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Yr 9 History Depth Study - Movement of People (The Middle Passage)

An exploration into how slaves were transported from West Africa to the Americas- and the conditions they faced.

Ryan Slavin

on 30 January 2015

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Transcript of Yr 9 History Depth Study - Movement of People (The Middle Passage)

What was Slavery like?
Sub-Questions for this section:
1. How were the slaves captured?
2. How were they transported?
3. How were they bought?
4. How can this help with our Inquiry Question?

Draw the following three things in your book...
by the end of this lesson you will be able to tell me how they are all connected...
1. How were the slaves captured?
Slavery already existed in Africa before the European Slave Traders arrived. Different kingdoms and tribes would capture rival people. This was a way of making your tribe or kingdom the most powerful.
So by the time the first European slave traders came to Africa- the difficult part of the job was already being done for them. They didn't have to do the dangerous, hazardous job of venturing into the bush to capture slaves. They could let the other African tribes do that for them and pay them.
Time to write...
Describe in a sentence of approximately 15 words or in a cartoon how the slaves were captured. And, explain why the European slave traders didn't need to go searching for the slaves.
Write a quick diary entry from the perspective of a slave about your capture
2. How were the slaves transported?
The slaves were often taken to forts or castles on the coast, which acted like prisons. Here they were held captive until they were put on ships to be sent to America- for sale.
These photos are from the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana- where many slaves were held.
Barack Obama visited there in 2009.
c. Why do you think Barack Obama visited the Cape Coast Castle?
d. Why might this be significant for the Obamas? Other US citizens/communities?
: In Africa, European slave traders bought enslaved Africans in exchange for goods shipped from Europe.
Also called the 'Middle Passage'. This was the part of the triangle where enslaved Africans were forcibly shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to America. On reaching America, those Africans who had survived the journey were sold as slaves to work on plantations.
The third and final part of the triangular slave trade was the return voyage from America to Europe. Slave ships returned to Europe loaded with goods produced on plantations using slave labour. It could take slave ships up to one year to complete the entire triangular voyage.
The conditions on the ships were inhumane. The slave traders were only interested in their profits- so as many slaves as possible were crammed into the ship. This meant disease spread very easily. They were living in their own blood, urine and faeces. If they were sick they were often thrown over board to die. They were forced to exercise so that they would look strong at the auction. This horrendous voyage gave them a taster of how hard life was going to be for them from now on.

This extract, taken from Chapter Two of the Interesting Narrative, describes some of the young Equiano’s experiences on board a slave ship in the ‘Middle Passage’: the journey between Africa and the New World. Equiano passage is between West Africa and the Caribbean island of Barbados, at that time a common voyage as the British plantation island was among the most easterly of the Caribbean islands.

At last, when the ship we were in had got in all her cargo, they made ready with many fearful noises, and we were all put under deck, so that we could not see how they managed the vessel. But this disappointment was the least of my sorrow. The stench of the hold while we were on the coast was so intolerably loathsome, that it was dangerous to remain there for any time, and some of us had been permitted to stay on the deck for the fresh air; but now that the whole ship’s cargo were confined together, it became absolutely pestilential. The closeness of the place, and the heat of the climate, added to the number in the ship, which was so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself, almost suffocated us. This produced copious perspirations, so that the air soon became unfit for respiration, from a variety of loathsome smells, and brought on a sickness among the slaves, of which many died, thus falling victims to the improvident avarice, as I may call it, of their purchasers. This wretched situation was again aggravated by the galling of the chains, now become insupportable; and the filth of the necessary tubs, into which the children often fell, and were almost suffocated. The shrieks of the women, and the groans of the dying, rendered the whole a scene of horror almost inconceivable. Happily perhaps for myself I was soon reduced so low here that it was thought necessary to keep me almost always on deck; and from my extreme youth I was not put in fetters. In this situation I expected every hour to share the fate of my companions, some of whom were almost daily brought upon deck at the point of death, which I began to hope would soon put an end to my miseries. Often did I think many of the inhabitants of the deep much more happy than myself; I envied them the freedom they enjoyed, and as often wished I could change my condition for theirs. Every circumstance I met with served only to render my state more painful, and heighten my apprehensions, and my opinion of the cruelty of the whites. One day they had taken a number of fishes; and when they had killed and satisfied themselves with as many as they thought fit, to our astonishment who were on the deck, rather than give any of them to us to eat, as we expected, they tossed the remaining fish into the sea again, although we begged and prayed for some as well we cold, but in vain; and some of my countrymen, being pressed by hunger, took an opportunity, when they thought no one saw them, of trying to get a little privately; but they were discovered, and the attempt procured them some very severe floggings.

