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Sunday 13 April 2014

Britain & The Transatlantic Slave Trade Part II

(Read Part One of Britain and the Transatlantic Slave Trade HERE:

Having been disembarked in the New World, each shipment of African slaves were thought to have been taken to a holding area, typically a stockade, until such time as an auction was arranged for them to be sold. It was probably during this period that slaves were “seasoned” by the slave traders, acclimatised to the foreign climate and taught their place in the New World, often at the end of a whip or a cane. Commonly the slaves would have been displayed naked, or perhaps with sufficient clothing to save offending the sensitivities of those European ladies who might be present. In order to ensure that the potential workers were of good quality and not suffering from any sort of disease or physical weakness, they would have been carefully inspected by each of their would-be purchasers before the auction began. It has also been reported that most slaves were regularly ordered to prove their fitness, by running and jumping about, so that their future owners might check them for any unseen infirmity.
Even though entire families were often transported across the Atlantic, little consideration was thought to have been given to keeping friends and relatives together, although for some slave owners it was said to have been common practice to deliberately separate companions, so that the individual slave was thoroughly isolated from their family, language and culture; and therefore more likely to adapt to his or her new circumstances. This generally indifferent approach to maintaining the integrity of African family units was thought to have been carried out, even where slaves had become settled on a particular plantation and had raised new families together. Many stories exist, of young slave children, fathers, and mothers being separated from one another, either because the owner had died; and their estates were subsequently divided up amongst their relatives, or simply because the owner had received an offer, on one or another of the family members.
Even after having suffered the confusion and indignity of the slave auction, where they were paraded before a crowd of strangers and sold in the same way as a prize steer or horse might be, their humiliation and bewilderment often continued. Having been purchased by an owner, who had absolutely no regard for them as a human being, they were then said to have been transported to their new plantation home, often walking tied to the back of their new master’s horse or cart. Having reached the plantation they would then have been put in the hands of the plantation’s head overseer or one of his lieutenants, who would have been able to converse with the slave and explain the routines of the plantation and their particular duties there. They would have been given European clothing to wear, which was often replaced annually, although slave children were generally not provided with any sort of clothing by their owners, until such time as they became economically viable for the owner, or if their parents could somehow acquire clothing from elsewhere. It also seems likely that many of the slaves who would already be carrying a brand on their skin, a reminder of their initial capture in Africa; would be marked once again, this time in order to identify them if they ran away from their new owners.
Slave accommodations on most plantations were thought to have been generally poor quality affairs, often built of wood, mud, or wattle and daub walls and covered by a rudimentary thatched roof. Most of these quarters would have contained no furniture to speak of and in most cases slaves were required to provide their own furniture and fittings, either by making them themselves, or by bartering the food that they were allowed to grow on their individual plots of land. Although most slaves were given a basic food allowance each day, this had to be supplemented by the individual slaves growing their own additional products, seeds for which, were often provided by their owner and tended to on a Sunday, the one day a week that slaves would generally be allowed to have off, largely due to the Christian ideal of “resting on the seventh day”. Although there was little time given over to leisure and relaxation, occasional Christian feasts throughout the year, sometimes allowed slaves to rest and celebrate, with some more reasonable plantation owners even providing additional rations to their slaves in order to mark the event.
Day to day control of the slave workforce on most plantations was thought to have been left in the hands of the owners head overseer and his lieutenants, the slave drivers. These men were often slaves themselves, but those who were willing to control and discipline their fellow slaves, in order to make a better life for themselves. The head overseer or plantation manager, was almost always a white European, who was employed by and answerable to the plantation owner directly; and in his turn had complete day-to-day control over the lives of the entire slave population, only deferring to the owner in the most serious circumstances, such as when a slave committed a serious offence or ran away from the plantation.
Even within the plantations slave community itself though, a hierarchy was reported to have existed, with domestic slaves being far more important and influential, than those that were employed on the outside of the master’s house. This was largely due to the fact that they were often in day-to-day contact with the slave owner and his family, which allowed them to form relationships with the master himself, his wife and very often his children, who sometimes regarded their slaves as members of the immediate family and made little distinction between people that were black or those that were white. Outside in the fields however, there were thought to have been even further classification of slaves, with field slaves, those that worked at harvesting the sugar cane or cotton crops, deemed to be the lowest of the low. Above them, were the slaves who worked in the sugar factories, those who helped process the raw sugar crop and turned it into molasses, the basic product that helped to fund their master’s lifestyle. Because they possessed these specific production skills, they were considered to be of a slightly higher value than their field-working counterparts; and as such were only inferior to the artisan slaves, who were reported to have been a much prized assets by most slave owners.
Skilled wood and metal workers, these slaves generally represented the best sort of investment by any slave owner, as they could often be hired out to other farmers and plantation owners for a fee, generating an additional income for the master, as well as saving him the cost of having to employ expensive outside tradesmen. According to some historians, these highly skilled slaves were often allowed to take on their own work and to earn money from their own labour, offering some of them the opportunity to eventually buy their freedom from their own individual slave owners.
From a British perspective, the first recorded English explorer to acquire African slaves was thought to have been a man called John Lok, who was said to have brought five black Africans back to Britain in 1555. However, these captives were not thought to have been acquired for sale, but rather to be taught English, so that they could then act as interpreters for future English expeditions to Africa, where Lok and his fellow traders were trying to source gold, ivory and pepper. Traders like John Lok were said to have been joined by the likes of William Towerson, a British trader who was reported to have traded relatively small numbers of African slaves during his voyages of 1556 and 1557.
Interestingly though, Queen Elizabeth I, who was said to have helped facilitate a number of these expeditions, does not appear to have supported the taking and selling of African slaves as commodities, publicly admonishing those that did and ordering that all “Negroes and Blackamores” be arrested and sent out of her kingdom. The main reason for the Queen’s actions was thought to be a growing concern amongst her own citizens of places like London, about the increasing numbers of black people, both free and enslaved who were being seen in and around the capital city. However, the monarch was also known to have granted a Royal Charter to the African Company of Merchant Adventurers in 1588, ostensibly allowing its merchants to trade for anything but slaves, although in all likelihood, the trade in black African slaves probably continued unabated, but without it actually being brought to the Queens personal attention. The first English Sea Captain to actually engage in the Transatlantic Slave trade proper was said to have been Sir John Hawkins, who is credited with this dubious honour, having managed to make a profit from the three voyages he undertook over a six year period. According to most sources, Hawkins was said to have transported around twelve hundred African slaves to the Caribbean, where he subsequently sold them to the Spanish authorities there. The first of these voyages was said to have been marked by the capture of a Portuguese slaving ship in 1562, which Hawkins caught transporting some three hundred African slaves to the New World. Adopting the view that this human cargo should be treated in exactly the same as any other enemy prize, the English sea captain was thought to have completed the transportation of the unfortunate captives across the Atlantic, where he subsequently sold them to Spanish slave merchants in San Domingo in the Americas.
