It was one of the vast developments that help shape the course of history as the World knows it. Ultimately there is no way to justify who is responsible. Europeans and Africans should be held equally accountable for the destruction of the African population. The Ottoman Empire took control over Constantinople in When doing so they put an end to the supply of Slavic slaves.
Soon the Spanish, Portuguese, British, Dutch and other European nations grew curious of this land on the other side of the world. African male trns female slaves both suffered extreme physical, mental, and emotional trauma. Studying the lives of slaves from the standpoint of the history Suvi escort emotions, for example, is Essay on trans atlantic slave trade that is not solved only with a broader approach or by resorting to computerized data apart from the slave revolts on board ships that clearly express collective forms of anger and discontent. However, the African continent still feels the effects of massive population loss and overall instability created during this time By looking into trade negotiations between African brokers and mediators and Dutch merchants on the Loango coast, Sommerdyk highlights African agency in the broader Atlantic slave trade Sommerdyk
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The main profiteers were the slave traders and the people whom bought them. Naked young teen boy had control? Slavery was not a new concept to the Atlantic coastal regions of Africa, Essay on trans atlantic slave trade the Europeans were able to take hold of an age old tradition and blow it out of proportion. These outcomes of the slave trade are rarely disputed among historians; the effect of the Atlantic slave trade in Africa, however, is often a topic of debate. I believe this book has great historical significance when it comes to studying slavery during the late s for many Continue Reading. The slave trade became a business which Action matures clips prove devastating to Africa. They specialized in plantation work, growing, in particular, indigo and cotton. We will write a atlzntic essay sample on Atlantic Slave Trade or any similar topic only for you. When thinking of the slave trade previous to this class, I would think to myself how low we as a humanity Easay became, and how. The vast majority of slaves transported to the New World were Africans from the central and western parts of the continent, sold by Africans to European slave traders who then transported them to North and South America. Trade implies an exchange, yet the human resources were taken as slaves and the former colonial masters took the natural and atlanic resources without Continue Reading. The conflicts, inter-ethic fragmentations, political unrest, and other Esaay of disorder; which resulted from the slave trade, led atalntic many killings, which saw many innocent Africans, Essay on trans atlantic slave trade their lives.
The slave trade was brutal and horrific, and the enslavement of Africans was cruel, exploitative, and dehumanizing.
- It can be found throughout history.
E-Mail : mgborges gmail. The author would like to thank the referees for their valuable suggestions. This essay will review two recent books on the transatlantic slave trade, which privilege the Southern Atlantic dynamics of this trade. David Richardson and Filipa Ribeiro da Silva ed.
Leiden and Boston: Brill. Dale T. These are two works that differ widely in their nature, but which share a number of features in common. Historiographically speaking, both volumes rely on an extensive bibliography. Regardless of the differences between the two, both books reveal the dynamic interest that the study of the transatlantic slave trade is currently experiencing.
The two books have several aspects in common, but, for the sake of internal coherence, this historiographical reflection will concentrate on only two.
First of all, apart from confirming the focus on the southern hemisphere that the field of slave trade studies has been experiencing for a while, the two books illustrate very clearly how transregional and transnational approaches may enrich the study of the South Atlantic dimension of this international institution.
It is precisely because of these combined approaches transregional and transnational that, as the two volumes also demonstrate, it is possible to paint a full picture of the leading role played by all the actors and agents not only European or American, but also African involved in the tragic story of the transatlantic slave trade. Hence, after briefly presenting the contents of each book, as well as their internal organization, this review essay will reflect upon each of these elements separately.
As its title points out, Dale T. Without ever overlooking the impact of British diplomatic endeavors on the evolution of abolitionism after the suppression of the slave trade, Graden underlines the influence of two additional elements, namely the threat of infectious diseases brought by slaves coming from Africa, and the threat of slave resistance, which gradually took on the dimension of a broader collective movement. In the first chapter, the US involvement in the slave trade with Cuba and Brazil is examined, particularly the way in which US actors not only investors or ship captains and crews, but also, for example, American diplomats in Brazil or Cuba evaded British and American laws after the slave trade to the US was suppressed.
