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Impact of the Slave Trade

Info: 1764 words (7 pages) Essay
Published: 8th Feb 2020 in History

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This essay is going to explore the repercussions and the impact of transatlantic slave trade on the law, economy and society and how this impacts today’s world.

A factor that suggests that the slave trade had a negative impact on Africa was the prevalence of European and African raiding, capture and torture of Africans from the coasts and the hinterlands. This prevented Africans that were not involved in the trade from doing any business in security without the threat of being kidnapped and sold to Europeans; it is difficult to imagine any economic growth for Africa during the slave trade u8nder the conditions of violence that the business promoted. Furthermore, the majority of the economy has been solely based on the sale of slaves. (M’baye, 2006)

The trade contributed to a disastrous economic situation in Africa, the continent’s technological and commercial potentials hasn’t been fulfilled to its full potential, they took too long to understand that the trade only benefitted Europe and the West Indies. If they knew they would have radically opposed to the deal in all its form. (M’baye, 2006)

In the present political and social problems that confront Africa, societies have difficulty in advancing their economic development because the constitutions that they inherited from European powers do not reflect the structural realities of their communities. (M’baye, 2006)

People of African descent live all over the world today, although in many instances they have been renamed, suppressed and marginalized; on every continent, Africans and African Americans continue to suffer racism. (Muhammad, 2004)

The population in West Africa declined by 2 million between 1700 and 1850. The estimate is that the western African population went from a projected 25 million to 23 million in 150 years, had the population grown 0.3 percent per annum in the same period, it would have reached 39.3 million in 1850  (Rodney, 1972). The fact that the community has declined that much over the years has contributed to the underdevelopment of Africa as there was less workforce, and fewer taxes were paid. As most of the slave sold were men, that meant that children were more likely to do not attend school, to support their families and that’s one of the reasons why today Africa is the continent with the most illiterate people.

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On the other hand, as the slave trade had exploited Africa, Britain has really benefitted from the slave trade mainly because of the raw materials, which then started the industrial revolution, in fact, the cotton coming from slave plantations was then transported to England and worked in factories in and outside Manchester  once the cotton clothes were produced they were sold for massive profits in Europe and the rest of Britain. Transporting slaves over to America also gave people work and made revenue to the ports of Liverpool and Bristol, Liverpool became one of the most important cities in Britain because of the slave trade, the port of Liverpool made most of its revenue from the cotton, while Bristol made most of its revenue from sugar produced by slaves.

The first steam spinning mill was set up in England in 1785, the first in Manchester in 1789, between 1785 and 1800, 82 steam engines were built for cotton mills, 55 of these in Lancashire alone, Manchester was considered as the capital of cotton in England as the first steam loom factory was constructed there in 1806. In 1835 there were 116,800 power looms in Great Britain. In 1785 the exports of British manufactured cotton exceeded one million pounds in value, which became 31 million by 1830 and the population employed by the industry rose from 350,000 in 1788 to 800,000 in 1806. (Williams & Colin, 1994)

Britain had also been able to create a considerable trading network within its colonies and by bypassing the competition with the Molasses Act of 1733 which banned the import of foreign sugar to North America apart from British sugar, plus the direct export act of 1739 allowed British planters to ship directly to Europe. (Sheridan, 1957)

The triangular trade had also impacted Glasgow’s revenue as by 1870 they were the main tobacco importers in the whole country, the rise of banking in Glasgow was intimately connected with the slave trade. The first bank opened in 1750 and it was known as Ship Bank.

Some of the capital that financed the growth of the metallurgical industries was supplied directly by the triangular trades.

The slave trade had also put the foundation for how strong America is today, considering that slaves worked for free and they were employed in Sugar, coffee and tobacco plantations. Those raw materials had a massive demand from Europe, so the revenues were even more prominent as the wages were not deducted as a regular business would work.

Slaves were also employed in railroads which built a lot of, and it is still one of the primary sources of revenue especially in South America.

