Who is responsible for the slave trade?

The history-changing Atlantic slave trade was one of the biggest periods of the slave trade in history. Although there are no exact records, an estimate of millions to hundreds of millions Africans, mostly from the coast, had been taken. They had been taken for their built, sold, and most were treated unfairly. However, there is an ongoing debate about who was responsible for the start and the spread of the Atlantic slave trade. Many say that it is the consumers (auctioneers) fault, while some may say that it is the producers (African chiefs gathering slaves fault). The politician in the British government who voted against the abolition of slavers had been accused and blamed for the Atlantic slave trade.

Personally, I think that the auctioneers, who act as consumers, are responsible. Before the Atlantic slave trade, slavery may have existed already in Africa. African chiefs would capture prisoners of war to turn them into slaves. However, foreigners then came to Africa, wanting to trade weapons and mixed goods such as cotton in turn for African slaves. I believe that without a consumer, there would not be a producer, as the producer will soon grow bankrupt and/or find no use in continuing their business. Africa already had slavery but foreigners encouraged the capture of Africans from other tribes and expanded the idea of slavery until it became a major problem for humanity at that time. If foreigners had not been willing to trade their goods for slaves, then the Atlantic slave trade would most likely have not happened. Even if African chiefs were to force them into trading their goods with slaves, if foreigners had stood their ground and rejected the idea of slave trading, then the African chiefs would eventually give up on it and find other things to trade with instead. I do not think that it is the African chiefs (producers) fault for the trade as if they were to decline, I think that there is a high chance that they will be forced into it instead, through intimidation. Foreign countries such as Portugal and America were highly developed and had many things to offer. When they came to Africa, they brought in weapons far more developed than what the Africans currently had. With such weapons, people outside of Africa can physically intimidate Africa into the global slave trade, which started the Atlantic slave trade.

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2 responses

  1. An interesting perspective, although it makes me question whether the auctioneers can really be classified as the consumer. They are responsible for selling the slaves, but does this make them as culpable as the plantation owners who bought them, or the traders who ‘owned’ them in the first place? Did you manage to find out any more about the numbers of slaves traded through the tribal leaders? Lots of questions here, which is why it is such a controversial, difficult topic.

  2. I agree with all your points and they are logically sufficient to back up your answer, i would be interested if you could develop your ideas on what would make give any given person the blame which could develop your opinions for your choices

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