Chapters 2 and 3 address the way in which the fear of infectious diseases and epidemic outbreaks carried by ships disembarking African slaves in Cuba and Brazil fuelled public and medical opposition to this trade. As for Chapters 4 and 5, these deal with the effects of the slave and free black resistance movements on political debates and on popular public opinion regarding the slave trade, and the way in which the fear of rebellions contributed to the eventual suppression of the slave trade in both societies.
The last chapter is dedicated to the final years of the slave trade in Brazil and Cuba. Such institutional and profile diversity is to be noted not only in academic terms professors, senior researchers, postdoctoral researchers, etc.
Since these authors have each been working on different chronologies, bringing them together here also allows for the coverage of a much larger time frame, , something that the volume as a whole delivers quite consistently. Thus, the approaches are certainly varied. In turn, Arlindo Manuel Caldeira links the seventeenth-century Angolan slave trade to the broader Atlantic world, paying particular attention to the acquisition and transport of slaves, as well as to the harsh conditions that slaves endured aboard ships crossing the Atlantic towards the Americas.
Stacey Sommerdyk analyzes twelve voyages undertaken by the Dutch vessel Prins Willem V to the Loango coast in the mid-eighteenth century, seeking to emphasize the agency of African merchants from Malemba and Loango Bay in the broader transatlantic slave trade. Finally, Roquinaldo Ferreira discusses the contribution of diplomatic and military abolitionism to the gradual erosion of the slave trade system in the South Atlantic from the early nineteenth century to the late s.
As mentioned in the introduction, the two books are quite different in nature, but the characteristics that they do, in fact, share are a good pretext for reflecting upon the recent dynamic development that the study of the transatlantic slave trade has been experiencing. This reflection will be made in the next two sections of this article. In fact, the relationship between the two is far from being a new one.
In his reflections on the idea and contours of Atlantic history, Bernard Bailyn demonstrated how slavery, slaves, and the slave trade have long been consistently linked to the gradual development of Atlantic history Bailyn Within this Atlantic world, many topics were under scrutiny and several different perspectives were adopted. Economic historians sought to understand the particularities of the trade, the partners involved, and the numbers as well.
Political historians sought to reveal the relationship between the slave trade and empire building, the place of this traffic within inter-imperial rivalries, and consequently its place in the relationships between European powers and local African rulers. Social historians, in turn, were curious about the impact of slavery and the slave trade in the shaping of colonial societies, and about the dissatisfaction that was gradually felt among enslaved and freed Africans.
They have examined how this dissatisfaction developed into forms of resistance and rebellion, resulting in the growth of abolitionist movements, and, eventually, in the suppression of the slave traffic throughout the nineteenth century. While the study of slavery and the slave trade has rapidly gained its own niche in Atlantic history, the hemispheric perspective suggested by Jack Green, has had greater difficulty in becoming consolidated, since, when it comes to the studies of slavery and the slave trade, the division of the Atlantic Ocean into north and south has hindered an integrated and comparative approach to the two hemispheres.
This does not mean, though, that the South Atlantic has been completely forgotten by historians of slavery, the slave trade, and the African diaspora. The two works that serve as the pretext for this brief historiographical reflection consolidate the important southern dimensions of the study of the transatlantic slave trade. The links he examines are never only one or two-way. Instead, he clearly demonstrates the multiple connections operating in many different directions and contributing to the persistence of this traffic even after the British suppression of the slave trade in the early nineteenth century, as well as to its eventual demise in the late s.
The Venus sailed to Cuba in the same year, and, once in Havana, the captain replaced his crewmen. In Mozambique, 1, African slaves were purchased and taken to Cuba aboard the Venus Graden This assumption is shown to be a rather narrow one by some of the chapters of Networks and Trans-Cultural Exchange.