Having purchased a mixed cargo of pearls, animal hides, sugar and ginger, Hawkins was then reported to have returned to England and having sold these goods there was said to have made a 60% profit on the expedition. With such profits to be made from the trading of human cargoes, Hawkins and his partners were said to have immediately organised a second expedition to the African continent, which was known to have sailed in 1564. However, rather than simply relying on good fortune to deliver him yet another Portuguese slaving ship, this time Hawkins was said to have dealt directly with the native African slave traders, trading them English goods for another four hundred slaves. With his ships holds stocked with his new cargo of enslaved Africans, Hawkins then set sail once again, selling his valuable cargo once again to the Spanish authorities in the New World and returning home to England with yet another cargo of highly prized goods that could be sold in English cities. His third voyage was thought to have taken place in 1567 and despite being intercepted by the Spanish, Hawkins still managed to transport a further four hundred Africans to the New World and make a handsome profit from the expedition. Following this trip, Hawkins was said to have written an account of his exploits, promoting the potential profitability of the slave trade and no doubt laying the basis for the extensive trade that was to follow.
According to most reports Britain was thought to have participated in the Transatlantic Slave Trade for a period of some 245 years, from 1562 through to 1807, when the trade was finally abolished by the English Parliament. During that two and a half centuries British slave ships were said to have made several thousand Triangular Trade journeys and transported anything up to three million Africans into slavery. Aside from the early expeditions made by the likes of Towerson, Hawkins, etc. the vast majority of these thousands of slaving journeys were made, principally to supply the new and emerging British colonies in the New World, rather than the general slave trade at large. Between 1560 and 1590, British ships were thought to have played no significant role in the Triangular Trade, mainly because Britain had no colonial interests in the New World to speak of and British mariners were said to have concentrated on delivering goods across the Atlantic, between Africa and the Americas. In 1618, the Guinea Company was reported to have been founded with the permission of King James I, to trade for Gold, Ivory and Pepper with the native tribes of Africa. However, the surplus of captive slaves and the profits that could be made from trading them in the New World quickly persuaded a large number of merchants to trade almost exclusively in human cargoes, rather than the more usual commodities. Even the king himself, was said to have recognised the potential wealth that might be made in the trade, reportedly founding the Company of Adventurers trading into Africa at that time. In the following year, the first waves of African slaves were reported to have been sent to the British colony of Jamestown in Virginia, to work on the burgeoning tobacco plantations that had been established by the English settlers there. In 1631, James’ royal successor, Charles I was reported to have granted a monopoly to the Guinea Company to trade in Africa, which included the wholesale trafficking of black African slaves into the Americas.
In order to be perfectly clear regarding the status of slaves during this period, it is perhaps worth remembering that slavery as we understand it today was only one type of slave ownership, which saw Black African’s bought, sold and treated as chattels, the same as any other common possession. In addition to this outright and commonly accepted form of slavery, other various forms of enforced service were thought to have existed at the time, albeit in a much more restricted and legally enforceable format. Indentured service for example, was thought to be a type of contractual enslavement, often made willingly between one individual person and another, by which the first individual sold his labour to the second party for a specific period of time and under certain previously agreed terms.
So for example, an individual unable to pay for the cost of a voyage to the New World might agree a contract with a ships master that saw the individual carried to the Americas, provided that he agreed to several years of indentured service to the Master. Typically, such contracts provided for the ships master, to then transfer or sell these “services” to other people, such as mine owners or plantation owners who were always looking for new sources of labour. Significantly, such contracts of indentured service did not always guarantee how the servant was to be treated by their master, only that they should be given adequate housing, food and clothing for the period of their service. The obvious difference though, between this form of indentured service and outright chattel slavery was that the person had some sort of legal entitlement and that once their term of service was completed then they were free to get on with the rest of their lives, often with a small sum of money, or parcel of land, with which they could build their own fortune. Indentured servants though, black or white, were not always immune from harsh treatment that might be meted out by their employer and contemporary reports from the time suggest that many were treated extremely badly. Being punished through physical beatings, starvation and temporary imprisonment were all said to have been common occurrences on a number of New World plantations, which undoubtedly accounted for a marked decline in the numbers of white settlers who were prepared to undertake such employment.  
Perhaps surprisingly, it was typically this form of service that was offered to both black and white workers prior to the middle of the 17th century; and it was only after that time that African slaves began to be treated differently, eventually simply turning them into chattels, the status which we commonly associate with the Transatlantic Slave Trade and its victims. Despite the fact that many tens of thousands of Africans were reportedly stolen away from their homelands in the first century of the trade, it has been suggested that many thousands more were actually employed on a similar basis to that of indentured service, where they worked for a specific period of time, before being given their freedom by their owners, along with a small plot of land where they might spend the rest of their lives. It was said to be because of this having to regularly replenish their worker numbers that first introduced the idea of depriving African workers of their basic human rights and fundamentally altering their status from indentured servant to that of personal chattels.
The main change in African workers status’ was reported to have originated in the British colony of Barbados in 1661, when a Slave Code was first introduced by the authorities on the island. This legislation was said to have established that African slaves were chattels, rather than free people and as such had no more rights than any other possession. Although this piece of legislation claimed to be a guide for slave owners, designed to help them with the “proper” treatment of their servants, in reality it merely helped to make most slaves lives even more miserable and harsh. By failing to specify how slaves should be fed and housed, or to specify the conditions under which slaves might be employed, it simply gave some slave owners free rein to treat their slaves in the most inhumane fashion. The Slave Code deliberately denied African slave’s rights that they might have expected under English Common Law, including the right to life, which then allowed some owners to simply kill their slaves with virtual impunity. Unfortunately for future generations of Africans that were subsequently shipped across the Atlantic, these Slave Codes were said to have been adopted by the colonial authorities throughout much of the Caribbean, South America and the Northern States, essentially condemning millions of black slaves to live out their lives as the possessions of other people, rather than as human beings in their own right and with all of the rules pertaining to that status.
Many of these punitive Slave Codes were reported to have been introduced into North America during the second half of the 17th century, just a few years after they had first been issued by the British administrators in Barbados. In 1662 for example the colonial authorities in Virginia issued a statute that declared “all children born in this country shall be held to be bond or free, according to the condition of its mother”. In other words, if the child’s mother was a slave, then so were all those children born to her while she was enslaved, even if those children were fathered by a white man, either willingly or unwillingly. Two years later, the legislature of Maryland declared that “any white woman, who married a slave, would herself be deemed to be a slave, until such time as her husband died. In addition to this, if any children were born to the woman whilst she was enslaved, then these children too would be deemed to be slaves” In 1667 Virginia added to its earlier statute by declaring “any slave children, regardless of whether or not they were baptised into the Christian Church remained a slave”, which fundamentally swept away any earlier ideas or spiritual teachings that it was sinful for one Christian to hold another in bondage. The same Assembly then declared in 1682 “that all Negroes, Moors, Mulattoes or Indians that had not been Christians at the time of their enslavement or purchase, were deemed to be slaves and therefore might be used as such”. In 1705 the Virginia legislature was reported to have clarified this previous stature by announcing a rider to it, which stated that “such slaves were to be held as Real Estate”, presumably as opposed to being held as human beings in their own right. The Virginian Assembly also stated that “if any slave resists his master and if when correcting the slave the master shall happen to kill him, then the master shall be free of all punishment, as if such an accident had never happened”. Clearly, this particular piece of legislation later became a common defence for those owners who maliciously injured or even killed their slaves, relatively safe in the knowledge that there was little that the law would do to punish them, if they did happen to accidentally or deliberately kill a slave.
