A timeline showing major events that happened due to the slaves that Europeans brought from Africa to the "New World" in order to develop that land and produce cash crops.
Created by kvargas on Sep 4, 2008
Last updated: 03/04/10 at 04:41 PM
Today slavery no longer exists as it did during the African slave trade. However, there are still some countries that have workers that are forced to live as if they were slaves. These workers technically aren’t sold but they are forced into these jobs because of the lack of opportunities and choices. This type of labor only exists in third world countries and certain dictatorships such as Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Dominican companies are known to lure Haitian citizens illegally across the border promising them a better life, but once across they are stripped of all proof of making them unprotected in either country. Then they are forced to live in shantytowns and cut sugar cane in dangerous conditions for up to 14 hours a day, being paid less than a dollar an hour. The U.S. House of Representatives Human Rights Caucus is doing their best to stop this horrible treatment of the workers and make their living conditions better through awareness, in particular screening a recent documentary called “The Price of Sugar” which highlights the Haitians treatment. In the United States forced labor like this is illegal because our rights our protected through our democratic government and because we have labor laws like minimum wage. We have definitely come very far from the way labor was during the slave trade, but other countries aren’t as fortunate and we are working to make it better for them too.
The African Slave trade was very profitable for those that were part of powerful groups that controlled the slave trade and one of those groups was Britain. They were making lots of money from the cash crops in the colonies that they had shipped slaves to. Because the labor was free, not only were the plantation owners getting rich, but Britain’s economy in general was getting better. However, in 1788 the Parliament finally picked up on all of the petitions that British citizens had started that were fighting against the selling and trading of human beings. Committees were formed to fight slavery and give evidence as to why slavery should stop and how Britain’s economy would survive without it. One individual in particular, Thomas Clarkson (pictured above), went from port to port in Britain collecting goods that had been traded for in Africa, without slavery, demonstrating how the economy could be kept alive. Little acts like this and other acts about human rights finally convinced the British Parliament to abolish slavery in March of 1807. Slavery was abolished after about 300 years because the initial amount of greed blindsided the corruption of trading human beings. However, as time went on people began to realize what a mistake they were making.
Once the colonizers of the New World discovered how useful slaves were to their economy and the production of sugar cane, which they found was very profitable, the slave trade grew rapidly. Greed drove the whole operation because more and more Europeans wanted to get their share of the wealth coming from the exported cash crops, of sugar cane and tobacco. The leader of the western coastal African countries warred with neighboring countries in order to get more prisoners that they could trade with Europeans for guns. Guns represented power to these African kingdoms, so the more the better. It was a never-ending cycle of greed, which led to the peak of slave trade.
In 1490 the Portuguese created the first sugar cane plantation on an island off the coast of Africa called Sao Tome. Sugar was a brand new crop for the Europeans and Portuguese, and was a good substitute for honey. It was not a crop that is a necessity to one's diet, but it was desirable, making it a cash crop. However, sugar cane is a labor-intensive crop and Europeans didn't want to ship their people to this island to work because it was too expensive. The climate was great for sugar on this island so the Europeans decided to bring African slaves to Sao Tome. Later, it was discovered that sugar cane could also grow in Brazil and this country quickly became rich with money from the production of sugar products. The success of the sugar cane led to the buying of more slaves, which made the popularity of slave trade and sugar cane grow at a similar rate.