Slavery, Historical

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What was the triangular slave trade?

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The Triangular Trade system was a pattern of trade set up between Europe, Africa's 'gold coast,' and the 'West Indies' (the New World).  If you draw lines connecting these three locations, the pattern looks like a triangle.  First, ships would depart from European countries, like Great Britain, with cargo holds full of guns, ammunition, and textiles. 

Then the ships would make port along the western coast of Africa, nicknamed the 'gold coast;' there, slavers would trade slaves for the manufactured goods.  Usually the slaves were captives from other tribes, people taken prisoner after being stolen from their homes that were more inland. 

The next leg of the Triangular Trade System was known as the Middle Passage.  The Middle Passage stretched from the gold coast of Africa all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World.  Destinations included stops in South America, islands in the Caribbean, and the southern colonies in North America; all of these places grew cash crops like tobacco, coffee, and sugar cane.  The Middle Passage was incredibly difficult for the slaves who were packed tightly into cramped cargo holds.  Upon reaching the colonies in the new world, the slave ships traded the slaves in exchange for goods and produce from the colonies.  Rum and molasses were highly sought after goods from the Caribbean because not only were the goods in demand, but they also traveled well on the return voyage home. 

The Slave Trade did not fully get stamped out until 1794, because the slave trade and exchange of goods was an incredibly lucrative business.  Investors, manufacturers, buyers, and sellers were all making an enormous profit from the system, not to mention the exchange of goods benefited the colonies, who needed to trade their goods and acquire more slaves to work on their plantations. 

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