The Middle Passage

Just a reasearch homework I did in Year 9 what helped me understand the African Slavery topic.

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African slaves were placed on ships and began the long journey to America. This was known
as The "The Middle Passage", because it was the middle of a threepart voyage. The voyage
began in Europe where the ship was packed with goods to bring to Africa. These items were
exchanged for African slaves. The slaves were sailed to North America, South America, and
the Caribbean and exchanged for sugar, tobacco, and other products that were shipped to
The trip from Africa to the Americas took at least six weeks. A ship often had 30 crewmen
and carried about 300 slave men, women, and children. For the slaves, it was a long horrible
trip. Not only did they worry about what the future held for them, but also they endured
inhumane conditions on the ship. Each slave had both feet shackled to other slaves. The
sleeping area, which was below the deck, was composed of unsanded plank floors that had
only 18 inches or less of headroom. The narrow space, lacked light and fresh air, sitting was
impossible, and it was difficult to change positions without hurting one's neighbor.
Things were worse when bad weather was encountered. During these times, slaves stayed
below for extended periods. After the storm, seamen often found dead Africans intertwined
with others who were still alive. Because the journey was so long and disease was easily
contracted, about 10 to 20 percent died on the way to the Americas.
Not all Africans went without a fight. Some wanted to die rather then face an unknown fate.
It was not uncommon for a desperate man or woman to try to jump overboard. Others took a
more slow approach by refusing to eat. This method often caught on and other Africans
followed. Crewmen reacted quickly to prevent them from starving to death. In these cases,
they forced them to eat by beating and torturing them, force feeding, or using thumbscrews.
Because slaves were thought of as valuable property, it was important to keep them alive.
Therefore, crewmen tried not to cause death or permanent harm.
By Lee Lambert


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