Forced to become human cogs in the machinery of economic exploitation, African slaves became part of the trade industry. They were brought in on ships in which they were chained and scarcely had room to turn themselves. The air was confining as well as the Africans perspired and there was no sanitation. When the ship came into port, merchants and planters came on board, and had slaves put into separate parcels and examined. Then, they were put down below deck again into the many rows.of shackled slaves--some ships accommodated as many as 294 slaves--until the ship arrived at its destination. Then, the slaves were removed and sometimes put into a large pen.
After the ship is emptied of slaves in America, for instance, the hold where they were kept would be washed and disinfected, cleaned more thoroughly for the shipping of raw materials than it was for the slaves. This new load would, then, be shipped to England. then, the new merchandise is sent, and then another cargo of slaves loaded, and so on.