The Transatlantic Slave Trade
Overview
The Development of the Trade
Capture and Enslavement
Traders and Trade
The Middle Passage
Africans in America
Ethnicities in the United States
The Suppression of the Slave Trade
Impact of the Slave Trade on Africa
Legacies in America
References
Links

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The negative impact of the international slave trade on Africa was immense. It can be seen on the personal, family, communal, and continental levels. In addition to the millions of able-bodied individuals captured and transported, the death toll and the economic and environmental destruction resulting from wars and slave raids were startlingly high. In the famines that followed military actions, the old and very young were often killed or left to starve.

The Export Trade in Slaves,1600-1800Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in AfricaThe Export Trade in Slaves,1600-1800 from Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa by Paul E. Lovejoy

Forced marches of the captives over long distances claimed many lives. A large number of the enslaved were destined to remain in Africa - many were transported across the Sahara to the north - which heightened the impact of the slave trade on the continent. It is estimated that the population of Africa remained stagnant until the end of the nineteenth century.

Besides its demographic toll, the slave trade, and the Africans' resistance to it, led to profound social and political changes. Social relations were restructured and traditional values were subverted. The slave trade resulted in the development of predatory regimes, as well as stagnation or regression. Many communities relocated as far from the slavers' route as possible. In the process, their technological and economic development was hindered as they devoted their energy to hiding and defending themselves.

The disruption was immense: the relationships between kingdoms, ethnic groups, religious communities, castes, rulers and subjects, peasants and soldiers, the enslaved and the free, were transformed. In some decentralized societies, people evolved new styles of leadership that led to more rigid, hierarchical structures, thought to better ensure protection.

In addition, European powers intervened in the political process to prevent the rise of the African centralized states that would have hampered their operations.

In the end, the slave trade left the continent underdeveloped, disorganized, and vulnerable to the next phase of European hegemony: colonialism.

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Legacies in America >