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Captive Passage The Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Making of the Americas
IntroductionDepartureMiddle PassageArrivalAbolitionLegacy

DepartureDeparture from AfricaWest Africa Before Slaving
Contact Between Europeans and AfricaThe Enslavement of AfricansResistance and Endurance

Captive Passage
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This Web site
was written by:

Mark Arduini
Bill Cogar
Kim Gove
Anna Holloway
Julia Hotton
Anne Marie Millar
Tracey Neikirk
David Rieger
Rhonda Todd
Barbara Wright
Randy Wyatt

Special thanks to
Joan Allison
for her assistance
in compiling
the Bibliography.


Nothing, which has happened to man in modern times has been more significant than the buying and selling of human beings out of Africa into America.
W.E.B. DuBois

Europeans had begun exploring westward across the Atlantic in the late 15th century, hoping to find a sea route to the East and thus a means of ending their dependence on Muslim traders for spices and other luxuries. In the years following Columbus' arrival in the Caribbean, the Spaniards and other Europeans saw that the Americas offered numerous opportunities for wealth.

The Spaniards and Portuguese first began conquering lands in South and Central America, mining the abundant gold and silver found there. By the 1570s, the Portuguese had begun establishing sugar plantations in Brazil. As the demand for sugar in Europe grew, sugar plantations were introduced in the islands of the West Indies.

A large percentage of the indigenous peoples of the Americas quickly died from diseases brought over by the Europeans, and the colonists either massacred or enslaved a large number of those who remained. When the demand for labor became too great to be met by this remaining population, the search began for other sources of labor.

Crudelitas Petride Calyceerga Indos
Crudelitas Petride Calyceerga Indos

Previously the Spaniards and Portuguese had used enslaved Africans to work the sugar plantations of the Canaries, Madeira, São Tomé, and other islands off the coast of West Africa. As the rich lands of the Americas fell into their hands, they extended the practice westward by transporting Africans across the Atlantic Ocean as slave labor. When the British, French, and Dutch developed their own sugar plantations, they followed this example, and the demand for African labor quickly surged.

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Departure from Africa



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