The Slave Trade Essay
The trading of slaves was one of the highlights of slavery. Aside from the separation of power from other superiors, the slaves were maltreated while other slaves are being traded by their owners. The travel journal of John Barbot entitled “The Slave Trade” features the incessant trading of slaves by slave traders, and the inhumane treatment to the slaves by their owners.
Within the first parts of the travel journal, Barbot explained the abundance of slaves and slave trading in Africa. Although most are sold by other people for money, some Blacks consider trading themselves or anyone in their family or neighbors just so they can survive. In the text, John explained that “in times of dearth and famine, abundance of those people will sell themselves, for a maintenance, and to prevent starving” (p. 286). This explains that the high activity of slave trading was because of the poor condition of living in Africa. Furthermore, to sell own self was being considered as one of their options for survival.
Barbot claimed that the African slave traders were abusively treating the slaves like animals. According to John, the “slaves are severely and barbarously treated by their masters who subsist them poorly, and beat them inhumanly” (p. 288). This description depicts how abusive the African slave traders were. By subsisting the slaves poorly, the masters meant to keep their control over the slaves by beating them inhumanly. However, this was not similar with how the Europeans treat the slaves. The Europeans provided food for the slaves, unfortunately, so that they would survive until they were sold off in the America. However, to say that the Europeans treated the slaves better than the Africans is not entirely right. According to John, “the fate of such are brought, and transported from the coast to America, or other parts of the world, by Europeans is less deplorable, than that of those who end their days in their native country” (p. 288). By saying the treatment of the Europeans is “less deplorable”, John acknowledges that whoever owned a slave treated them wrongly and that being a slave was deplorable. However, the comparison made by Barbot between the Europeans and the African slave traders suggests that if it were to choose between a European and an African slave trader, the lesser between the two evils is the European slave trader.
However, it is important to note that most of the slaves died on their way to America. Moreover, slave revolts were frequent in many European ships. As Barbot stated, they “have almost every year some instances, in one European ship or the other” (p. 295) of slave revolts. The frequency of slave revolts suggests the determination of the slaves to demolish the suppression.
Even though the suppression was still imminent, the treatment of John Barbot to the slaves differed to other slave traders. Barbot claimed that he was “naturally compassionate” (p. 290) suggesting that he had different feelings towards the slaves. This was proven by the account that when a family of slaves found each other on one of his ships, he felt somewhat happy after seeing them together and stated that he was “moving to compassion” (p. 289). Furthermore, he decided to sell them together suggesting that he did not want them to get separated, even if it caused him to lose some of his money. Therefore, it can be assumed that John Barbot was kinder relative to other slave traders. With the assumption that he was kinder compared with the other slave traders, John Barbot was proud of himself.
Barbot, J. (1682). The slave trade. In E. Donnan (Ed.), Documents Illustrative of the history of the slave trade to America (284-295). Washington, DC: Carnegie Institution of Washington