Other states too began to adopt their own new laws and regulations pertaining to the status and treatment of African slaves, including the General Assembly of South Carolina, which declared in 1712 that “all Negroes, Mulattoes or Indians that were bought, sold, or taken to be slaves, were in fact slaves, as were their children”. At the same time the Assembly also declared that “No master, mistress or overseer that has the care of any Negro or Slave shall give their Negro or Slave leave to go out of their plantation without a ticket. Any Negro or Slave found outside his master’s plantation without a ticket shall be whipped”. Statutes such as this were generally designed to limit and account for all slave movements within the colony; and were undoubtedly the result of concerns expressed by the minority white communities who felt threatened by the black African slaves who lived amongst them. These concerns also led to much more repressive legislation being enacted by a number of the southern colonies, including the likes of Louisiana, which declared in 1724 that “any slave who strikes his master, mistress or their children and causes a bruise or the shedding of blood on their face will suffer capital punishment”.
Despite such discriminatory legislation however, it would be wrong to believe that all blacks had absolutely no rights whatsoever, because that is incorrect. Neither is it true to say that all black African slaves were owned by white people, because that too is incorrect. Freed black slaves were entitled to and often did buy, sell and own other African slaves, who they employed on their own plantations and farms. A notable example, although certainly not a rarity, was said to have been a freed black slave called Anthony Johnson who was reportedly captured from his homeland of Angola in around 1620. He was said to have been indentured to a white planter called Bennett in 1621 and once his contract had been completed Anthony was reported to have established his own farm, presumably with money or land that had been provided by his former employer Mr Bennett. It was also reported that at the same time that Johnson was freed by Bennett, the white slave owner also freed Johnson’s wife, so that the two freed slaves could live and work on their own land together. The reason that Johnson’s name and situation are so well known, is largely due to the fact that Johnson then went to court to confirm his own ownership of a black African slave called John Casor, who the court decided was Anthony Johnson’s slave for life. It is also clear from the reports of the case that Johnson owned a number of black slaves, who were all said to have been imported directly from Africa.
As if to clarify and limit the numbers of slaves that were then being held by black farmers and plantation owners, the Virginian Assembly subsequently enacted statutes that expressly forbade any Negro or Indian from owning any Christian, which presumably meant any white person. However, these statutes did not prevent freed black farmers from buying, selling or owning “any of their own nations”, in other words, other black slaves. Unsurprisingly perhaps, most black slave holders were generally thought to have been far more humane than their white counterparts, in their treatment of Negro or Indian slaves and in some cases deliberately purchased their friends and family members in order to save them from white ownership. Often though, such purchases were thought to have been just a precursor to or even a pretext for the black slave owner, to grant the purchased slave his or her freedom, by allowing them to buy their liberty by working off the debt on the black farmers lands. However, perhaps alarmed by these practices and the increasing numbers of freed black slaves who were now inhabiting the various white communities, a number of state legislatures were said to have introduced statutes that specifically prevented freed Negroes from acquiring permanent ownership of slaves, other than husbands, wives or children, unless they were acquired by descent, that is, passed from one generation of the family to another.
It is thought that large scale British colonisation of the West Indies or Caribbean, only really began in the first half of the 17th century, with the island of Barbados reportedly being settled by colonists in 1627. The following year, the island of Nevis was settled and four years later, in 1632, Antigua and Montserrat were said to have received their first English settlers. However, all of these islands were thought to have initially been inhabited by a collection of small farmers, who were cultivating crops such as tobacco and therefore had little need for large numbers of workers. It was only in later years, when some of these same planters made the change to the much more labour intensive sugar cane and cotton production that large numbers of both white indentured and then African slave workers were said to have been introduced into the various islands. Although the Portuguese were said to have been the first people to introduce both the sugar beet and sugar cane to the Americas in the 15th century, it was thought to have been the Dutch who helped to make it such a popular crop throughout the 17th century Caribbean, by persuading many tobacco and cotton farmers that there were greater profits to be made from the planting, harvesting and processing of sugar cane. In fact, they were said to have been so successful in changing Caribbean planters minds regarding sugar that by the end of the 18th century around 85% of the sugar consumed in Europe was said to have come from the West Indies. However, it should also be noted that many tobacco and cotton planters in the Caribbean were said to have made the switch to sugar production, not only for the extra profits they could make, but also because of the additional competition that they were beginning to face from the fast emerging cotton and tobacco growers in the North American colonies. 
By the latter half of the 17th century, the numbers of white European indentured servants was reported to have declined significantly, due in large part to improving living standards in Britain and the increasingly harsh conditions that were said to have been prevalent on these West Indies plantations. It was for these reasons that the numbers of black Africans being forcibly imported into the islands, was said to have increased so markedly during the same period. The sugar cane industry was thought to have been particularly rigorous during the harvesting period, when slaves were said to have had to work up to twenty hours a day, which inevitably led to many living relatively short lives, often only between eight and ten years, after which they had to be replaced by the plantation owners. Along with other European held colonies, such as Antigua, Martinique and Guadalupe, the British colony of Barbados was reported to have been one of the first major slave holding societies throughout the Caribbean; and by the middle of the 18th century both it and Jamaica were said to be two of the largest and most brutal slave societies in the entire region.
As has been previously noted, the callous and often inhumane treatment of African slaves meted out to them by the white European plantation owners, managers and head overseers, was often thought to be a symptom of a white Caribbean society that was operating on the very margins and occasionally crossing the lines of generally accepted western civilised behaviour. As in other far flung places, societies that operated at the very fringes of the known world, were often extremely lawless places, where the idea and practice of “might is right” tended to hold sway, over the lives of the people that lived there. Long established legal controls and accepted social conventions often only came to places like the Caribbean over time and in response to the development of a traditional western society, which in places like Barbados, Jamaica and the other British held Caribbean islands was extremely hard to find. With a minimal white European population, controlling a large enslaved black majority, usually through fear and abuse, it was never likely that the communities of islands such as Barbados, Jamaica, etc could or would ever be deemed to be conventional British societies and as a consequence never developed the sort of legal and social protections that operated in Britain itself. Rather, it appears that the British authorities in London chose to hand overall control of the Caribbean, to military or civilian Governors, who were very often complicit in producing these island societies, which were purposely racist, inhumane and intolerant.
Ironically perhaps, it was thought to be these same uncivilised attitudes and practices, which ultimately led to both the decline and then the later abolition of the slave owning societies that had dominated these British held islands since the beginning of the 17th century. Because of their reputations for hardship and cruelty towards workers, planters and farm owners in places such as Barbados, Jamaica, etc found it increasingly difficult to attract new European settlers, preventing the more widespread development of the islands economy. Added to this was the increasing influence of and competition from other European Caribbean colonies, which not only undermined British planter’s ability to source workers, thereby increasing such costs, but also helped to reduce the potential profits that could be made by these same planters and their associated London merchants. According to most reputable sources, the number of African slaves employed on Britain’s Caribbean possessions decreased significantly over time, ostensibly because of their relatively short lives, which was undoubtedly a result of the extreme conditions under which they laboured.
