Ramifications of slavery and impact
Slavery was in existence from antiquity and known history. It assumed
a more institutionalized economic and commercialized form which was
impregnable and touched every facet of human society.
The continent of Africa described by the west as dark has seen many
tragedies without respite. With feverish heat Portugal, Spain with every
other European nation competed to aggrandize themselves especially to
find a sea route to the East to grab the famed wealth of India. By a
Papal Bull, the world was divided between Portugal and Spain.
The other European nations contested this division and entered the
market for African slaves who were treated like any other commercial
commodity for exploitation. Naked aggression, diplomatic decent
financial and economic, enslavement, moral and physical abuse and
religious imperialism and conversion were the hallmarks of their world
In the champions league the players in slavery were England, Portual,
Spain, Denmark, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Dutch, Lithuania,
Belgium, Italian cities.
Thus slavery became profitable and internationalized. The Monarchs
and Governments of Europe were directly and financially and even
personally involved in this horrendous and despicable exercise. Kings
and Queens invested in slavery.
Country Voyages Transported Period
Portugal (including Brazil) 30,000 4,650,000 425
Spain (including Cuba) 4,000 1,600,000 425
France (including French
West Indies) 4,200 1,250,000 300
Holland 2,000 500,000 320
Britain 12,000 2,600,000 350
British North America & US 1,500 300,000 200
Denmark 250 50,000 200
Other 250 50,000
Total 54,200 11,000,000
ii. Slaves Delivered to
Spanish empire (including Cuba) 2,500,000
British West Indies 2,000,000
French West Indies (including Cayenne) 1,600,000
British North America & US 500,000
Dutch West Indies (including Surname) 500,000
Danish West Indies 28,000
Europe (including Portugal, Canary Islands,
Madeira, Azores, etc) 200,000
Senegambia (in Argiun), Sierra Leone 2,000,000
Windward Coast 250,000
Ivory Coast 250,000
Gold Coast (Ashanti) 1,500,000
Slave Coast (Dahomey, Adra, Oyo) 2,000,000
Benin to Calabar 2,000,000
Total Leaving African Ports 13,000,000
(First employment in the Americas)
Sugar Plantations 5,000,000
Coffee Plantations 2,000,000
Domestic Labour 2,000,000
Cotton Fields 500,000
Coca Fields 250,000
To name a few, Queen Elizabeth, Portuguese and Spanish Kings German
Elector Danish, French, Belgium, Dutch Kings. The Atlantic slave trade
was for much of its long life a direct governmental enterprise in the
Before I embark on deeper matters in the slave trade it should be
stated that the Negro slaves became the strength and sinews of the
western world. Calender of State Papers, Colonial Series.
Even with Obama we have not reached a find state of equality.
In this regard Prostlehway described the slave trade as the first
principle and foundation of all the rest, the mainspring of the machine
which set every wheel in motion.
To elaborate in economic jargon, the capital formation of Europe
which paved the way for the industrial revolution of Europe was based on
There was the Triangular trade, England, France, Portugal, Spain with
other European nations and then with colonial America.
The above slaving nations supplied the ships and transport. The
merchandise consisted of the unfortunate African people.
The result was the establishment of colonial plantations and
incipient industries which led to the Industrial Revolution.
This was the scenario for centuries till the end of the 19th century
and thereafter assumed various hues and guises.
The economic take off and the building of empires was solely depended
on the African trade, the looting of South America and the rape of Asia.
The capital formation of Europe was based mainly on the African trade in
slavery and to a great extent the exploitation of Asia, the cultural
flower of the world.
Now I will bring out the infrastructural development of these
nations. Networks of seaboard harbours and towns were developed in the
To name a few in England, Liverpool, London, Bristol, Dartmouth the
naval academy, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and Sheffield etc. In
France the same phenomenon is seen with ports like Rouen etc.
The Dutch who were one of the most active in this regard and was the
financial centre in Europe with Amsterdam having over 10,000 ships
Copenhagen in Denmark etc, the shipping industry saw a phenomenal growth
and navies were built accordingly for the completion among these
nations. Sweden and Germanic Prussia were not to be outdone.
Portugal and Spain the pioneers embarked on the same mission of
developing seaboard harbours, towns and their internal transport system
like the other European nations.
In the first stage these nations did not have the vast facilities to
spread their tentacles apart from Human merchandise whereas in the next
stage they went on to control these sources and African slave labour was
harnessed for mining and plantations.
Growth - Industries
The African trade saw the industrialization of Europe. In the
metallurgical industries we see the growth of steel, copper, brass and
the items required for the African and American slave trade.
1. Slave trade proper
2. Auxiliary trades
3. New trades fuelled by the above
4. New items of consumption sugar which was unprecedented, sugar
refining and its secondary industries like Rum. etc
b. Cotton manufactures which was also unprecedented and new locations
of industry Lancashire Mills etc.
d. The nascent armament industry saw rapid and vast growth from the time
gunpowder came to the west. It was used by the Chinese on a very limited
scale. The westerners sophisticated its use as the chief component as an
arm of conquest.
Armaments industry was first for indigenous use and exports which
formed during the course of time the most important source of a
countries income and this became the most important segment of a
U.S. This spilled into other industries which are equally
economically viable to these countries. We also see the Armament
industry on a scale with technological advancement and its secondary
industries which is stupendous.
Mining industries like gold elmina and silver polosti in Africa and
America respectively. The mining of diamonds and other gems on an
unprecedent Scale Chemicals too assumed an important role with time.
Strategic raw materials came along with it.
The rise of the modern banking system accompanies and is linked with
the slave trade.
The banking system was primitive but with the exigencies and
requirements of commerce and the nature of the slave trade we see a new
chapter in banking.
Venice and Genoa lost its position and new centres in England,
Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Germanic Prussia took an
impregnable position in the financial world Capital entered each of
these countries in various volume and each with a distinct flavour.
Portugal and Spain brought in gold and silver initially, loot and
then the profits of the slave trade. Later there was the inflow of
capital from the Plantations.
All these required financial mobility Spain brought in gold and
silver in volume and value never seen before in the world, this
country’s banking system was left mainly to Amsterdam.
Modern writers of Banking do not give consideration or weight to the
slave trade as a significant factor in the development of Banking either
through ignorance or deliberate attempts to hide the ignomious truth
which I believe is the case.
Banks in Europe had then branches and correspondents in the Americas.
The following are some of great Banking houses that were involved in the
The development of joint stock companies came with the development of
the trade throughout Europe. In England there was the Royal African Co.
which was set up exclusively for slaving, South Sea Island Co which
resulted in a sensational collapse was another among many.
Insurance Companies like Lloyds with a network of branches in the
Caribbean and Europe was set up for the insurance of slaving expeditions
Industrial Companies were incorporated under new legislation over Europe
and Americas and financing was extended by the state and banks. The
entire system was orchestrated for slaving and the exploitation of Asia.
The effect of slave trading on Africa was devastating. The entire
western side of Africa was depopulated. On a very conservative estimate
11 million were transported to the Caribbean and Americas. The table
elsewhere gives a graphic picture and is self explanatory.
To be continued