One day, when we had a smooth sea, and a moderate wind, two of my wearied countrymen, who were chained together (I was near them at the time), preferring death to such a life of misery, somehow made through the nettings, and jumped into the sea: immediately another quite dejected fellow, who, on account of his illness, was suffered to be out of irons, also followed their example; and I believe many more would soon have done the same, if they had not been prevented by the ship’s crew, who were instantly alarmed. Those of us that were the most active were, in a moment, put down under the deck; and there was such a noise and confusion amongst the people of the ship as I never heard before, to stop her, and get the boat to go out after the slaves. However, two of the wretches were drowned, but they got the other, and afterwards flogged him unmercifully, for thus attempting to prefer death to slavery. In this manner we continued to undergo more hardships than I can now relate; hardships which are inseparable from this accursed trade. - Many a time we were near suffocation, from the want of fresh air, which we were often without for whole days together. This, and the stench of the necessary tubs, carried off many. During our passage I first saw flying fishes, which surprised me very much: they used frequently to fly across the ship, and many of them fell on the deck. I also now first saw the use of the quadrant. I had often with astonishment seen the mariners make observations with it, and I could not think what it meant. They at last took notice of my surprise; and one of them, willing to increase it, as well as to gratify my curiosity, made me one day look through it. The clouds appeared to me to be land, which disappeared as they passed along. This heightened my wonder: and I was now more persuaded than ever that I was in another world, and that every thing about me was magic. At last we came in sight of the island of Barbadoes, at which the whites on board gave a great shout, and made many signs of joy to us.
The slaves were then taken on ships from the coast of Africa to the plantations of America- where they were the men were set to work growing cotton and tobacco, whilst the women and children were often forced to work in the homes of the slave owners.
The slave ships would then swap slaves for the goods from the plantations- and take them back to Europe. In Europe the ships would swap raw materials from the plantations for goods to pay for the slaves with. And so the tiranlge continued...
3.How were the slaves sold?
To get a good price for your slaves they needed to look strong and healthy. Many slaves were covered in "tar" where they had cuts and sores to look healthy. The healthiest looking slave would fetch the highest amount of money. If any families had been captured together, here they would be split up, as different slave owners bought them. They were often given new "English" names- and now had to learn how to survive on the plantations.
Extract from the autobiography of Equino
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of African Slave Olaudah Equino, or Gustavus Vassa
One day, when all our people were gone out to their works as usual, and only I and my dear sister were left to mind the house, two men and a woman got over our walls, and in a moment seized us both, and, without giving us time to cry out, or make resistance, they stopped our mouths, and ran off with us into the nearest wood. Here they tied our hands, and continued to carry us as far as they could, till night came on, when we reached a small house, where the robbers halted for refreshment, and spent the night. We were then unbound, but were unable to take any food; and, being quite overpowered by fatigue and grief, our only relief was some sleep, which allayed our misfortune for a short time. The next morning we left the house, and continued travelling all the day. For a long time we had kept the woods, but at last we came into a road which I believed I knew. I had now some hopes of being delivered; for we had advanced but a little way before I discovered some people at a distance, on which I began to cry out for their assistance; but my cries had no other effect than to make them tie me faster and stop my mouth, and then they put me into a large sack. They also stopped my sister's mouth, and tied her hands; and in this manner we proceeded till we were out of sight of these people. When we went to rest the following night, they offered us some victuals, but we refused it; and the only comfort we had was in being in one another's arms all that night, and bathing each other with our tears. But alas! we were soon deprived of even the small comfort of weeping together.

The next day proved a day of greater sorrow than I had yet experienced; for my sister and I were then separated, while we lay clasped in each other's arms. It was in vain that we besought them not to part us; she was tom from me, and immediately carried away, while I was left in a state of distraction not to be described. I cried and grieved continually; and for several days did not eat anything but what they forced into my mouth. At length, after many days' travelling, during which I had often changed masters, I got into the hands of a chieftain, in a very pleasant country. This man had two wives and some children, and they all used me extremely well, and did all they could do to comfort me; particularly the first wife, who was something like my mother. Although I was a great many days' journey from my father's house, yet these people spoke exactly the same language with us. This first master of mine, as I may call him, was a smith, and my principal employment was working his bellows, wlich were the same kind as I had seen in my vicinity. They were in some respects not unlike the stoves here in gentlemen's kitchens, and were covered over with leather; and in the middle of that leather a stick was fixed, and a person stood up, and worked it in the same manner as is done to pump water out of a cask with a hand pump. I believe it was gold he worked, for it was of a lovely bright yellow color, and was wom by the women on their wrists and ankles.

