Even before the first humans on Earth, there has always been a constant change in the landscape. From the first cultivated fields of the Neolithic period to the great structures of the first dynasty in China, the landscape has ever been evolving. Arguably one of the most dynamic changes were those of Europe from the 1500-1800s. During this time, cultural, social and economic beliefs were remoulded or evolved to help create the foundations of societies today. Out of the three areas the most influential were the economic changes which not only took place in Western Europe but throughout other continents as well. Most recognizable of these changes was the importance of slavery in the Atlantic World. Slavery in the Trans- Atlantic world referred to the use of people from Africa who had been captured and used for their labour to create goods for Europe.[i] Though there are multiple examples of the benefits, the real success was due to the economic factors which allowed the slave trade and slavery to expand from 1550- 1800. Through the Atlantic economy, increased trade through the colonization of the New World and also the interdependence of countries and diversity are the three factors that allowed the slave trade and slavery to grow in the Atlantic World as well as the increased wealth of Europeans.
One of the factors that expanded the slave trade and slavery was the growth of the Atlantic economy through capitalism. Modern capitalism known today started around this time period. This meant that economic institutions such as banks and the stock market came to fruition.[ii] This capitalism then translated overseas with the collection of cash crops which boosted the Western European economy. In the third document for example there is an example of capitalism in action in the British West Indies. [iii] The sugar [cash crop] is in barrels which would have been shipped off to Europe where it would have been sold to people to create money to circle within the economy. Some may wonder how this boosted the economy if money was spent on these mills across the Atlantic. This is due to the use of slaves which were much cheaper and therefore cost effective for the countries in Europe. As shown in document 7, thousands of slaves were carried off to the New World to work at the mills and plantation field to produce goods for Europe. [iv] The number of slaves abroad the ship indicate that it has to be a large vessel to hold many slaves during one trip. The reason they were so cheap was because African slaves were resistant to diseases more than the natives and also were more productive than them also.[v] Also they could serve fore a lifetime to one owner while previous settlers were indentured servants meaning they worked for a set amount of time; overall a better long- term investment which saved money. [vi]
Another reason why they were in demand was because of the number of workers needed in a plantation for it to work. In the documents 4 and 5, the data shows exactly why African Slaves were a better than the natives (Amerindians) or any of the indentured servants. In document 3 it shows the different jobs that had to be done on the plantation.[vii] Due to the number of jobs that had to be filled not just once but by multiple people is was difficult to do so with Amerindians who kept dying out due to the new diseases which made it harder to fill the spots available.[viii] The fifth document shows the birth and death rate that a plantation would have during this time.[ix] From the data given it makes more sense as to why a plantation owner would invest a lot of money initially buying slaves knowing that they would save much more in the end. This is because with slaves that lasted longer, the need to replace them was less.
The second factor which led to the expansion of slavery and the slave trade was the increase in trade due colonization of the New World. One of the big changes during this time was the number of people who started...
Bibliography: Armstrong J. The Atlantic Economy and Slavery (Canada: TCPHS 2011)
Bulliet Richard, The Earth and Its peoples: A Global History, ( Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage
Trans- Atlantic Slave Trade from 1450- 1750, Oracle ThinkQuest: Education Foundation, last modified 2011,http://library.thinkquest.org/13406/ta/
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