400 years ago, in August 1619, the first ship with slaves destined for the United States
arrived in what was then the colony of Virginia. But the cruel history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade begins much earlier and goes on much longer – an astonishing 350 years.In fact, many slaves lived in the English colonies in North America before that date.
They came to the present-day U.S. via Spanish and Portuguese colonies, where slaves arrived as early as 1501, or were transferred as bounty from Spanish or Portuguese ships.
The United States are heavily associated with slavery and the capture and forceful relocation of Africans. Close to 400,000 slaves were forced to work in the American South, while close to 5 million were shipped off to the Caribbean and another 4.7 million to present-day Brazil.
Around 40 percent of Africans uprooted in slavery are believed to come from Angola in Southern Africa, with another 30 percent who came from the Bay of Benin in West Africa.The numbers taken from database project SlaveVoyages.org
indicate the number of Africans embarking. Many more died on the way because of lack of food and water and squalid conditions aboard the slave ships. Many others were uprooted in the trans-Saharan, the red sea and the Indian slave trade, which partly predated the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It is estimated that close to 20 million people were forced to leave the African continent as slaves.
By 1800, this had decimated the African population to half the size it would have been had slavery not occurred.