In normal circumstances and with more liberal employment, it has been suggested that the British slave communities on these islands would have regularly replenished themselves through usual reproductive methods, but this does not appear to have been the case. Long hours, along with arduous work, minimal food and regular acts of infanticide were all thought to have contributed to a steadily falling birth rate amongst the slave community, requiring more and more to be spent on replacing those Africans that almost inevitably succumbed to the rigorous conditions under which they worked. Still born babies were thought to have been common feature amongst slave women, as were failed pregnancies and a high rate of infant mortality generally, all of which were thought to have been caused by a combination of poor diet, extremely hard work, long hours in the fields and often squalid living conditions.
Although numerous British ships were undoubtedly involved in the enforced transportation of black Africans during the early part of the 17th century, they were not thought to be one of the principal slave trading nations at that particular time. Rather, it seems that most of the African workforce supplied to Britain’s early Caribbean holdings, were actually supplied by the Dutch, who had taken over large parts of the Portuguese holdings on the African continent. According to some reporters, it was these same Dutch interests that had helped to develop Britain’s evolving sugar and cotton industries in the West Indies, having well established markets for these new commodities on the European mainland, as well as in Britain itself. However, in both 1651 and 1660 the English Parliament introduced legislation to fundamentally reduce the involvement of other European nations in supplying slaves to the emerging Caribbean colonies that Britain was acquiring.
Two different Navigation Acts passed in those years specifically forbade other European slave trading nations from supplying black African labour to the new English colonies, thereby granting British ships a monopoly on that particular area of trade. Bermuda was said to have first been settled by the British in 1612, although the island was thought to have first been discovered by a group of shipwrecked English sailors in around 1609. It was also reported to have been a small number of these early British settlers who left Bermuda to colonise a small group of islands that later became known as the Bahamas. Prior to the widespread Western European exploration of the Americas, the island of Bermuda was also said to have been home to an indigenous people called the Arawak, but most of their population was thought to have been removed by Spanish explorers in the 15th and 16th centuries to work in their mines scattered throughout the region of Hispaniola, where most of them were thought to have subsequently perished. 
The first African slaves landed in the mainland United States were thought to have been brought to Jamestown in Virginia in 1619, although demand for cheap labour was said to have escalated dramatically during the next few years as Britain settled the West Indies and Barbados during the first half of the 17th century. These first two hundred enslaved Africans were thought to have been introduced into the colony by a Dutch sea captain, who had captured a Portuguese slave ship crossing the Atlantic and relieved it of its human cargo. Having seen his ship damaged by storms, this Dutch trader was then said to have arrived in the Americas with a damaged ship, but with a valuable cargo to sell, which is exactly what he did, selling the slaves in order to have his ship repaired. Although the fate of the two hundred African slaves in unknown, it has been suggested that most of them were subsequently sold into indentured service, as opposed to outright slavery; and were later freed, having served the usual terms of service for their new American owners.
Barbados was known to have been captured in 1624-5, with the first slaves being introduced within a couple of years; and St Kitts was said to have received its first African slaves in 1626, the island having first been settled in 1623. It has also been reported that a large number of African slaves were brought to Charlestown in South Carolina in 1670, having been transported there by their owners, a group of colonists who had originated in Barbados and had brought their slaves as a labour force to help establish their new plantations in mainland America. Although no large numbers of African slaves were reported to have been brought into England at any time, small numbers were said to have been transported back to Britain on a fairly ad-hoc basis, most notably during the 17th century. In 1621 the first black Africans were said to have been traded in Britain, when a William Bragge was reported to have claimed monies from the East India Company for thirteen Negroes or Indian people, although whether or not these people were actually sold into slavery in Britain itself is unclear.
However, it would be wrong to believe that the demand for slaves was entirely met from the forced importation of people from Africa alone, as that was not the case. Between 1610 and 1660 an estimated 100,000 white servants, primarily from Britain and Ireland, were said to have been transported both to the Caribbean and North America by the British authorities, having been sentenced to varying terms of indentured service and imprisonment. These numbers were thought to have largely comprised of Irish nationalist rebels and Royalist supporters, who were transported to the New World both by the English Crown and the Parliamentary authorities, before, during and after the English Civil War. It was thought to be as a result of the labours of both black and white servants that helped Barbados harvest its first successful sugar crop in 1640, a cash crop on which much of the Caribbean would come to rely in the future. According to some sources Oliver Cromwell’s military campaigns in Ireland during the late 1640’s was reported to have resulted in some 500,000 Irishmen being transported to the British held Caribbean islands to serve out their sentences, with very few of them ever making it back to their native homeland. It has also been suggested that in addition to the hundreds of thousands of British, Irish and Scottish citizens who were transported into penal servitude, there were thought to have been an even greater number of British people who volunteered to undertake indentured service in order to escape the poverty and religious persecutions that were rife in Britain during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. A number of other groups were thought to have been transported out of Britain in order to serve as indentured servants on the plantations in the New World, including convicted criminals, the nations indigent, as well as those that were “pressed” into service by gangs of men, specifically employed to shanghai unwitting and unwilling volunteers, who in most cases woke up to find themselves aboard a ship destined for the Americas.
Although white European labour was thought to have formed a significant part of the wider slave trade during the 16th and 17th centuries, by the second half of the 18th century the numbers of white European’s available for such work was thought to have fallen quite dramatically, as civil and religious conflicts within Europe reduced and standards of living improved. It is also likely that many of the indentured servants and prisoners who had originally formed part of the plantation labour force had subsequently been released from their service and now became landholders and slave owners in their own rights, creating an even greater demand for cheap labour. Even for those former indentured servants that chose to remain in the New World as simple workers, with their enforced service at an end they still expected to be treated better than the black Africans who had taken their place.
It was possibly because of the higher wage demands of the white Europeans, the increasing numbers of land owners and the increasing demands for their products that led many plantation owners to look for new sources of cheap manual labour. Rather than pay higher wages and have to invest in improved accommodations for their labour force, who were generally employed on legally enforceable contracts, most plantation owners chose to exploit the human resources of places like Africa, buying slaves at a one-off price and then owning them for ever more, or at least until they died. For the plantation owners, a change in the legal status of the African slave’s own children also made them a far more attractive long-term investment. Commonly a child’s legal status would be determined by the father’s status, meaning that children born out of a sexual relationship between a white European freeman and a black slave woman, even in the case of rape, would have resulted in the child being regarded as free. However, by altering the law to make the child’s status dependent on the mother, then children born out of such relationships automatically became enslaved themselves and thus increased the slave owners own holdings. Sex crimes such as rape were thought to have been common events on certain plantations, where white European males exploited their authority over female slaves, safe in the knowledge that they were generally immune from prosecution and in some cases had the added benefit of increasing the numbers of slaves that they owned, without owing any sort of legal responsibility to the resulting child. 
