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This Inhuman Traffic

A slave market on the west coast of Africa
Diagram of a ship's slave decks

Around 11 million persons were transported from Africa to the New World as slaves between 1400 and 1866, not counting those who died in Africa or at sea. Britain, although a relative latecomer to the slave trade, is estimated to have transported over two and a half million Africans before 1807, at the rate of some 40,000 a year (around half the annual total) at the height of the trade.  Portugal would go on to transport over four and a half million by the end of the 1860s.  Most went to plantations and mines in Brazil, Cuba, the West Indies and the southern states of  North America.  After 1807 the United States  banned the slave trade.  Some smuggling went on, but enslaved children were born in the American cotton plantations, sometimes deliberately bred, and were sufficient to maintain the labour force until the American Civil War and the final abolition of slavery in the United States. There was also some smuggling to the British West Indies until slavery there was abolished in 1833; but the harsh conditions of the sugar plantations in Cuba and Brazil continued to demand constant imports of new African workers to replace the dead, and ever-rising prices ensured huge profits for successful slave-traders. 

On the west coast of Africa there were markets with a plentiful supply of Africans - the captives of internecine wars, prisoners made in raids, a few condemned criminals – readily obtainable in exchange for cheap European goods.  The journey to the coast was often long, and the slaves often half-starved and sick before they began the hellish journey across the Atlantic.