But it would be needless to give a description of all the horrible scenes which we saw, and the base treatment which we met with in this dreadful captive situation, as the similar cases of thousands, which suffer by this infernal traffic, are well known. Let it suffice to say, that I was thus lost to my dear indulgent parents and relations, and they to me. Brought from a state of innocence and freedom, and, in a barbarous and cruel manner, conveyed to a state of horror and slavery...Cugoano
Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery, ed. Vincent Carretta (London and New York: Penguin, 1999), pp. 12-16.

Gate of no Return

Gate of no Return

Interior courtyard where captive Africans were assembled, and "Gate of No Return," the passageway through which they were led to the beach and from there to slaving vessels waiting offshore.

Michael Tuite in Ghana; Aug. 1999; Image Reference D024, as shown on www.slaveryimages.org, sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library.

From the 17th to 19th centuries, nearly 12 million Africans were kidnapped and taken to the New World to perform grueling labor under deplorable conditions. The Atlantic slave trade involved the purchase and transport of these kidnapped Africans into bondage and slavery in North and South America. The Middle Passage, one leg of the Atlantic slave trade, was called such because the slave trade traveled a triangular route; boats left Europe headed for Africa, sailed to America and returned to Europe.

Slave Poster

Stowage of the British slave ship Brookes under the regulated slave trade act of 1788
(emphasis added)

The text in the upper right corner reads: The Brookes, after the Regulation Act of 1788, was allowed to carry 454 Slaves, She could stow this number by following the rule adopted in this plate, namely of allowing a space of 6 ft. by 1 ft. 4 In to each man; 5 ft. 10 In by 1 ft. 4 In to each women, & 5 ft. by 1 ft. 2 In to each boy, but so much space as this was seldom allowed even after the Regulation Act. It was proved by the confession of the Slave Merchant that before the above Act the Brookes had at one time carried as many as 609 Slaves, This was done by taking some out of Irons & locking them {Omitted text, 1 word} wise (to use the technical term) that is by stowing one within the distended legs of the other.

The Library of Congress

African kings, private kidnappers and warlords sold their captives to Europeans who manned coastal forts. The captives were force-marched to these forts where they were held for sale. The Middle Passage of the journey was one of the most horrific aspects of slavery where an estimated 15% of the Africans died at sea. A typical slave ship held several hundred slaves, shackled together and crammed into the cargo hold. Occasionally captives were permitted to move around during daytime, however most ships kept the shackles on for the duration of the journey.

In 1807, the British Parliament banned the Atlantic slave trade. A major cause for British abolition was the exposure of the inhumane conditions of the Middle Passage journey. Not long after, the United States banned it in 1808.

~~ Economics of Slavery ~~

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