488. There is a necessary redundancy to express here. Many of the items shared in these L S & Ts are only gateways to the vast amount of information that is not common knowledge today.
489. Historically speaking, the availability of people to be enslaved and their capabilities to meet the desires of the masters have been major determinants in seeking slaves. Oft times enslavement has been simply the result of enslaving those who were defeated in military conflict. Race itself has generally been a happenstance.
490. Slaves were often directly selected from the readily available members of a conquered populace. This was true in the “conquest of the New World”. The Spanish and Portuguese, arriving 100 plus years before the English, proceeded to take slaves from indigenous tribes.
491. The natives were inefficient for the tasks and unable to survive the rigors of the mineral mines and sugar cane fields.
492. Because it was known that black Africans would be more capable of New World labor and more likely to survive, the trans Atlantic slave trade was born.
493. The first areas used for slave trading harbors were located on the African coast opposite the Canary islands, and, eventually, slaving ports extended around the continent to Madagascar and Mozambique.
494. With their practice of slavery having been exercised for generations extending into antiquity, the indigenous African rulers gave no thought past profiting as they supplied products for the market.
495. Before further consideration of trans-Atlantic slavery’s historical records, it may be enlightening to imagine the terror, degradation and agony that was the fate of the individual trans-Atlantic slave.
496. Even though enslavement had been a danger for many centuries, fear across the continent must have been a constant companion as the Atlantic slave trade required more and more raids on the villages of Africa’s interior. Marauders came, day or night, kidnapping who they would and leaving the rest to survive as they could.
497. It is probable that some fought to their deaths, but considering the millions that were taken alive, most of them probably surrendered due to their captors having an advantage in arms obtained from the Europeans and the Arabs.
498. Flight to safer areas was unlikely because any direction might result in closer proximity to other raiders who were, after all, members of their own race.
499. The captives were transported distances sometimes covering hundreds of miles to sea ports operated by Europeans, Arabs and African rulers.
500. Once on board ship, most captives did not immediately begin the Middle Crossing of the Atlantic, which usually required 40 to 50 days. Filling the ship itself required days that sometimes ran into a week or more if visits to multiple ports were required.
501. Men were confined to the smallest possible spaces, some reported to be 4 feet, 3 inches by 5 feet, 3 inches. They were shackled with irons that galled the skin.
502. Food and water were scarce, and sanitary conditions were difficult to maintain.
503. There is a great desire to share much more regarding conditions aboard the slave vessels. The extensiveness required is prohibitive in this form. If so motivated, one may become more informed by reading accounts of the life and writings of the slave, Olaudah Equiano.
504. A small number of onboard revolts were attempted, but successes were extremely rare. Participants of the failed efforts were subjected to unmentionable fates.
505. Those who died from disease or other causes were tossed to the sharks. The most extreme example of this was a Portuguese slaving expedition involving five ships and 1200 captives where more than 50% eventually died. Had this been anywhere near the norm, the Atlantic slave trade would have ended long before the voyage of the Mayflower. All of the slavers would have become bankrupt.
506. Small samples vary greatly, but, over all, the records of slaves departing from African ports, compared to slaves sold at their destination, indicate a mortality rate of about 13 of every 100.