Formal royal recognition of the African Slave Trade, as opposed to the generally ad-hoc trading expeditions for gold, ivory, spices, etc. was thought to date from April 1671, when the Royal Africa Company was first established under a Royal Charter, granting a monopoly to a number of London merchants, by the then English monarch King Charles II. This charter authorised the company “to set to sea, as many ships, pinnacles and barks as thought necessary, for the buying, selling, bartering and exchanging of, for or with any gold or silver, Negroes, slaves, goods and wares”. Between 1672 and 1698, the period of the company’s actual trading monopoly; the Royal Africa Company was reported to have shipped around 100,000 African slaves to Britain’s Caribbean and North American colonies.
Many of these native people were thought to have been transported from the forts and ports located along the coastlines of the modern day African states of Senegambia and Angola. The previously noted Bunce Island Slave Castle was thought to have been just one of these English built forts, which were not only constructed as defensive redoubts, but also included a holding area, for those slaves who had been captured throughout the region. Built somewhere around 1670, this particular trading post was thought to have operated right through to the turn of the 19th century, when the abolition of the slave trade essentially made the fortress virtually obsolete. The Royal Africa Company was said to have been almost entirely established to deal in the purchase, transportation and selling of African slaves, solely for the purpose of making a profit off the trade; and was thought to be an enterprise almost entirely instituted and operated by members of the Stuart family, who sat on the English throne during most the 17th century. Originally known as the Company of Royal Adventurers Trading in Africa, the business was said to have first been established in 1660, under a charter granted by King Charles II, but generally led by his brother, the Duke of York, who later ascended the throne as James II.
Despite the loss of the company’s trading monopoly in 1698, the new English monarch’s William and Mary having ended it in that year, the Royal African Company continued to trade in these same human cargoes and by 1700 was reported to have shipped around 175,000 Africans to a number of England’s overseas possessions. Some 25,000 of the slaves taken out of Africa were said to have been destined for the Caribbean island of Barbados alone, where most of them were said to have employed in the extremely arduous sugar cane industry, often in the most inhumane circumstances. The enormous profits generated by the slave trade were said to have been further increased by the Royal African Company’s exploitation of the native gold deposits found within the continent, much of which was thought to have found its way into the Royal Mint. Interestingly, this African gold was reported to have been identified by the image of an elephant being inscribed below the usual monarch’s head on the individual coins; and is also thought to be the source for the now generally defunct English guinea coin. 
Although the withdrawal of the trade monopoly was largely thought to have been as the result of political lobbying by influential merchants in both Liverpool and Bristol, the fact that the Royal African Company had been founded, headed and operated by a highly unpopular Roman Catholic monarch, who had subsequently been forced to abandon his throne, was undoubtedly a factor in the decision made by King William and Queen Mary. Although the London merchants who were involved in the slave trade, no doubt suffered as a result of the trade being opened up to rival ports, the trade itself was said to have escalated dramatically after 1698, as both Liverpool and Bristol hosted their own fleets of slave ships, which were destined for the African continent. As even greater numbers of merchants became involved in the trading of African slaves, to meet the increasing demand on the emerging Caribbean and American plantations, so greater demands were thought to have been made on the native population of Africa itself, forcing the slavers to venture deeper and further into the African interior. For the most part, these slaving expeditions would have been carried out by African tribesmen, rather than white Europeans, who were generally susceptible to native diseases, unfamiliar with the terrain and more likely to be viewed with suspicion and distrust by the indigenous peoples of the African interior. Having conducted a successful slaving campaign though, African captives would still be brought back to the European held forts and ports on the west coast of the continent, where they would be forcibly embarked on the ships destined to transport them to foreign lands and an unknown future.
With the opening up of trade in 1698, the numbers of English ships involved with the Transatlantic Slave Trade was said to have significantly increased and by 1740 some thirty-odd slave ships were reported to be operating from the English port of Liverpool, which was beginning to dominate the trade in Britain. However, it has also been suggested by some commentators that British ships were making many thousands of journeys every year to trade slaves between Africa and the New World, which seems highly unlikely given that each voyage often took the best part of a year to complete; and would therefore have taken several hundred, or thousand of ships to achieve that largely unsubstantiated target.
According to more reliable sources, between 1695 and 1807 the number of slave trading voyages made by British ships, from each of the three main slaving ports in England was; 5300 from Liverpool, 3100 from London and 2200 from Bristol. Totalling some 10,600 voyages, over a period of 112 years, which gives an average number of some ninety five voyages each year, although Liverpool ships were said to have been making significantly more journeys than their counterparts elsewhere. Liverpool’s growing slave trading activity was indicated by the increase in the numbers of voyages being undertaken by ships based at the port, with a reported fifteen ships sailing out in the 1730’s, fifty ships in the 1750’s and over one hundred vessels in the 1770’s. As a result, it has been suggested that Liverpool based ships actually transported around one million African slaves to the New World during the period that the Slave Trade operated, which based on the previously noted 5300 voyages from the port, would have actually worked out at some 208 slaves per ship’s voyage; and is thought to be a more generally accurate figure for the port as a whole.
Mersey based vessels such as the “Lively”, the “Blessing” and the “Liverpool Merchant” were all thought to have been employed in the transportation of black Africans across the Atlantic and Liverpool merchants such as James Gregson, Thomas Golightly and James Penny, were thought to be just three of those, who made their fortunes from the trade in human cargoes. The last of these three men, James Penny, was said to have subsequently achieved even greater fame, not only in his home city, but throughout the world, when the Beatles wrote the song “Penny Lane”, although in recent years there have been calls for the street to be renamed, ostensibly because of Penny’s participation in the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Another major English seaport that was thought to have been involved with the Transatlantic Slave Trade, albeit in a much smaller way, was the port of Plymouth, which was said to have played host to a relatively small number of slave ships after 1698. Plymouth based ships such as the “Michael” and the “Rochester” were reported to have carried a mixed cargo of various commodities, such as tobacco and metal goods to trade with the tribes of Africa. Both of these vessels were thought to have carried up to 280 slaves on each of their voyages to the New World, making handsome profits for both their owners and the captains who commanded them. Other trade goods carried by the ships, included drugs that could be used to treat common illnesses amongst the African tribesmen, as well as seeds that might be used for planting and the more common items such as guns, ammunition and textiles. Although the trade through Plymouth was always thought to have been a fairly minimal part of the city’s commercial business, by around 1750, only one ship, was said to be operating out of the port, so any benefits gained by the Transatlantic Slave Trade were thought to have been negligible.
It was said to be between 1740 and 1807 that the Transatlantic Slave Trade was at its greatest height, with an estimated 60,000 Africans being brought into the Americas, for work on the expanding rice, tobacco, sugar and cotton plantations that were the financial hub of the Caribbean and European colonies. Even prior to this, Britain’s status as one of the slave trades leading participants was thought to have been reinforced by the Treaty of Utrecht, signed in 1713, between the governments of Great Britain and Spain, which gave British slavers exclusive rights to supply African labour to the Spanish colonies in the Americas for a period of 30 years. It was largely as a result of such treaties; and the continuing development of the British plantation system throughout the Americas that helped Great Britain gain the unenviable reputation of being the biggest slave trading nation from 1730 onwards.
