A report on Middle Passage

Commercial goods from Europe were shipped to Africa for sale and traded for enslaved Africans. Africans were in turn brought to the regions depicted in blue, in what became known as the "Middle Passage". Enslaved Africans were then traded for raw materials, which were returned to Europe to complete the "Triangular Trade".
Diagram of a slave ship from the Atlantic slave trade. (From an Abstract of Evidence delivered before a select committee of the House of Commons in 1790 and 1791.)
Description of the Brookes, a British slave ship, 1787

The stage of the Atlantic slave trade in which millions of enslaved Africans were transported to the Americas as part of the triangular slave trade.

- Middle Passage
Commercial goods from Europe were shipped to Africa for sale and traded for enslaved Africans. Africans were in turn brought to the regions depicted in blue, in what became known as the "Middle Passage". Enslaved Africans were then traded for raw materials, which were returned to Europe to complete the "Triangular Trade".

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Stowage of a British slave ship, Brookes (1788)

Atlantic slave trade

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The Atlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, or Euro-American slave trade involved the transportation by slave traders of various enslaved African peoples, mainly to the Americas.

The Atlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, or Euro-American slave trade involved the transportation by slave traders of various enslaved African peoples, mainly to the Americas.

Stowage of a British slave ship, Brookes (1788)
Reproduction of a handbill advertising a slave auction in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1769.
Map of Meridian Line set under the Treaty of Tordesillas
The Slave Trade by Auguste François Biard, 1840
Portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (Job ben Solomon), painted by William Hoare in the 18th century
Wedgwood anti-slavery medallion, produced in 1787 by Josiah Wedgwood
Slave traders in Gorée, Senegal, 18th century.
A slave being inspected
Major slave trading regions of Africa, 15th–19th centuries
Slave trade out of Africa, 1500–1900
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Diagram of a slave ship from the Atlantic slave trade. From an Abstract of Evidence delivered before a select committee of the House of Commons in 1790 and 1791.
Diagram of a large slave ship. Thomas Clarkson: The cries of Africa to the inhabitants of Europe, c. 1822
A Liverpool Slave Ship by William Jackson. Merseyside Maritime Museum
Charles II of Spain. On November 7, 1693, Charles issued a Royal Decree, providing sanctuary in Spanish Florida for fugitive slaves from the British colony of South Carolina.
West Central Africa was the most common source region of Africa, and Portuguese America (Brazil) was the most common destination.
Slaves processing tobacco in 17th-century Virginia
Cowrie shells were used as money in the slave trade
Slaving guns (Birmingham History Galleries). In the second half of the 18th century, Europeans sold 300,000 rifles a year in Africa, maintaining the endemic state of war in which men, who were taken prisoner, were sold to supply the demand for slaves.
This map argues that import prohibitions and high duties on sugar were artificially inflating prices and inhibiting manufacturing in England. 1823
A Linen Market with enslaved Africans. West Indies, circa 1780
West Indian Creole woman, with her black servant, circa 1780
William Wilberforce (1759–1833), politician and philanthropist who was a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade.
"Am I not a woman and a sister?" antislavery medallion from the late 18th century
Capture of slave ship El Almirante by the British Royal Navy in the 1800s. freed 466 slaves.
House slaves in Brazil c. 1820, by Jean-Baptiste Debret
Punishing slaves at Calabouco, in Rio de Janeiro, c. 1822
Recently bought slaves in Brazil on their way to the farms of the landowners who bought them c. 1830
A 19th-century lithograph showing a sugarcane plantation in Suriname

The slave trade regularly used the triangular trade route and its Middle Passage, and existed from the 16th to the 19th centuries.

Depiction of the classical model of the triangular trade

Triangular trade

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Trade between three ports or regions.

Trade between three ports or regions.

Depiction of the classical model of the triangular trade
Depiction of the triangular trade of slaves, sugar, and rum with New England instead of Europe as the third corner
The loss of the slave ship Luxborough Galley in 1727 ("I.C. 1760"), lost in the last leg of the triangular trade, between the Caribbean and Britain.
North Atlantic Gyre
Graph depicting the number of slaves imported from Africa from 1501 to 1866

In this circuit, the sea lane west from Africa to the West Indies (and later, also to Brazil) was known as the Middle Passage; its cargo consisted of abducted or recently purchased African slaves.

