Slave Trade-Trans-Atlantic  ~Page 5

Slave Trade-Trans-Atlantic ~Page 5 - Stories


The First Slaves at the Cape

Later, a man named Jan Van Riebeeck (a leader assigned to build a refreshment station, by the Dutch East India Company) was to brutally change the course of history in South Africa. He frequently repeated his request for more slaves, suggesting that slaves could work the nearby saltpans so that salt could be profitably exported, they could also hunt seals, or assist with agricultural tasks. He argued that slave labor would be cheaper than Company servants, as they did not have to be paid a salary. However, although the Company was reluctant to agree, fate was more obliging.On 28 March 1658, the ship Amersfoort, which two months earlier had intercepted a Portuguese slaver bound from Angola to Brazil, arrived in Table Bay with a shipment of slaves. The Portuguese ship had surrendered 250 of a cargo of 500 slaves to the Amersfoort. Many slaves died before reaching the Cape, and a few were sent to Batavia. Of the 38 men and 37 women who remained, 21 men and 22 women were set to work in the fields and gardens. The rest were assigned to various Company officials.A second group of slaves was purchased at Popo on the West African coast, and arrived at the Cape in May 1658 aboard the ship Hasselt. Van Riebeeck described the 228 newly enslaved people as ‘exceptionally handsome, sturdy and cheery’. About 80 were shipped to Batavia, the re­mainder being sold to free burghers and Company officials. As with the Angolans, many of these slaves from Guinea were soon to die of disease, and their numbers diminished rapidly.Rijckloff van Goens, a Company commissioner, instructed Van Riebeeck to treat slaves well. They were to be taught the basic principles of agriculture and a trade. As the company had hoped there would be no need to send more free men to the Cape, a considerable financial saving. The slaves were not to speak or be spoken to in Portuguese — Dutch was the official language spoken between owner and slave. According to some observers, the patois that ensued eventually evolved into the Afrikaans language. (Language was indeed a barrier even among the slaves, as they came from many different parts of the world).

Slaves were the forced labor, which not only transformed a small refreshment station into a significant agricultural colony - but also in many ways, transformed agriculture in the Western Cape.

They were a class who could not enter into any legal contract, or property. In civil law they simply did not exist - but criminal law was a savage reality.Almost from the start, slaves began to runaway, because of ill treatment, overwork and the natural desire to live as a free person. The perils of the unknown were preferable to the humiliation and degradation of slavery — something that the settlers could not acknowledge. ‘These ignorant people,’ wrote a disgruntled owner, ‘still believe that they will be able to reach some country where they will be relieved of their bondage,’ and he ended with the prediction that they may expect nothing else than to be destroyed in a most miserable manner by hunger, the beasts of prey, or brutal natives’. Indeed, many of the runaways did come to a miserable end. But few returned voluntarily to the misery of enslavement. Soldiers and burghers were sent in pursuit, and Khoikhoi were offered tobacco or brandy to track down runaways, though without much success. It was only when Khoikhoi hostages were taken and kept at the fort against there will that the Khoikhoi showed any interest in co-operating.

Runaway Slaves Form Colonies

    Runaways sometimes formed their own ‘colonies’ — two, which lasted the longest, were high on Simonsberg above Stellenbosch and at Cape Hangklip on the eastern rim of False Bay.

    The ‘colonies’ grew gradually from a group of people who, intent on escaping, equipped themselves with plundered firearms or implements and stole a few cattle or sheep. Secure on the remote mountaintops, they grew crops and grazed their flocks and herds.Eventually, a commando arrived on the scene, which brought an end to the settlements. Those who survived the onslaught were severely punished for running away.The first slaves at the Cape came mainly from West Africa — particularly Guinea and Angola. Later, expeditions were dispatched to bring slaves from Mozambique and Madagascar. The most highly prized, however, were those from the East — such as present-day Java, Bali, Timor, the Malayan Peninsula and China. Slaves were also imported from India, particularly Coromandel, Malabar and Nagapatam.Most slaves carried names given by slave-dealers or their owners. Slaves owned by the Company often retained versions of their real names, usually with spelling errors made  by the Company’s clerks, such as Sao Balla, Revotes Kehang Orlndebet Chemehaijre. Privately owned slaves were generally called Anthony, Jan, Pieter, Anna or Catrijn. They also received classical and biblical names, such as Titus or Rachel. Others were named after the months of the year, especially April, September and October. Their ‘surname usually referred to their place of origin, as in Paulus van Malabar (Paul of Malabar) or Lisbeth van Bengalen (Lisbeth of Bengal), while those born at the Cape were known as ‘Van de Kaap’ (of the Cape).It is difficult to assess precisely what the effects of slavery were on slaves themselves. Fear and insecurity, at the very least, were their lot. But of their lives and feelings — and those of successive generations — we know little, just incidental information gleaned from an examination of the records of the Council of Justice.By 1659 Van Riebeeck possessed a total of 18 slaves, two of whom came from Guinea, one from Madagascar, three from Bengal, and the remainder from Angola, Van Riebeeck’s personal preference. He was particularly prejudiced against slaves from Guinea and Madagascar, believing them to be ‘unreliable’ and likely to desert.

    Slave trade with the West African coast did not last long, however: another private Dutch empire, the West India Company, had sole rights to trade — including slave trade — as far south as Angola and did not hesitate to remind its rival, the East India Company, of the fact. (For a brief spell, the West India Company actually laid claim to the Cape settlement.) So Van Riebeeck and his successors were obliged to look to the East, and many slaves were dispatched from the coast of India, from such places as Coromandel, Malabar and Nagapatam.

    With extensive interests in the East Indian islands, and a trade centered on Batavia (Java), the Dutch rounded up slaves from Bali, Batavia itself, Macassar, Timor and, on the mainland, from Burma, the Malayan Peninsula and China. Ships’ officers returning from the East often invested in a few slaves which they resold at a profit at the Cape. Slavers bound for North or South America and the West Indies were also induced to part with a portion of their cargo at the Cape.

