Of the estimated ten million men, women,
and children who survived the Middle Passage, approximately 450,000 Africans
disembarked on North America's shores. They thus represented only a fraction -
5 percent-- of those transported during the 350-year history of the
international slave trade. Brazil and the Caribbean each received about nine
times as many Africans.
The labor of enslaved Africans proved crucial in the development of
South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and Maryland and
contributed indirectly through commerce to the fortunes of New York,
Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.
Though the enforced destination of Africans was primarily to plantations and
farms for work in cash crop agriculture, they were also used in mining and
servicing the commercial economy. They were placed in towns and port cities as
domestic servants; and many urban residents performed essential commercial
duties working as porters, teamsters, and craftsmen.
In eighteenth-century America, Africans were concentrated in the
agricultural lowlands of South Carolina and Georgia, especially in the
Sea Islands, where they grew rice, cotton,
indigo, and other crops. In Louisiana, they labored on
sugarcane plantations. They were employed on tobacco farms in the
tidewater region of Virginia and Maryland. The tidewater,
together with the Georgia and South Carolina lowlands, accounted for at least
two-thirds of the Africans brought into North America prior to the end of legal
importation in 1807.