The Journal of Caribbean History: Volume 42, Issue 1

Article 1
Why an Atlantic Slave Trade?

Claudius Fergus


The origin of transatlantic trafficking in African peoples has its antecedents in the Eastern Atlantic, and its tie-ins with the older, trans-Saharan trade and sugar industries in the Mediterranean and Southern Iberia. The Middle Passage and the so-called triangular trade were simply continuations of this earlier and continuing traffic and its related commercial activities. The discourse raises issues relating to developments in the Western Atlantic prior to the traditional date (1441) for the commencement of this human trafficking. Several key issues are addressed relating to the origin of the trade, including the role of the Catholic Church, the targeting of Africans south of the Sahara, the capitalist ethic, and the extent that the sugar industry featured in the evolution of the traffic and its extension the New World.