    Casual trade by Company officials became so rampant that, in 1713. return tickets for slaves were booked and paid for in advance. A few years later, however, this was stopped altogether, when it was discovered that private people were making enormous profits at the cost of the Company’s cargo revenue.

    For a few years from 1724 a slave station was maintained at Delagoa Bay, but the high mortality rate among Company servants led to its closure. The Company turned its attention again to Mozambique and later to Zanzibar.

    Coming from different continents and cultures, the slaves had little in common except their bondage. They rarely formed a strongly united group with common aims. The mortality rate was extremely high, and their numbers increased not through procreation hut due to the continued importation of slaves. Groups, and even families, were broken up and scattered at auction sales — there being no obligation on a buyer, for instance, to purchase a mother as well as her children. Although slaves formed a large part of the population of the Cape, they were never accepted as being true members of the community.

    Slaves from Madagascar and the African coast were the least valuable, although when Guinea slaves were first introduced they fetched 100 rix-dollars apiece, as opposed to the 50 paid for a Malagasy. Generally they were set to the hardest work, such as collecting firewood, for which they might have to search all day in order to collect just enough for a household’s needs for the next day.

    At the other extreme was the Malay, described as the ‘king of slaves’. More quickly than any other group, the Malays learnt the skills of almost all the trades practiced at the Cape. When freed, many prospered commercially. Against this, however, they were regarded as temperamental and dangerous. ‘Running amok’ was something to be feared. On one occasion an Eastern slave, in utter desperation and beyond caring, rushed through the streets, dagger in hand, slashing at everyone in sight and eventually stabbing himself to death.

    By Law Muslim slaves were not allowed to practice there faith.

    Most valued of all slaves was a Cape-born child of a slave mother and white father. In the early years of the colony, several marriages took place between white men and slave women, due to the shortage of white women at the colony. Later, sexual intercourse between whites and slaves took place without a formal union. During most of its existence, the Company’s slave lodge was renowned as the town’s leading brothel. Although forbidden, action was seldom taken against transgressors — except in the early years.

    In one incident, Van Riebeeck noticed that Maria van Bengalen, one of his slaves, was often seen with Constable Willem Cornelis. His suspicions led him, with three others as witnesses, to burst into Cornelis’ bedroom one Sunday at around midnight. The two were found ‘in one another’s arms’. The next day, Cornelis was sentenced to pay a fine of 100 reals of eight (a Portuguese currency) and ‘labour for 50 years on public works’. The second part of the sentence was commuted to a fine of a further 50 reals. There is no record of a punishment imposed on Maria.

    When Commissioner Hendrik van Reede visited the Cape in 1685 he noted that among the Company’s slaves there were no fewer than 57 children who obviously had white fathers. Van Reede decided that males could buy their freedom for 100 guilders on reaching the age of 25 years, provided that they had been confirmed in the Dutch Reformed Church and could speak Dutch. The same applied to women, but their age of freedom was 22 years.

    Slave Societies Live in Fear:

      Slavery - the imposition of enforced servitude by a powerful group on another group — inevitably breeds fear in both groups, and resentment in the oppressed. Van Riebeeck recognized this, and more than once alerted the free burghers to the risk of being murdered by their slaves. Yet during his period as Commander, he abolished the use of chains (except for escaped slaves) and allowed slaves to be armed with clubs and pikes during the war with the Khoi­khoi. Slaves, however, were not allowed to carry firearms and, if they did so with the knowledge of the owner, the owner was severely fined and had his slave confiscated by the Company.

      That there was no large-scale slave uprising is not an indication that slaves were content with their lot, but rather it pointed to their fragmented status as a community. The greatest concentration of slaves was in Cape Town, of which the largest group was owned by the Company and housed in the Company’s slave lodge at the foot of the Gardens. Also in Cape Town was the largest concentration of soldiers, so an uprising was out of the question. On farms, the slaves were too few in number and too accustomed to ill treatment to even think about staging a revolt against their masters.One attempt at an uprising took place on a farm in Stellenbosch in 1690. Four slaves attacked a farmhouse, killed one burgher, wounded another and fled with stolen firearms. Burghers, soldiers and Khoikhoi auxiliaries were dispatched in pursuit and, in a gun-fight, three of the slaves were killed and the fourth wounded and taken prisoner. Interrogated, the prisoner said it had been their intention to murder a number of farmers and set fire to their fields, hoping this would attract other slaves to their side. Then they planned to seize some white women and make their way to Madagascar. But after their first attack they had panicked and taken to the hills.Among the slave population, men outnumbered women by four to one. The lack of any form of ‘family life’ contributed to the fragmentary nature of the slave society. It also led to homosexuality, which was a capital offence in the Cape but was condoned by many owners as it gave them addition control over slaves who practiced it. Rivalry and jealousy frequently led to fights, and most slaves lived in an atmosphere of continuous tension.There was also tension among the whites, which constantly feared a mass rebellion and death at the hands of a slave. There was always the fear that slaves who had run away might return to rob or kill, and so large rewards were offered for their recapture. Public warnings of an escaped slave included the tolling of bells and flying a large blue flag at the Castle and other signal-posts.

      Sex Between Slaves and Masters

        Control and punishment: The Statutes of India, promulgated in 1642, controlled slave ownership and all matters relating to slaves. But, in practice, slave-owners themselves were the immediate instrument of control and punishment. The Statutes permitted a slave-owner to punish his slaves for a mild offence with extra duties, but beating and flogging were forbidden. When the free burghers were allowed to buy slaves, Van Riebeeck made it a condition that they keep a whip or lash in the house for chastising their slaves. But when, almost immediately, slaves began to escape, he allowed owners to keep escaped slaves in chains. Where owner’s thought that slaves deserved severe punishment, they were to report to the Council of Justice. Slaves, in turn, were to report ill treatment, although it is debatable whether slaves fully understood this.

