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Part 1. Alcohol and the Black Experiences: The Triangular Slave Trade

The transatlantic slave trade that took place from the 16th through the 19th centuries was responsible for the enslavement of an estimated 11 million Africans. This number does not included the enslaved humans who died of disease, were murdered or who committed suicide while in these vessels of human bondage.

Early settlements in the Americas had two main sources for their goods, England and Africa. The shipping route taken to exchange goods between the America’s, Europe and Africa was called the Triangular Trade. The main goods that were exchanged were enslaved Africans, rum, sugar, molasses, tobacco, and manufactured goods. The triangular trade route operated using the following process:

• A shipment would set out from Europe consisting of beads, cloth, hardware, rum, salt, or weapons. The shipment would go to Africa, where the goods would be traded for African who would be enslaved.

• A ship leaving Africa would contain hundreds of enslaved Africans, tightly packed in horrific conditions for the journey to the Americas.

• Once in the Americas, the ship would be unload of the enslaved and reloaded with molasses, rum, sugar, or tobacco and then headed back to Europe, completing the Triangle.

How Rum, Molasses and Tobacco were used in the enslavement of African American is an interesting and important part of the history of the Americas, and is often left out of the study of the American and World history discourse. Exploring the use of alcohol in the black experience in the Americas gives significance to reason that we should take a position that each of us should be drug “free because I Ought to be”. To learn more, read:

• Rum, Slaves and Molasses: the Story of New England’s Triangular Trade by Clifford Lindsey Alderman

• The Slave Ship: A Human History, by Marcus Rediker

• The Slave Trade: The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade:1440-1870, by Hugh Thomas

• Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora, By Stephanie E. Smallwood

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