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A Brief History of Black Americans from Slavery to Emancipation

They were trafficked from Africa to the United States by European colonists hundreds of years ago and spent many years as slaves in the United States.

By Mao Jiao LiPublished 12 months ago 10 min read
Arabs first enslaved blacks in North Africa

The History of the African Slave Trade by Country

When it comes to the history of black Americans, most people know that they were trafficked to America by European colonists hundreds of years ago. Europeans were not the first culprits in the African slave trade. Slavery has long existed among African tribes, just as it has existed among Europeans for thousands of years, and its history can be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome. As early as the 1st century in the park, the book of African history called "The Return of the Red Sea" contains accounts of slaves from the Horn of Africa (today's Somalia).

But the first culprits who sold black slaves as commodities and traded African slaves on a large scale were the Arabs. As early as the Arab Umayyad dynasty (late 7th and early 8th centuries), Muslim expansion invaded North Africa, wiping out the Byzantine North African garrison and occupying the Maghreb from Tunis to Morocco. Thereafter, they began to take large numbers of captured black people (non-Muslims) and trafficked them to Arab countries as well as to Persia, India, and Indonesia.

Arab slave traders had penetrated the African hinterland, stretching southward on the east coast as far as Mozambique. They worked with local tribes to capture or purchase slaves and bring them across the Great Sahara Desert. During the long journey, countless blacks died in the scorching desert, and the Sahara was covered with white bones.

The Arabs first enslaved blacks in North Africa

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 A.D., Western Europe gradually shifted from a slave society to a feudal society until the end of the 15th century, a period known as the "Middle Ages" in Europe. Ironically, at the end of the Middle Ages, from the 14th to the 15th centuries, Spanish society, which had already eliminated "slavery" internally for hundreds of years, needed the African slaves sold by the Arabs to help them in social production, thus creating a new barbaric "slavery" outside the budding capitalist civilization of Western Europe. "slavery."

Around the 15th century, the Spanish and Portuguese later ventured to sub-Saharan Africa to personally capture black people to serve as their slaves. At this time, some major cities in Spain and Portugal already had markets dedicated to the sale of African black slaves. starting in the mid-15th century, Africa was constantly subjected to various forms of plunder by European colonizers, and the slave trade had by this time become a collateral colonial activity.

At the end of the 15th century, after Columbus discovered America, slaves existed in both Spain and Portugal. When Spain started in America, they transported large numbers of slaves from Africa here. The English, French, and Portuguese came to explore and colonize the Americas in turn, and they also began shipping large numbers of slaves purchased or looted from Africa to the new continent.

As the demand for the transatlantic slave trade grew exponentially, European colonists engaged in the organized and massive slave trade on the African continent. By the end of the 16th century, this shameful trade was accepted by Western European countries.

Why was the slave trade acceptable to European society, which had long since ended slavery and had just left the dark "Middle Ages"? They thought that these black people, who were still living in the barbaric stage of African tribes, were not civilized human beings equal to themselves. In the eyes of the European colonizers at that time, the black slaves were more like animals and did not deserve equal rights. This excuse was a robber-like mindset.

They also have a robber-think reason that at that time in a tropical place like South America, the white race is not adapted to the local hot climate, and the first white people to arrive here occurred on a scale of death. But they found that the black Africans who arrived here were able to adapt to the climate and environment of South America. So to make up for the need for manpower for the construction of the new American continent, the colonists began to use special ships across the Atlantic Ocean on a large scale to transport black people to the American colonies for trading, prompting the whites to create several large scale slave trading companies on the African coast. The black slaves were not worth much in Africa, but the profits were substantial when they were successfully shipped to the Americas. So the loss of some of the black slaves who died during the shipping process, the colonists were not too concerned.

African Negroes held under the deck by colonists

By the mid-17th century, tens of thousands of slaves were being shipped to the Americas each year. By the 18th century, the slave trade reached a peak of 60,000 per year. During the centuries of the slave trade, tens of millions of black Africans were transported to the Americas. More than 80 percent of them were trafficked to the Americas between the early 18th and mid-19th centuries, and more than 50 percent of them were trafficked between 1720 and 1820, a period of 100 years.

Many of the black slaves came from the region east of the Niger River in West Africa, and the Ashati tribe alone sold thousands of Africans to slave traders. In addition to the 10 million slaves who made it to the Americas, countless others died as a result, from those who fought to defend their freedom, to those who were killed trying to escape, to those who committed suicide while imprisoned, and many who died at sea because they could not endure the transatlantic voyage. The percentage of British, French, and Spanish deaths at sea during the slave trade in the 18th and 19th centuries ranged from about 9 to 16 percent, with higher rates in the early years. The percentage of deaths on Dutch slave ships was also higher.

