Atlantic Slave Trade

Facts you probably didn't know 

by Donald Wachtel - 2019

Slavery was prevalent in Africa for centuries before the colonization of the New World. 

Many millions of Africans were enslaved after being captured in the widespread warfare between African states and ethnic groups. African tribal chiefs played a direct role in selling their captives to buyers for export to countries in Europe and Asia and many more to the Muslim world. Islam promoted history's largest slave system, including over a million Europeans and tens of millions of Africans.

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to the New World
 The slave trade began in the Spanish Americas around 1500 and in the U. S. about 1650.

 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World. 10.7 million survived the dreaded Middle Passage, disembarking in North America, the Caribbean and South America. 

Only 4% of the slaves came to the United States
- 389,000 of the 10,700,000 sent to the New World

The vast majority of slaves, 96%, were sent to the Caribbean colonies, Central and South America. Malnutrition, poor housing, inadequate clothing, tropical disease, and overwork contributed to a high mortality rate and required large numbers of replacements. 

By the start of the Civil War in 1861, the total slave population in the United States had increased around 10 fold because of the birth rate. The original 450,000 increased to around 4,000,000. Had the Africans sent to the United States remained slaves in Africa or been sent to the Caribbean or South America, it is likely that many would not have survived to have descendants. 

The best data indicates that around 25% of the southern United States households owned slaves and that around 4,000 free Negroes owned around 20,000 slaves.  

In 1998, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda called upon tribal chieftains to apologize for their involvement in the slave trade:  "African chiefs were the ones waging war on each other and capturing their own people and selling them. If anyone should apologize it should be the African chiefs. We still have those traitors here even today." 

How Many Slaves Landed in the U.S.?

Quotes of Henry Louis Gates Jr,. the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and founding director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University.  
(link if the above is inactive  >

"The most comprehensive analysis of shipping records over the course of the slave trade is the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, edited by professors David Eltis and David Richardson. (While the editors are careful to say that all of their figures are estimates, I believe that they are the best estimates that we have, the proverbial “gold standard” in the field of the study of the slave trade.) Between 1525 and 1866, in the entire history of the slave trade to the New World, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World. 10.7 million survived the dreaded Middle Passage, disembarking in North America, the Caribbean and South America. "

"And how many of these 10.7 million Africans were shipped to North America? Only about 388,000. That’s right: a tiny percentage."

 "Another 60,000 to 70,000 Africans ended up in the United States after touching down in the Caribbean first, so that would bring the total to approximately 450,000 (4%) Africans who arrived in the United States over the course of the slave trade. In North America the slave population rapidly increased via the birth rate. Incredibly, most of the 42 million members of the current African-American community descended from this tiny group of less than half a million Africans. And I, for one, find this amazing."  Henry Louis Gates

Acts Prohibiting the Importation of New Slaves began 60 years before the Civil War. 

The Slave Trade Act of 1794 passed by the United States Congress limited American involvement in the international slave trade. It was signed into law by President George Washington.

The Slave Trade Act of 1800  built upon the Slave Trade Act of 1794. It was signed into law by President John Adams.

The 1807 law Prohibiting Importation of Slaves to the United States was signed into law by President Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson had promoted the idea since the 1770s and called for its enactment in his 1806 State of the Union Address.

In 1819 Congress passed yet another act that authorized the president to send "armed vessels of the United States, to be employed to cruise on any of the coasts of the United States ... or the coast of Africa" to interdict slave traders. The act authorized the president to appoint agents to receive rescued Africans and return them to the continent of their birth.
President Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. The Proclamation freed only the slaves in the states in rebellion against the Federal government. It did not free the slaves held in Union states. At the end of the Civil War on December 6, 1865 the US Congress passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution which abolished slavery through the United States. 

Approximately 620,000 soldiers died from combat, accident, starvation, and disease during the Civil War. Total military deaths for World War I and World War II were around 520,000.

Gross mistreatment of people exists in all cultures and that was true for some slave holders but there is no indication that this was prevalent among the great majority of slave owning families. Reading first hand accounts published by unbiased authors reveals that the great majority of slaves were fairly treated and in some cases were virtual members of the family. You seldom hear of the kindness and concern that was extended to slaves. 

Below is a link to a book at the Internet Archive. It is titled "My Life at Oxmoor" by Thomas Bullitt. The book is about farm life in the Louisville area in the 18th and 19th Centuries. The Bullitts had many slaves. Oxmoor was/is a farm in Louisville on Shelbyville Road adjacent to the Watterson Expressway. The original home and much of the property still exist except for the commercial development around the Oxmoor Mall. 

There is a chapter, "The Negroes"  from page 37 to 63 but all the stories of negro life on the farm run from page 34 to 76. The book can be downloaded free or read on-line. 

The charge that the United States is a racist country has been continually overstated by left/liberal politicians and their attention-grabbing supporters in the news media. They have a few dozen stock stories and images that they dredge up to incite racial animosity and demonstrations. 

Donald Wachtel - 2019