- Oct 2017
- America ??
The popular image of the slave trade in America is that upon arrival, African captives were quickly prepared on shore, made to appear healthy, & then auctioned together, & usually end up as the only African in their slave communities. How accurate is this image?
Upon arrival, were African captives sold in their own ‘fresh arrivals’ market or were they sent to local slave pens & mixed up with local slaves for sale? & if they were mixed up with local slaves for sale, I would imagine that the Africans would only range from individuals to small groups among local slaves, & thus be quite isolated? How long were slaves, both African-imports & local born alike, likely to stay in slave pens? Would Africans have adjusted to their new lives in slave pens rather than plantations? Did slaves typically arrive directly from Africa, or were they brought from the Caribbean by American traders?
How was this comparable across the Americas?
North America recieved among the smallest imports of Africans in the New World at half a million, but the slave population in North America rose exponentially so there was always ample stock, whereas the Caribbean & Latin America relied on a continuous stream of African imports. This was likely to due with how mortality rates were much higher there compared to North America, which despite the winter was arguably healthier to live in. Thus North America had from an early period relied on a more domestic slave trade & population compared to elsewhere.
Because of how North America received among the smallest imports of Africans in the New World, would that mean that African arrivals in America were more likely to end up alone among slaves born in America, & thus have a more isolating experience than African arrivals in the Caribbean & Brazil, who were probably more likely to end up living with other African-born slaves, & thus have others to relate to?
It seems that the general perception towards Africans in the colonies, both among whites & blacks, was that they were savages which were being civilized through slavery. So this would probably make the African’s fellow slaves perceive him as an exotic beast?
Because of North America’s low slave import, would that mean that nearly all slaves there were local born? & that if you were to travel around then actively looking for an African-born, you would have a relatively hard time finding one?
After Britain & the U.S jointly abolished the slave trade in 1807 which only limited African imports to the smaller illegal trade, would that make African arrivals even more likely to be isolated among American slaves? Would the same thing apply to African arrivals in other New World countries after they abolished their respective slave trades?
Something I was very interested in was the experiences of Africans in America & how they adjusted. Apparently very few sources exist for how Africans adapted to slave life in America.