One of the most influential long-distance coerced movements of people in the history is considered to be the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It followed with the collapse of the Amerindian population. At this time slavery was the major industry. It became a source of the dominant manpower. Hence, it served as the most important liaison between America and Europe for some centuries (Eltis). The majority of slaves were African and the objective of the following paper is to discuss the importance of skin color in the eventual formalization of the European slave trade.
The late 1820s entered the history with massive migration numbers from the side of Africans. Later the Atlantic Ocean became a platform that was like a commercial highway for those peoples. This lead to increased number of slaves, who were used for works related to gold mining and agriculture, as the Amerindian population was decreasing. The latter mentioned individuals were replaced with black colored Africans. That is why it is possible to argue that skin color has played a significant role in the formalization of the European slave trade. There is an evidence that in early 1660’s the first African-American inhabitants to USA were not slaves. They even were trying to be an integrated community members, However, the legislation laws have set them to become slaves as it would make the economy afloat and even set severe slave codes, which included both psychological and physical humiliation. In addition to that, blacks were cut from their historical and cultural ancestry (Taylor, 2005).
The majority of African remained in the southern territory and only a few could get to the North. The later 1600s has entered the history with the further development of the American-European trade slave relations. It is related to the fact that British colonies turned out to become a source of labor supply to America. It was a tricky thing, as British saw the colonies as a place where unwanted citizens such as criminals can be sent. However, it turned out as a monetary and economic benefit, which has happened to the labor market in USA. Actually, there have been many immigrants coming from Britain and Europe. Nevertheless, only Africans were turned to become slaves. This is another evidence that skin color has played a significant role in the eventual formalization of European slave trade (Sage Publications).
This is important to think over the questions whether the slaves were always Africans. The answer to that can be found in the identity definition among people living within trans-Atlantic region. The ocean-going traveling and technology has made Europeans to face the situation where they have met people who are totally different from themselves. At the same time, they have different skin color and other type of mindset, to say nothing of cultural background. Moreover, Africans also found it difficult to resist to Europeans and Americans afterwards. In part, this related to the fact that they have already started to work and establish sugar plantation on the foreign lands instead doing the same on their native territories. However if some of the Africans were able to resist the European invasion, certain percentage of the population were prepared to sell their people as slaves. This was a very important and useful thing to be done for Americans, as the labor supply from the side of Amerindian was finished.
The research of the communities starting to operate from 1990’s suggested that no nation would turn to take slaves from their countrymen. Moreover, the ‘easiness’ of the whole process has played another important role as Europeans had now access to sea port. This has entitled them with a possibility to get slaves cheaply. At the same time, they had a continuous access to those people on the remote territory without any political hassle and with huge economic and financial advantage. The major reason that served as a platform for the European slave trade dramatic rise turned out to be the eligibility for enslavement as neither Europeans nor Africans did not tend to enslave the members of their own society, while the latter mentioned seems to be more suggestible for such actions. Slavery has been an integral part of any nation’s history. In terms of enslavement, the major difference between European and African society is the poor connection of the blacks’ economy and finances with slavery. In contrast to this, the white nations had seen and appreciated further many advantages and benefits. Enslavement and slave trade were part of the international relations.
The slave trade industry growth was fueled by the strong demand of the precious metals and sugar plantations growth. Since Amerindians were dying in huge amounts, it was needed to to find another source of labor. Due to social identity they could not enslave people from their own communities and who looked alike. That is why they have turned to Africa. There they could find not only people, who were different from them, but could do it financially, economically and politically beneficial for them. This is another reason why the skin color has played an important role in the eventual formalization of the European slave trade. Thus, this is also important to speak about the regions of America and Europe, who were keen the most to enslave Africans. In that context we can speak about the North and South Atlantic. North was dominated by British people, while South was about Portuguese and Brazilian influence. The latter mentioned communities have run their businesses through the ports of Portugal, while the first slave trade ‘channels’ were rooted within Europe and the other came from Brazil. West Africa has been the major source of slave supply, which included such countries as Angola, Gold Coast, Benin, Biafra and others. Another important factor that should be mentioned regarding the formalization of the slave trade was about the shipment of the ‘live cargo’. While the ships came to America, the supplies have experienced major problems related to the rebellion during the trips and casualties due to that. The formalization of the European slave trade agreements took place through Portugal, as well as the Spanish destination of Caribbean islands, as it has slave vessels to be transported to America as early as in 1549. As the economy has grown, and demand in sugar and precious metals has increased, the slave industry has doubled proportionally. This led to the establishment of the six major imperial systems that included Britain, Portugal, France, Spain, Denmark and Holland, which English people leading in that. This resulted into creation of only three plantation complexes — United States, Brazil, and Cuba — producing the major amount of cotton, coffee and sugar accordingly.
The African side of the trade might be hard to be examined and given a final conclusion. However, it was obvious that it was not expanding or declining proportionally. Rather, a serious of marked expansions can be tracked. The massive extension of the slave exports industry took place in the eighteenth century. Even such things as temporal profiles have been created depending on the region from where the slaves were sent. Now the researchers can identify the percentage of slaves taken from African region depending on the country and which one was considered to be the most popular one.
The formalization of trade was done in a rather cruel way. The fact is slaves were separated by sex, kept naked and even some of them were chained for a long periods. When the slave trade was illegal, the number of passengers per boats was much higher than allowed. However, within the formalization the ‘merchants’ even tried to keep the ration of children, who were not supposed to be more than 26 percent per boat. Thus, the slave trade was one of the most violent and cruel thing that Europeans and Americans have done within the existing societies, starting from enslavement, shipping conditions and further intolerant treatment.
Another role of skin color in the eventual formalization of the European slave trade was cultural. When Columbus first set foot on American land, the experiences and expectations he had were far different from those that have been present during the slave trade period. This was about cultural identity, as Europeans needed much more time to adjust, while the pace of transportation technology and economic progress was much higher. Eventually, they have changed their perceptions slowly, which resulted into the final ending of the trans-Atlantic slave agreement (Eltis).
In conclusion, this is important to mention that skin color has played a very important role in finalization of the European slave trade agreement both from the side of Europeans and Americans. Europeans have been known for placing themselves as better in the terms of racial identity among others and believed that they were actually different due to biological factors (Gans, 2005). In contradiction to this, Americans have seen the ‘single’ race, according to which all people who were different from their skin color were blacks and could be enslaved (Fields). All these factors have contributed to the enslavement of Africans, as nothing like that could be done to the people of the same community who were whites.