit will take you 10 hours to complete.
 
☐    Subunit 10.1: 7 hours

☐    Subunit 10.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 10.3: 2 hours

Unit10 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Describe some of the main features of the Atlantic slave trade – its origins, development, protagonists, and victims.
  • Identify key milestones in the growth of the Atlantic slave trade, its economic consequences, and human costs.
  • Discuss the effects of the slave trade on the development and geographical extension of the African diaspora.
  • Describe some common forms of opposition and resistance to the slave trade as well as the various factors and events over time that contributed to its demise.

10.1 The Slave Trade   - Reading: HowStuffWorks, Inc.: “Assignment Discovery: The Atlantic Slave Trade” Link: HowStuffWorks, Inc.: “Assignment History: The Atlantic Slave Trade” (HowStuffWorks Video)
 
Instructions: Please enter Atlantic Slave Trade in the search field and watch all of this video (approximately 4 minutes) in order to get an overview of the complex and exploitative nature of the African slave trade.
 
Note on the Media: This video segment was produced by Cosmeo, which is a website containing educational videos as supplemental resources.  Cosmeo is a division of Discovery Communications, Inc., which produces the Discovery Channel.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Concepcion Saenz-Camba’s “The Atlantic World, 1492-1600” Link: Concepcion Saenz-Camba’s “The Atlantic World, 1492-1600” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please read the sections titled “The Atlantic Slave Trade: Logic of Enslavement” and “The Atlantic Slave Trade: Global Consequences of the Atlantic Slave Trade” in their entirety.  Pay special attention to how the Slave Trade affected not only the Americas but also Europe, Africa, and Asia.

    Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of Concepcion Saenz-Camba.  Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

10.1.1 Development of the Trade   - Web Media: iTunes U: Arizona State University History Department’s “The Slave Trade, Part 1” Link: iTunes U: Arizona State University History Department’s The Slave Trade Part 1(iTunes Audio)
 
Instructions: Please listen to the entire audio lecture using iTunes U.
 
Note on the Media: An Arizona State University History professor discusses the origins and development of the transatlantic slave trade.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s “The Transatlantic Slave Trade”: “The Development of the Trade” Link: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s “The Transatlantic Slave Trade”: “The Development of the Trade” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entirety of the webpage plus the links embedded in the text; these sources will provide you with a good overview of the beginnings of the slave trade.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

10.1.2 Traders and Trade   - Lecture: iTunes U: University of Glasgow: Dr. Simon Newman’s “Working the Slave Trade in the British Atlantic World” Link: iTunes U: University of Glasgow: Dr. Simon Newman’s Working the Slave Trade in the British Atlantic World(iTunes Audio)
 
Instructions: Please listen to the entire lecture using iTunes.
 
Note on the Lecture: Dr. Simon Newman of the University of Glasgow gives a fascinating lecture on the slave trade along the Gold Coast of Africa.  He describes the relationship between British traders and African canoe-men.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s “The Transatlantic Slave Trade”: “Traders and Trade” Link: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s “The Transatlantic Slave Trade”: “Traders and Trade” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entirety of the webpage plus the links embedded in the text; this material will introduce you to the motivations of European traders and nature of the African trade.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: University of Houston: Digital History Fray Tomas de Mercado’s “A Critique of the Slave Trade” Link:  University of Houston’s Digital History: Fray Tomas de Mercado’s “A Critique of the Slave Trade” (HTML)
     
    Also available in:
    Google Books
     
    Instructions: Read this excerpt in order to get a sense of early opposition to the trade in human beings on the African coast.
     
    Note on the Text: In this 1587 document, a Spanish cleric proclaims that “a thousand acts of robbery and violence are committed in the course of bartering and carrying off Negroes” in the slave trade. As European powers were becoming increasingly involved in buying and selling Africans, Mercado dismisses the trade as the product of robbery, deception, and violence.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain. The Digital History version of this material has been reposted with permission.

10.1.3 The Middle Passage   - Reading: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s “The Transatlantic Slave Trade”: “The Middle Passage” Link: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s “The Transatlantic Slave Trade”: “The Middle Passage” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of the webpage plus the links embedded in the text.
 
Note on the Text: This material will provide you with modern-day analyses and first-person accounts of the slaves’ horrific journey from Africa to the New World.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: University of North Carolina: Documenting the American South: Boyrereau Brinch’s and Benjamin F. Prentiss’ (Benjamin Franklin) “The Blind African Slave, or Memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch” Link: University of North Carolina: Documenting the American South: Boyrereau Brinch’s and Benjamin F. Prentiss’ (Benjamin Franklin) “The Blind African Slave, or Memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read pages 1-94 of this incisive tale of Brinch’s horrific journey from his native Africa to the New World.
     
