“Slaver” ships were specifically designed for maximizing the numbers of African men, women, and children that slave-trading captains and their crews could bring to the Americas.Once on board, crewmembers segregated enslaved Africans by gender and then chained and packed them closely together in ship holds.European countries participating in the slave trade accumulated tremendous wealth and global power from the capturing and selling of Africans into slavery.
The conditions on slaver ships were so harsh and unbearable that from thirteen to nineteen percent of Africans died in the Middle Passage.
Mortality rates were particularly high during the first few centuries of the trans-Atlantic trade, before shipping technology improved to shorten the length of the overall voyage.
Although incredibly profitable for both its participants and their investing backers, the terrible Middle Passage has come to represent the ultimate in human misery and suffering.
The abominable and inhuman conditions which the Africans were faced with on their voyage clearly display the great evil of the slave trade.
Though the ocean passage may only last a few weeks, the overall Middle Passage often took months because European slave captains lengthened the voyage by making stops in various African ports to seek more slaves to fill their ship hold.
They also made numerous stops in American ports to attempt to sell their enslaved cargo at the best prices.The conditions that millions of Africans endured during the Middle Passage into Amerian slavery stands as one of the greatest examples in history of human beings inflicting dehumanizing suffering on fellow human beings.As British abolitionist William Wilberforce (1759-1833) stated, “Never can so much misery be found condensed in so small a place as in a slave ship during the Middle Passage.” In the holds of slave ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean, millions of enslaved Africans first experienced what it meant to be defined and treated as chattel property in the context of New World slavery.In addition, they were brutally flogged if they showed any signs of rebellion.The female slaves were coerced into sexual servitude and raped continuously by the crew members.The Middle Passage was the longest, hardest, most dangerous, and also most horrific part of the journey of the slave ships.With extremely tightly packed loads of human cargo that stank and carried both infectious disease and death, the ships would travel east to west across the Atlantic on a miserable voyage lasting at least five weeks, and sometimes as long as three months.Captives then endured up to several months of extreme temperatures, harsh weather, filthy living conditions, and contagious diseases in these ship holds as they crossed the Atlantic Ocean.Roughly twenty-six percent of Africans who endured the Middle Passage were classified as children; captains chained men for the longest periods to prevent rebellion; and enslaved women often suffered sexual assault from crewmembers.Use of The Middle Passage in the Slave Trade The Middle Passage was the journey of slave trading ships from the west coast of Africa, where the slaves were obtained, across the Atlantic, where they were sold or, in some cases, traded for goods such as molasses, which was used in the making of rum.However, this voyage has come to be remembered for much more than simply the transport and sale of slaves.