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Drawing of a Slave coffle

Chapter 02

An Inhuman Trade

Following Columbus’s voyage in 1492, European’s traveled across the Atlantic and began the process of colonization. They displaced indigenous people, including killing some, placing others in bondage and seizing indigenous lands. As the global demand for slave labor grew, so did the Transatlantic Slave Trade, fueled in part by a new system of forced labor in the Atlantic World. Cowries, manillas, beads, and guns changed hands in exchange for African men, women, and children. By 1700, Europeans made money from the sale of African people and their labor—clearing land, carving out profitable landscapes, and cultivating cash crops in the Atlantic World.

Portrait of Madame Soucarières with an enslaved person

Section IImmoral Action

Beginning in the 15th century, trade between the African and European continents changed from trading goods to trading people.

Photograph of tan colored whip

Whip

From Trading to Traded

Photograph of tan colored whip

Whip

During the 1500s trade relations grew between Africans and Europeans along the western coast of Africa. By 1700, the trade in enslaved people had become more lucrative than buying and selling spices and precious metals. The plantation system expanded rapidly in the Americas, and the European demand for enslaved laborers pulled a steady stream of captive people from the African interior. This trade stripped African people of their freedom, resulting in a new form of bondage called chattel slavery that treated humans as property. A new form of slavery based on race was accompanied by escalating brutality and control.

Portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo

Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (Job Ben Solomon), 1733

Ayuba Suleiman Diallo

Portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo

Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (Job Ben Solomon), 1733

Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (Job Ben Solomon) was an educated Muslim and slave trader from the Fulbe people. He was captured in 1731 and enslaved on a tobacco plantation in Annapolis, Maryland. Diallo’s devotion impressed his enslaver so much that he provided Diallo’s freedom and passage home. Upon returning to Gambia, Diallo became an agent for the Royal African Company and ransomed fellow enslaved Muslims. His story demonstrates the complex relationship between Africans and enslavement.

Image of Mahommah Baquaqua’s biography

Biography of Mahommah Baquaqua

Mahommah Baquaqua

Image of Mahommah Baquaqua’s biography

Biography of Mahommah Baquaqua

Mahommah Baquaqua was born in Benin and sold into slavery in Brazil. He was ultimately forced to New York where he escaped to freedom. His story represents the experiences of enslaved and free Africans in America, from religious conversion, to enslavement in the Caribbean, to being educated in the north, to settling in Canada. Baquaqua later recorded his life story documenting the horrors of slavery.

Image of cover page of autobiography

Narrative of Ukawsaw Gronniosaw

Ukawsaw Gronniosaw

Image of cover page of autobiography

Narrative of Ukawsaw Gronniosaw

Ukawsaw Gronniosaw (or James Albert) was born in present-day Nigeria, around 1705. Kidnapped and shipped to Barbados, a Calvinist minister purchased him, converted him to Christianity, and taught him to read and write. Freed in 1747, he published an autobiography about his life, to support his struggling family and expose racial discrimination. Perhaps because he was beholden to the man who sponsored him, Gronnisaw was not critical of the slave trade itself, and his work served as propaganda for it.

Portrait of Madame Soucarières with an enslaved person

Madame Soucarières and Her Page

Enslaved African People in Europe

Portrait of Madame Soucarières with an enslaved person

Madame Soucarières and Her Page

Enslavers in Europe distinguished themselves from colonists in the western Atlantic World, whom they saw as inhumane in their treatment of enslaved people. However, this did not mean Europeans considered slavery immoral. In fact, many Europeans, including ministers, widows and others personally invested the slave trade. Some held African people in bondage in Europe, including African children who were adorned in ornate silver restraining collars. In Europe and the Americas, enslavers found many ways to justify slavery, including church-sanctioned interpretations of the Bible.

. . . tho’ to traffick in human creatures, may at first sight appear barbarous . . . the advantage of it . . . far outweigh[s] all . . . inconveniencies.

