ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE
The Atlantic slave trade refers to the trade across the Atlantic Ocean from west and central Africa to south and North America with the help of West African slave owners and European crusaders and colonies. The Atlantic slave trade was carried out over three centuries and this resulted in the overpopulated immigration of West Africans into both South and North America before the end of the 18th century. The slave trade was considered inhumane probably because of the extreme brutality as experienced by the enslaved and as depicted by the other involved in the slave traders. The slave traders would mistreat the slaves bitter than animals. African slaves were treated more inhumanely once bought and many would die in the process. This essay will discuss the accounts of the enslaved as well as those who were involved some way in this trade and provided their observations and experiences of the maltreatment.
The perspective of the enslaved has been very much clear from the experience of Equiano, a former slave, who wrote his account of how such slaves were treated. He described how his horrors of a slave ship still torment him to this day. Equiano confirmed in his account that slave traders would brutally treat African slaves and would perform inhumane acts upon them during the journey. His thought that it would be better to die than to bear those hardships that the enslaved had to bear in this trade (Equiano). The account of Alexander Falconbridge agrees with that Equiano. Alexander Falconbridge account depicts the same miseries of the enslaved. He purports the ways through which African slaves were maltreated in the Atlantic slave trade, mentioning the severe ways an African slave would suffer in the Atlantic journey and how many would die in the process, with their bodies being thrown off as mere waste or excess baggage (Falconbridge). The two accounts are similar in describing both the purchase process and the brutality and maltreatments and sufferings of the enslaved by the European slave traders. However, Equiano’s account differs in the sense that he also describes the emotional sufferings of the enslaved when the families are split among different traders as he says that wives are separated from husbands, fathers from sons and brothers from brothers. Falconbridge’s excerpt does not provide any such depiction of the miseries.
As opposed to Equiano and Falconbridge, William Bosman appreciates the way the Dutch traders treated the slaves. His perspective is different from the other two in several regards. According to Bosman, most of the slaves were prisoners of war and not the ones kidnaped. While appreciating the Dutch treatment of their slaves, he says that not only the enslaved were provide with better and clean space to accommodate but also they took care of the health of the enslaved and provided proper food. Another difference that Bosman presents is considering slaves as mere commodities that were the booty of other war winners and he feels convinced of the way the slave trade was carried out. He is convinced with the enslaving of prisoners to justify their expenditure as a commodity (Bosman). However, Bosman does recall that no one would give up their family members for money and that if people believed this, they were only fooling themselves. Bosman very comfortably describes the stamping of slaves with burning iron for identity purpose which shows brutal acts of Dutch traders towards the enslaved just like as depicted by Equiano and Falconbridge, but the Dutch would call it a necessary and justified act so as to secure their slave commodity.
Hence, it has been discussed into certain detail as to what each account holds and how they are similar as well as different in different perspectives at the same time. In conclusion, it can be said that while many may count the Atlantic slave trade as a mere business, it was definitely inhumane, as detailed by majority accounts of the people from the 16th till the 19th century.
Blaufarb, Rafe. Inhuman Traffick. Oxford University Press, 2014. Electornic Print.
Bosman, William. “Slave Trader.” Excerpt. 1967. Electronic Print.
Equiano, Olaudah. “The Interesting Narrative ofthe Life of Olaudah Equiano,Or Gustavus Vassa, The African.” Excerpt. 1789. Electronic Print.
Falconbridge, Alexander. “An Account of the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa.” Excerpt. 1788. Electornic Print.