The Middle Passage

Essay by lachasityUniversity, Bachelor'sF, August 2004

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The Middle Passage was that leg of the slave triangle that brought the human cargo from West Africa to North America, South America, and the Caribbean. The term Middle Passage was used to describe the triangular route of trade that brought Africans to America and rum and sugar cane to Europe. This term was also used because it was middle leg of a three-part voyage. The first leg of voyage carried a cargo that includes iron, cloth, brandy, firearms, and gunpowder. Upon landing on Africa's coast the cargo was exchanged for Africans. Fully loaded with its human cargo, the ship set sail to America, where the slaves were exchanged for sugar, tobacco, or some other product. The final leg brought the ship back to Europe.

The Africans slave boarding the ship had no idea what was in store for them. The slaves was branded with hot irons and restrained with shackles.

Their living space was often a deck within the ship that had less than five feet of headroom. Throughout a large portion of the deck, sleeping shelves where cut that limited amount of headroom and lack of standing headroom was the least of slave's problems. With 300 and 400 people packed in a tiny area, little ventilation and, in some cases, not even enough space to place buckets for human waste. Disease was prevalent. The closeness of the place, and the heat of the climate, added to the number in the ship, which was so crowded that each slave had room to turn him, and almost suffocated. This produced copious perspiration, so that the air soon became unfit for perspiration, from a variety of horrific smells, and brought on a sickness among the slaves, have which many died. Faced with the nightmarish conditions of the voyage and the unknown...