        The "whites" fear of an uprising is reflected in a law, which forbade more than two slaves belonging to different owners, to meet at anytime. There was also a curfew, which required any slaves out of doors after 10pm to carry a lantern, unless accompanying a member of the owner’s family. In practice, slaves often disregarded these restrictions and pursued their amusements such as gambling with dice, cockfighting, fishing, drinking coffee or brandy, and even smoking opium.Under criminal law — and there were many offences which, when carried out by a slave, were crimes — slaves received harsh punishment. Exceptions were made in the case of bigamy and adultery, for which whites were severely punished and not the slaves.Sex between slaves and masters: A law forbidding sexual intercourse between white men and slave women was broken with impunity. In one case, however, a soldier named Jan Rutter and a slave named Catrijn van de Kaap were found guilty of this offence. Rutter was sentenced, and deprived of one month’s salary, while his partner was sentenced to be flogged and to work for six months in chains.It was considered more reprehensible if a white woman committed adultery with a slave than if a white man did. Hester Jansz, found guilty at the Cape of committing this offence on the island of Mauritius, was sentenced to be flogged and to work for five years in chains. The slave’s fate was not recorded at the Cape.In the case of gambling, which was forbidden, the court ordered two young officials to repay a slave, Catrijn vanBengalen, 50 of 80 rix-dollars, which they won from her in an evening of card playing. In addition, the officials were fined, but there appears to have been no charge against CatrijnA privately owned slave, Paul van Malabar, was found guilty of keeping a female Company slave named Calafora in his room for three days and nights he was sentenced, to be flogged and branded — not for the sexual offence, but for depriving the Company of the labour of one of its slaves. Calafora was pregnant and sentence was postponed until after she gave birth.

        Slaves sent by their owners beyond a certain distance were obliged to carry a pass, signed by the owner, stating the particulars of the mission. Owners who could not write had to buy a lead token from the Company, engraved with the names of owner and slave, which served as a pass. Anyone who arrested a slave without a pass received a reward from the slave's owner.

        Farm slaves often worked under the immediate supervision of a mondoor (overseer), who was a slave, usually Cape born and chosen for this senior position by his owner. A mondoor received benefits, such as permission to sleep in the women's section of the slave quarters. Other supervisors were the knechte, unskilled European laborers or soldiers of the lowest rank, who were not far above the slaves in the social hierarchy. The knechte had to keep the balance between a high rate of production and the welfare of the slaves who, in turn, felt they were over­worked and retaliated with violence — fights between knechte and slaves were frequent.An owner who felt that his slave deserved a beating could take him to special assistants of the Fiscal (prosecu­tor), known as ‘kaffirs’,in order to be flogged. The kaffirs were Asians who had committed criminal offences in other Dutch colonies and been banished to the Cape, where they now served as an elementary police force.Justice was rigorously administered — and sentences were barbaric in the extreme. Runaway slaves who were recaptured were flogged, branded with a red-hot iron on the back or cheek and sentenced to a lifetime in chains. A second attempt to run away would result in the slave hav­ing his ears, the tip of his nose and, possibly, his right hand cutoff. This practice of mutilation was later discontinued, not for humanitarian reasons, but out of consideration for those who might take offence on seeing the disfigure­ments. Runaways were often hanged, which was also the sentence meted out to slaves found guilty of theft.A slave woman found guilty of murdering her baby (on dubious evidence, although she ‘confessed’ under torture) was sentenced to have both breasts torn from her body with red-hot pincers, after which she was to be burnt. But the Council of Justice reduced the sentence — it felt it would be more merciful for Susanna to be sewn into a sack and dropped from a ship, far out in Table Bay.For a slave to raise his hand, whether armed or not, against his owner, or against almost any other European, meant slow and painful torture on the wheel  (instrument that disjointed and broke bones), but did not actually kill. A slave woman who set fire to her owner’s house was chained to a stake and burnt to death. The remains of executed criminals were usually left on display, until devoured by scavengers, at the place of execution or at the scene where the crime was committed, as a ‘warning’ to other slaves.The most severe sentence imposed on a white for the murder of a slave during the Dutch period is thought have been that against burgher Godfried Meyhuijsen who, af­ter beating one of his slaves to death, was taken to the place of execution, blindfolded and made to kneel while the executioner swung a sword above his head to signify that he deserved to die. After that, he was banished for life to Robben Island and the Company confiscated all his possessions.The British took a different view, however. In 1822, Wil­helm Gebhart, 22-year-old son of the Dutch Reformed Church minister in Paarl, appeared before Chief Justice Sir John Truter, charged with the murder of a slave, Joris of Mozambique, whom Gebhart had allegedly beaten to death. A plea of manslaughter was rejected, and Gebhart was found guilty of willful murder and hanged. Some legends have grown around the Gebhart case, presenting the young man as a victim of a slave conspiracy.

        Slaves Failed Bid for Freedom

          Under the command of Captain Gerrit Muller, a two-masted coaster, the Meerimin, was dispatched from the Cape in 1765 to purchase slaves in Madagascar. There the merchant Johan Crause bought 140 slaves, while members of the crew traded for spears and other African weapons.