This position was thought to have been strengthened after 1763, when Britain acquired even more Caribbean possessions, in the form of Grenada, Tobago, St Vincent, Dominica, Cuba, Demerara and Trinidad, most of which were already occupied by other European plantations; and that regularly required new slave workers to replace those that had died. However, it should also be pointed out that according to some reporters, between 1698 and 1775, the North American colonies were also importing large numbers of African slaves on their own account and on their own ships, directly from Africa, rather than from the British West Indies, which had been the usual practice prior to that time. Operating from ports such as New York, Boston and Newport, Rhode Island, these entirely American slave ships, were reported to have carried slaves directly from Africa to the American colonies, where they were auctioned off and put to work on the burgeoning tobacco, rice and cotton plantations. Although direct imports of slaves did not end in 1775, following the American War of Independence, a number of new slave ports were reported to have sprung up, with Newport, Boston and Charleston becoming the principal points of entry for African slave labour. Interestingly however, after 1783, the newly established United States of America was also said reported to have been importing its own African slaves, largely through the use of its own slaving ship, as opposed to the former colonial powers, such as England. It has also been noted that by 1860 most of the four million black slaves, still in enslavement within the US, had actually been born within the borders of that country and were therefore American citizens rather than true native Africans.
Despite its pre-eminence amongst the by now well established trade and the military might which Britain employed throughout its emerging Empire, the slave trade was also thought to have presented many problems to the British authorities, most notably through a series of Slave Rebellions, which were said to have occurred on the main Caribbean island of Jamaica. Between 1730 and 1739 a series of armed revolts, led by a “Cameroon” leader called Cudjoe were reported to have erupted throughout the island, leading to the deaths of a number of European plantation owners and English administrators. As England found herself unable to fully suppress these revolts through entirely military means, eventually a Peace Treaty was agreed between the two sides, although it obviously failed to address many of the slaves basic demands, as reoccurrences of the revolt were known to have taken place during the 1760’s and again between 1794 and 1796.
Between 1655 and 1807 there were reported to have been a total of around thirty slave revolts on the island of Jamaica alone; and there were thought to have been numerous other slave uprisings and rebellions throughout the Caribbean in succeeding years. The Maroons of Jamaica were a colony of runaway slaves, who had either escaped from or been abandoned by, their former Spanish masters prior to Britain seizing the island in 1655. Rather than risk being enslaved by the new British occupiers, the Maroon’s chose to establish their own free community in the mountains of Jamaica, under the leadership of the self styled Captain Cudjoe, who was said to have been aided in his work by a supposedly magical matriarch called Queen Nanny. Although their mountain hideaway was said to have provided these freed slaves with most of their basic needs, generally they were thought to have relied on guerrilla raids against British plantations, to supply them everything else, including new black recruits. Although the British authorities had initially been fairly tolerant towards the Maroon’s, their increasing habit of attacking British owned plantations, stealing foodstuffs, money and weapons, as well as encouraging other slaves to abscond from their owners, eventually became too much for the local authorities, who decided to put a stop to the Maroons once and for all.
Unfortunately for those British military commanders who were ordered to suppress the rebels, the Maroons were said to have been a highly mobile guerrilla force, which was adept at disappearing into the islands interior, only to reappear somewhere else, to begin attacking British interests once the military had withdrawn. In fact, the rebels were thought to have been so successful in their campaigns that British plantation owners, such as George Manning and Colonel Thomas Brooks, continually lost property and more perhaps importantly, workers to the Maroons over a period of years, leading them to eventually abandon their plantations for fear of losing their own lives. Things were said to have become so serious on the island that the British authorities even employed native Indian trackers and regular British troops from Gibraltar, to try and chase down the elusive rebels, but all to no avail. Finally though, British political pragmatism was used to deal with the situation; and a Peace Treaty was eventually agreed between the two sides in 1739. This Peace Treaty was reported to have granted the Maroons land and financial incentives, provided that they returned British owned runaway slaves to their masters, which the rebels agreed to do, but only as and when they chose to do so. For the British authorities though, their commonly employed tactic of divide and conquer, had once again provided a temporary solution to their immediate problems.
In the first few decades of the transatlantic trade, African slaves were thought to have been treated fairly badly; and following the introduction of the Barbados Slave Code in 1661, they were thought to have been treated little better than animals. Because of their lowly status, slaves who transgressed the rules and regulations of the individual plantation, could expect to be punished severely, often by being whipped mercilessly by one of the many overseers. For the slave owner, this form of punishment was intended to reinforce his power over the slaves, inflict a painful lesson on the individual transgressor, but without restricting their ability to work on the plantation. Occasionally, an overzealous overseer might inadvertently beat a slave to death, but from the owner’s perspective, this simply reflected the loss of a possession, rather than representing any sort of illegal act, as at the time, slaves had few if any legal rights. For more serious infringements of the rules, such as absconding from the plantation, other far more serious punishments might well have been meted out to the individual offender.
It was not uncommon for runaway slaves to have part of their limbs amputated by the owner, or to have their hamstrings deliberately cut, in order to ensure that the slave did not run away for a second time. It has also been reported that both starvation and solitary confinement, were regularly used to teach erstwhile slaves a lesson, which along with the implicit threat of being whipped or losing part of a limb, tended to keep each plantation’s slaves in a permanent state of passive servility. However, as time passed some plantation owners were said to have adopted a much more humane attitude to the slaves that they owned, even regarding them as fellow human beings, with inherent rights, feelings and aspirations. By the latter part of the 18th century, many slaves were being regarded as trusted retainers by their owners, who often took on the task of educating and advising their slaves, so that their lives were as pleasant and as contented as they could be, albeit within an enslaved environment. Unfortunately, despite the best intentions of these much more forward thinking plantation owners, resentment and antagonism still existed within many slave communities and outbreaks of rebellion and violence were still thought to have been commonplace during the period, requiring increasingly stronger measures to be taken by the authorities, in order to suppress them.
The latter part of the 18th century, was also thought to have marked the beginning of the Abolitionist movement within both the United States and in Britain, an anti-slavery lobby which was thought to have significant support amongst the Quakers communities of both countries. In 1765, the first in a series of cases, were reported to have been brought before the English Courts in order to challenge the legality of the Slave Trade and in 1772 a landmark ruling in the English Courts, declared slavery in Great Britain and Ireland illegal. Also, in 1774, the Quaker leader, John Wesley, was said to have published an anti-slavery booklet that was widely distributed and supported by the Society of Friends. However, the outbreak of the American War of Independence in 1775 ensured that the subject of the Transatlantic Slave Trade was largely forgotten over the next two years, as Great Britain and its revolutionary colonists fought for control of the North American states. By 1787 and with control of the North American colonies settled, in favour of the newly founded United States of America, the subject of slavery once again became a subject for discussion within Britain. That same year was said to have seen the establishment of a committee, dedicated to the ending of the Slave Trade, which was founded in London, by a number of Britain’s leading social and religious groups, including the Society of Friends, although it would be another twenty years before any real change was made to the trade, when in 1789, the abolitionist movement did see improvements under the terms of the Dolben Act. This particular piece of British legislation was said to have laid down strict rules and regulations, pertaining to the transportation of African slaves, stating how many could be carried on ships of a particular size and helping to reduce some of the worst conditions which had been common prior to that.
