The Atlantic Slave Trade was the exchange of Africans for European and American manufactured goods and raw materials. This trade, also known as a Triangular Trade, was established and facilitated by the colonists. The deal was simple - send Africans to the Americas for slavery, and receive supplies and merchandise in return. Was the the Atlantic Slave Trade solely a response to the demand for labor by European colonizers or was it driven by racism?.
There was an urgent need for laborers in order to further develop the colonies - especially in their agricultural and mining endeavors. Having a strong labor force was essential to the economic future of the Americas and Europe, and Africans, dominated by the numbers of white men brandishing horses and rifles, were an easy target for enslavement.
The Atlantic Slave Trade benefited the Europeans, the slave traders, and the American colonists. The Europeans wanted cotton, tobacco, rum, molasses, and sugar from the colonies, and they bartered for these good with African men, women and children. The slave traders received European goods such as textiles, alcohol, horses, and guns. The colonists traded for slaves because they needed a strong labor force to maintain growing production of cotton, rice, tobacco, sugar, and other crops. .
Mining of gold and silver was also hard and tedious work. The use of slaves was cheap and allowed the colonists to produce a greater quantity of their products. According to Eric Williams (1970), "The reason [ ˜for negro slavery'] was economic, not racial; it had to do not with the color of the laborer, but the cheapness of the labor. " However, Claudius Fergus explains that Williams' reference was limited to the New World. It excluded prior enslavement of Africans by Europeans in Sicily, Spain, Portugal, and the Eastern Atlantic Islands. Fergus (2008) suggested that from the very beginning of the trade, the fabricators of European conscience had evoked racist theology and philosophy to moralize the trade by correlating "Negro " or "Ethiopian " with sin and slavery.