The Atlantic Slave Trade: Crash Course World History #24

The Atlantic Slave Trade: Crash Course World History #24

Hi, my name is John Green, this is Crash Course
World History and today we’re gonna talk about slavery. Slavery is not funny. In fact, it is very
near the top of the list of things that aren’t funny, so today’s episode is gonna be a little
light on the jokes but, I’m gonna help you understand what pre-Civil War Americans often
euphemistically refer to as “the peculiar institution.” [Intro Music] Slavery is as old as civilization itself,
although it is not as old as humanity thanks to our hunting and gathering foremothers,
but the numbers involved in the Atlantic slave trade are truly staggering. From 1500 to 1880CE somewhere between 10 and
12 million African slaves were forcibly moved from Africa to the Americas and about 15%
of those people died during the journey. I know you’re saying that looks like a very
nice ship, I mean my God, its almost as big as South America, yeah, not to scale, and
those who didn’t die became property; bought and sold like any commodity. Where Africans came from and went to changed
over time, but in all 48% of slaves went to the Caribbean, and 41% to Brazil, although
few Americans recognize this, relatively few slaves were imported to the U.S, only about
5% of the total. It’s also worth noting that by the time Europeans
started importing Africans into the Americas, Europe had a long history of trading slaves. The first real European slave trade began
after the 4th Crusade in 1204; the crusade that you will remember as “The Crazy One”.
Italian merchants imported thousands of Armenians, Circassian and Georgian slaves to Italy. Most
of them were women who worked as household servants but many worked processing sugar,
and sugar is of course a crop that African slaves later cultivated in the Caribbean. Camera 2 side note; none of the primary crops
grown by slaves–sugar, tobacco, coffee–is necessary to sustain human life. So in a way,
slavery is a very early by-product of a consumer culture that revolves around the purchase
of goods that bring us pleasure, but not sustenance. You are welcome to draw your own metaphorically
resonant conclusions from this fact. One of the big misconceptions about slavery,
or at least when I was growing up, is that Europeans somehow captured Africans, put them
in chains, stuffed them on boats and then took them to the Americas. The chains and ships bit is true as is the
America part if you define America as America and not as ‘Merica, but Africans were living
in all kinds of conglomerations. From small villages to city-states to empires and they
were much too powerful for the Europeans to just conquer. And in fact, Europeans obtained
African slaves by trading for them. Because trade is a two-way proposition, this
meant that Africans were captured by other Africans and then traded to Europeans in exchange
for goods; usually like metal tools or fine textiles or guns; and for those Africans, slaves
were a form of property, and a very valuable one. In many places, slaves were one of the only
sources of private wealth because land was usually owned by the state. And this gets to a really important point;
if we’re gonna understand the tragedy of slavery, we need to understand the economics of it;
we need to get inside what Mark Twain famously called “a deformed conscience.” We have to
see slaves both as they were, as human beings, and as they were viewed, as an economic commodity. Right, so you probably know about the horrendous
conditions aboard slave ships, which at their largest could hold 400 people. but it’s worth
underscoring that each slave had an average of four square feet of space. That is 4 square
feet. As one eye-witness testified before Parliament in 1791, “They had not so much
room as a man in his coffin.” Once in the Americas, the surviving slaves
were sold in a market very similar to the way cattle would be sold. After purchase,
slave owners would often brand their new possession on the cheeks, again, just as they would do
with cattle. The lives of slaves were dominated by work and terror, but mostly work. Slaves did all types of work, from housework
to skilled crafts work, and some even worked as sailors, but the majority of them worked
as agricultural laborers. In the Caribbean and Brazil, most of them planted, harvested
and processed sugar, working ten months out of the year, dawn until dusk. The worst part of this job, which is saying