British Empire

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Composed of the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states.

Composed of the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states.

A replica of the Matthew, John Cabot's ship used for his second voyage to the New World
African slaves working in 17th-century Virginia, by an unknown artist, 1670
Fort St. George was founded at Madras in 1639.
Robert Clive's victory at the Battle of Plassey established the East India Company as a military as well as a commercial power.
British territories in the Americas, 1763–1776, extending much further than the Thirteen Colonies on the Atlantic coast
James Cook's mission was to find the alleged southern continent Terra Australis.
The Battle of Waterloo in 1815 ended in the defeat of Napoleon and marked the beginning of Pax Britannica.
An 1876 political cartoon of Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881) making Queen Victoria Empress of India. The caption reads "New crowns for old ones!"
British cavalry charging against Russian forces at Balaclava in 1854
The Rhodes Colossus—Cecil Rhodes spanning "Cape to Cairo"
A poster urging men from countries of the British Empire to enlist
The British Empire at its territorial peak in 1921
George V with British and Dominion prime ministers at the 1926 Imperial Conference
During the Second World War, the Eighth Army was made up of units from many different countries in the British Empire and Commonwealth; it fought in North African and Italian campaigns.
About 14.5 million people lost their homes as a result of the partition of India in 1947.
Eden's decision to invade Egypt in 1956 revealed Britain's post-war weaknesses.
British decolonisation in Africa. By the end of the 1960s, all but Rhodesia (the future Zimbabwe) and the South African mandate of South West Africa (Namibia) had achieved recognised independence.
The fourteen British Overseas Territories
Cricket being played in India. Sports developed in Britain or the former empire continue to be viewed and played.

For the transported, harsh and unhygienic conditions on the slaving ships and poor diets meant that the average mortality rate during the Middle Passage was one in seven.

A plan of the British slave ship Brookes, showing how 454 slaves were accommodated on board after the Slave Trade Act 1788. This same ship had reportedly carried as many as 609 slaves and was 267 tons burden, making 2.3 slaves per ton. Published by the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade

Slave ship

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Slave ships were large cargo ships specially built or converted from the 17th to the 19th century for transporting slaves.

Slave ships were large cargo ships specially built or converted from the 17th to the 19th century for transporting slaves.

A plan of the British slave ship Brookes, showing how 454 slaves were accommodated on board after the Slave Trade Act 1788. This same ship had reportedly carried as many as 609 slaves and was 267 tons burden, making 2.3 slaves per ton. Published by the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade
Painting of the slave deck of the Marie Séraphique
A painting c.1830 by the German artist Johann Moritz Rugendas depicts a scene below deck of a slave ship headed to Brazil; Rugendas had been an eyewitness to the scene
The former slave ship HMS Black Joke (left) fires on the Spanish ship El Almirante before capturing her, January 1829 (painting by Nicholas Matthews Condy)

For example, the slave ship Henrietta Marie carried about 200 slaves on the long Middle Passage.

"Am I Not a Man and a Brother?", 1787 medallion designed by Josiah Wedgwood for the British anti-slavery campaign

Abolitionism

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Movement to end slavery.

Movement to end slavery.

