Global Christianity The Slave Trade
Global Christianity

The capture of Africans, who were then transported to global markets and sold for profit.

"The Slave Trade" by George Morland, 1791

The Atlantic slave trade began in the fifteenth century as Portugal explored the African coast in search of trading venues. In time, the Dutch, French, English, and other countries were also involved. Africans who sold captured enemies to traders played a vital role. Aboard ship, captives suffered horrible conditions and thousands died at sea. Markets for slaves expanded with colonial settlement of the Western Hemisphere. Latin America became a market for slaves when Native Americans did not satisfy the Spanish and Portuguese demands for labor. In 1619 a Dutch trading ship brought the first African slaves to Virginia. In England, John Wesley denounced the slave trade; in America, a movement called "abolitionism" worked to abolish slavery. The English evangelical, William Wilberforce, worked tirelessly to end the slave trade and slavery within the British Empire. By 1808 the slave trade to the United States was illegal, but the demand for slave labor was met through "natural increase" so that by 1860 the total U.S. slave population approached 4 million.

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Wilberforce House, Kingston upon Hull City Museum and Art Gallery, UK.