Tuesday, October 20, 2009
How the work of the Conquistadors lead to the Atlantic slave trade
The Spanish forces exploited the rivalries between competing local peoples and states, some of which were only too willing to form alliances with the Spanish in order to defeat their more-powerful enemies, such as the Aztecs or Incas—a tactic that would be extensively used by later European colonial powers.
The Spanish conquest was also facilitated by the spread of diseases (e.g. smallpox) common in Europe but unknown in the New World, which decimated the native American populations.
This caused a labour shortage and so the colonists informally and gradually, at first, initiated the Atlantic slave trade.
The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the transatlantic slave trade, was the trading, primarily of African people, to the colonies of the New World that occurred in and around the Atlantic Ocean. It lasted from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
Most enslaved people were shipped from West Africa and Central Africa and taken to North and South America to work as unpaid labor on sugar, coffee, cocoa and cotton plantations, in gold and silver mines, in rice fields, or in houses to work as servants.
The shippers were, in order of scale, the Portuguese (and Brazilians), the English, the French, the Spaniards, the Dutch, and the North Americans.
Enslaved people were generally obtained through coastal trading with Africans, though some were captured by European slave traders through raids and kidnapping. Most contemporary historians estimate that between 9.4 and 12 million Africans arrived in the New World.