By conservative calculations, at least one million black Africans died in the Atlantic during the centuries of the Western European slave trade. After arriving in America, many more blacks died from European diseases, and countless more died afterward from hard labor under oppression in America.

The darkness was long, but eventually, the light would come. In 1751, the Quakers led a movement to abolish slavery in northern America.

In 1787, the "Society for the Abolition of the African Slave Trade," also known as the "London Society," was founded in England and led by Grenville Charlton, a prominent British social activist who had been involved in the abolitionist movement for many years. The society was led by Granville Sharp, a prominent British social activist who had been involved in the abolitionist movement for many years. In 1806, the British Parliament passed an act prohibiting British slave traders from transporting slaves to foreign colonies and countries in America; it also prohibited the sending of foreign slave ships from British ports. On June 10 and 14 of the same year, both Houses of Parliament passed another act abolishing the trade of black African slaves, respectively. This act declared, "His Majesty the King of England has determined that from the first day of January 1807, the African slave trade shall be prohibited and that the buying, selling, exchanging and transporting of slaves and those intended for sale, transport or use as slaves on the shores of Africa or in any part of Africa in any other manner, and the importation and exportation of the said persons into and out of Africa shall be prohibited, and the said activities shall be declared to be illegal." In this way, Britain banned the black slave trade.

In the 1815 Treaty of Vienna, the European powers signed a treaty banning the slave trade.

In 1861, the irreconcilable conflict between the southern plantation economic class and the northern capitalists in the United States led to the outbreak of the Civil War. The Northern Union Army was strained on the battlefront and urgently needed a large number of soldiers, so in the same year, Northern President Abraham Lincoln signed the Proclamation on the Emancipation of Negro Slaves. The Union Army recruited blacks into the army in an unprecedented manner. Although most black soldiers were assigned to menial jobs, President Lincoln's initiative won the support of black slaves and became a factor in the victory of the Civil War.

In 1865, after the war, the proclamation was officially ratified by the Constitution. Since this issue of slavery was a great concern for everyone in North America, many states in North America at that time, such as Virginia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, ordered the abolition of the slave trade and freed the black slaves that the slave companies had spent a lot of money to transport to the states, restoring their freedom.

The Brussels Conference of 1889-1890 adopted a general resolution prohibiting the black slave trade, and the resolution was proclaimed in July 1890, marking the basic end of the black slave trade worldwide.

At this time, however, the Arabs and African Muslims were still raiding black slaves. The Arabs, who had a slave trade for thousands of years, did not eliminate slavery until after the middle of the last century.

In short, the slave trade is a black history of Western Europeans in the course of human civilization, infamous.

The funny thing is that until now, there are still some racist countries in the West that will discriminate against black people because of this history. Not ashamed, but proud.

The United States owned more than 30% of the total number of black slaves in the Americas in the early 19th century. But in terms of the overall number of the slave trade, only 400,000 of the 10 million total African slaves were trafficked to the colonies located within the United States today.

Other American countries historically imported far more slaves than the United States, for example, Brazil imported six times as many slaves as the United States. So why, by the 19th century, did the United States rank first in the Americas in terms of the total number of black slaves? The reason is that the United States had the highest rate of slave survival and reproduction, and was the only country in the Americas where black slaves were able to maintain natural growth. Other countries in the Americas had a high mortality rate and a low birth rate of black slaves. So they could only maintain their labor force by constantly importing black slaves from Africa.

Thus, the United States was the least barbaric country in the history of the Americas in terms of the treatment of black slaves, although they were also quite cruel to slaves.

After arriving in the Americas, black slaves were selected and bargained for by local estate owners and were sold to various slave owners for their use.

Black slaves in the United States were engaged in three main types of work.

1. working as servants in the homes of plantation owners

2. hard labor for the owners of cotton or sugar cane plantations

3. hard labor in the mines

Among them.

The first type was the lucky one among the black slaves because the servant's job was relatively the easiest, but the probability of being forced to have sexual relations was the highest because of the high contact with the master.

The second type has the largest number of black slaves, and more than 80% of them do this type of work, which is very hard and tiring.

The third type is the most dangerous, labor intensive, and has the highest mortality rate.

The whipping of black slaves by slave owners was a common occurrence. It was also common for young children to be taken away from their parents and sold, or forcibly separated from each other.

Not only were black female slaves subjected to the same forced physical labor as their male counterparts, but they also endured the pain of childbirth and the humiliation and abuse that came from ignoring their feminine features.


About the Creator

Mao Jiao Li

When you think, act like a wise man; but when you speak, act like a common man.

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