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Print Slavery Reading Comprehension
||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 5 to 7
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||money-making, occupation, revolt, proposition, colonial, various, ports, arrival, cargo, knowing, region, slavery, crossing, aboard, privacy, port
||New World, West Coast, Middle Passage, Chesapeake Bay
Spanish: La Esclavitud
By Sharon Fabian
1 Many of the settlers who arrived in America during colonial times were from the continent of Africa. Unlike settlers from Europe, these settlers did not come to America voluntarily. They arrived in the New World during the 1600s and 1700s by way of slave ships as part of a business triangle.
2 The slave trade was a money-making business proposition in three steps. In the first step, ships loaded with cargoes of European goods sailed for the western coast of Africa. There the goods, such as European fabrics, guns, and iron, were traded for African people. In the second step of the process, the Africans were forced to board a slave ship. They were transported to America, where they were sold into slavery. For the final step, ships loaded with American products, such as tobacco and sugar, returned to ports in Europe.
3 Africa's western coast became home to entrepreneurs who made it their occupation to provide African people for the slave ships that kept arriving. These slave traders did not capture slaves themselves. Instead, they made business arrangements with native Africans to handle that part of the job. Slaves were captured in various ways. Sometimes they were kidnapped. Sometimes they were captured in fighting between neighboring states. They were brought to the slave traders on the coast and held captive there until the arrival of the next ship.
4 While they were being held captive, the slaves had no idea of where they would be going or what would happen next.
5 Descriptions of the Middle Passage, or the crossing of the Atlantic from Africa to America, show that it was a life not fit for human beings. Hundreds of people were packed side by side below deck on the ship. The space was often so small that a person could not even stand. The slaves were chained and shackled to each other at the ankles. There was no fresh air to breathe, and there was no privacy. Since the slaves were considered property, to be sold on arrival in America, the ships' captains did make sure that they were fed. Still, many slaves died during the long Atlantic crossing.
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