This is what Roquinaldo Ferreira does in his chapter just like Dale Graden, although from a different angle. He shows how several dynamics contributed to the eventual suppression of the slave trade in the South Atlantic. It was not only the strong diplomatic pressure applied by the British and their seizure of Portuguese and Brazilian slave ships that made the difference, but also the military threat that they posed to the Portuguese territories in Africa.
Europeans were, undoubtedly, key actors in the development of transatlantic trade, but the agency and participation of Africans must not be disregarded. For a long time, the history of slavery and the slave trade was told nearly exclusively from the European perspective.
Many scholars have drawn attention to the agency of African actors and the possibility of studying them by bringing together diverse sources, as well as comparing and combining methodologies. The two books under analysis give these actors their due attention, proving once again their importance for an overall understanding of the transatlantic slave trade.
This broad perspective also allows for the observation of a range of different actors involved in this process, as Mariana Candido does when stressing the role played by African women donas in local merchant networks in Benguela and its hinterland, not only as traders, but also as slave owners. Candido is able to show how the mediation of these women was crucial for these African societies in adapting to the demands of international trade, a mediation that often involved providing slaves from the African inlands to coastal markets, thus connecting the hinterland to the Atlantic world.
By looking into trade negotiations between African brokers and mediators and Dutch merchants on the Loango coast, Sommerdyk highlights African agency in the broader Atlantic slave trade Sommerdyk The inclusion of diverse actors and agents in the analysis of the transatlantic slave trade depends greatly upon the theoretical and methodological approach chosen. This does not have to do exclusively with the choice of Atlantic history as the framework or angle of analysis; it also has much to do with the empirical support on which historians base their research.
The opportunities posed by the digital era in which we are currently living tend to be widening, with the day-to-day appearance of new projects and tools in open-access modes. In fact, digital outputs are now a necessary feature of any project applying for funding, including in the area of the Humanities. It has also, of course, received some criticism, but the success it has so far achieved proves, among other things, that the Digital Humanities are, and will long continue to be, an absolutely crucial complementary field of historical research.
For a long time, it was believed that the study of slavery, slaves, and the slave trade, as well as the broader study of the African diaspora, lacked the necessary sources to allow for a full understanding of all the dynamics involved. As pointed out earlier in this essay, historians protected themselves by invoking this presumed absence in order to avoid addressing the subject other than from a clear European perspective. In the last few decades, however, the picture has changed quite considerably, and historians now have access to a diversity of sources and archives that have greatly enriched their perspectives for analyzing the field.
The two studies clearly demonstrate the usefulness of this diversity. In Disease, Resistance, and Lies , there is an evident predominance of English consular documentation, namely from the Foreign Office Records. Of these Dale Graden focused on the correspondence of British diplomats and officials residing in Cuba and Brazil.
Despite the scanty references to Cuban and Spanish documentation, Graden made an effort to complete his study with American and Brazilian archival research, as well as with the use of published sources, namely medical reports and writings on diseases deriving from the African slaves who disembarked in the Americas. Not only do they have different language skills, but they also have quite different sources to draw from, as well as different approaches to the study of such sources, so that the combined contribution of these authors provides a significant introduction to the study of the slave trade in the South Atlantic.
Although the diversity of sources used in both works speaks for itself, the combined use that the two volumes make of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database completes and consolidates the archival research carried out by their authors. Not only does it constitute a timeless working instrument for students, teachers, and specialists undertaking studies of the slave trade, and a platform that is accessible to the public in general, but scholars are also still discovering and exploring innovative ways in which the database can be used.
In fact, the potential and relevance of this type of data has been generally recognized ever since Philip Curtin published the Census.
At that time, digital projects were still very much a mirage in a dim future, and it took nine years for an upgraded, revised and enhanced version of the CD-ROM to be put together in the form of an open-access website The level of collaboration involved in the database is absolutely remarkable.
