The Triangular Slave Trade

The trading in slaves consists in three distinct parts. All together, they form a complete voyage:

First, the slave traders leave Europe and are directed to African West coast. Then they go from African West coast to West Indies or America. Finally they sail home from America. A complete trip lasts about 12 months.


The Outward Passage

It is the first part of long trip along the Atlantic Ocean. This first voyage takes around 6 or 8 weeks. The slave traders load their ships with goods in order to buy their live cargoes (the African slaves).

The trade is very profitable because the good's worth is very low in comparison with the African slaves' worth. The African slaves are kept into castle dungeons or open barracoons near the beach. They do not stay for a long time on the African West coast in order to avoid the disease.


Captured villagers to be sold on the coast.


The Middle Passage

It is the most dangerous journey because the bad conditions sometimes make the seamen or the African slaves to start a mutiny (for example the famous successful mutiny on "the Amistad"). The slaves' mutinies are severly reprimanded by the captain and his crew. Conditions for the African slaves during the Middle Passage are worse than theirs in the barracoons. They have just enough space, food and water to survive. There is no hygiene.

The passengers are often victims of disease. A slaver ship captain called Wilberforce say: "never can so much misery be found condensed into small a space as in a slave-ship during the Middle Passage" Around 10% (In some cases 20%) of the slaves die during the journey.


The Return Passage

This is the last round of the triangular trade. The African slaves who survived to the atrocious Middle Passage are unloaded for being sold in the West Indies. The African slaves are sold on thee boat or near the port in slave markets. Different kinds of purchasing exist (for example the auction). The African slaves are bought with plantation's goods, money or exchange bills. Slaves being sold After an entire cleaning of the ships, it is uploaded with sugar, rum, spices, cotton and others goods from West Indies and English America. Now the ship I ready to sail to Europe with its cargo and to finish its twelve months trip. sugar barrelsunloaded.

Slaves being sold