          Instead of following the usual practice of keeping them in chains, Cap­tain Muller decided to put the male slaves to work on board his ship. All went well until the Meermin was just a day or two off Table Bay, when the merchant Crause decided to use some of the slaves to clean his stock of fire­arms and. spears. Seizing this opportunity for freedom, the slaves turned on the deck crew, killing some of them and driving the rest up the rigging, while about 30 sailors barricaded themselves below deck. The men in the rigging were coaxed down but once on deck were thrown overboard.The Meermin drifted for two days, the slaves was unable to navigate and the sailors refused to come up. Later, negotiations were started through a female slave after the sailors threatened to destroy the ship with gunpowder. It was agreed that sailors would not be harmed, provided they agreed to return the slaves to Madagascar.The sailors realizing they would probably be killed on arrival in Madagascar, duly sailed east und reduced sail during the day. By night they crowded on more sail an headed west, somehow maintained this deception for several days until  they came in sight of Cape Agulhas: where they anchored seven kilometers from the shore, telling the slaves that this was Madagascar About 60 slaves, in two boats, set out to investigate, having agreed to light three fires as a signal that this was in deed their home.Puzzled by the presence of the ship, a number of farmers gathered ashore and when they saw, through a tele­scope, that the approaching boats were crowded with well-armed blacks, they set off to collect reinforcements. Once ashore, the slaves moved inland but were caught in an ambush and surrendered after a number of them were killed.The 80 or so slaves still aboard the Meermin waited impatiently for the three signal fires, while the crew nervously wondered what to do next. One of them wrote two messages, asking that three fires be lit, sealed them in bottles, and dropped them overboard. By a stroke of good fortune both messages (one of which is preserved in the Cape Archives) were found and the fires were lit.The slaves on the Meermin, believing they had indeed returned home, cut the anchor ropes, and the ship began to drift toward the shore. The pace was too slow for some, who launched the last small boat and rowed for the beach, where the farmers promptly surrounded them and one of them was shot. Those aboard the Meermin saw thisand the slaves, realizing they had been tricked, turned on the crew.A battle raged on board for three hours. With both sides exhausted, the ship’s mate, Olof Leij, persuaded the slaves that, if they consented to be re-chained, they would not be punished. By the time this was completed, there was no hope of saving the ship, which ran ashore. But all aboard were saved.Of the original cargo of 140 slaves, 112 reached Cape Town. It is not known whether or not they were punished, but Captain Muller was deprived of his rank and salary and dismissed from the service of the Company. Crause, who had carried Muller’s casual attitude to ridiculous lengths, had been killed in the initial attack. This logbook of the Meermin is kept in the South African Library in Cape Town

          From Slavery to Freedom

            A free black or vrijgelaten swarte was a former slave who had been released from slavery, or ‘manumitted’. The first slave to gain freedom, was Catharina Anthonis, who was born in Bengal, and liberated because Jan Woutersz from Middelburg wished to marry her, this was in 1656. Soon after the wedding, Woutersz was promoted to the position of supervisor on Robben Island. This was not due to merit, but was rather a way of putting the couple out of sight, for he was later found ‘unsatisfactory’ and sent to Batavia. A few years later, Jan Stael from Amsterdam married Maria van Bengalen, a union found more acceptable as Maria could speak Dutch and had some knowledge of Christianity.

            When a Company official, Abraham Gabbema, was promoted to Batavia, he freed Angela van Bengalen and her three children. She requested, and was granted, a plot of land in what is now Cape Town’s Adderley Street. She married the free burgher Arnoldus Basson, by whom she had three sons. Left widowed in 1689 with an in­heritance of 6495 guilders, Angela managed her affairs well, when she died in 1720, her own estate was valued at 14808 guilders, and she also owned a small farm.

            In 1807, shortly after Britain occupied the Cape for the second time, the slave trade was banned. Slaves could still be sold within the colony, but no more slaves were to be imported. Slaves removed from visiting ships were landed at Simon’s Town and housed in an area, which came to be known as ‘BlackTown’ — before being ‘apprenticed’ for a number of years to approved employers. The British settlers of 1820 were not permitted to own slaves, and slavery at the Cape was formally abolished on 1 December 1834, although the former slaves were obliged to work for their ex-owners for a further period of four years.

            Now that you have an in-depth understanding of Slavery at the Cape, read the events that followed, the celebrations, joy, song and dance on a massive scale by the ex slaves through the streets of Cape Town. The celebrations culminated into the Coon Carnival, an annual event that is still taking place today.

            European Role In The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

              European Role In The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade In the late 15th century, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to extensively explore the African Coast. Yet, as long ago as 600 BC, a group of Phoenician sailors commissioned by Egyptian King Necho II is said to have sailed around Africa (starting through the Red Sea and returning through the Straits of Gibraltar). Archaeological record even shows Greek sailors exploring the coasts of Africa as far back as 200 BC. Even though the Europeans were neither the first nor the only ones to come to this vast continent, they most profoundly interacted with and influenced the cultures and lives of the Africans with whom they came in contact.

              The Portuguese

                Before the late 15th century, Europeans were neither economically nor politically able to set up and maintain a long distance trading relationship. The feudal states of the European countries were just beginning to unite at the time, and the heads of these states had neither the funds nor the inclination to trade with distant peoples. They received all the goods they needed from trade in the Black and Mediterranean Seas. In addition, changing political patterns in the Middle East forced the Europeans to seek a different route to the Orient.


                The Portuguese were the first to establish a lasting commercial tie between Europe and Western Africa because of religious, political and commercial reasons. Some scholars believe the Portuguese wanted to be the middlemen in the trade between Asia and Europe. The Arabs who had this lucrative position took advantage of it by charging high tariffs on goods coming from Asia and Africa. As middlemen, the Portuguese expected to gain the political power in Europe they had been denied since they were so small.  Other scholars feel the Portuguese were looking for grain and gold which could be found in African cities. As they continued to discover the West African Coast though, the Portuguese hoped to reach India by sailing around Africa. Hoping to secure some of the Trans-Saharan trade in gold, ivory, and slaves monopolized by their enemies the Moors, they organized trade to the west Coast of Africa


                By the end of the 15th century, the Portuguese and Spanish had expelled the Moors from their countries. The fall of Grenada in 1492 forever ended Muslim rule in Iberia. Exhilarated by their achievement, the Iberians were then prepared to chase the Moors from Northern Africa as well. Due to this rivalry between the Europeans and the Moors, the Portuguese were accustomed to black slave labor. Each group enslaved prisoners of war. In 1500, there were thousands of Moorish slaves in Portugal; so the Portuguese slave trade with the West Africans was a continuation of earlier contact. The additional slave labor also helped to alleviate the hard pressed labor market.