something, because there were many bad parts, was fertilizing the sugar cane. This required
slaves to carry 80 pound baskets of manure on their heads up and down hilly terrain. MFTP:”Mr. Green, Mr. Green! …Isn’t there
a poop joke in there somewhere?” John Green: No, me-from-the-past, because
this whole thing is too depressing! When it came time to harvest and process the
cane, speed was incredibly important because once cut, sugar sap can go sour within a day.
This meant that slaves would often work 48 hours straight during harvest time, working
without sleep in the sweltering sugar press houses where the cane would be crushed in
hand rollers and then boiled. Slaves often caught their hands in the rollers, and their
overseers kept a hatchet on hand for amputations. Ugh…..I told you this wasn’t going to be
funny. Given these appalling conditions, it’s little
wonder that the average life expectancy for a Brazilian slave on a sugar plantation in
the late 18th century was 23 years. Things were slightly better in British sugar
colonies like Barbados, and in the U.S., living and working conditions were better still.
So relatively good that, in fact, slave populations began increasing naturally, meaning that more
slaves were born than died. This may sound like a good thing, but it is
of course it’s own kind of evil because it meant that slave owners were calculating that
if they kept their slaves healthy enough, they would reproduce and then the slave owners
could steal and sell their children. Or use them to work their land, either way, blech! Anyway, this explains why even though the
percentage of slaves imported from Africa to the United States was relatively small,
slaves and other people of African descent came to make up a significant portion of the
U.S. population. The brutality of working conditions in Brazil, on the other hand, meant that
slaves were never able to increase their population naturally, hence the continued need to import
slaves into Brazil until slavery ended in the 1880s. So I noted earlier that slavery isn’t new,
it’s also a hard word to define. Like Stalin forced millions to work in the gulags, but
we don’t usually consider those people slaves. On the other hand, many slaves in history
had lives of great power, wealth, and influence. Like remember Zheng He, the world’s greatest
admiral?He was technically a slave, so were many of the most important advisors to Suleiman
the Magnificent. So was Darth Vader! But Atlantic slavery was different and more
horrifying, because it was chattel slavery, a term historians use to indicate that the
slaves were move-able property. Oh, it’s time for the open letter? An open letter to the word slave. But first lets see what’s in the secret compartment
today. Oh. It’s Boba Fett. Noted owner of a ship called Slave One. And apparently a
ballet dancer. (Singing) Do do doloo do do doo… Stan: That’s a fine approximation of ballet
music. (Laughter)
John: Thank you Stan. Alright, dear slave, as a word. You are over
used. Like Britney Spears, I’m a Slave 4 U, no you’re not!
Boba Fett’s ship, Slave One, a ship can’t be a slave! But more importantly slave, you are constantly
used in political rhetoric, and never correctly! There’s nothing new about this,witness for
instance, all the early Americans claiming that paying the stamp tax would make them
slaves. And that was in a time when they knew exactly what slavery looked like! Taxes, as I have mentioned before, can be
very useful. I, for instance like paved roads. But even if you don’t like a tax, it’s not
slavery. Here, I have written for you a list of all the times it is okay to use the word
slave, oh, it is a one item long list! Best Wishes, John Green. So what exactly makes slavery so horrendous?
Well, definitions are slippery, but I’m going to start with the definition of slavery proposed
by sociologist Orlando Patterson. It is “the permanent, violent and personal
domination of natally alienated and generally dishonoured persons.” According to this definition
a slave is removed from the culture, land and society of his or her birth suffers from
what Patterson called “social death”. Ultimately then, what makes slavery slavery
is that slaves are de-humanized. The Latin word that gave us ‘chattel’, also gave us
‘cattle’. In many ways Atlantic slavery drew from previous
models of slavery, and took every that sucked about each of them and combined them into
a big ball so that it would be the biggest possible ball of suck. Stan am I allowed to say suck on this show?
