The Atlantic System and Africa, 1550-1800

The Atlantic System and Africa, 1550-1800

The Atlantic System and Africa, 1550Chapter 180020 I. Plantations in the West Indies West Indies=Caribbean islands A. Colonization before 1650 Sugar cane introduced around 1500, later tobacco and other crops Tobacco a New World crop, soon became very popular in England Sugar became more prominent as tobacco

competition grew. England and France followed Spain. England prospered first with support from its government. European governments provided charted companies the ability to invest in and monopolize trade. Companies provided free passage for poor Europeans (indentured servants). Brazil was Atlantic worlds largest sugar producer by 1600 The Dutch competed for trade access. (Dutch West India Company)

Captured 1,000 miles of Brazilian coast Seized important West African slave trading stations Portugal freed self from Spain in 1640, recaptured Brazil B. Sugar and Slaves English colony Barbados: best example of impact of sugar in the Caribbean

Exported 15,000 tons/year West Indies surpassed Brazil as worlds main source of sugar 10-20 thousand African slaves/year to the West Indies in the 1600s; tripled in the 1700s Most then sold out to other areas African slaves became a better investment than indentured servants. II. Plantation Life in the

Eighteenth Century A. Technology and Environment Simple tools needed for sugar cane, just cut the canes after a certain growing period Process of creating sugar more complex Crushing and processing equipment Water boiled off sap, thick syrup put in drying molds where sugar crystals formed Leftover dark molasses used for rum Plantation also had to be a factory Larger plantations needed to keep up production; led to soil exhaustion and deforestation Native Carib people nearly extinguished, but

West Indies repeopled quickly with Europeans and Africans B. Slaves Lives Most islands had a 90% slave population. Small, powerful class of masters; not many other people Every slave who could work did. Labor organized by age, sex, and ability 70% worked in fields Men outnumbered women 2:1

Slaves worked for fear of punishment. Deaths heavily outnumbered births (life expectancy 23-25 years old) Disease still the top killer Most West Indies slaves were African born; spread of African religious beliefs, language, other cultural elements Owners attempted to strip Africans of

African cultures African herbal medicine remained strong, as did beliefs in nature spirits and witchcraft. C. Free Whites and Free Blacks 3 groups of free people in French colony of Saint Domingue Wealthy plantation owners, less well-off Europeans, free black people The extent of sugar cultivation left little room for

people outside the system. The richest British planters lived in England and hired managers to run their island estates. Many served in the British Parliament Manumission occurred but rare in British colonies Escaped slaves created maroon communities. III. Creating the Atlantic Economy A. Capitalism and Mercantilism

15th and 16th century colonial trade was monopolized by governments (Spain and Portugal). 17th and 18th centuries saw the rise of private enterprise. Two European innovations allowed private investors to fund the Atlantic economy: 1. capitalism: large financial institutions enabled wealthy investors to reduce risks and increase profits Banks, stock exchanges, chartered trading companies

2. mercantilism: desire of governments to have gold and silver on hand; exclusive trade rights with colonies Atlantic became Britain, France, and Portugals most important overseas trading area in the 18 th cent. B. The Atlantic Circuit Triangular trade (Atlantic Circuit) European manufactured goods for African slaves African slaves to the Americas (Middle Passage) Plantation goods/raw materials back to Europe More complex routes as well

About 12 million slaves taken from Africa between 1450 and 1850 IV. Africa, the Atlantic, and Islam A. The Gold Coast and the Slave Coast Europeans still not interested in colonizing Africa, just there for trade Gold, ivory, timber all big parts of total trade, along with slaves Africans picky about what they would buy, greatest demand for textiles, hardware, and guns Price of slaves went up over time as demand increased African states not as dependent on overseas trade, still used overland trade

Most slaves were POWs. B. The Bight of Biafra and Angola Bight of Biafra: east of the Gold and Slave Coasts and more inland Obtained slaves through kidnapping Aro of Arochukwu: largest traders Angola: greatest source of slaves for the Atlantic trade Southwestern Africa

Portugal controlled a significant amount of territory, middlemen between African caravans and ships headed to Brazil African elites allied with Europeans. C. Africas European and Islamic Contacts African contacts with Europe paralleled relations with the Islamic world. Similarities and differences in political, commercial, and cultural interactions Europeans bought way more slaves. European cultural influence on Africa much more limited than Islamic influence (shorter time span)

African rulers ceded very little territory to Europeans. Abilities of sub-Saharan Africans kept them from being conquered by Middle Eastern empires like North Africa Songhai Empire replaced Mali Destroyed by Morocco Weakened trans-Saharan trade

Hausa in central Africa attracted caravans. Similar goods traded, plus caffeine-rich kola nut Most African slaves of the Islamic world were soldiers and servants. Majority were women who served wealthy households More children than Atlantic trade

Islam did not see moral wrong in owning slaves. Europeans had much less V. Conclusion Development of Atlantic system showed Europeans ability to create new trading systems that could transform a region West Indies felt this more than any other region Africa played an essential role in the Atlantic system: imported trade goods, exported slaves

Africans remained in control of their continent and interacted culturally and politically more with the Islamic world than with the Atlantic. Atlantic system a model for future global, highly interactive economies

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