The Slave Trade

Why Did British Go to America and the Caribbean

There were a number of reasons why people left Britain to go to the Americas and Caribbean. Both Catholics and Puritans left as they felt if they left they could have more religious freedom to worship as they wanted. People saw the success of the first colony in America as an opportunity to move to make money from new trades, and exporting new crops from plantations.

Settlers Making Money in Colonies

Plantations were big business. As the Americas were so far away, the plantations had to be big in order to produce on a large scale. Investors from Britain were keen to develop trade with the Americas as it would give them a great profit and help to keep colonising. They realised that there was a large market for exporting the goods they could make in their colonies to other areas, and some things like cotton could make a double profit for the British.

British Profits

There was so much profit being made by the colonies, particularly in the Plantations that monarchs stopped granting privateers permission to steal, and therefore pirates were rare, making trade even easier for the British. It is said that they made almost 800% profit on crops they exported.

African Slaves

Working on the plantations was hard, and there were a lot of new diseases in the new colonies that the British were not prepared for. They realised that there were not many people who wanted to work in the poor conditions on the plantations, particularly when the weather was too hot and the crops failed so there was a lack of food too. This led to the British using servants serving indenture to work for them for free, and when they finished their service they could get paid. However, the British realised that they could make more profits if they used slaves that they could buy from Africa, as they had no legal rights, needed no payment and any children born would be the slave owner’s property too.

Development of Slave Trade

The slave triangle is how slaves ended up in the Americas and West Indies through trading slaves for products like alcohol and guns in Africa, sailing to the Americas/West Indies and trading the slaves with plantation owners for goods like cotton and tobacco which is then sold in Britain. Traders obviously benefited greatly from the slave trade, as all they needed was the first investment for the ship and crew. Britain was not the only nation to get involved in the slave trade. It spread across Europe, but Britain was in the forefront of providing ships, ship builders and even things like dockworkers, and it was not illegal to make money from slave trades until the 1800s.

The Slave Trade, figure 1

Why did people leave Britain to settle in the New World?
Your answer should include: religious / economic / reasons
How did the settlers find workers to farm the crops?
Your answer should include: indentured servants / african slaves
Why was slavery so profitable?
Your answer should include: free once purchased / babies / born into slavery / no legal rights