Johannes Postma was the author of the book called “The Atlantic Slave Trade” and was born in Zwagerbosch, Netherlands in 1935. He received his PhD from Michigan State. He is now a professor at Minnesota State University and has written “The Dutch in the Atlantic Slave Trade”. As well as co- editing of “Riches from Atlantic Commerce: Dutch Transatlantic trade and Shipping. ” The Atlantic slave trade was the largest and longest ongoing international voyage in human history. Taking place as early as the 1440’s, the slave trade gives valuable account for the trade in slaves from various parts of the world.
The author gives a regulation from West Africa to as far as the Arabic region along southern parts of the Mediterranean Sea into a lesser degree talks about the Arabic slave trade in East Africa, this period profound economic, social, political, cultural, religious, and military change. I strongly agree with how the authors attempted to explain the circumstances under which the African enslavement occurred in Africa through the dismay Middle Passage and sale of the slaves in America. A brief introduction to the Slave trade was in the 1502, the first African slaves were taken to Hispaniola.
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In 1888, Brazil became the last nation in the western Hemisphere to outlaw slavery. For the nearly 400 years in between, slavery played a major role in linking the histories of Africa, North and South America, and Europe. Johannes Postma begins with an overview and a detail explanation of the 5 most important aspects of the Atlantic Slave Trade. First was the capture of slaves and the Middle Passage, the identities of the enslaved and their lives after captured, the economics of the slave trade, the struggle to end slavery, and the legacy of the slave trade.
If someone was to ask me how logical the arguments in “The Atlantic Slave Trade” were, I would most likely say very represent able. They added significance to my already present historical knowledge because it described everything in detail from the way that the institution of slavery has been a common feature of many societies from ancient times to the present to the book “Way of Death” by Joseph Miller. He tired to capture the agony and dangers that slaves had to go through on the marches in Angola; he wrote: Exposure to the dry- season chill in the high elevations and to the damp ights in open path side camps, utter lack of clothing and shelter…Contributed to the appearance of respiratory ailments…[Slaves] grew weaker and more susceptible to parasites and other diseases that swept in epidemic form through the coffles. The slave trade must have been a veritable incubator for typhus, typhoid, and other fevers…The…lethal consequences of malnutrition, disease, and other hardships along the path were death that rose at an increasing tempo…perhaps to catastrophic levels in the range of 400- 600 per 1,000 per annum by the time slaves reached the coast.
It was a worldwide phenomenon, knows by different names and marked by varying degrees of explanation. As historian Orlando Patterson said, “There is nothing peculiar about the institutions of slavery. It has existed from before the dawn of human history right down to the twentieth century, in the most primitive of human societies and in the most civilization. There is no region on earth that has at no point in time once harbored the institution. Probably there is no group of people whose ancestors were not at one time. Now I agree with this quote because if you look behind the simple words and see the actual meaning you will see truth. He said that there is nothing special about the slave institutions and that slavery did not just start in the 1400’s but it has always existed in the world and still does. Everybody either in their close family or in their extended family had a family member being a slave. The Middle Passage consisted of ships being used for the slave trade.
The ships were regular freight boats that were constructed to carry cargo and not human slaves. They varied in size and carrying capacity, the majority about 50- 125 feet long and 8- 15 feet wide, weighing about 100 to 300 tons. The biggest and largest boats transported five hundred or more slaves, and the smaller freight ships were carrying about a hundred or less. Abolitionists always tried to appear well kept and well respected even in the dreadful crowded conditions aboard slave ships.
Historian Philip Curtin describes some of the complications involved in the ocean crossing: “A ship from Senegambia could move directly into the northeast trade winds for a relatively short and predictable passage to the Caribbean. The Guinea Coast, however, had prevailing westerly winds and a strong current flowing towards the east. The usual voyage, and the route still recommended for sailing ships bound from the Guinea Coast to the North Atlantic, took the ship south to the equator to pick up the southeast trades.
Then in mid-ocean, it turned northward across the equatorial calms to catch the northeast trade for the Caribbean. Thus, a ship bound for the northern hemisphere had to cross the doldrums [windless periods] twice with slaves on board, each time taking a chance on prolonged calms which could mean shortages of food and water and a greater danger of disease in the crowded slave quarters. ” Before the end of the seventeenth century, gold was the highest priced export item from West Africa.
With the only exception that gold and ivory disappeared, this was a good thing for consumer goods because they increased in price. Joseph Miller said that textiles and other goods and services, either prestige goods, new, scarce, value able or nearly unfound would teach class. A historian once said “It was slavery that made the empty lands of the western hemisphere valuable producers of commodities and valuable markets for Europe and North America: What moved in the Atlantic in these centuries was predominantly slaves…[and] the goods and services purchased on the earnings of slave products.
To give just one example, by the late seventeenth century, the New England merchant, the Madeiran vintner, the Barbadian planter, the English manufacturer, the English slave trader, and the African slave trader were joined in an intricate web of interdependent economic activity. ” What she meant was that due to slavery the items in the western hemisphere became how they are today. I strongly agree with her because if you think about it if it wasn’t for the slaves back in the 1440’s we wouldn’t be how we are right now in the 20th century. Finally the end of the Atlantic Slave trade is near.
It contains numerous parts to the actual end of the slave trade because this was just a struggle but it dealt with The Enlightenment and Reform, The Abolition Movement, The Religious Impulse, Changing Attitude and Laws, and The Impact of Slave Resistance. During the Enlightenment the world population started to grow dramatically. David Brion Davis calls the eighteenth- century change of attitude “a shift in moral consciousness”: “What was unprecedented by the 1760s and early 1770’s was the emergence of a widespread conviction that New World slavery symbolized all the forces that threatened the true destinies of man…The mergence of an international anti- slavery opinion represented a momentous turning point in the evolution of man’s moral perception”. What had happened during the Religious Impulse period was that the leading abolitionists in England and North America were motivated by religious as well as human ideals. In changing laws and attitude the effect was quite difficult because overall the abolitionists were quite successful in changing people’s attitudes, but passing laws was another story.
The 16,000 Africans rescued by the squadrons was a small number compared with the three million taken across the Atlantic after 1808. As British statesman Viscount Henry Palmerstone noted in assessing the success of suppression efforts: “To judge the merits of our prentice efforts, we must compare the [number of] slaves now clandestinely carried over…with the number that would be so carried if no obstruction were offering to the trade…[and] the demand which would have existed if all the colonies of Great Britain, France, Holland, [and] Denmark had also continued to import annually a unlimited supply of slaves.
Although the slave trade had become illegal, slavery remained a reality in the British colonies. The author Johannes Postma has gotten most of his information from newspapers and magazines and articles along with some personal documents but not as much as he uses the public sources.
In my general thoughts and ideas I think the author has completed his goal in getting the point across to the fact that’s is easy, without the slaves the world wouldn’t be how it is now and we should appreciate that and come together as one instead of just intending to do something or complaining about it. In my opinion the writer wrote the book with all the information that he had because you can see it in his writing. He focuses on the tiny events and describes them with such detail so yes I do think that the author was successful.