                Slavery in Portugal in the early 15th century was mostly domestic, and slaves could buy their own freedom. The Mediterranean world was far more linguistically and religiously diverse than northern Europe and had known slavery throughout the course of human history. Slaves were considered human in the Mediterranean area. North America slave owners would develop theories of black slaves as half animals and not truly human beings in order to justify their brutality. Blacks were considered the lowest wrung of society.


                Prince Henry the Navigator initiated the search of the West African coast. Due to his efforts, by 1460 the Portuguese had explored the coast of Africa  all the way to Sierra Leon. By 1498, Vasco de Gama had rounded the Cape of Good Hope. Trade with the coastal West African middlemen included cowry shells and hardware (cooking pots and brass pans and iron rods) in exchange for the gold, slaves, ivory, pepper, gum Arabic, and ostrich feathers. The Portuguese purpose was not to colonize, but to establish a secure trading relationship. They traded on African terms. Since there was some resistance to European infiltration, and the coastline was unsuitable to large boats, the Portuguese often based themselves on Islands off the coast of the continent and at coastal ports. They set up factories--commercial trading posts-- guarded by forts , spread their religion and grew sugar. Portuguese captains often married local women and had mixed race children who completely upset the societal hierarchy. These mixed race children often thought of themselves as superior to their African counterparts served as middlemen in the trade. The initial load of black slaves arrived in Portugal in 1441.


                Even though they had a very diminished role in the trade on the coast of west Africa by the end of the 17th century, the Portuguese did leave a small mark on the coastal peoples with whom they came in contact. European trade with the coastal Africans attracted many Africans from the interior and diverted the flow of trade across the Sahara to the Atlantic Coast of West Africa. This shift contributed to the fall of the Sudanese states. The Portuguese also left their names of places all along the coast--Cape Verde, Cape Palmas, Sierra Leone, El Mina. They introduced many new world crops into West Africa and expanded trading opportunities. They also left their slave castles which often changed hands in the battles between the European states for control of the slave trade. Portugal's inability and general unwillingness to control more of the African regions than they did was a testament to the powerful kingdoms in the Africa and the self-centered nature of European explorers. Profit and discovery drove the Portuguese to explore. Navigational and ship building advances helped them to achieve their goals. However, the complex societal structures of the African societies helped them to trade as equals with their European traders.

                The Dutch in West Africa


                  By the end of the 17th century, the Dutch had succeeded the Portuguese in the domination of the West African Trade. The Dutch were serious and determined to control the African trade. They armed their boats and captured Portuguese forts along the coast. The drive which had led to the development of a complex canal and lock system to control flooding in their country as early as the 15th century, led them to dominate the Portuguese trade. By the 17th century the Dutch had a forty boat fleet which traded on the West African Coast year round. This fleet belonged to the Dutch West India Trading Company. This company, a national venture, was well-organized and well-funded, unlike the ventures of the other European countries. At this point in time, the trading expeditions of the other countries were controlled by individuals who had no success in making inroads into the Portuguese dominated trade. The Dutch also succeeded in replacing the Portuguese because they had no interest in colonizing or converting the people to Christianity. The Dutch dominated the trade from 1600-1700.

                  The 16th century was a period of marked growth in Europe which allowed the Europeans to discover the African Coast on their own and to expand their trading network. The engraving, pottery, textile-making, shipbuilding and metal trades flourished in many European countries, but the Dutch were especially skilled and advanced in their technological discoveries. They relied on their fishing and trade, but their drainage engineering for increased reliance on agriculture was a technological advancement symbolic of Dutch technological advancement.


                  In spite of their dominance in the West African trade in the 17th century, the Dutch were not invincible. The French and English, adopting Dutch tactics, encroached on the Dutch monopoly of the region. They, too, created companies for the organization of trade to Africa and built new forts. But, most devastating to the Dutch was the passage of the Navigation Acts which forbade the importation of slaves into English and French colonies. Part of the Dutch success as traders was that they role as middlemen for other European counties. Denied this role, the Dutch suffered great loses of power in the slave trade.

                  The French & English in West Africa


                    Throughout the first half of 18th century, France and England battled for control of the Guinea Coast. In Lower Guinea, the British`s main adversary was the Dutch. But when the Dutch Company was liquidated, the British soon gained control of the entire Ivory, Grain, and Gold Coasts. France, Britain’s main adversary in Upper Guinea, soon lost interest because of lack of profits. The sparsely populated Upper Guinea coast did not provide enough slaves. In addition, interior ethnic groups were very hostile to European influence. By the mid-18th century, Britain had full control of West African trade. In addition, the British won the Assiento, the sole license to ship black slaves from Africa to Spanish controlled territories in America, in the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713. British dominance in the slave trade began a new period of change in the European/African relationship. The English would begin to explore, conquer and rule African peoples. The Age of Trade shifted into the Age of Colonization.

                    To The Americas

                      As Europeans fought for control of the trade on the African Coast, new battles of conquest began in the Americas.

                      In 1492, Columbus mistakenly landed in America in his search for India. His mistake opened a new world of discovery and conquest for the Europeans and a world of devastation for the native Americans and Africans. After Columbus’ initial trip, a flood of explorers and fortune hunters followed. In 1500 Pedro Alvares Cabral discovered Brazil for the Portuguese. The Spanish American and Portuguese possessions multiplied from then on. The main economic activities were ranching, mining and agriculture. Spain carried on a prosperous trade with its colonies throughout the sixteenth century. The discovery of vast silver mines in the 1540s enriched the colonial inhabitants and increased the volume of trade across the Atlantic.

                      Though not initially inclined to do so, other European countries sought to expand their own empires and trading systems and soon joined the Spanish and Portuguese in the Americas. By 1609, the English had conquered Bermuda. By 1623, they also possessed Antigua, Monster, Nevis, Barbados, and other islands. Guadeloupe and Martinique belonged to the French by 1625. The Dutch, Swedes, and Danes also joined in the rush to the Americas.