William Snelgrave, 1734

Seven (7) paged deed of sale document between Samuel Smith, Rene Payne, George Smith, John Smith and Robert Lord Carrington for the sum of [nineteen thousand] one hundred and seventeen pounds, eleven shillings. The indenture document is sold by Moulton and Rushton of Chancery Lane, as indicated in the upper left corner of the front of the first page.  The document is bordered in red lines. The top of the document in the upper left corner is stylized script [This indenture of three parts/Sold by/Moulton and Rushton,/Chancery Lane] Following the  first line of stylized text is the start of the indenture [made the Twenty Eighth day of August in the/thirty eighth year of the Reign of our/Sovereign Lord George the third by the Grace of God of Great Britain Ffrance and Ireland King Defender of the ffaith and soforth and in the year of our Lord One/thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight Between Samuel Smith and/Rene Payne of the City of London (illegible) of the first part The said Samuel Smith and Rene Payne and their (illegible)/George Smith and John Smith of the City of London (illegible) of the second part and The Right Honorable Robert Lord/Carrington of the third part]. On the left side in the upper third are two (2) blue squares of paper with embossed seals. On the reverse of the first page in the upper left corner is the payment of the indenture received to Robert Lord Carrington for the sum of [nineteen thousand] (AA, 1/29/15) one hundred and seventeen pounds and eleven shillings. The payment is witnessed and signed.  At the top in the middle is a note regarding the sealing and endorsing of the document.  On the left side in the middle third, is a note regarding where the indenture was filed [Enrolled in the Office of Enrollments in Jamaica/May 25th 1799 Lib: 465 fol 187/(illegible)/(illegible signature].  In the middle of the center of the reverse of the document is a summary of the document contents and the date [Dated 20th of August 1798./Samuel Smith Esq./and others...../to/The Right (illegible)/Lord Carrington../Conveyance/of two thirds of the ffarm/plantation/Enrd 25th May 1799/(illegible)/6.. 15 71/2 . 6/ 6.. 18 . 17]. Included in the indenture is a schedule of property listed on the sixth and seventh pages. On the last page are five (5) wax seals and signatures along the bottom.  The signatures include Samuel Smith, Rene Payne, George Smith, John Smith and Lord Carrington.

Exchange Wealth, Indenture between Payne and Smith

The Impact of the Slave Trade

Seven (7) paged deed of sale document between Samuel Smith, Rene Payne, George Smith, John Smith and Robert Lord Carrington for the sum of [nineteen thousand] one hundred and seventeen pounds, eleven shillings. The indenture document is sold by Moulton and Rushton of Chancery Lane, as indicated in the upper left corner of the front of the first page.  The document is bordered in red lines. The top of the document in the upper left corner is stylized script [This indenture of three parts/Sold by/Moulton and Rushton,/Chancery Lane] Following the  first line of stylized text is the start of the indenture [made the Twenty Eighth day of August in the/thirty eighth year of the Reign of our/Sovereign Lord George the third by the Grace of God of Great Britain Ffrance and Ireland King Defender of the ffaith and soforth and in the year of our Lord One/thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight Between Samuel Smith and/Rene Payne of the City of London (illegible) of the first part The said Samuel Smith and Rene Payne and their (illegible)/George Smith and John Smith of the City of London (illegible) of the second part and The Right Honorable Robert Lord/Carrington of the third part]. On the left side in the upper third are two (2) blue squares of paper with embossed seals. On the reverse of the first page in the upper left corner is the payment of the indenture received to Robert Lord Carrington for the sum of [nineteen thousand] (AA, 1/29/15) one hundred and seventeen pounds and eleven shillings. The payment is witnessed and signed.  At the top in the middle is a note regarding the sealing and endorsing of the document.  On the left side in the middle third, is a note regarding where the indenture was filed [Enrolled in the Office of Enrollments in Jamaica/May 25th 1799 Lib: 465 fol 187/(illegible)/(illegible signature].  In the middle of the center of the reverse of the document is a summary of the document contents and the date [Dated 20th of August 1798./Samuel Smith Esq./and others...../to/The Right (illegible)/Lord Carrington../Conveyance/of two thirds of the ffarm/plantation/Enrd 25th May 1799/(illegible)/6.. 15 71/2 . 6/ 6.. 18 . 17]. Included in the indenture is a schedule of property listed on the sixth and seventh pages. On the last page are five (5) wax seals and signatures along the bottom.  The signatures include Samuel Smith, Rene Payne, George Smith, John Smith and Lord Carrington.

Exchange Wealth, Indenture between Payne and Smith

By the 1600s, slavery had created modern Europe. Nation-states built an economic foundation on the slave trade, and they spread their influence across the globe through trade and colonization, particularly in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas. The Transatlantic Slave Trade was in full operation as profits, financial systems, and governments grew against the backdrop of human suffering. Europe prospered on the economic foundation provided by the expansive enterprise of slavery. Ultimately two different legacies emerged—one of wealth juxtaposed against the human cost.