Today, slave trade remains one of the most severe atrocities to the human race and if anyone were found practicing it, he/she would be liable to criticism from human rights organizations and even punishment by the law. However, six centuries ago, the situation was quite different. From the fourteenth, through to the nineteenth century, slave trade was a booming business that attracted companies and individual traders as well. The most famous slave trade, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, particularly drew interest from the various sources. Private traders, charter companies and merchants were completely involved in the highly lucrative business. The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was an interconnected trade that involved goods transportation from Europe by ships to the West African coast (Egerton 97). Here, the traders exchanged the manufactured goods for slaves, kidnapped from various parts of the continent. The African slaves went all the way to the American continent, by ship, where they were exchanged for raw materials, transported back to Europe.
The middle stage was the point, where the African slaves came from the Gold Coast (the name used by the traders to describe the West coast of Africa). Before boarding the ships, the slaves underwent a seasoning process, which involved preparing, and “processing” the slaves for the market, so that they fetched a higher price. The English North American colonists were particularly on the frontline in this trade. They even set up a company, called the African Royal Company, whose mandate was to spearhead the recruitment and transportation of already acquired slaves to the American continent and the Caribbean (Schama 54). Before settling in Africa that was a source of slaves, the colonists had tried to do the same in other continents with little success, including North America and Latin America. The whole reason behind slave trade was to quench the need for more workforces, necessary in producing raw materials, which would propel the industrialization revolution that had taken off in Europe. Slave practices and treatment varied from one colony to another. Slave codes were the laws governing slaves, their rights, duties and their relationship with their masters. In North America, the slaves could not live in the houses of their masters and mostly stayed in kitchens and stables. In the Caribbean, however, they could put up housing units. The harsh treatment in North America later stimulated their rebellion and resistance. The slave trade came with a lot of changes, especially for the African slaves, who could no longer practice their religious and cultural rituals and were experiencing a whole new world as a result of separation from their families. It also resulted to a major depopulation in Africa and an increase in population in the Caribbean and America. Later, intermarriages between races took places, hence, miscegenation (interracial marriage).
In the eighteenth century, there was a little learning taking place in America. Those, who managed to get just some little education, came out with basic reading and writing skills. The North was mostly concentrated on schools with learning, dictated by gender, race and social background. The Southern part of America was slow towards literacy and the only people, who managed to access education, were the rich, who were able to hire private tutors. Elementary education was for both boys and girls. However, college education, and in other places, high school education belonged to male whites. Slaves, with their children, could not access learning institution. Laws should govern this, and anyone found teaching the slaves either fined or convicted. This act of forbidding African slaves obtaining education was due to the fear by the whites that a literate slave would be difficult to handle. Nevertheless, with the aid of sympathizers, some Africans were able to get some little education. The curriculum in most colleges was dwelt on science, mathematics, history and literature, and as it were, Africans were still not able to access even this.
In the wake of the education revolution, there were many discoveries, particularly in science and medicine. It is about the same period (18th century) that significant inventions and discoveries, such as the discovery of the vaccine for smallpox and other drugs, happened. With this knowledge, there was an upsurge of more revelations of the human body and anatomy, and better ways of treatment. Through research, scientists were able to make discoveries on the relations between microbes and humans, paving the way for better health. At the same time, a revolution in the world of machines was in the offing, with better, more efficient tools invented, especially farm tools to keep up with the increasing production of raw materials.
The Molasses Act, instituted in the early 18th century, made European products cheaper, than those from other places that gave the British an upper hand in trade. Institution and introduction of other later acts, such as the Currency, Sugar and Stamp Acts, brought about a rebellion and resistance that would spark off the American Revolution (Egerton, et al, 216). The British introduced the subsequent Acts, as a way of stamping their authority and reiterating their control over the Thirteen Colonies. The Americans, in turn, rebelled against massive corruption and exploitation. The Patriots did not fight alone. They got massive support from the African Americans, who joined the war with the hope and belief that free America would amount to their own liberation and freedom. However, the other African Americans fought on the side of the British troops. To them, it was not about being loyal to either side, but rather a chance to get their freedom, to get better treatment. Some joined the war with the hope of getting a reward in the end.
The Patriots attained unity through constant communication and spread of information, urging the Americans to work together to bring change. The Education Revolution that had resulted in accessing education by many people was also an instrumental one in the Revolution. The Patriots also made a declaration for independence, and it served to convince more people to join the Revolution. When the war ended, and America declared an independent state, the Native Americans, particularly, were at a loss. Some of them had been in support of the British and indeed preferred being under the British rule to independent America. They lost their traditional land and displaced from their homes, as new independent America spelt out the extent of its territory. However, Native Americans later regained their ancestral land after a series of negotiations.
The struggle for freedom and independence was indeed a long and challenging journey, not just for the United States as a country, but also for the Black Americans, who came a long way, after the kidnap from their own homeland. In the end, the fight for freedom caused the jumpstarting of a new era for the people, including the Black Americans and the country.