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The Transatlantic Slave Trade By Kenneth Bernard While there was slavery throughout World History never has it reached such an epic proportion as during the Middle Passage transatlantic slave trade Even today historians do not know exactly how many Africans died at sea during the Middle Passage experience Estimates for the total number of Africans lost to the slave trade range from 25 to 50 million The slave traders acquired their Africans in one of two ways One technique involved the slave trader lying in wait until an African would come along and capturing the unsuspecting native The other method required the slave trader to make an alliance with a tribal chief The tribal chief would then wage war on a neighboring tribe Any of the enemy that the chief captured would then be traded for goods such as tobacco and liquor with the slave traders The means of acquiring the Africans was satisfactory compared to how they were treated once aboard the slave ship The more Africans the slave traders crammed into the ship the more profit they would make once they sold their goods in America Many of the ships were termed loose packers or tight packers describing the maximum capacity of the slave ship Africans were chained together and made to lie shoulder to shoulder in the dark hull of the ship where no fresh air ever found its way So stifling was the air that some Africans actually suffocated during the long voyage The stench of diseased and decaying bodies and unruly Africans thrown overboard lured sharks to the ships course The Middle Passage was a term used to describe the triangular route of trade that brought Africans to the Americas and rum and sugar cane to Europe It was synonymous with pain and suffering Smallpox eye infections gastro-intestinal disorders and body sores affected slaves in the Middle Passage Fever and flux were the terms used to describe
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