Caribbean Slave Trade


Caribbean Slave Trade Essay, Research Paper

The continuing demand for African slaves’ labor arose from the development of plantation agriculture, the price of sugar, and the demand for miners. Not only did Africans represent skilled laborers, but they were also experts in tropical agriculture. Consequently, they were well-suited for agriculture and mining. The high immunity to malaria and yellow fever made them more suitable for labor. During the three centuries prior to 1850, as many as 14 million slaves have been introduced into Latin America, compared with about 500,000 brought into the United States .

In Latin America, most of the slaves were taken to the Caribbean, where they worked on sugar plantations. The island of Barbados has a total surface area of 166 square miles. As a result of its pioneer status in the ’sugar revolution, it had achieved a status as the most important ‘jewel in [His] Majesty’s Crown’ . Sugar production dominated the island’s economic life, employing about 82 percent of the slave population on over 175 sugar plantations, some of them exceeding 450 acres. Beginning in the mid-1800s, the Caribbean became involved primarily in the production of coffee, grains,

wool, and meat, all destined for the markets of northwestern Europe. The opening of Brazil’s interior led to large-scale mining . Sugar plantation work was very hard and labor intensive. The slaves had little or no freedom they were living on huge sugar plantations. There was little or no chance for a slave to earn money on the side to purchase his/her freedom. The sex ratio was mostly male however there were a substantial amount of females present as well.

Brazil also had sugar plantations that required many laborers. Brazil was ruled by the Portuguese. And first they enslaved Indians. But the epidemics of smallpox and other diseases had their effects in Brazil as elsewhere, and imported African labor came to replace that of the indians. African slaves were brought to work the plantations. During the later half of the 16th century and the entire 17th century, Brazil was the prime supplier of sugar to the world markets, with additional profits from cacao and cotton. It was also the center for the world trade in slaves. As the demand for sugar began to deminish due to the Caribbean s the Brazilians market began to travel in land. Where they discovered gold. The exploration of gold brought thousands of slaves from the coastal plantations. “Altogether, nearly 1,000 tons of gold and 3 million carats of diamonds were extracted from the region between 1700 and 1800 . In the 18th-century international sugar markets fell and Brazil failed to compete with the West Indies, which had modernized in the early 19th century. So coffee became the nation s new industry. The fact that Brazil became a mining based society gave slaves more freedom. The mining society was setup in such a

way that blacks could mine for gold and keep some of their profits to purchase their own freedom. There was also the fact that blacks could escape more easy in the mining society. The race division was mostly male centered due to the mining.

In 1700, about 100,000 people lived in Mexico City, with about 100,000 more around the city. About half the population was Spanish, with about forty percent black or mixed and less than ten percent Indian. African slaves accompanied the Spanish in the earliest expeditions to Central and South America. the labor force was based on Amerindian men to supply labor to Spanish mines, factories, farms, ranches, and public works. And a lucrative slave trade that provided skilled laborers for Spanish America. The Spanish soon found the native American population diminishing at the very time that it seemed that plantations and mines were becoming increasingly profitable. African slaves provided the make up for loss labor to the Spanish settlers. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, about 200,000 Africans were imported into Mexico, but in 1817 there were only 10,000 slaves there. High mortality served to diminish the number of slaves, while intermarriage with native Americans further diminished the number of those who would be identified as of African descent. In the early years only the select skilled Africans were in Mexico because of the cost of shipping. So they were valued ad given many privileges by their masters. Once the economy changed and the Indians started to die. A new wave of Africans began to enter Mexico and these slaves were not used as skilled men but used as laborers in the mines.

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