                      But the colonization of this new world was not easy. Many European traders who crossed the Atlantic did not want to colonize, but only to profit from the trade. It is reluctantly that many traders decided to live away from their native countries. For example, England's initial plan for the Americas was to put as few people as possible overseas for the efficient running of their trading systems. But soon, the European countries were pushed into a colonial administration by their drive for profit. With the success of sugar and tobacco in the new world, small farmers and profiteers came in droves to the new world to gain from the prosperous new trade. This was only the beginning of the colonization process. To work the large plantations which soon formed, the English and other Europeans sent over white indentured servants. At the same time, the Spanish and Portuguese planters especially were exploiting Indian labor against the will of their governments and of the Catholic Church. The conquistadors raided the interior to find more Indians to exploit. Soon , most of the Indians, unused to the work, died of disease or were worked to death. To replace their dwindling resource, the Portuguese began to import slaves from their African ports. Thus, the African slave trade came to the new world.

                      Spanish America

                        INITAL SETTLEMENT

                        Columbus' exploits in the Caribbean Islands for the crown of Castille opened new opportunities for trade and wealth for the Spanish throne. Spanish society of the period was conquest oriented. Even until 1492, the crown was still contending with Moorish settlements to the south. The expansionist mentality was Ingrained in the society . Columbus wanted to establish forts and trading posts , in which Spaniards would work for a salary, to facilitate trade with the native peoples. However, the crown preferred to populate the areas discovered by Columbus and to transplant Spanish society to America. In line with this policy, a large shipment of people and supplies left Spain in 1493 destined for Hispaniola, now the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Santo Domingo became the capital of this new settlement.

                        GOLD AND INDIAN EXPLOITATION

                        The Spaniards employed the encomienda system to exploit the labor of the Indians on the island. In the ecnomienda system, a tribe of Indians is given to a powerful Spaniard by the governor for his exploitation. Gold was the only commodity the Spanish could easily produce. So they forced the Indians to mine it for them.  This gold supported the colony for twenty years. The colonists traded it for the European goods they desired such as wine and olive oil. The Portuguese monopolized the sugar trade. The colonists' desire to replicate their old society in the "New World" led to increased trade across the Atlantic in European cloth and manufactured goods as well. The Spanish felt that their society was the best and sought to impose it where possible. Italian merchants initially funded and controlled trade between Spain and the Indies, but eventually, members of the Castillian throne took over.

                        EXPANISION TO THE NORTH AND SOUTH

                        Conquistadors led Spanish expansion on the mainland in the search for gold, pearls, and Indian Slaves. With their metal weapons, shield, and armor, they easily captured Indian tribes. They later conquered present day Panama and Peru (The Incas) to the south and Cuba and Mexico (The Aztecs) to the north. In their wake they left their culture, mores, and religion. The discovery of silver mines in Peru in the 1540s boosted trade across the Atlantic as booty hunters made their fortunes.

                        FROM GOLD TO SUGAR

                        When the gold reserves began to run out, the Spanish resorted to planting sugar around 1515. They brought sugar experts from the Canary Islands and copied the plantation  styles of the islands. They also began importing black slaves. By the 1540, there were several large sugar plantations in Hispaniola and around the Caribbean. Spanish throne imposed trading regulations and licenses on merchants heading to the Caribbean with complex restrictions. In spite of all of Spain's efforts however; smuggling was rampant. There was a strong demand for slaves, and a guaranteed profit for anyone who would provided them.


                        The French threatened Spanish possessions in the New World. Separatist organizations in Holland prevented serious interest from being developed in the New World in the very early 17th century. Florida was the focus of France's attacks. Soon French pirates and buccaneers were intercepting Spanish ships entering and exiting the Caribbean


                        Complex sugar cultivation began in Cyprus and Sicily long before the Portuguese began exploring the African coast. The Italians took control of the sugar trade and actively traded it and financed its cultivation. They brought the techniques of sugar production, estate `management, and commercial organization to the Iberian Peninsula, the Atlantic Islands and later to the Americas. The Atlantic Islands included Madeira, Sao Tome, the Canaries, and the Azores. With Italian funding, the Portuguese developed complex sugar plantations and monopolized sugar production. Later, the Dutch West India Company became middlemen for the Portuguese as well.

                        BACKGROUND ON BRAZIL

                        Pedro Alvares Cabral, a Portuguese captain, was the first European to enter Brazil in 1498. Brazil was named after the brazilwood trees that lined its coast. The Portuguese had ignored the new discovery in favor of oriental trade. However, when the  French began trading with the native peoples of Brazil for their trees, the Portuguese became concerned. European dye makers loved the dye extracted from the Brazil trees. The Spanish also traded somewhat along the Brazilian coast. The Portuguese therefore established Brazil's first settlement, Sao Vincent, in 1532 to ensure their dominion over the colony.

                        SUGAR AND SLAVERY

                        Colonization of Brazil was a lengthy process. Eventually, though, sugar became a major industry. The labor force was of course comprised of black slaves. The discovery of gold in 1693 led to a decline in sugar profits. European masters, bringing their slaves, flocked to gold mining sights in order to make their fortunes. In spite of this slump and others that would follow, sugar continued through 1750 to be the major crop of the Caribbean which enriched many European powers.

                        Tobacco production in the Caribbean was extremely important to the "triangular trade." The good quality tobacco was sent to Europe for pipes and snuff. Poorer quality tobacco was mixed with molasses and other additives and sent to Africa. However, tobacco was always secondary to sugar.

                        Mulatto or mixed race people were the inevitable byproduct of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Lonely European men who worked in the new world took mistresses and wives from among the Native Americans and some of the black slaves. Europeans discrimnated against this new race of people. However, they occasionally rose to positions of prominence within


                          European Middlemen profited the most from the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade. Unless they lost an unusually large amount of their human cargo on their way to the Caribbean, these traders were sure to make a profit. The trinkets, cheap guns, and goods which they sold the Africans were of a much lower value than the human stock they took away. The demand for sugar and tobacco in Europe and the demand for more slaves in the Caribbean secured a return on their investment.

