This paper analyzes a document in the primary source textbook Major Problems in American History Volume 1: To 1877 by Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, Edward J. Blum, and Jon Gjerde. The document to be discussed is titled ‒ African Olaudah Equiano Recounts the Horrors of Enslavement, 1757." This paper will also analyze information on the same issue from the secondary source document tilted The Unfinished Nation by Alan Brinkley. This paper will use these documents to describe the brutal treatment of African Americans as they were being captured and sent overseas to work as slaves.
During the 1600's and 1700's the slave trade was booming. At first, mostly the Portuguese were controlling the slave trade, then the Dutch and French gradually joined in, and by the 1700's the English had dominated it. Slaves were wanted and needed for a number of reasons, some were to be domestic servants but the majority of slaves were needed to do labor for a wide assortment of crops. Some of these crops included tobacco, cotton and sugar which were all labor intensive crops and since there was such a demand to produce these crops the need for slaves grew rapidly (Brinkley 23, 57).
Slavery first started in Africa with Africans capturing members of rival tribes and making them work for a period of time. As the slave trade grew the rival tribes began capturing each other and selling their prisoners to foreigners (Brinkley 23). As the slaves were brought onto the slave ships they were in shock. Some of these slaves had never seen white men before and were terrified of them. The white man was strange and mystifying, and the slaves knew nothing of what was to become of them; some slaves thought that the white man may want to eat them (Hoffman 46).
The condition in which the slaves were treated on these ships was horrible. They were bound together by chains, beaten, starved, and raped. They all had to be put under deck where there was nowhere to use the restroom or vomit except on themselves, and the smell down there was horrendous.