(pause) Nice. Now to understand what I’m talking about we
need to look at some previous models of slavery. Lets go to the Thought Bubble. The Greeks were among the first to consider
otherness a characteristic of slaves. Most Greek slaves were Barbarians and their inability
to speak Greek kept them from talking back to their masters, and also indicated their
slave status. Aristotle, who despite being spectacularly
wrong about almost everything was incredibly influential, believed that some people were
just naturally slaves, saying “It is clear that there are certain people who are free,
and certain people who are slaves by nature, and it is both to their advantage, and just,
for them to be slaves” This idea, despite being totally insane, remained
popular for millennia. The Greeks popularized the idea that slaves should be traded from
far away, but the Romans took it to another level. Slaves probably made up 30% of the total Roman
population, similar to the population of America at slavery’s height. The Romans also invented
the plantation, using mass numbers of slaves to work the land on giant farms called latifundia,
so called because they were not fun. The Judeo-Christian world also contributed
as well, and though we are not going to venture into the incredibly complicated role that
slavery plays in the Bible because I vividly remember the comments section of the Christianity
episode, the Bible was widely used to justify slavery. And in particular the enslavement
of Africans, because of the moment in Genesis when Noah curses Ham, saying “cursed be Canaan,
the lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers”. This encapsulates the two ideas vital to Atlantic
slavery: 1. that slavery can be a hereditary status passed down through generations, and
2. that slavery is the result of human sin. Both ideas serve as powerful justifications for holding
an entire race in bondage. Thanks Thought Bubble. But there were even more contributors to the
ideas that led to Atlantic slavery. For instance, Muslim Arabs were the first to import large
number of Bantu speaking Africans to their territory as slaves. The Muslims called these
Africans Zanj and they were a distinct and despised group, distinguished from other North
Africans by the colour of their skin. The Zanj and territory held by the Abbasid
staged one of the first big slave revolts in 869CE, and it may be that this revolt was
so devastating that it convinced the Abbasid that large scale, plantation-style agriculture
on the Roman model just wasn’t worth it. But by then they’d connected the Aristotelian
idea that some people are just naturally slaves with the appearance of Sub-Saharan Africans.
The Spanish and the Portuguese, you no doubt remember, were the Europeans with the closest
ties to the Muslim world because there were Muslims living on the Iberian Peninsula until
1492. So it makes sense that the Iberians were the first to these racist attitudes towards
blacks. And as the first colonizers of the Americas
and the dominant importers of slaves, the Portuguese and the Spanish helped define the
attitudes that characterized Atlantic slavery, beliefs they’d inherited from a complicated
nexus of all the slave holders who came before them. In short Atlantic slavery was a monstrous
tragedy, but it was a tragedy in which the whole world participated, and it was the culmination
of millennia of imagining the other as inherently lesser. It’s tempting to pin all the blame
for Atlantic slavery on one particular group, but to blame one group is to exonerate all
the others, and by extension ourselves. The truth that we must grapple with is that
a vast array of our ancestors, including those we think of as ours, whoever they may be,
believed it was possible for their fellow human being to be mere property. Thanks for watching, I’ll see you next week. Crash Course is produced and directed by Stan
Muller, our script supervisor is Danica Johnson, this show is written by my High School history
teacher Raoul Meyer and myself, and our graphics team is Thought Bubble. Last weeks Phrase of the Week was “Cinnamon
Challenge”, I hate you for that by the way. If you want to suggest future Phrases of the
Week you can do so in comments, where you can also guess at this week’s Phrase of the
Week or ask questions of our team of historians. Thanks for watching Crash Course, and as we
say in my home town, don’t forget to be awesome.