Throughout the life of the project, which began long before the CD-ROM was launched in , many studies have been carried out using its information, but the online database has, indeed, increased the availability of its data to a growing number of scholars. Methodologically speaking, the Slave Voyages database facilitates comparative studies and large-scale approaches, thus encouraging the study of slavery and the slave trade from a perspective of global history that embraces the multiple connections both within and outside the Atlantic basin Caldeira Regardless of its potential, and just like any project of such a large dimension, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database does, of course, have its weaknesses.
Much of the criticism that was made of the database was related to the numbers and the estimates, and the debate it has triggered is far from being closed we may even assume that it will never be so. Likewise, it is not the best source for understanding the cultural dimension of the African diaspora; nor does it provide the necessary information to address the emotions involved in the slave trade and in slavery in general, not only the pain and suffering, both physical and emotional, but also the conditions experienced by slaves when in captivity.
What the two volumes do demonstrate is some of the methodological possibilities described above. Indeed, albeit in different ways and with different degrees of centrality, nearly every author in this collection uses or mentions the database, making the volume a palpable example of the diversity of approaches and possible uses of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, while also demonstrating the great explanatory capacities of the information contained in it.
Hence, Arlindo Caldeira, for instance, while acknowledging the underrepresentation of slave voyages from Luanda, uses the database to look at the number of slaves recorded as embarking at Luanda during the first half of the seventeenth century Caldeira , , and to assess mortality rates among slaves on board ships disembarking at Brazilian ports Caldeira Candido also employs the database to calculate the number of slaves embarking in Benguela and disembarking in Rio de Janeiro or Salvador da Bahia in the second half of the eighteenth century, a number that rose to as high as , slaves Candido He also uses the data collected from the database to show how slaves leaving Mozambique were transported mainly to the Atlantic markets of Spanish America and the French Antilles.
In an effort to understand the key role of the Loango coast as a supplier of slaves to the Dutch company, Sommerdyk sorted the number of slaves supplied to the company by port and by West African region.
She realized that Malemba, on the Loango coast, was the main supplier of slaves to the company, providing 7, slaves. It proves to be an indispensable tool when, for instance, Graden examines the widespread fear of infectious diseases caused by the disembarkation of African slaves in the Brazilian ports. Graden uses the Slave Voyages project, for example, to follow the voyages of the US-built ship Brazil and to measure its hypothetical involvement in the spread of the yellow fever epidemic in Brazil.
According to its captain, the journey from the former to the latter had been direct, but, going through the database, Graden observed that the Brazil had previously disembarked African slaves both in Brazil, in , and subsequently in Cuba.
By June , yellow fever had already spread throughout Havana, which leads Graden to suggest that the epidemic in Bahia had Cuban origins Graden The database also proves to be a crucial tool when Graden examines the ship connections between Cuba and the African coast, as well as the slave expeditions and disembarkations in Cuba from until the suppression of this traffic in The close examination of the two books reviewed in this essay was an opportunity to reflect upon the past, the present, and the future of transatlantic slave trade studies, particularly as far as its southern dimension was concerned.
This essay has sought to stress the dynamic interest that this field of research is currently experiencing, but also to assess some avenues that are being followed and should keep being pursued in the future. The focus on the South Atlantic has brought to light many relevant dynamics regarding the functioning of the transatlantic slave trade as a whole, as David Richardson and Filipa Ribeiro da Silva noted in their introductory essay. They have highlighted additional and multi-directional connections and interactions, and they have drawn attention to the participation of multiple actors in the South Atlantic slave trade besides the Portuguese and Brazilian traders.
Hence, these works demonstrate that the Dutch or the Americans, for instance, also played a significant role in the dynamics of the slave trade south of the Equator. They also show that African agents, both men and women, played a crucial role in the overall functioning of the trade and, later on, in its eventual suppression, something that often implied, for example, looking beyond the coastal regions of West Africa and considering the internal dynamics of the African hinterland.