    Note on the Text: This slave narrative, while published in 1810, is Boyrereau Brinch’s description of his journey across the Atlantic in 1758 and 1759. Originally from Mali, in western Africa, Brinch arrived in the port of Barbados aboard a slave ship and lived as a slave in the Caribbean and the United States for most of his life. Although not often read by modern day readers, Brinch’s memoir offers a horrifying view of the Middle Passage that other writers merely gesture toward.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

10.1.4 Resistance and Abolition   - Reading: University of Calgary: The Applied History Research Group’s “African Migration to the New World”: “Resistance to Slavery, the Anti-Slavery Movement, and Abolition” Link: University of Calgary: The Applied History Research Group’s “African Migration to the New World”: Resistance to Slavery, the Anti-Slavery Movement, and Abolition(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of the webpage in order to get a sense of Africans’ resistance to the slave trade and slavery as well as Euro-American efforts to end the trade.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

10.1.5 Impact   - Reading: University of Calgary: The Applied History Research Group’s “African Migration to the New World”: “The Impact of the Slave Trade” Link: University of Calgary, “Forced African Migration,” “The Impact of the Slave Trade”:
Demographic Impact(HTML)
Economic Impact(HTML)
Cultural Impact(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read all sections: “4.5a Demographic Impact,” “4.5b “Economic Impact,” and “4.5c Cultural Impact.”
 
Note on the Text: These articles will help you gain a better understanding of how the slave trade affected Africa and the world.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

Subunit 10.1 Assessment   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation's "Reading Questions for Subunit 10.1" Link: The Saylor Foundation's "Reading Questions for Subunit 10.1" (PDF)
 
Instructions: Once you have worked through all of the assigned resources in the subunit above, please open the linked PDF and respond to all questions.  When you are done--or if you are stuck--please check your work against The Saylor Foundation's "Guide to Responding to Reading Questions for Subunit 10.1" (PDF).

10.2 Africa and Africans in the Age of the Slave Trade   10.2.1 African Slavery and Politics   - Reading: History World International: R.A. Guisepi (ed.) “Africa and Africans in the Age of the Atlantic Slave Trade” Link: History World International: R.A. Guisepi (ed.) “Africa and Africans in the Age of the Atlantic Slave Trade” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage to get a sense of the political environment in Africa and the highly varied nature of slaving practices within Africa.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

10.2.2 Capture and Enslavement   - Reading: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s “The Transatlantic Slave Trade”: “Capture and Enslavement” Link: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s “The Transatlantic Slave Trade”: “Capture and Enslavement” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of the webpage plus the links embedded in the text.
 
Note on the Text: Reading this material will give you a sense of the nature of the process of enslavement of Africans within Africa.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

10.3 The African Diaspora   10.3.1 The Nature of the Diaspora   - Reading: University of Calgary: The Applied History Group’s “African Migration to the New World”: “The Nature of the African Diaspora” Link: University of Calgary: The Applied History Group’s “African Migration to the New World”: “The Nature of the African Diaspora” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of the webpage in order to get a sense of the diaspora created by European traders through the slave trade.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

10.3.2 Africans in the Atlantic World and Beyond   - Reading: History World International: Peter N. Stearns’, Michael Adas’ and Stuart B. Schwartz’s “Africa and Africans in the Age of the Atlantic Slave Trade”: “African Diaspora” Link: History World International: Peter N. Stearns’, Michael Adas’ and Stuart B. Schwartz’s “Africa and Africans in the Age of the Atlantic Slave Trade”: “African Diaspora”(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of the webpage in order to get a sense of where African slaves landed in the New World as well as what kind of lives they led there.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Assessment: Pearson Education’s World Civilizations: AP Edition, “Chapter 20, Multiple Choice Quiz” Link: Pearson Education’s World Civilizations: AP Edition: “Chapter 20, Multiple Choice Quiz” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please take the assigned multiple choice quiz on this webpage in order to assess your understanding of Africa and Africans in the age of the Atlantic Slave Trade.  Click on “Submit Answers for Grading” at the bottom of the webpage to redirect to the answer key.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Activity: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 10 Essay: Slavery and the African Diaspora” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 10 Essay: Slavery and the African Diaspora” (HTML)

    Instructions: This is an ungraded activity. If you choose to complete the activity, you may record your answer anywhere you like. You do have the option to use the link above to save your answers on Saylor.org, though you will need to create a free account in order to do so --  this will only take a minute, and you may do so here.

    • Unit 10 provides resources that deal with different aspects of the African slave trade. In this assignment, you will use these resources to describe the experiences of African slaves in different parts of the Western Hemisphere. Your answer should identify the various destinations of the people taken as slaves to the Americas as well as the types of work and conditions they were forced to endure on arrival.

      Tips for getting started: In this assignment you are being asked to describe the diverse experiences of the people affected by the slave trade and the creation of what the resources refer to as the “African diaspora” in the Americas. Again, the question asks you to consider which parts of the Americas the slaves were commonly taken to and why. Did this situation change over time? Finally, what types of information do the resources provide regarding the type of work (such as the crops produced) and other conditions of life the slaves confronted in these different regions?