Think about it!
C: Concept of Historical Change & Continuity
S: The skill of interpreting Maps

Draw a diagram to represent 1) the three legs of this trade route used in this period (and still today), 2) the countries involved and 3) the goods transported
The Triangular Trade
e. Check YOUR diagram... Does it resemble something like this?
f. Can you improve it from studying this diagram?
Primary Source Document
Think about it!
i. Choose from the following options to demonstrate your understanding of this topic:

Create a 30 sec. electronic journal in Animoto from the perspective of a slave covering the three stages:
Write a song/poem (either a sad song from the perspective of a slave, or a protest song against slavery)
Draw a cartoon strip of the three stages from the perspective of the slave, or
Another way you have thought of and discussed with your teacher

Your project should include information from as many PRIMARY SOURCES as possible.
Bringing it all together!
At last we came in sight of the island of Barbadoes, at which the whites on board gave a great shout, and made many signs of joy to us. We did not know what to think of this; but as the vessel drew nearer, we plainly saw the harbor, and other ships of different kinds and sizes, and we soon anchored amongst them, off Bridgetown. Many merchants and planters now came on board, though it was in the evening. They put us in separate parcels, and examined us attentively. They also made us jump, and pointed to the land, signifying we were to go there. We thought by this, we should be eaten by these ugly men, as they appeared to us; and, when soon after we were all put down under the deck again, there was much dread and trembling among us, and nothing but bitter cries to be heard all the night from these apprehensions, insomuch, that at last the white people got some old slaves from the land to pacify us. They told us we were not to be eaten, but to work, and were soon to go on land, where we should see many of our country people. This report eased us much. And sure enough, soon after we were landed, there came to us Africans of all languages.

We were conducted immediately to the merchant's yard, where we were all pent up together, like so many sheep in a fold, without regard to sex or age. As every object was new to me, everything I saw filled me with surprise. What struck me first, was, that the houses were built with bricks and stories, and in every other respect different from those I had seen in Africa; but I was still more astonished on seeing people on horseback. I did not know what this could mean; and, indeed, I thought these people were full of nothing but magical arts. While I was in this astonishment, one of my fellow prisoners spoke to a countryman of his, about the horses, who said they were the same kind they had in their country. I understood them, though they were from a distant part of Africa; and I thought it odd I had not seen any horses there; but afterwards, when I came to converse with different Africans, I found they had many horses amongst them, and much larger than those I then saw.

We were not many days in the merchant's custody, before we were sold after their usual manner, which is this: On a signal given (as the beat of a drum), the buyers rush at once into the yard where the slaves are confined, and make choice of that parcel they like best. The noise and clamor with which this is attended, and the eagerness visible in the countenances of the buyers, serve not a little to increase the apprehension of terrified Africans, who may well be supposed to consider them as the ministers of that destruction to which they think themselves devoted. In this manner, without scruple, are relations and friends separated, most of them never to see each other again.

Primary Source Document cont.
Example of the type of thing we are looking for...
Link to Australian Curriculum:
Concept of 'Evidence'
Skill of 'Examining Primary Evidence'

Examine the article to find evidence that slavery was conducted by their own people (not onl yWhite Europeans).
Making connections to our world today...
Link to the Australian Curriculum:
Concept of 'Significance' to certain communities/groups of people
Skill of understanding the significance of historical events through the 'Perspectives' of others.
Link to the Australian Curriculum:
what do the following 3 sources suggest about the way slaves were regarded?
Learning Objective 1:
: Know how slaves were captured
: Understand who was involved in the process
: Empathise with slaves being captured into slavery and taken from their family and home.
Success Criteria/Learning Outcomes:
Describe in a sentence of about 15-20 words OR a cartoon 'how slaves were captured'
Explain in short sentence why European slave traders didn't need to go searching for slaves.
Write a quick diary entry from the perspective of a slave about your capture.
Link to the Australian Curriculum
Concept of 'Evidence'
Skill of 'Examining Primary Evidence'
Examine the article to find evidence of the conditions in which slaves were transported.
Learning Objective 2:
: Know how slaves were transported and to where they were taken.
: Understand the significance of the 'Middle passage' and its cargo
Success Criteria/Learning Outcome:
Diagramatically represent the 'Triangular Trade'
Make connections between slavery and the modern world.
Participate in discussion of the conditions of transportation
Discuss the transportation of slaves making reference to evidence studied
What do the next few images suggest about the conditions in which slaves were transported?
Think about it!
g. If you had to sum up the experience of the middle passage in one word what would it be? Why did you choose that word?

h. Write the next entry into your diary about your transportation,
imagine you were one of the sailors who worked upon the slave ship in the late 18th century. Horrified by what you experienced, you have now become an anti-slavery campaigner. You have been asked to write a report to the government which exposes the truth about the slave trade. Describe your experiences and those of the slaves (use all of the sources studied so far to help you)
Drawings of a slave ship published in 1789 showing how slaves were 'packed' onto the decks.
Think about it...
Link to the Australian Curriculum
Concept of 'Evidence'
Skill of 'Examining Primary Evidence'
Examine the primary source to find evidence that slaves were treated in the same manner as cattle in the picture above.
Modern day cattle auction
Learning Objective:
: Know how slaves were sold
: Understand how the manner in which they were sold may affect their sense of self-worth
Success Criteria/Learning Outcome
Make connections with the manner in which slaves were sold
Participate in class discussion about how the selling of slaves in this manner may have affected them.
Full transcript