100 thoughts on “The Atlantic Slave Trade: Crash Course World History #24

  1. But they try to call "blacks" lazy,,,the Jews made up the Hamitic myth, saying we were cursed black,ugly,big penises,to slaves to everyone

  2. All beings are in dept (except nobility) therefore not free.
    A being in debt is not free. They are indentured by definition and are bankrupt,and as bankrupt
    has no standing. Without standing you have no status and cannot state a claim. Without the ability
    to state a claim you cannot claim a free hold on allodial soil, substance and land of our country,
    and therefore, by all definitions in law and historical constructs in this world, you are therefore
    nothing but a landless peasant, a serf that will toil the rest of your life for your master who
    will hold all the equity, the substance and the capacity to do with such as he will,for his own
    account and for no one else –

  3. Very well done! I respect listening to your well researched educational videos (even if I don't always agree on some ideas fully). This was good.

  4. So Racist,it's 2020 still call blacks slaves ( original man,King) whites committed genocide against African s world wide,,why lie? Slavery is a password for genocide,,get real..Let the African tell his own side of view.Same as Native Indian,,,,,,,

  5. Ok so lets get a few things straight! Africans did not sell other Africans, they were Hebrews who fled into Africa from Israel. Also they were not slaves before we were kidnapped and shipped to the America's we were and are human beings! Lastly it was the Ashkenazi so called jews that funded the ships in the Atlantic slave trade. African Americans are not from Ham, we are Shemites and everyone knew it at the time. All mighty Yah shall bring recompense to those who still benefit from slavery and hates his chosen ones.

  6. Are you also salmonella? Can we be friends? Kidding..not kidding. I think you are awesome. I am usually not interested in being friends with guys. Weird

  7. YOU ARE IGNORANT OF ISLAM! Did you know that the white slave captains bought all the 11 million African slaves for delivery in the Americas from Muslims at wholesale prices and never captured any from the land? Did you know that 25 million Africans were enslaved by the Muslims with 14 million sold to middle east and beyond? Did you know that no more than 380,000 were sold between about 1665 and 1864 in what is now the USA? In 1776 there were about 500,00 (20%) free Blacks and slaves and in 1860 there were an estimated 4 million (12.5%) free Blacks and slaves. Did you know that mostly African Muslims murdered about 125 million African to capture the 25 million sold? Did you know that most of the money from the slave trade was used for jihad, conquest by the sword. Did you know that there are about 40 words that describe a slave in Arabic? Their words put a fine point and details on the color, age, gender and status of a slave. Did you know that Abd is the work for male black slave and it is also the Arabic word for male African? In Islam there was no difference between them.

  8. GOOD FOR YOU, YOU FIGURED OUT WHY SPAIN LEAD THE WAYQ Did you know that the white slave captains bought all the 11 million African slaves for delivery in the Americas from Muslims at wholesale prices and never captured any from the land? Did you know that 25 million Africans were enslaved by the Muslims with 14 million sold to middle east and beyond? Did you know that no more than 380,000 were sold between about 1665 and 1864 in what is now the USA? In 1776 there were about 500,00 (20%) free Blacks and slaves and in 1860 there were an estimated 4 million (12.5%) free Blacks and slaves. Did you know that mostly African Muslims murdered about 125 million African to capture the 25 million sold? Did you know that most of the money from the slave trade was used for jihad, conquest by the sword. Did you know that there are about 40 words that describe a slave in Arabic? Their words put a fine point and details on the color, age, gender and status of a slave. Did you know that Abd is the work for male black slave and it is also the Arabic word for male African? In Islam there was no difference between them.

  9. "The Spanish and the Portuguese were the Europeans who had the closest ties to the Muslim world" –LOL. They were conquered by Muslims, who destroyed their churches and almost their culture. Just one of many distortions in this Leftist's video.

  10. Wait what!?!? The Bible was not used to justify slavery! People who say this do not consider the whole Bible. Slavery perverts God’s created intention for human beings. There is a VAST DIFFERENCE between this wickedness, and what the Bible says about “..obeying your earthly masters..” (Eph. 6:5).

