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Europe's Part in the Slave Trade

London was the headquaters for the Royal African Company. This company held the monopoly of the slave trade. With this company as it's backbone, England brought in the bulk of the profits in the trade. In 1698, this monopoly was broken and Bristol soon replaced London for the focus of the slave enterprise. After a few years, Liverpool became an important part of the trade. It was the place where it exported goods to America.

The slaves were transported to the Americas for profit so the people involved in transporting the slaves, were only concerned in getting the job down with as many healthy slaves for as little cost as possible. There were many routes that the slave ships took. Over one route, ships from Europe transported manufactured goods to the west coast of Africa. There, the traders exchanged the goods for slaves. Next, the slaves were carried accross the Atlantic and to the West Indies for huge profits. This part of the passage is known today by most historians as the middle passage. The traders used the money that they got from the sale of the slaves to purchase raw materials such as sugar, coffee, and tobacco. The ships took these products back to Europe.

On the second triangular route, ships from the New England Colonies carried rum and other products to Africa, where they were exchanged for slaves. They then took these slaves to the West Indies to trade them for sugar and molasses. With this purchase, they took the sugar back to New England to be sold to the um producers.

The Atlantic slave trade operated from the 1500's to the mid-1800's. No one knows how many Africans were enslaved during this period. The most reliable sources tell us about 10 million blacks.