The channels of wealth that the Europeans brought to the New World resulted from the cultivation of crops. However, the profit that came from sugar and tobacco plantations could not be realized without having laborers that were easy to control. European laborers were demanding high wages and seemed to be difficult to manage. During exploration, Europeans came across people who were completely different from them, both culturally and physically. They realized that African people were easier to exploit and took them to Europe and Caribbean as slaves. Slavery began in the New World because the runaway servants stole from their masters in order to survive, but most of them were caught and coerced to return to their masters, who turned them into slaves. The masters would later on sell runway slaves through advertisement. Thus, the plantation owners exploited slaves, particularly from Africa, to enhance their wealth and cut on costs.

Before Europeans began the slave trade, Africans were doing it but in a different method. Africans were easy target for Portuguese and Spanish slave traders, who required them to work in plantations in the New World. The condition of being enslaved was not a new practice to Africans. Before the start of the seventeenth century, both blacks and whites worked together in sugar, cotton, and tobacco plantations as servants. The issue of racism began when new rules declared that black people should not carry weapons. African slaves also increased profits to slave traders because African slaves were enslaved for life.[1] Most slaves from Africa began to arrive in North America after 1700 when demand for young male slaves rose in the plantations.[2]

Back in the eighth century, some African people called the Moors moved and captured Spain and Portugal for settlement, but they were later turned into servants. The flocking of Africans to Spain and Portugal led to enslavement. Spain opted to turn the Moors into slaves. This idea gave other Europeans the motivation to enslave Africans. It was unimaginable to think that the US would one day become a society that could harbor slaves. Lack of modern religion also contributed to Africans becoming enslaved, as Christianity was against slavery.

Although slave traders justified their operations through mobilizing people who belonged to different races and religion, Africans were perceived inferior due to their dark-skinned color. English masters adopted the practice of enslaving Africans because black color was associated to Africa, while African culture was considered barbarous and unreligious.[3] The trans-Atlantic slave trade grew from high demand for labor in American plantations while the existence of some Africans who were capable of capturing their fellow Africans encouraged the Europeans to expand the supply of slaves from Africa.[4] Enslaving Africans was not the appropriate way in the economic terms to Europeans as Africans were perceived as unproductive, but Europeans were not willing to enslave their fellow Europeans. Some slaves dared to flee from their masters, but were captured and sold through advertisement.

Initially, the European traders tried to enslave Native Americans, but Native Americans did not have immunities to safeguard them from Old-World diseases, such as small pox and malaria. Tropical disease environments enabled Africans to be immune, thus becoming the target for European landowners in America. Europeans also preferred African people because they were already farmers in the native land. When Spain conquered land in America, they tried to persuade Spanish workers to work in America but they refused. An attempt to force Native Americans also failed, as some became ill and died. Slave traders increased their business, and by 1750s, the number of African slaves in the English colonies reached 247,000.[5]

The trade between Europeans and Africans could not have occurred without enslaving Africans. The notorious triangular trade had the ships leaving various ports in England heading to West Africa with cloths, guns, and ornaments, but when heading to the Caribbean and North America, they carried enslaved Africans who were sold to Europeans who owned plantations in South and North America. The only commodities that Africans could offer in the market were slaves, who were taken to the New World for an exchange with sugar, cotton, and tobacco. Slaves in Africa lost their family and society support, thus becoming slaves for a lifetime. On the contrary, enslavement of Africans made them slaves for life in the foreign land where they had no chance of escape. Slavery became an essential part of the American history because it assisted in reclaiming of the land, creation of wealth, and freedom for the African Americans.


Brands, H. W., T. H. Breen, R. Hal William, and Ariela Julie Gross. American Stories: A History of the United States. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, 2015.

Molnar, Nicholas Trajano. “Why African Enslavement.” In Colonial History, Lecture Notes, Week 4.

[1] Nicholas Trajano Molnar, “Why African Enslavement,” In Colonial History (Lecture Notes, Week 4), 11.

[2] H. W. Brands, T. H. Breen, R. Hal William, and Ariela Julie Gross. American Stories: A History of the United States, Combined. (Boston, MA: Pearson Education, 2015), 64.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Molnar, “Why African Enslavement,”, 7.

[5] Ibid, 15.