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Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
The Slave Trade



The Slave Trade
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.74

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    millet, fleets, prospective, suicide, low-lying, cultivation, pitiful, warfare, crossing, arrival, starvation, tiers, primarily, overboard, labor, lasted
     content words:    Ancient Greece, Atlantic Slave Trade, Atlantic Ocean, Slave Trade, Then Africans, Some African, Middle Passage, West Indies, North America


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The Slave Trade
By Brenda B. Covert
  

1     Slavery has existed for thousands of years. It is described and even defended in early writings of the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Egyptians, and later in Ancient Greece and Rome. People of many different nationalities and cultures have both owned slaves and been themselves enslaved. Even today slavery continues in some parts of the world. However, because of the widespread use of African slave labor in America's early years, we automatically think of the slave trade as primarily African in nature.
 
2     Initially, most slaves were people who had been captured in warfare. On a smaller scale, criminals and people who could not pay their debts could also be enslaved. The "rules" were different back then. Slaves could earn or simply be given their freedom, and free people and slaves could sometimes marry each other. Over time something changed. Because slave labor was much cheaper than hired labor and new lands needing cultivation were being discovered, the market for slaves began to grow.
 
3     The Portuguese, Dutch, and British wound up controlling most of the Atlantic Slave Trade - shipping slaves across the Atlantic Ocean to work in the Americas. The Portuguese started the Atlantic Slave Trade with the practice of kidnapping Africans. Then Africans began to offer captives for sale. African peoples fought each other in an effort to capture people to sell as slaves to the European traders. Some African kings were also persuaded - for the right price - to sell some of their own people into slavery!

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