,Slavery in the southern states of America ended after it was stopped in the north, and that might be the reason why states like Mississippi, Texas or Tennessee always had more rate of racism an example of this is that the Ku Klux Klan has been created in Pulaski, Tennessee because some American veterans that considered Africans and African Americans to be inferior and didn’t deserve any civil right.

Once the slaves were freed after the abolishment of slavery, they brought the culture in America, one example is the music, in fact jazz and blues has been invented by African American, Buddy Bolden started his first band in New Orleans in 1895, Blues have been created in plantations by slaves, and descendants of slaves.

Back then the triangular slave trades violated a lot of today’s laws, in fact since slavery it’s now abolished, The Slavery Convention had been created in 1926 it was premised to the Brussels Act, which intended to Terminate the slave trading of Africans, it was the first ever convention to focus on slavery and the specifically the African slave trade. Under the section III of Article 5 of the convention, the act mutilating or branding a slave to indicate the status or for punishment or any other reasons would be considered a criminal offense.

The Trans-Atlantic slave trade was a systematic attack against the African population. It became an organized, financial institution and was encouraged, financed and participated by a handful of nation-states, seeking to enslave Africans. (Muhammad, 2004)

he African slaves were enslaved primarily by their European counterparts, in violation of the Article 7 of the Rome Statute, which is against the exercise of any or all the powers attaching to the right of ownership over a person and includes the power in the course of trafficking in people, in particular women and children. (Muhammad, 2004)

Many Africans have been deprived of any human right as they were subjected to forced labor, rape, brutal treatment, and general horror.

In conclusion, the whole of the slave trade demoted African existence to that of inanimate object, conquered by Europeans economies and merchants; the participants of the trade did not even perceive Africans as human beings, they were only commodities to kidnap, use and torture and their continents was viewed as a treasure to steal from and make Europe more precious and more valuable. (Muhammad, 2004)

Africa as a continent and African people have been exploited as no compensation was given to any of the victims or their progeny and the countries involved never issued an apology nor from the participants at the time nor from the successors that sit in the same seats as the governments that sanctioned this trade. (Muhammad, 2004)

The raw materials and the revenues coming from the Trans-Atlantic slave trade have helped Britain to begin the industrial revolution which has put the basis and foundations for making Great Britain one of the wealthiest countries in the world, it allowed cities like Liverpool and Manchester to become big, prosperous cities through cotton fabrics and ports shipments.

Great Britain and America have exploited Africa by giving them what the African slave traders what they wanted, guns, rum and things that would only last in the short term and would not contribute to the growth of the continent, technologically and industrially.

America has also been industrialized because of the free labour that the slaves were forced to do, for example, railroads or working at ridiculous hours under shameful conditions in sugar, cotton, tobacco and coffee plantations. Another way America exploited Africa is that they took their workforce, mostly adult fir males to work for free in America, especially in the southern states of the United States of America, where they have constructed railroads, which in later years became one of the primary sources of income of the country.

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As of today, the majority of African and African American are oppressed and facing racism in every continent, and Africa has made very little progress at all comparing to other continents like Europe and America, certain countries in Africa have not made many signs of improvement at all, there’s no electricity or no roads, people are still living in wood houses and drinking dirty water.


  • M’baye, B. (2006) The Economic, Political, and Social Impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade on Africa. The European Legacy, 11(6), pp.607-22.
  • Muhammad, P.M. (2004) The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade: s Forgotten Crime Against Humanity Defined by International Law. American Univerisity Law review, 19(4), pp.883-947.
  • Rodney, W. (1972) How Europe underdeveloped Africa. London: Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications.
  • Sheridan, R.B. (1957) The Molasses Act and the Market Strategy of British Sugar Planters. The Journal of Economic History, 17(1), pp.62-83.
  • Williams, E. & Colin, P.A. (1994) The Development of British Capitalism, 1783-1833. Capitalism and Slavery, pp.126-34.


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