Lecture 9. Ouro Preto and Rio De Janiero: The Triangle Trade and the Architectures of the Slave Economy

The Triangle Trade system refers to the movement west across the Atlantic of forcibly extracted human beings for slaves who arrive in the Americas to produce raw goods gold, silver sugar, tobacco, timber, whale oil, and cotton for the Mercantile systems of Europe. Those goods are then sent to Europe where they are sold back to the colonies in the Americas and Africa as finished or luxury goods. This is known as mercantilism it is designed to keep the colonies subservient to the capital. Often the goods are used as a medium of exchange for other goods or human beings. Cotton cloth from Manchester or Liverpool for example traded in the ports of West Africa for human beings to be sent to Charleston where they will be sold to grow cotton. Most of the slaves, an estimated 4.5 million slaves were sent to the West Indies and 5 million slaves went to Brazil, to produce highly desired commodities for global trade. The “Triangle” in the trade is of course inaccurate. It refers to West Africa as a place, the entire Atlantic Coast of the Americas as a place, and then Liverpool and London as one place. In fact many cities and regions were involved in this trade, in Europe, all coasts and the interior of Africa, the Americas, from coast to interior as well as Asian ports in the Indian Ocean. The Slave Economy is a true global system.

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