                          The slave trade was predominantly detrimental to West African societies. Even though large empires such as Dahomey, Asante, and Benin expanded and prospered because of the slave trade, the subsequent abolition of the trade led to the fast downfall of all these states. The huge loss of population suppressed economic, social and political advancement. Since slavers preferred young adult men and women, the technological breakthroughs and societal enrichment they could have produced were non-existent. The breakdown of the traditional social systems weakened the society.

                          However, the transfer of Africans to the Americas has led to a cultural diversity unseen in world history. Today African Americans play predominant roles in the arts, sports, corporate world and music. Their contribution to and influence on world culture is unparalleled.



                          • Sierra-Leon

                          A world-wide web search, instantly and unfortunately turns up disturbing information about another Caleb Godfrey; he was apparently a notorious slave ship captain.  On Feb. 23, 2005, the Providence Journal ran a series about the history of a black slave girl known as Priscilla, and her journey on a Caleb Godfrey's slave ship from Seirra Leone to Charlestown, SC in 1755-1756.  Godfrey captained the sloop Hare owned by William and Samuel Vernon out of Newport, RI. " On the 10-week voyage, 13 captives died, most of them children. The crew members threw their bodies in the ocean at night".

                          She was stolen from Africa. And brought to America, in a ship owned by Rhode Island merchants. Her story is 1 in 11 million. That's because -- unlike the others -- it can be told. Two scholars and a group of Rhode Island artists have completed the circle of her life.

                          No one knows her real name.

                          As a little girl she sang and played games in a village 100 miles from the West African coast. Beneath a grass roof she slept on a bed of clay.

                          During the growing season, nearly 200 inches of rain pelted the tall palms and spiky grasslands. But when the sun broke through, the rice and fields sparkled like emeralds.

                          Dressed only in a lapa, or skirt, the girl carried water in a pot on her head, fetched firewood or swept the floor of her family's stick-and-mud house.

                          In the spring and summer, her family worked in the sprawling rice fields. The girl pulled weeds or sharpened hoes, sometimes in heavy rain. In a society where elders were revered, children worked.

                          It was nothing like the horror to come.

                          In 1756, slave traders raided her village. The Africans -- probably from the interior Fula, Susu or Mandingo tribes -- slashed the air with European or locally made swords and fired muskets made in England, Germany or Holland. They may have slaughtered babies or disemboweled some of the elders.

                          The raiders marched the girl and other captives down dirt footpaths to the coast. Adults were tied together by ropes around their necks; ropes bound their wrists, too. Some carried cow hides, ivory tusks and wax, goods valued by white buyers.

                          The little girl may have been sold to an African trader, a middleman operating along a river route. She may have been delivered to an African, European or Afro-European buyer stationed at a coastal trading post, where a dozen or more men lived in mud huts.

                          Or she may have been ferried to Bunce Island, a British slave-trading fort in the the Sierra Leone River. Employing between 50 and 75 whites, it was one of 40 slave castles on the African coast, and the only major British fort along the Rice Coast, a region stretching from modern Senegal in the north to Liberia in the south.

                          In the late 1600s, the Royal African Company of England had built a commercial fort on the island. Around 1750, the London firm of Grant, Sargent and Oswald added a shipyard and a fleet of vessels to scour the Rice Coast for slaves.

                          On Bunce Island, a lookout tower loomed above a high-walled holding pen for the African captives, who were separated by age and sex. Canons pointed inward at the prison.

                          On the African shore, the girl awaited her fate.

                          ON THE OTHER SIDE of the world, William Vernon and his brother Samuel counted on the trading posts of western africa to help maintain their place in Newport society.

                          William prayed at the Second Congregational Church, spoke several languages and read widely. A founding member of the city's Artillery Company, he was "known all over the continent of America," noted a French observer.

                          And Newport was known all over the world. From 1725 to 1807, more than 900 Newport vessels shipped 100,000 Africans to the Caribbean, Brazil and the colonies.

                          Newport ships carried rum to West Africa and traded it and other goods for Africans. The captives were then carried to the West Indies or the colonies. Ships returning from South Carolina carried barrels of rice; those from the West Indies carried sugar and molasses, to make more rum.

                          Newport's noisy waterfront was rimmed by rope makers, rum distilleries, taverns, sail lofts, snuff-makers and chocolate grinders. The smell of cocoa and molasses clashed with the stink of fish, boiling alcohol and whale guts used to make candles.

                          Before the Revolution, nearly a fifth of Newport's population was black. And a third of the city's residents owned at least one slave; many families would own more.

                          Advertisements in the Newport Gazette touted the arrival of "extremely fine, healthy, well limb'd Gold Coast slaves, men, women, boys and girls. Gentlemen in town and country have now an opportunity to furnish themselves with such as will suit them . . . "

                          William and his older brother, who had formed a trading firm in the 1750s, owned a sloop named the Hare.

                          On Nov. 8, 1755, Capt. Caleb Godfrey received orders from the Vernons. Godfrey, they said, must take the "first favorable Wind" and "proceed directly to the Coast of Africa, where being arrived you are at Liberty to trade at such Places as you think most for our Interest.

                          "Don't purchase any small or old Slaves," they cautioned. Instead, they said, buy young males who "answer better than Women." When his ship was full of slaves he should "Keep a watchful Eye over 'em and give them no Opportunity of making an Insurrection, and let them have a Sufficiency of good Diet, as you are Sensible your Voyage depends up their Health."

                          Godfrey was a tough, experienced slaver. If crew members became drunk or unruly, he put them in chains. Crew members cursed at him. Once, he turned his back on a leopard chained aboard ship in Sierra Leone. The leopard clawed his neck. After four days in the infirmary, he was back at the helm.

                          He crossed the Atlantic with a 15-man crew and steered his sloop along Africa's west coast, following the prevailing winds and currents.

