The history of slavery
The first black African slaves in Europe arrived in Portugal in 1444. 50 years later, more than 500 slaves were imported into Europe every year. The white colonisers of southern America wanted workers for their sugar, cotton, tobacco and rice plantations, so the slave trade prospered. A “triangle of trade” began. First, traders sailed from Britain to exchange goods in West Africa for slaves. Secondly, they trasported the slaves to the colonies and sold them there. Finally, the ships returned to Britain with sugar, tobacco and raw cotton. Many people in Britain became rich from the slave trade.
The slaves were from West Africa, often prisoners from wars between tribes than sold to the white traders at slave markets in the ports. They travelled in inhuman conditions, inside the ships. for many days.
In 1790, one - third of the population of the southern states of America were slaves. They worked on plantations 16 hours a day, 6 days a week. But at the end of the century some British people began to ask if the slave trade was a justifiable cruelty.