The examination of both volumes is also an opportunity to think about the benefits of digital collaborative projects, in general, and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, in particular.
What the database has been doing for the field is absolutely remarkable, regardless of the shortcomings that it may have or the debate that it may have caused regarding some of its estimates.
The dialogue that it has stimulated is actually good evidence of its success and of its usefulness. In the future, one can hardly imagine any study on the transatlantic slave trade, north or south, which does not at least partly utilize the information contained in the Slave Voyages project.
The close collaboration involved in its development will guarantee the gradual improvement of what might today be considered by some critics to be flaws or limitations in the database. It is expected that the richness of the approaches that have been put to such stimulating use in both books may inspire others that have so far tended to be absent from slave trade studies.
They were separated for some time and miraculously met again, but these two siblings were separated for the last time. Equiano also talked about how dirty and digusting the slaves ships were. West Africa has many rainforest with drier land towards the North, and Africans were hunters and gatherers. Accordingly, he fall upon his neighbours, and a desperate battle ensues The external forces in the Atlantic trade indeed affected the impact of the trade to a very large extent. New York: Cambridge University Press,
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The slave trade was brutal and horrific, and the enslavement of Africans was cruel, exploitative, and dehumanizing. In the Americas, besides the considerable riches their free labor created for others, the importation and subsequent enslavement of the Africans would be the major factor in the resettlement of the continents following the disastrous decline in their indigenous population. Between and , an estimated 6. Although victimized and exploited, they created a new, largely African, Creole society and their forced migration resulted in the emergence of the so-called Black Atlantic.
The transatlantic slave trade laid the foundation for modern capitalism, generating immense wealth for business enterprises in America and Europe. The trade contributed to the industrialization of northwestern Europe and created a single Atlantic world that included western Europe, western Africa, the Caribbean islands, and the mainlands of North and South America. On the other hand, the overwhelming impact on Africa of its involvement in the creation of this modern world was negative.
The continent experienced the loss of a significant part of its able-bodied population, which played a part in the social and political weakening of its societies that left them open, in the nineteenth century, to colonial domination and exploitation.
In the mid-fifteenth century, Portuguese ships sailed down the West African coast in a maneuver designed to bypass the Muslim North Africans, who had a virtual monopoly on the trade of sub-Saharan gold, spices, and other commodities that Europe wanted. These voyages resulted in maritime discoveries and advances in shipbuilding that later would make it easier for European vessels to navigate the Atlantic. Over time, the Portuguese vessels added another commodity to their cargo: African men, women, and children.
For the first one hundred years, captives in small numbers were transported to Europe. By the close of the fifteenth century, 10 percent of the population of Lisbon, Portugal, then one of the largest cities in Europe, was of African origin. English and Dutch ships soon joined Portugal's vessels trading along the African coast.
They preyed on the Portuguese ships, while raiding and pillaging the African mainland as well. During this initial period, European interest was particularly concentrated on Senegambia.
Culturally and linguistically unified through Islam and in some areas, Manding culture and language, the region and Mali to its east had a long and glorious history, centered on the ancient Kingdom of Ghana and the medieval empires of Mali and Songhay.
Its interior regions of Bure and Bambuk were rich in gold. It reached the Mediterranean and hence Europe from Songhay. The slave trade was closely linked to the Europeans' insatiable hunger for gold, and the arrival of the Portuguese on the " Gold Coast" Ghana in the s tapped these inland sources.
Later, they developed commercial and political relations with the kingdoms of Benin in present-day Nigeria and Kongo. The Kongo state became Christianized and, in the process, was undermined by the spread of the slave trade.
Benin, however, restricted Portuguese influence and somewhat limited the trade in human beings. Starting in , Africans were part of every expedition into the regions that became the American Spanish colonies. By the beginning of the sixteenth century, they were brought as slaves to grow sugar and mine gold on Hispaniola, and were forced to drain the shallow lakes of the Mexican plateau, thereby finalizing the subjugation of the Aztec nation.
