Ships were 'fitted out' in ports such as Liverpool, Bristol and London. Merchants would invest a lot of money into preparing the ship into the long voyage. They would also buy lots of goods such as salt, knives, blankets, wollon cloth, brass pots, beads and beer to trade for slaves.
A lot of Fulas (members of a tribe) brought their slaves for sale to the Europeans. The slaves were tied had a 'stick' tied around their neck which is secured to another slave's waist so that one man can steer up to 50 slaves and stop them at his pleasure.
Africans brought slaves they had captured to the coast to sell to the Europeans. At this time African societies were usually tight knit communities who were willing to capture Africans from other tribes and sell them to the Europeans. They also brought ivory, gold and hides to trade, in retern for goods like salt and manufactured goods such as cloth and guns.
The slaves were loaded onto the ships and put in holds below the deck. The conditions were extremely cramped and extremely unpleasent. They were packed into tight spaces usually n a system of selves. Many died on the voyage across the Atlantic.
There was always a dager of rebellion on the slave ships, particularly near the shores of Africa. The sailors used crude devices like leg irons to keep the slaves under control and instruments like thumb screws to punish those who caused trouble. Despite this, there were quite a few times when the Africans completely took contol of the ship for a shrt time, and rarely for the complete voyage.
The smell on board of the ships were horrendous: the closeness of the place, the heat, the added number on board the ship, which was so crowded in the holds that the slaves barely had enough room to turn themselves over, was suffocating. The air soon became unfit for breathing. It brought on a variety of illnesses amongst the slaves, of which many died.
The slave captains needed to keep their slaves healthy and alive. The more slaves that died, the less profit they were making. So they would bring them up on deck for excercise and washing. Quite often, voyages lasted longer than exoected and slaves would become ill. Water shortages were common and there was the ever present danger of disease.
The ships sailed to a slave collection point on the coast. Traders would buy the slaves from other traders or agents. These often had slave forts ot keep the slaves under contol and to defend against raids from people trying to seize the slaves.
When the ships got to the West Indies, the enslaved Africans would be sold at an auction or the buyers would come on board the ships to buy them. Some slaves would then be transported to Virginia where they would be sold to tobacco plantation owners.
Once a signal was given (a beat of a drum) the buyers rushed all at once into the yard where the slaves were confined, and they make a choice at which one they liked best. The noise and clamour from the eager buyers increaces the apprehensiveness of the terrified Africans, most of which who will never see each other again.
The goods exchanged for slaves
bars of english iron tubs rum
corn spirits casks of brass manufactor wine
chests muskets earthenware
felt hats puncheon beans
gun flints gunpowder
iron knives East India goods
cotton butts cloth
After thye slaves were sold, the ships were cleaned then loaded with sugar, rum and tobacco to take back to England. There was a great demand for sugar in England where it is used to sweeten foods and in the fast growing habit of drinking coffee and tea.