The Atlantic Slave Trade is a significant example of forced migration in American and world history. While slavery in North America is well-documented, only ten percent of the slaves imported from Africa came to the U.S.; the other ninety percent were disbursed throughout the Americas— with nearly half brought to Brazil alone. African resistance to entrapment and their captives against the harsh conditions of slavery were natural, justified reactions to the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Using violent and nonviolent means, Africans in Africa and the Americas, consistently participated in the fight against the slave trade and slavery.
Africans began to challenge the Transatlantic Slave Trade immediately, wasting no time in fighting to receive their rights and freedom again. Their struggles were multifaceted and were spread throughout four continents for over four centuries. Still, the African’s troubles are still often underestimated, overlooked, or forgotten. African opposition was reported in European sources only when it pertained to slave ship and company barracoon attacks. However, acts of defiance also took place far from the African coast and thus escaped the slavers’ attention. To discover them, oral history, archaeology, and autobiographies and biographies of African victims have to be examined. In unity, these various sources offer a detailed image of the varied strategies Africans used to defend themselves from and mount attacks against the slave trade.
Slave uprisings were incessant and of course ferociously put down by plantation owners. The objective became to dissuade future rebels from igniting a revolt by physically showing them how they and others would be punished. Participants of rebellions were often publicly scrutinized and killed ‘by progressive mutilation, slow burnings, and breaking on the wheel. The wheel was a form of torture where bones were dislocated and the body pulled apart on a wheel. Slaves were also ‘tortured or starved to death in cages. Despite the horrendous treatment towards enslaved Africans, the enslaved people did not remain stagnant in their quest for emancipation.
There were numerous slave rebellions before slavery’s abolishment (1834 in Britain, 1865 in the USA, 1869 in Portugal, 1888 in Brazil, 1942 in Ethiopia). Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the release of slaves are often thought of as results of a change in European thought, seeing slavery as vile and inhumane, although many could argue this theory. The ‘logo’ of the Abolition movement, which campaigned against slavery, was an image of a kneeling slave asking for assistance. Both the image and the slogan ‘Am I not a man and a brother?’ were heavily utilized to generate awareness and show support for the campaign to end slavery .
Few people realize that the plethora of slave revolts set off a movement for Africa, North America, and other slave inhabited countries to jumpstart the beginning to the end of slavery. In Britain, the slave trade ended in 1807, by a law for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. In 1833, slavery itself was abolished by law. These two alterations were brought about by several events. Activists campaigned for the deterioration of the slave trade and massively influenced public and political opinion. Combined with the continual resistance of the slaves themselves, and the change in opinion in Africa about the slave trade, abolition and emancipation eventually progressed. Often, the role of the campaigners in Britain is seen as the primary reason for the termination of the slave trade and slavery. In reality, the ‘issues’ caused by the slaves themselves were a severe threat to the continuation of slavery and the economic viability of the plantation system.
Regardless of the relentless punishments were carried out, or how many jarring laws were passed to control the masses, enslaved Africans rightfully rebelled against the odds. During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the slave revolts grew quickly. Many enslaved people who rebelled were killed. However, resistance to slavery continued in Africa, aboard the slave ships, and on land in the Caribbean and Americas. Throughout the flourishment and disbandment of the slave trade, African slaves made it clear that if they were not set free, they would soon free themselves at all costs.
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