In a bitter twist, the Africans were often forced to perform tasks that would help advance the genocide that would resolve the vexing "Indian question. The creation of ever-larger sugar plantations and the introduction of other crops such as indigo, rice, tobacco, coffee, cocoa, and cotton would lead to the displacement of an estimated seven million Africans between and The demand for labor resulted in numerous innovations, encouraged opportunists and entrepreneurs, and accrued deceptions and barbarities, upon which the slave trade rested.
Some slave traders - often well-respected men in their communities - made fortunes for themselves and their descendants. The corresponding impact on Africa was intensified as larger parts of west and central Africa came into the slavers' orbit. The third and final period of the transatlantic slave trade began with the ban on the importation of captives imposed by Britain and the United States in and lasted until the s.
Brazil, Cuba, and Puerto Rico were the principal destinations for Africans, since they could no longer legally be brought into North America, the British or French colonies in the Caribbean, or the independent countries of Spanish America. Despite this restricted market, the numbers of deported Africans did not decline until the late s. Many were smuggled into the United States. At the same time, tens of thousands of Africans rescued from the slave ships were forcibly settled in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and several islands of the Caribbean.
War, slave raiding, kidnapping, and politico-religious struggle accounted for the vast majority of Africans deported to the Americas. Several important wars resulted in massive enslavement, including the export of prisoners across the Atlantic, the ransoming of others, and the use of enslavement within Africa itself. The Akan wars of the late seventeenth century and the first half of the eighteenth century were a struggle for power among states in the Gold Coast hinterland.
By the mid-eighteenth century, Asante emerged as the dominant force. By , Oyo had become a consolidated imperial power in the interior of the Bight of Benin by defeating the Bariba and Nupe in the north and other Yoruba states to the south. The wars between various Gbe groups resulted in the rise of Dahomey and its victory over Allada in These wars accounted for the deportation of over a million Africans along the Bight of Benin coast.
The sixty-year period of the Kongo civil wars, ending in , was responsible for the capture and enslavement of many. Among them were the followers of the Catholic martyr Beatrice of Kongo, who tried to end the wars through pacifist protest. The spread of militant Islam across West Africa began in Senegambia during the late seventeenth century. The jihad led to two major political transformations: the emergence in the late eighteenth century of the Muslim states of Futa Jallon in the Guinea highlands and Futa Toro on the Senegal River.
The jihad movement continued into the nineteenth century, especially with the outbreak of war in in the Hausa states northern Nigeria under the leadership of Sheikh Usman dan Fodio. These wars in turn exacerbated political tensions in Oyo, which resulted in a Muslim uprising and the collapse of the Oyo state between and New strongholds were created at Ibadan, Abeokuta, and Ijebu, and the conflict intensified over attempts to replace or resurrect the Oyo state.
After , the importation of firearms heightened the intensity of many of the wars and resulted in a great increase in the numbers of enslaved peoples. European forces intervened in some of the localized fighting and in warfare all along the Atlantic coast. They sought to obtain captives directly in battle or as political rewards for having backed the winning side. Working from their permanent colonies at Luanda, Benguela, and other coastal points, the Portuguese conducted joint military ventures into the hinterlands with their African allies.
Africans also became enslaved through non-military means. Judicial and religious sanctions and punishments removed alleged criminals, people accused of witchcraft, and social misfits through enslavement and banishment. Rebellious family members might be expelled from their homes through enslavement. However, debts and the collateral for those debts were sometimes subjected to illegal demands, and pawned individuals, especially children, were sometimes "sold" or otherwise removed from the watchful eyes of the relatives and communities that had tried to safeguard their rights.
Captives were sometimes ransomed, but this practice often encouraged the taking of prisoners for monetary rewards. As the slave trade destroyed families and communities, people tried to protect their loved ones.
