Topic 05: Slavery and the New World (1500–1800)

This topic covers the development of slavery in the Americas - how and why it developed, the role and nature of the Atlantic slave trade, as well as resistance and opposition to slavery.

(Please note that this Topic is currently being developed; more pages will be uploaded in the next few weeks).

Specifically this topic covers:

  • Reasons for and origins of slavery
  • The role of colonial powers in the establishment and expansion of slavery; the impact of the asiento
  • The Middle Passage
  • Living and working conditions in the New World
  • Slave resistance and slave rebellions - including a case study of a specific rebellion
  • Opposition to the slave trade and slavery; the role of Quakers and the other early abolitionists

1. Origins of the transatlantic slave trade

From the middle of the 15th century, until the end of the 19th century, Europeans established a trade with the West coast of Africa which involved transporting African slaves to the Americas. This was...

2. The Middle Passage

This page examines the horrors of the 'Middle Passage', the second leg of the transatlantic 'triangular' trade in which the slaves were forced to endure 'a kind of living death' aboard the slave ships.

3. Life on the plantations

Slaves leaving the West Coast of Africa could be taken to the West Indies, to Brazil, or to the southern colonies of British America. In all three regions, they were taken to plantations and thus slaves...


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