Slavery and Servitude in the Colonies

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Describe the experience of African Americans during the Middle Passage.

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How strong is your stomach?

There was nothing good about the Middle Passage. It was brutal, inhumane, and often deadly.

To get a clearer picture, start by shifting terms. These were not yet African Americans. These were Africans, taken from different tribes and forced together. That means that these people were taken from their communities and often isolated. If you were one of these people, you might not have anyone else on the ship who speaks your language. That means there’s no one to sympathize with you, or understand your cries. You would be isolated. 

That sounds almost impossible, because the captured Africans were packed in like animals or cargo. They had very little space—perhaps five feet high. For weeks or even months at a time, depending on the length of the sailing, they were in chains, covered with their own urine, feces, and blood. Many slaves died. The bodies might rot next to the living slaves, breeding horror and disease.

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