  11. What kind of man,I mean demons,would endlave transport a whole race,,it was genocide,same as the Redman,Brown man, Hawaiians,and other,,,, European s did put them on chains,boats,,

  12. The sad apart about genocide of the African s is they went into Africa in 1965,did the Sharpsville Massacre…look it up….also King Leopold Heart of Darkness,,,look what the Germans did in Namibia…….they genocide all darker races not just the Negroe

  13. If I had a power I would go back in time and stop the whites from taking the "colors" African Americans into slavery and have them have their lives no one should be treated like that we all have lives to live even the Africans I love Crash Course has helped me in my US History global class and helped me pass Global II

  14. Where did the other 6% go if 48% went to the Caribbeans 41% went to Brazil 5% went to USA where are the other 6%?

  15. You don't have any proof You didn't name one boat from the voyage But you can name the boats from Christopher Columbus? Why

  16. The Blacks had strength in numbers and yet they couldn’t band together to fight back against their captors.🤦🏻‍♂️

  17. "Why don't you believe in God?"
    I don't believe in a God who would let things like this happen, for whatever reason.

  18. A very impressive collage of critical information about this piece of history. This history is often taught in a fleeting fashion so as not to induce hard feelings on the decendants of people who were enslaved in the U.S. like myself. This video's delivery (particularly hats off to the host) was awesome, accurate and of excellent caliber even down to the synopsis at the end! I look forward to showing this to my kids and any others to broaden their perspectives. Thank you and I'm now a Fan of Crash Course!

  19. Professor… Please begin including in your course the colonization of islands off the western coast of Africa where Europeans bred generations of mulattos who were trained to capture Africans. This will out a bow of sorts on your "Africans selling Africans" canard.

  20. The fact that different races and groups participated in slavery just shows how all humans are similar and capable of terrible things.

  21. How come that there whole world participated in the Atlantic slave trading??? I mean, Americans should not blame every one in the biggest mistake they made long time ago….

  22. The slave trade as bad as it is to me as an average enlightened African is not the worst thing that happened to Africa.
    Get it the worst is the Berlin Conference of 1885, where African territories were carved out in their absence and lines of territories drawn by Europeans continue to be respected as countries. A child born in Africa is referred to as an Asantę, a Yoruba, a Zulu, a Kiswahili. African is what the rest of the world call you, it takes time to sink in.These states like Gambia, Kenya, South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria are all European creation.
    That is why most African are not loyal to them
    African countries are NOT organic countries created by agreement between local people like the 1707 treaty for creation of United kingdom or the 1648 declaration of independent Netherlands by local Dutch warriors from Spain.
    African countries were created in a conference in Berlin by one Bismarck, partitioned as it pleased Europeans colonialists no African rep what so ever.
    What you call tribes is actually nations, yes nations, some are as small as Luxembourg or Estonia in Europe or Nauru or Tahiti in the Pacific.
    Some are big like the Zulu nation the Kiswahi, the Hausa nation, Ashanti nation, Igbo nation, Matabele and many more. Many of these nations are bigger than England in land mass & population.
    Berlin conference cut the Hausa nation into 6 countries 52% in Nigeria; 20% in Niger; 5% in Benin; 7% in Togo; 3% in Tchad; 6% in Burkina Faso population estimates.
    Your fellow Hausa brothers same culture, language, mannerisms but different country, but a Matabele and Xhosa different in every cultural sense but same country.
    That's the dilemma Africans are confronting.
    Hausas should actually be one country.
    Same for kiswahili some Kenya, others in Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia and so on. Kiswahili should be one country like Germany or France with unique language, food, clothing and so on.
    I agree that was an era of conquest, this era now is about correcting conquest that makes no sense. Otherwise Hitler's conquest will be justified too.
    If you cut part of France, add a little Spain to it, and part of eastern Germany then bring a Spanish ruler called the country EUROPIA. there will be conflicts and affiliation to national roots, which some call tribalism. It happened in Yugoslavia before the country fell apart.
    Berlin conference raped the African continent no though.
    Just like you have, Scottish tribe, Spanish tribe, English tribe same way you have Matabele tribe, Kiswahili tribe, nothing wrong with that.
    If Tutsi had their country and Hutus had their country, 1994 genocide may not have happened. There have not being an inter country conflict in Africa yet, except when white South Africans invaded Angola in 1976, and Tanzania soldiers chased away Idi Adim without hurting the people in 1979.
    Countries like South Africa, Congo DRC, Nigeria, Sudan etc are mere creation of colonization. Africans are actually managing a chaos created by Berlin conference.
    I am sure you know that Scottish tribe and English tribe don't necessarily agree always, latter wants Brexit while former wants to stay in EU.
    Ofcourse Africans intellectuals can do better than they currently doing no doubt.

