I looked for colonial houses built by owners of sugar plantations. I looked for slave bell towers. I looked at maps and road names. The obvious legacy of slavery in the Caribbean is of course, the people themselves, the descendants of enslaved Africans who now occupy 26 countries across the 7000 plus Caribbean islands.
The slave trade, as it is known, transported enslaved Africans from central and western Africa, who had been sold by other West Africans to Western European slave traders.
The South America and Caribbean economies became dependent on the supply of cheap, plentiful labour for the production of crops, the making goods and clothing to sell in Europe. This was crucial to several western European countries which, in the late 17th and 18th centuries, were vying with each other to create ever greater economic wealth and power.
The Portuguese were the first to engage in the Atlantic slave trade in the 16th century. In 1526, they completed the first transatlantic slave voyage to Brazil, and other European countries were quick to follow.
Well over 90 percent of enslaved Africans were imported into the Caribbean and South America. Only about 6 percent of African captives were sent directly to British North America. Yet by 1825, the US had a quarter of all black slaves in the New World.
The slave trade used a triangular trade route system:
The first side of the triangle was the export of goods from Europe to Africa. A number of African kings and merchants took part in the trading of enslaved people from 1440 to about 1833. For each captive, the African rulers would receive a variety of goods from Europe. These included guns, ammunition, and other factory-made goods. The second leg, or middle-leg, of the triangle exported enslaved Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas and the Caribbean Islands. The third and final part of the triangle was the return of goods to Europe from the Americas. The goods were the products of slave-labour plantations and included cotton, sugar, tobacco, molasses and rum.
The insidious trade was stopped In the US in 1808 and by act of parliament by the British in 1811. However, in the U.S. by 1815 the domestic slave trade had continued to be a major economic activity; it lasted until the 1860s.