The Transatlantic/ Triangular slave trade played a key role in the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain. If not for the slave trade, the Industrial revolution might have been delayed or never taken place. During the 18th century, Britain experienced huge industrial development. Due to this development, Britain became one of the wealthiest countries in the world. In this time period Britain was involved with the slave trade more than any other European country. Many people in Britain became wealthy from the slave trade. Some of these people invested their money into industry which helped fuel the industrial revolution.
The Transatlantic slave trade lasted for more than 3.5 centuries. It is estimated that around 12 million African men women and children were forced to leave Africa. Some consider this time period to be one of the most brutal and horrific in human history. Due to the slave trade, foundations for modern capitalism were laid out. Even though many Africans suffered and died through these horrible times.
People in Europe and the Americas have generated large amounts of wealth. Well countries in Europe and the Americas benefited from the trade, Africa was devastated by it. Africa’s population suffered a large loss. This weakened the African societies since all the able-bodied workers were taken.
By the mid 15th century the Portuguese started to sail down the west coast of Africa. There original intention for going there was for gold and exotic spices. Eventually African men women and children became their primary cargo. For the first 100 years of the trade, slaves were transported in small numbers to Europe.
By the end of the 15th century the number of slaves transported increased dramatically. It increased so much that 10% of Lisbon, Portugal’s population was African. At this time Lisbon was one of the biggest cities in Europe. Towards the end of the 15th century, Portugal started to develop sugar plantations. Since these plantation required labor, this helped increase the number of slave coming out of Africa.
Over time, English and Dutch ships joined Portugal. The ships landed on the coast and started to take slaves from the coastal societies. Eventually, Europeans started to make their way into the interior of Africa. They discovered that towns such as Bure and Bambuck were rich with gold. This helped feed Europeans strong desire for gold as well as increasing the number of slaves taken.
By the mid 17th century larger sugar plantations were established. Other crops were also discovered such as coffee, cotton, and coco. Due to the larger sugar plantations and the need for the other crops it is estimated that around 7 million slaves were taken from Africa between 1605 and 1807. Britain and the United states finally banned the trade in the early 1800’s. Although a ban was put in place the number of slave didn’t really start to decrease till the 1840’s.
By the end of the 17th century an enormous amount of slaves were being transported by the British, twice as many slaves as their closest competitors, the Dutch. In the 18th century many ships were fitted out in England for the slave trade. There are also estimates that about 3 million people were transported into slavery in the 18th century. Because of this, the economy benefited hugely and from the profits made, Britain was able to afford the development in the industry.
In the triangular trade, things were beginning to be on demand from the British, such as glassware, copper and guns. The products sold to the people were sold at about three times their original price meaning a huge profit was being made. The profits brought in, had a very positive effect on the economy growth. This therefore leads us to belief that the triangular trade played an important role in the rise of Britain’s economy.
Many of the ports, such as Liverpool, became very wealthy during the slave trade. This was mainly because of the tax price on goods that were brought in and out of these ports. London and Bristol were the most important slave trading cities, but were soon overtaken by Liverpool, which meant that Liverpool was making amazing profits from the trade. Liverpool soon became the largest slave trading port in the Atlantic slave trade system.
From this, Liverpool gained a lot of money from taxes on imports and exports which was hugely beneficial to the economy. Many jobs were also created by the trade as dockworkers, sailors and ship reporters were needed. Because ofthe job increase, the economy grew because of taxes and there were fewer unemployed people.
From all the money that was being accumulated from the slave trade, Britain was able to finance a lot of new technology, such as the steam engine. This proves that the slave trade was highly involved in the industrial revolution. Huge profits were being made by investors, merchants and plantation owners and they were investing these profits into banking, insurance and the development of industries which allowed Britain to develop and advance in technology.
New machines and techniques also came with the revolution and it also had a revolutionary effect on farming and manufacturing goods. New factories were developed and the manufacture of cotton became very important and a lot of the cotton being supplied by Britain was produced by slave labor.
In the book by Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery, Williams’s states:” The settlement of the new world by Europeans depended on the enslavement of millions of black people, who accumulated the money that brought about the industrial revolution”. This statement proves the argument. It describes to us that the industrial revolution was built on and made possible by the money made from the slave trade. I agree with Eric Williams. From doing research, I do not believe the Industrial revolution would have taken place if it wasn’t for the slave trade.
If it wasn’t because of the slaves, and the profit made from them I don’t believe there would have been enough money to fund the Industrial revolution. One of the main reasons why the revolution started was because of the investments made by the people who profited from the slave trade. If it wasn’t for their investments, there would not have been enough money funded for the industrialization process. Britain made a huge profit from the transatlantic slave trade. Some argue that towards the end of the slave trade, Britain started to lose money.
When slavery started to become abolished, some believed that it was in Britain’s best interest to ban the slave trade. Britain did eventually ban the trading of slaves and imposed strict fines and jail times for violators. Some historians still argue that Britain was making a profit right up to the end of the trade. Even though that is debatable, it is accepted that the slave trade did have a major impact on the industrial revolution, maybe not so much towards the end, but overall it had a major impact.
The transatlantic slave trade was a devastating process. Millions of innocent Africans were forced in to labor and/or killed in the process. Britain and other European countries benefited a lot from the slave trade. If it wasn’t for it, the industrial revolution might have never taken place. When we examine the industrial revolution we tend to just focus on the European inventors and inverters. In a way, all the slaves deserve credit.
They were forced out of their homeland and treated very cruelly. Even they were all forced to do labor; they played a very important role in the revolution. If it wasn’t for them, I believe that there would not have been enough profits made to start the industrial revolution in Britain. The Transatlantic slave trade was a horrible time in history. Hopefully, there wont need to be such drastic and cruel measures used again to start a revolution.