Global History 1
23 November 2013
Africa and the Slave Trade PSA
African slavery was an ancient practice that can be traced back to long before European interference. However, when the Portuguese began to realize all of the goods that Africa had to offer, they immersed themselves in the African slave trade, thus completely changing it. Much can be learned from about the slave trade through primary sources from the people involved. However, it is important to consider the author of the primary source, and how their own personal biases will affect their writing. For example, the accounts of the slave trade from John Barbot, an employee of a French slave trading company, significantly contrast those of Equiano, a slave taken to the island of Barbados. Barbot begins his description by listing the typical goods that were involved in trade between Europe and Africa, such as jewelry, various metals, clothing, silverware, and slaves. By considering slaves as simply another item in a long list of goods, Barbot shows how dehumanizing and impersonal the slave trade was. Slaves were considered nothing more than property, as opposed to living, feeling people. Barbot, however, views his transporting of slavery as somewhat heroic, and says: “the fate of such [slaves] that are bought, and transported from the coast to America, or other parts of the world, by Europeans, is less deplorable than that of those who end their days in their native country.” Barbot believes that slaves owned by Europeans are treated much more humanely than those owned by Africans because of how the Africans severely beat and mistreated their slaves. This statement is highly contrasted by the personal account of Equiano the slave. Equiano describes how poorly the Europeans treated the slaves, cramming them into unlivable conditions, and manhandling them to the point of perpetual fear and depression. Equiano’s statements are virtually opposite to Barbot’s,...
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