                          It was tricky terrain, populated by slave raiders, African kings, traders and middlemen. No single polity -- European or African -- ruled the region. African chiefs demanded gifts and cordial relationships. Trading posts operated from every river mouth. Malaria thrived in the hot, humid climate.

                          Using a pidgin English to bicker, Godfrey bought goods and slaves from the Rio Pongo River to the Sierra Leone River, a 100-mile stretch.

                          He used the British fort at Bunce Island as a base.

                          "It was a seller's market," says Joseph Opala, an anthropologist at James Madison University in Virginia. "They tried to give him poorer quality slaves for high prices."

                          On April 9, 1756, Godfrey wrote the Vernons a brief letter.

                          "I have now Eighty Slaves aboard and Expect to Sale for Carolina tomorrow my Vessl is in Good order Clean tallowd down to the Keel."

                          Among them was the little girl.

                          GODFREY HAD TIMED his voyage carefully, arriving in Africa at a time when the rivers were navigable. He left before the heavy rains erased trade paths and flooded local rivers.

                          Aboard the Hare, the men were kept below deck in chains. The women and children, in separate quarters, had more freedom, but they also had to cook or clean.

                          Godfrey left no record of his treatment of the Hare's cargo.

                          But for many Africans, the transatlantic voyage, called the "Middle Passage," was intolerable.

                          Some captains packed the slaves so close together they could barely move.

                          When the Africans were taken on deck for exercise, some tried to escape. Rebels were tortured or killed.

                          "Troublemakers, or those driven mad by their capture, were cut into pieces and hung from the mast, or beaten slowly to death to quiet the others," Opala says.

                          On the 10-week voyage, 13 captives died, most of them children.

                          The crew members threw their bodies in the ocean at night.

                          Such deaths were not unusual, says Opala. Captains and investors expected a certain number of Africans -- 15 percent -- to die; they factored the deaths into the cost of doing business. "The real horror was not that they were mistreated," says Opala, "but that the slave traders treated them as perishables."

                          Two million Africans died during the Middle Passage. A historian would later remark that, if the Atlantic were to dry up, it would reveal a scattered pathway of human bones, marking the various routes of the traders.

                          Says Opala: "It was mass murder in the name of commerce."

                          **IN CHARLESTON, S.C., **the slave trader Henry Laurens fretted.

                          He wrote letters -- sometimes two a day -- urging traders to visit other ports.

                          A junior partner in the firm Austin & Laurens, the 30-year-old Laurens had already made plenty of money by exporting lumber, rum and indigo, and importing slaves. Between 1735 and 1740, Charleston -- or Charles Town -- imported 12,589 African slaves.

                          After the colony's start, South Carolinians were producing so much rice that they paid their taxes with it. Slaves were needed to dig ditches and turn swamps into rice paddies. The planters preferred Africans from the Rice and Windward Coasts, where the villagers had been growing and harvesting rice for hundreds of years.

                          But in 1756, the market slumped. Freight and insurance costs were up, and profits were down. Carolina's rice growers could find few buyers for their crop, and they worried that England and France would soon go to war. Meanwhile, too many slave ships had glutted the market.

                          "Our planters are become very slack all at once," Laurens noted.

                          Five days before Godfrey's arrival, Laurens urged the Vernons in a letter to send Godfrey elsewhere. "Everything would be against him was he now to come here."

                          It was too late. Godfrey arrived on June 17.

                          Like other Africans coming into the port, Godfrey's slaves had to spend 10 days to three weeks in a brick "pest house" in Charleston harbor, five miles from the shore.

                          Worried about malaria, yellow fever and other diseases, the city had erected the Lazaretto, or plague hospital, on Sullivan's Island. The sick stayed in the 16-by-30-foot house until they recovered, or died.

                          Alexander Gardner, a port physician, reported frequently on the health conditions aboard incoming slave galleys. Their holds, he said, were filled with "Filth, putrid Air, and putrid Dysenteries . . . it is a wonder any escape with Life."

                          In letters, Laurens called Godfrey's captives a "wretched cargo." But he told a different story in an advertisement in the Gazette.

                          "Just imported in the Hare Capt. Caleb Godfrey, directly from Sierra-Leon, a Cargo of Likely and Healthy SLAVES, to be sold upon easy Terms."

                          The sale went poorly. Growers called the slaves "refuse" and were angry at having traveled 80 to 90 miles. By July 5, Austin & Laurens had been able to sell only 42 Africans. "God knows what we shall do with those that remain," Laurens wrote. "They are a most scabby flock," suffering from a contagious skin disease, sore eyes and infirmity.

                          Godfrey had other problems, too. Three slaves died while awaiting sale. His crew accused him of rough treatment, threatened him with legal action and finally abandoned him in Charleston.

                          "What I have is But in poor order having a Passage of almost Ten Weeks and the Slaves has rec'd Damage a Laying . . . I thought by my Purchase I Should have made you a good Voyage but fear the Low markit and Mortality Shall miss of my Expectation . . . " Godfrey wrote the Vernons.

                          **ON JUNE 30, 1756, RICE GROWER **Elias Ball Jr. bought the little girl and four other children for 460 pounds.

                          Mild-mannered, in his mid-40s, he owned two plantations, Comingtee and Kensington, both on the Cooper River, north of Charleston.

                          He slept on a hand-carved mahogany bed. He sent his boys to local academies run by European teachers, where they studied mathematics and rhetoric. The girls learned French and how to sew and dance.

                          Ball gave the children English names, Peter, Brutus and Harry. . . . He called the little girl Priscilla and marked her age in his ledger as 10.

                          Priscilla lived for another 55 years as a slave on the Commingtee plantation, where Africans cut pine trees, cleared land and dug irrigation ditches in the swamps.

                          Priscilla took a mate, Jeffrey. She had 10 children. She died in 1811 and was buried in a clearing on the plantation, near the Cooper River.

                          Her grave cannot be found. But a record of her life -- her purchase, her children and her death -- survived in the Ball family's slave lists, ledgers and receipts.