  23. Whos idea was it "hey let's discriminate these people because of something that makes me different than us and force them to work for us"?

  24. I'm guessing this guy's point is that Africans sold Slaves as a trade of some sort; which everyone knows is true; but White people say this like it's our fault we were murdered; What were the Africans supposed to do; call and ask are the slaves OK? Are you burning, rapping and hanging them? Then his more potent point is that it's not fair to blame one race (White People I'm guessing) for Slavery or having Slaves when it was occurring all around the world, he says everyone had slaves but America only had 15% of Slaves that came over, and this is why I think something is very wrong with the mindset of most who try and justify anything that is wrong. They talk about these things as if we don't know this and even if some don't know it; where is the justification in what he's saying? Are they trying to pull another Columbus Day story on us? Is he trying to tell us the story about the Cowboy's and the Indians eating Thanksgiving Dinner after they massacred the Tribes? No Go Joe! it's not working for me; Here's what he's actually saying… If one trillion dollars was being given away in exchange for drugs (the trade) but the majority of the money was given to Larry, Harry and Barry because you (America) couldn't afford it, (now think about that for a min; America didn't have any money before slavery) yet all of you used the money to buy guns and kill all Black People; how are you less responsible for the act, or should I say the crime? Now some will come back and say; all slaves weren't Black instead of trying to understand the point; I know this! In other words this guy is saying it was normal to have Slaves back then. Ok, normal means what exactly? Killing, rapping, hanging and torturing other human beings? That was normal? It may have been normal, but murder is murder; torture is torture; Thy shall not kill was still on the books back then which has nothing to do with a trade no matter how long ago it was; it's liken to a cop shooting an unarmed man; murder, not normal. There is and will never be justification for that type of slavery and just because Black People are the only ones questioning the wrong doesn't make it right; What's right is; we should have the right to sue the United States of America, that's what's right! Any law that was on the books regarding a human being should've included Black People as well; as if they didn't have enough sense to realize we were human, that might be a mental issue they need to look into; Not my problem!. And let's just say it could've been a mute point back then for whatever sick reasoning, what's the excuse today? They knew then and they know now. This was mass murder in the first degree, no different than this mass incarceration of kidnapping a whole race and placing them into bondage. We don't just sing and dance for you anymore, we comprehend what we hear very clearly.

  25. Good , as usual. "…no person can be the owner of another human being." Baha'u'llah, Baha'i Faith, about 1839. Years later, He wrote to Queen Victoria "…you did a wonderful thing; you abolished chattel (personal property) slavery; but today you must do a much more wonderful thing: you must abolish industrial slavery."

  26. Foremothers did it for me mate. I’m sure you present an interesting overview. Leave the ideology for a different crash course maybe?

  27. Only the United States is responsible for the Atlantic slave trade. No excuses. Interesting how the United States citizens want to claim how they’re the most moral but then compare themselves to third world countries when convenient.

  28. The line of HAM did not go into the Atlantic, transatlantic or sub Saharan slave trade, the line of shem through Abraham Isaac and Jacob.. the 12 tribes of Israel (So called blacks Hispanics and native Americans )went into slavery by slave ships (Deuteronomy 28:32 ,64,68… ) NOT AFRICANS

  29. I'm not from any country in Central or South America. I'm wondering if identity politics about race, slavery or color of skin is a big issue there like in USA.

  30. The widespread brutality of slavery is abolitionist propaganda. Slaves were property. If you're a business owner are you going to damage your property? When Black people got out of slavery they were not property anymore. They were expendable and they were treated as such. Widespread lynching, attacks on Black communities, chain gangs, forced in prisons, robbed of their rights and privileges, destroyed their property or robbed of their property etc. NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE.

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