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Prosperity Through Slavery | Slave Laws | Treaty of Paris, 1763
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Prosperity Through Slavery

In the 1700s, a system of slavery provided labour to the colonies in the Americas. Owners of very large rice, indigo, and tobacco plantations in the southern part of North America needed lots of workers. At first, the plantation owners used imported captive Africans, able to withstand the heat and malaria, as indentured labourers who had to work for a specified period of time. But this changed, and the majority of Africans in the British American colonies were slaves for life.

During the 1700s, quite a few European countries, including Great Britain, had slave-trading companies on the west coast of Africa, in the present-day countries of Gambia, Senegal, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Dahomey, and Nigeria. These companies built fortified towns, with full-time European and African staff who maintained diplomatic relations with African kings and chiefs, and traded textiles, weapons, ceramics, liquor, and raw iron in exchange for slaves.

Men, women and children were captured inland and brought to the coast by African dealers, then transported in slave ships across the ocean. In the Americas and the Caribbean, the Africans were sold for cash. This money purchased sugar, rum, spices, cotton, tobacco, coffee, rice, indigo, and molasses for sale in Europe. The trans-Atlantic trade between Africa, the Americas, and Europe, known as the Triangular Trade, created immense wealth for European nations.