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Western Africa as a major source of slaves for the Americas

Western Africa as a major source of slaves for the Americas

When in the middle of the fifteenth century the Portuguese, originally in search of gold, exported the first slaves from West-Africa, a decade of African oppression and dependency on the European colonisers began. During the time of mercantilism most of the West-African slaves ended up as plantation workers in the American colonies. Reasons for the so-called “black holocaust” as well as the West-African history from the beginning of slavetrade till ist final abolition in the mid nineteenth century you can find in this essay

In the fifteenth century Portugal was the dominating power in the world. When the first Portuguese reached the West-African coast they were mainly interested in tropical goods as ivory, pepper, gum and, above all, gold. First trading stations were established. But soon they discovered another useful source they could get from this region: cheap workforce in form of slaves. The next 150 years Portugal imported slaves, mainly from the Kongo-Angola region, to work in Europe or already on American plantations.

In the 17th century a new kind of economic ideology, called mercantilism, spread from Western Europe. Mercantilism was a system to strenghten the national economy and guarantee gradual growth. Therefore every country should have their own colonies. The idea was to import raw materials from the colonies, manufacture them and send the manufactured goods back to the colonies. Out of the idea of mercantilism new worlds powers as Holland, Britain and France developed. They occupied new colonies in Central and South America and also had trading stations along the West-African coast. Now how was it that slavetrade between West-Africa and America rose so rapidly and became so profitable?

After a short period of time the European colonisers found cheaper and easier ways og getting tropical products which led to a trade deficit with Africa. African leaders were highly d...

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