Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Glimpse of the Slave Trade

Slate's stunning map of slave shipments from Africa to the Western Hemisphere is worth watching several times. Once just for the sheer overwhelming force of its information, and again to begin to get a sense of the details.

1725 to 1825...was...the high-water mark of the slave trade, as Europeans sen[t] more than 7.2 million people to forced labor, disease, and death in the New World....

By the conclusion of the trans-Atlantic slave trade at the end of the 19th century, Europeans had enslaved and transported more than 12.5 million Africans. At least 2 million, historians estimate, didn’t survive the journey. 
I've categorized this post under Facts I Never Knew, which isn't completely accurate, but it fits my lack of awareness of the scope and direction of the shipping of humans.

Sculpture of chained men below decks at the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee

Less than 4 percent of the people stolen from Africa were sent to North America, and that's pretty much all I (and other Americans) hear about, especially in our schooling.

The Portuguese transported the majority of stolen people to Brazil, but the British (and Americans) did a major share as well, especially during that 18th century period noted above. The U.S. -- including the North -- was built on the money made from the trade.

As this sign from the Civil Rights Museum says (among many other things), the stolen people were mostly kidnapped from far inland. "Up to a third died during the march to the coastal European slave forts." Then another 20 percent died on the ocean "from disease, malnutrition, and abuse."

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