Slavery and Servitude in the Colonies

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What was the triangular trade?

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Triangular trade is the term given for the network of trade controlled by Britain during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In this network, ships were loaded with manufactured goods in Britain and then headed to Africa with those goods. The goods were then traded for African slaves, who were oftentimes people who had been captured in war or by slave dealers. The slaves were then forced onto excessively overcrowded ships to be shipped to the Americas. This part of the journey was known as the "middle passage" because it was the second leg of the three-leg journey making up the trade network.

When the slaves arrived in the Americas, they were unloaded and sold into slavery, usually in the Caribbean and Southern colonies. At this point, the slaves became the property of their owners.

Once the slaves were sold, the traders purchased goods like sugar, tobacco, and cotton, which were grown in large quantities in the Americas. Once the traders procured these goods and other raw materials, they returned to Britain.

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The term triangular trade describes the three journeys undertaken by commodities and slaves between England, Africa, and the Americas.

These journeys had three parts, involving travel from England to Africa, from Africa to the Americas, and from the Americas back to England. If one were to map these routes roughly on a flat map of the world, they would form roughly the shape of a triangle—hence the name triangular trade.

Slaves were taken from West Africa to the Americas, which formed the first side of the triangle. On the second side of the triangle, materials such as tobacco, sugar, and cotton were transported from the Americas to Europe. On the final side of the triangle, rum, textiles, and a variety of manufactured goods were sent from Europe to Africa.

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