A related issue that stemmed from the conflict between Britain and its rebellious American colonists was that of the thousands of black Afro-American slaves who had chosen to support the Imperial cause during the military dispute. Serving with both the British army and navy, most of these former slaves were said to have chosen to take up arms against the American settlers in return for the Crown’s guarantees for their future freedom. Unfortunately for everyone on the British side, the American colonists ultimately proved victorious in the American War of Independence and many of these same black soldiers and sailors were left little option but to resettle themselves elsewhere. Although some were reported to have made their way back to Africa or stayed on to make new lives in the northern states of America, large numbers were reported to have chosen to relocate themselves to other Caribbean islands, or to mainland Britain. The great maritime ports of Britain were often the final destinations for many of these former black soldiers and sailors, including the likes of London, Liverpool and Bristol, although many of them were reported to have failed to thrive in these largely urbanised areas. Since 1722, all black men and women entering Britain were deemed to be free persons, following the landmark ruling made by Chief Justice Mansfield in the case of a black fugitive slave called Somerset. Even though Mansfield’s legal opinion failed to uphold the rights of the millions of black slaves, who were being held on British owned plantations in the Caribbean, the judgement did clarify the legal position of those former slaves that were resident within Britain’s national borders and defined their rights as individuals under English law. Although only dealing with the case of the slave known as Somerset, Mansfield’s decision is also thought to have set a precedent that would ultimately lead to the abolition of the slave trade some thirty-odd years later. Sadly, such legal determinations failed to address many of the issues and prejudices that continued to affect most black people who lived and worked in late 18th century Britain. Although some managed to find both employment and accommodations in the great urban centres, many more found that they were largely unwelcome in some parts of the country and unable to find work, so were subsequently forced to beg in the streets to keep themselves alive. Such discrimination was also thought to have been the reason why so many immigrants, including many of these former slaves found themselves forced into racial ghettoes, where conditions were often not only appalling, but lives were short and poverty was rife.
It was thought to be as a result of such obvious black poverty that numbers of local benefactors, charitable foundations and supporters for the abolition of slavery came together to form the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor. Dedicated to finding a long term solution to the problems faced by the black poor in cities such as London, although the committee dedicated themselves to feeding and accommodating many of the poorest black citizens, its primary aim seems to have been to establish a colony, where these former slaves might build a new life. Initially though, such proposals were said to have met with very little support amongst members of Britain’s black communities and it was only after a number of assurances had been given, relating to their continued British citizenship and future security that a number of these former black soldiers and sailors agreed to be relocated to the region of modern day Sierre Leone. Taking with them a number of white women, who were reported to be the wives and girlfriends of these black settlers, the first contingent of London’s black poor were reported to have been transported to the site of a former slave market in Sierre Leone in 1787.
Joining a group of freed black American slaves who had established their own colony there some years earlier, initially everything seemed to have gone very well for the new community. However, following a series of disputes with the indigenous tribes of West Africa, the original settlement was said to have been burned down in 1789, with a large number of the black British settlers being killed as a result of the ongoing conflict. In 1792 a second wave of immigrants were brought to the area, but this time the new settlement was thought to have been rebuilt in an entirely different, but much more defendable position, with the surviving members of the first colony forming part of this new community. Although this second British settlement still faced considerable hardships and the risk of native attacks, it future was said to have been virtually guaranteed after 1807, when the Royal Navy units which were employed to suppress the Transatlantic Slave Trade, were reported to have used the site of the British black settlement, later to be called Freetown, as its main base of operations.
The British MP William Wilberforce was said to have been one of the main advocates for ending the Transatlantic Slave Trade and was reported to have dedicated much of his working life to see the trade suppressed. It was in 1790 that Wilberforce first attempted to guide a bill for the Abolition of Slavery through the English Parliament, but the bill was subsequently defeated, largely it is said, because of the vested interests within the House of Commons and the House of Lords, particularly those members who were themselves Plantation and slave owners. Two years later, in 1792, the British authorities were said to have first founded the colony of Sierre Leone in Africa, principally for those black slaves who had fought alongside Britain during the American War of Independence. Two years later, in 1794, France became the first western European nation to formally abolish slavery within its Empire, largely as a result of the revolutionary zeal that was said to have been spreading throughout the country. However, slavery was also said to have been reinstated by the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, although its widespread reintroduction was thought to have been fairly limited, due to a lack of support within the general populace and the inability of Napoleon to enforce the law in a number of France’s overseas colonies. In 1804, the former Spanish colony of St Domingue was said to have become the first independent black state outside of continental Africa, having been established by the successors of the original African slaves who had been brought there by the Spanish and continues to exist today as the nation of Haiti.
Finally, beginning on 1st May 1807 the British Parliament eventually passed the Abolition of Slavery Act into law, thereby outlawing the trade in slaves and preventing British merchants and their ships from participating in the enforced abduction, transportation and sale of indigenous peoples from anywhere in the world. Initially the terms of the Act was designed to abolish slavery within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, as well as any of the colonies, islands, dominions, or territories belonging to, or in his majesties possession, or occupation. Although this particular piece of legislation did not outlaw slavery completely, it was said to have helped to establish the basis for future legislation, passed in 1833, which would finally put an end to slavery within the British Empire and in much of the wider world. Having generally introduced the idea of bringing an end to the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the British authorities then began to take practical steps to physically enforce the new legislation on the High Seas, through the use of Britain’s formidable Royal Navy.
A dedicated naval taskforce, the West Africa Squadron, was reported to have been established to patrol the traditional slave trading routes along the west coast of Africa and use their military might to stop and seize any suspected slave ships, arrest the captain, along with his crew and free those slaves found aboard. Working within some of the most perilous and disease ridden conditions, these Royal Navy crews were reported to have suffered heavy losses whilst performing this particular duty, but ultimately carried on with their mission, in helping to bring an end to the gruesome international trade. According to some reports, the West Africa Squadron was said to have stopped and seized several hundred ships that were transporting captured Africans and in total were thought to have freed several thousand slaves from captivity.
British sanctions against slave traders were said to have been significantly increased after 1827, when the British Parliament followed the lead of the US authorities, who in 1820, had made slave trading an act of piracy, punishable by death. The Royal Navy was said to have been particularly successful in the seizure of ships destined for the Portuguese colony of Brazil, reportedly the largest importers of African slaves since the trade had been inaugurated. Not only did the Royal Navy stop and search many hundreds of ships, but was thought to have freed many thousands of imprisoned Africans, who were destined to be enslaved throughout the Americas. It was also reported that the British authorities tried to suppress the trade at source, by persuading local tribal leaders within Africa itself, to desist from participating in the trade, threatening them with sanctions if they failed to comply. It has also been suggested that where incentives, or the threat of trade sanctions, failed to stop individual tribesmen from engaging in the slave trade, then the British authorities were not averse to using direct military action to achieve their goals.
