During the 1600 and 1700's, the New World slave trade was gaining momentum, as hundreds of thousands of slaves were shipped to the Americas via the transatlantic slave trade route. Approximately 7.7 million Africans were transported to the New World between 1492 and 1820 (Foner 133). Slavery in America in the late 17th century was a direct result of labor shortage and economic development in the English colonies. Many newsletters during that time address issues relating to slavery. But, in order to understand the terms and concepts used in articles relating to slavery and societies attitudes towards slaves written over 300 years ago, the 21st century reader must also review the historical context of the time period found in modern history books. .
In a 1734 "New York Weekly" article by John Trusly, the lives and hardships of Bermudian slaves is described in vivid detail. Trusly writes, "Last year, there were 120 Bermudians freighted out of this port; that one with another, their freight is computed at 150 each" (John). By referring to a group of individuals as "freight," the quote from this article reveals the status and attitude towards slaves during that period of time. They were treated as human chattel to be traded, used for labor, and ranked not among human beings, but among things. Like slaves from other parts of the Transatlantic slave trade route, the slaves mentioned in the article experienced harsh conditions on their way to the New World. .
According to Foner, "Slaves were property, completely subject to the will of their masters, and, more generally, of the white community" (Foner 85). In the eyes of Englishmen the slaves were not merely seen as individuals with own rights. Therefore, they were often referred to in terms of property and goods as opposed to people or citizens. Trusly (1734) also states in his article that "they are esteemed by some to be an ignorant people" (John).