The Transatlantic Slave Trade ca. 1560–1850

This map depicts one the most unfortunate and devastating periods in human history: the transatlantic slave trade between Europe (whose industries and wealth depended on slave labor); Africa (the source of some twelve million slave laborers, as indicated centrally on the map); and the New World, including North, South, and Central America, and the Caribbean (where slaves were put to work on sugar plantations, in mines, and in the fields). The sheer number of people captured and sold into slavery is staggering in total, but equally horrifying is how many millions of slaves were traded under the auspices of individual European powers, including Great Britain and Portugal. Slaves were transported across the Atlantic like so much cargo; profits could be maximized by transporting as many slaves as a ship would hold (2a). Once they arrived from Africa (2d), slaves were sold to owners at slave markets (2b and 2c). Many writers—both European and non-European alike—voiced their outrage and argued to abolish the slave trade. British Parliament finally passed the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833.