Even though most of the western slave trading nations came to see the slave trade as a highly immoral and fundamentally inhumane business practice, some of the most serious objections to its cessation were thought to have come from the slave trading kingdoms of Africa itself. At least one of these slave suppliers was reported to have complained bitterly about the end of the trade, proclaiming publicly his outrage that a trade “ordained by God” was being stopped by the British. Along with a number of other tribal leaders, this chieftain had obviously become rich, through the enslavement of his fellow Africans and now saw his principal source of income being inextricably brought to an end. The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 was said to have been the second piece of formal legislation passed by British Parliament, designed to end the enforced enslavement of native peoples within the Empire, although the law itself was thought to have only come into force in the following year.
Perhaps because of the presence of significant numbers of slave owners and traders within the legislature itself, the Act was thought to have contained a number of legal “fudges”, which ultimately prevented the widespread and immediate release of the hundreds of thousands of African slaves still held on British owned plantations. Rather than simply releasing them straight away, an “apprenticeship” clause was said to have been inserted into the Act, forcing the former slaves to remain on their owners plantation for a period of years, which caused a great of resentment amongst those being held, who often had little trust in their British masters. Consequently, the vast majority of the slaves being held on the British Caribbean islands were not actually released until 1838. It was also in response to the 1833 Act that the British Government tried to ensure compliance on the part of the Caribbean plantation owners and slave holders, by appointing local magistrates to oversee the treatment of slaves, most of whom had now become apprentices to their former owners. Instructed to regulate local conditions and the planter’s treatment of their workers, in reality these magistrates tended to be largely ineffective and planters continued to treat their former possessions much the same way as they had always done. With some of these newly appointed officials either under the influence or even in the pay of local landowners, most former slaves still found their lives as miserable and harsh as before, although the customary and arbitrary levels of ill-treatment imposed on workers was said to have been partially reduced, simply because of the planters real fears of being prosecuted for seriously injuring or even killing a worker.  
Even after much of the Transatlantic Slave Trade had been rigorously suppressed by the British and American Navies, this did not end the trafficking of Africans within the region, as the Arab Slave Trade was said to have continued for many years after the legislation had first come into force. In fact, according to some sources, the trade was said to have expanded substantially in the first few years after the Atlantic trade had been stopped, largely because there was thought to be a surplus of black Africans being held by the slave takers. However, this trade too, was reported to have eventually been brought under control as a result of the increasing European colonisation of Africa during the 19th century by a number of Western Europe’s leading powers, who employed their own armed forces to suppress the trade. Unfortunately for many hundreds of thousands of Africans, the trade was almost impossible to eradicate completely and despite the best efforts of numerous countries and agencies, human slavery is still thought to exist in Africa to this present day. Significantly, the practice of human slavery is still thought to be most common in those native states and countries, which are deemed to have generally failed, where central government and law enforcement agencies either do not exist, or are largely ineffective.
Although most modern historians and reporters unanimously agree that the Transatlantic Slave Trade had a highly detrimental effect on the African continent generally, the same sources tend to differ, when it comes to how much effect the trade had on the subsequent development of those nations that were the victims of slavery. Clearly for most of the Europeans, who were directly involved in the practice, the slave trade proved to be a highly lucrative business, but one that was incredibly dangerous for those involved in the practical aspects of it, such as the agents and ships crews, who ventured onto the unknown coasts of West Africa and traversed the Atlantic Ocean.
Even today, many experts are thought to remain divided over the actual long term effects of the slave trade, particularly those that were felt by the smaller and weaker African tribes, who saw many millions of their youngest and most vital men and women snatched away by the stronger slave traders of Africa. Some critics of the trade, point to the fact that it was precisely the loss of these young, vibrant people, from the regions “gene-pool” that has been the greatest loss to continental Africa, although whether or not these losses have proved to be catastrophic to the African continent as a whole, is still very much open to conjecture. The most serious charge made by some critics of the Atlantic Slave Trade though, is that the trade and those involved with it, are guilty of the wholesale destruction of African culture, language and religion within certain areas of the continent, acts that might be seen to represent early forms of both genocide and ethnic cleansing by the western nations, which were involved in the trade.
However, any such claims can only ever be regarded a being spurious at best, as history tends to indicate that those who were involved with the slave trade at source, had no such deliberate aims in mind, but were simply dedicated to making money out of the trade, rather than shaping the social, economic or belief systems of the native tribes of Africa.
Finally, it is also worth noting that although slavery per se is generally regarded as a historic practice and one that was best consigned to the history books, in reality versions of such a barbaric trade are still thought to exist throughout the world to this present day. In virtually all parts of the globe, slavery exists in most forms, from outright chattel slavery to bonded service, from domestic bondage to the sex slaves of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Even in Africa, the continent which has undoubtedly suffered more than most from the depravities of wholesale human enslavement, chattel, bonded, sex and child slavery still exist within various supposedly modern societies, often with complicity of the law enforcement and civil government agencies that are supposed to oppose them.
In places like Mauritania, Sudan, Benin and Ghana, where poverty and unemployment are widespread, modern day enslavement is still reported to exist and is still practiced by African traffickers, who specifically target young children, who are much more easily transported throughout the continent to be sold to those rich African families, who still value the ownership of another human being. Often these children are sold by their own parents, who wrongly believe that they are selling their child into a better life, one where they will be fed, clothed and educated, but where, in reality, they will often be subjected to domestic drudgery and sexual abuse. Common destinations for these trafficked children are reported to include the Ivory Coast and Gabon, although in all likelihood many can end up in any number of countries, both inside and out of continental Africa.
It is also worth noting perhaps that in many of Africa’s numerous post-colonial civil wars and disputes, tens of thousands of children and young people have been forcibly abducted by one or other side of a national dispute and used either as child soldiers or as sex slaves. A number of these same conflicts have also thought to have been marked by levels of barbarity that could hardly have been matched by any period or any person related to the Transatlantic Slave Trade itself. Horrific tales of pregnant women and their unborn babies being bayoneted to death, people’s limbs being hacked off by machete’s, or whole villages being massacred, are just three of the atrocious methods that have been employed by various militant forces, which have vied for control of a particular region of Africa.
Likewise, thousands of indigenous Africans are reported to have been forced to labour under the most intolerable conditions to excavate diamonds, or other precious elements, which can then be traded for more guns, or arms, as well as to simply enrich the African leaders of some or other tribal rebellion. Some modern day African leaders tend to blame the great colonial powers for such appalling incidents and the state of the continent generally, pointing to the white colonisation and settlement of Africa, as well as the much earlier Transatlantic Slave Trade, for modern day Africa’s many troubles. The argument generally runs that the great colonial powers have prevented African society from developing in a much more traditional manner, first by forcibly removing so many of its youngest, fittest and most promising young people through the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The second factor is said to have been the imposition of colonial rule throughout much of Africa, by the great European powers, including, Portugal, France, Germany, Belgium and of course Britain.
These same leaders suggest that by depriving the native peoples of Africa of their right to self determination and self government, the great powers have produced societies, which are not only entirely dependent, but one’s that are largely devoid of native traditions and customs. However, as is reported in other chapters of this book, even though most of the African continent was and has been colonised at one time or another by the leading European states, for the most part, Africa has been under African leadership for well over fifty years and yet much of the continent continues to remain under the shadow of poverty, disease and perhaps more significantly, inter-tribal violence, exactly the same sorts of circumstances which had allowed the slave trade to exist in the first place.

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