"Am I Not a Man and a Brother?", 1787 medallion designed by Josiah Wedgwood for the British anti-slavery campaign
The Chevalier de Saint-Georges, known as the "Black Mozart", was, by his social position, and by his political involvement, a figurehead of free blacks.
Jacques Pierre Brissot (1754–1793), who organized the Society of the Friends of the Blacks in 1788.
Proclamation of the Abolition of Slavery in the French Colonies, 27 April 1848, by Biard (1849)
Lord Mansfield (1705–1793), whose opinion in Somerset's Case (1772) was widely taken to have held that there was no basis in law for slavery in England.
Olaudah Equiano was a member of an abolitionist group of prominent free Africans living in Britain, and he was active among leaders of the anti-slave trade movement in the 1780s.
The painting of the 1840 Anti-Slavery Convention at Exeter Hall.
A poster advertising a special chapel service to celebrate the Abolition of Slavery in 1838
William Wilberforce (1759–1833), politician and philanthropist who was a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade.
Thomas Clarkson was the key speaker at the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society's (today known as Anti-Slavery International) first conference in London, 1840
Hugh Elliot was a noted abolitionist. Whilst Governor in the British West Indies, he was reported to be the driving force behind the arrest, trial and execution of a wealthy white planter Arthur Hodge for the murder of a slave.
Punishing slaves at Calabouço, in Rio de Janeiro, c. 1822. Brazil in 1888 was the last nation in the Western Hemisphere to abolish slavery.
Chief Justice Thomas Andrew Lumisden Strange – helped free Black Nova Scotian slaves
Uncle Tom's Cabin inflamed public opinion in the North and Britain against the evils of slavery.
Black volunteer soldiers muster out to their first freedom, Harper's Weekly, 1866
Medical examination photo of Gordon showing his scourged back, widely distributed by Abolitionists to expose the brutality of slavery. From at least the 1860s onwards, photography was a powerful tool in the abolitionist movement.
José Gregorio Monagas abolished slavery in Venezuela in 1854.
Statue on Kunta Kinteh Island, The Gambia, commemorating the end of the Atlantic slave trade; the stick figure is a Kanaga mask.
Actress Lucy Liu speaking out against slavery
Abolition of slavery in the various states of the US over time:Abolition of slavery during or shortly after the American Revolution
The Northwest Ordinance, 1787
Gradual emancipation in New York (starting 1799) and New Jersey (starting 1804)
The Missouri Compromise, 1821
Effective abolition of slavery by Mexican or joint US/British authority
Abolition of slavery by Congressional action, 1861
Abolition of slavery by Congressional action, 1862
Emancipation Proclamation as originally issued, 1 Jan 1863
Subsequent operation of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863
Abolition of slavery by state action during the Civil War
Operation of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1864
Operation of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865
Thirteenth Amendment to the US constitution, 18 Dec 1865
Territory incorporated into the US after the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment

In fact, from a purely economic point of view Africans were better slaves, stronger and healthier, because the "Middle Passage" had selected for these traits.

The Slave Ship (1840), J. M. W. Turner's representation of the mass killing of slaves, inspired by the Zong killings

Zong massacre

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Mass killing of more than 130 African enslaved people by the crew of the British slave ship Zong on and in the days following 29 November 1781.

Mass killing of more than 130 African enslaved people by the crew of the British slave ship Zong on and in the days following 29 November 1781.

The Slave Ship (1840), J. M. W. Turner's representation of the mass killing of slaves, inspired by the Zong killings
Map of the Caribbean, showing Tobago, Hispaniola (red) and Jamaica (blue)
Plan of the slave ship Brookes, carrying 454 slaves. Before the Slave Trade Act 1788, Brookes had transported 609 slaves and was 267 tons burden, making 2.3 slaves per ton. Zong carried 442 slaves and was 110 tons burden — 4.0 slaves per ton.
William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield by John Singleton Copley, in his parliamentary robes as an earl
Granville Sharp, from a drawing by George Dance
Turner, J.M.W. The Deluge. Oil paint on canvas, support: 1429 × 2356 mm frame: 1800 × 2705 × 127 mm. Tate, 1805. Tate. London.
Depiction of the torture of a female slave by Captain John Kimber, produced in 1792. Unlike the crew of Zong, Kimber was tried for the murder of two female slaves. The trial generated substantial news coverage in addition to printed images such as this—unlike the limited reporting of the Zong killings a decade earlier.
Kaskelot, appearing as Zong, at Tower Bridge during commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 2007

Because of the legal dispute, reports of the massacre received increased publicity, stimulating the abolitionist movement in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; the Zong events were increasingly cited as a powerful symbol of the horrors of the Middle Passage, the transoceanic route by which slaves were brought to the New World.

Ottobah Cugoano, 1784 by Richard Cosway

Ottobah Cugoano

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Ottobah Cugoano, also known as John Stuart (c.

Ottobah Cugoano, also known as John Stuart (c.

Ottobah Cugoano, 1784 by Richard Cosway
Ottobah Cugoano, 1784 by Richard Cosway
Richard and Maria Cosway, and Ottobah Cugoano, (1784) by Richard Cosway
Title page of Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species (1787)
Blue plaque on Schomberg House

George III, along with much of the royal family, remained opposed to abolition of the slave trade.