Seizing Slaves

This pair of French anti-slavery woodcuts show a simplistic representation of what they assumed was entailed in the slave trade. It shows Europeans being welcomed relatively benignly by Africans only for them to turn on them in the second picture. In reality, Europeans rarely took the slaves directly, but tended to trade for them with local middlemen. Europeans were loathe to spend any additional time on the Guinea coast if they could at all possibly avoid it. They preferred that slaves were ready and waiting for them to pick up directly and so minimise their time on the African coastline and maximise their profits by using their assets more efficiently. They really did not want to go to the expense and hassle of finding their own slaves in an unfamiliar and hostile part of the World.



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by Stephen Luscombe