The Middle Passage
From the 1400s to the 1800s, the voyages known as the “Triangular Slave Trade” were part of a complex system of commerce that involved:
• the capture, selling, buying, and forcing of adults and children into hard labor as prisoners for life–for some fifteen generations
• the importation to the Americas of advanced agricultural technologies from West Africa
• ship-building and iron-working
• trade in sugar, wine, tobacco, coffee, tea, flour, grains, and timber
• advanced economic practices, such as insuring and financing the trading expeditions.
Many people in both the South and North were employed in this commerce. Some made fortunes that enriched their descendants for generations.
A driving force behind this trade was Europe’s desire for sugar.
Over 12.5 million Africans were taken in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Some four million of these men, women, youth and children died in the capture, on the voyage, or after their arrival.
The gallery is currently under construction. Please check back periodically to see exhibits as we add them. For upcoming exhibits please view the ‘Exhibits to Come’ exhibit below.
In this exhibit Dr. Alexander Falconbridge describes what he saw and heard about how slaves were captured inland and sold on the coast to slave traders.
After 1808 the USA and Britain outlawed the slave trade. Rev. Robert Walsh served on a ship patrolling the waters off West Africa, looking for illegal trafficking. Here is a part of his eyewitness report of what he experienced when boarding a slaver, written in 1831. Sounds like those he heard inside the cargo hold accompany the exhibit.
See a list of of some of the exhibits planned for this gallery.