How important were humanitarian concerns and racism in the treatment of slaves?

Topics: Slavery, Atlantic slave trade, Caribbean Pages: 3 (923 words) Published: September 20, 2014
Clara Lemaitre
Thursday, November 14th
How important were humanitarian concerns and racism in the treatment of slaves?

Slavery has always existed: Romans had slaves; Muslims had black slaves since the 7th Century. The Slave Trade from Africa to the West Indies started in the 16th Century. Slaves were needed to work on the plantations because of labor shortage. The treatment of slaves consists in how the Europeans took care of their slaves. Humanitarian concerns are concerns on the happiness and welfare of people and racism is the mistreatment of someone of a different race or culture. Racism was a very big part in the treatment of the slaves whereas humanitarian reasons where ignored or barely got through to the public. Firstly, this essay will talk about why slaves were needed, secondly how slaves were treated, thirdly how important humanitarian reasons were to their treatment and finally how important racism was to their treatment.

Slaves were only needed for economic reasons. In fact, when the Europeans discovered the West Indies and the Americas they also discovered a lot of new products such as sugar, rum and cotton. Between all the new discoveries, sugar was the most important for the English economy. In 1690, 200 000 pounds of sugar were imported to London and in 1760, 5 000 000 pounds of sugar were imported to London. Therefore, plantation owners needed workers. At first, white men or soldiers would work on the farms but soon they would die because of all the new diseases they had never been exposed to, for example the yellow fever. The plantation owners needed a cheap hand-work. The slaves were perfect for this because they did not have to be paid. Soon, every plantation had slaves. Between the 16th C and the mid-19th C, 10 to 16 million Africans were transported across the Atlantic.

Slaves were not considered as people but were considered as things. When an owner bought a slave, the slave was considered as his property....
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