Various governments and communal institutions developed means and policies that limited the trade's impact. Muslims were particularly concerned with protecting the freedom of their co-religionists. Qur'anic law stated that those of the Faith born free must remain free. But this precept was often violated.
Throughout Africa, people of all beliefs tried to safeguard their own. Some offered themselves in exchange for the release of their loved ones. Others tried to have their kin redeemed even after they had been shipped away.
Resistance took the form of attacks on slave depots and ships, as well as revolts in the forts, in barracoons, and on slave ships. But at a higher level, the political fragmentation - many small centralized states and federations governed through secret societies - made it virtually impossible to develop methods of government that could effectively resist the impact of the slave trade.
Even the largest states, such as Asante and Oyo, were small by modern standards. Personal gain and the interests of the small commercial elites who dominated trade routes, ports, and secret societies also worked against the freeing of captives, offenders, and displaced children, who could easily end up in the slave trade.
Western European countries established distinct national trades. These nine ports accounted for at least half of all the Africans deported to the Americas. The European countries attempted, though not successfully, to regulate the trade by chartering various national companies established under royal decree or parliamentary order.
But these efforts to create monopolies, such as England's Royal African Company RAC , were soon undermined by private merchant companies and pirates who opened up new markets in the Bight of Biafra and the northern Angola coast, and challenged the RAC on the Gold Coast and in the Gambia. Each of the nations and their slave ports experimented with innovative marketing and trading techniques.
Sometimes this competition required the maintenance of trading depots and forts - the slave "castles" or factories - as was the case in the Gold Coast and the Bight of Benin, as well as in lesser ports along the Upper Guinea Coast, Senegambia, and Angola. The trade was propelled by credit flowing outward from Europe and used by merchants to purchase men, women, and children in West Africa.
They advanced goods on credit in lieu of payment in captives. The wares sent to Africa in exchange for captives included those that could be used as money: cowry shells, strips of cloth often imported from India , iron bars, copper bracelets manillas , silver coins, and gold. These goods also had value as commodities: cloth could be turned into clothing, iron into hoes and other tools. Consumer goods included textiles, alcohol, and jewelry. Their importation supplemented but did not replace the local production of these items.
Alcohol was regarded as a luxury, except in Muslim communities, where it was prohibited. Military goods, principally firearms, were also exchanged for captives. They were instrumental in the eighteenth-century Gold Coast wars that enslaved multitudes and led to the Asante people's political ascendancy in the region.
With the exception of the Gold Coast wars, guns played little role at first in local conflicts, due in part to the difficulty of keeping powder dry in tropical regions. Merchants experimented with various trading methods. In some places, such as Old Calabar and the minor ports of the Upper Guinea Coast, individuals who were often the relatives of local merchants and officials were accepted by ship captains as collateral for credit. These individuals were human pawns who could be enslaved if debts were not paid.
In Angola and Senegambia, European merchants married or otherwise cohabited with local women, and these women sometimes amassed considerable fortunes as agents and merchants in their own right. Their mixed offspring became an intermediate class of merchants along the coast, but especially concentrated along the Upper Guinea Coast as far as Senegambia, and in Luanda, Benguela, and their commercial outposts in the interior of Angola.
The trade was a high-risk enterprise. The commodity was people; they could escape, be murdered, commit suicide, or fall victim to epidemics or natural disasters. Local traders could disappear with their payment and never produce the captives stipulated in the contract. Since the slave trade went across political and cultural frontiers, there was little recourse to courts and governments in the event of commercial dishonesty.
No international court or judicial system existed to handle the extraordinary violations of human rights that defined every aspect of the slave trade. The slave trade was driven by both demand and greed. The customers in the Americas who could afford it desperately needed labor and did not care how it was obtained. Traders could benefit immensely from theft, plunder, kidnapping, ransoming, and the sale of human beings as commodities.