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“The guilt rests on humanity itself. . . on the apparently inexhaustible capacity for greed and numbness of heart and the infliction of suffering that survives in the nature of man.” ~Malcolm Cowley
Africans were brought to North and South America as the result of a gigantic commercial operation that lasted the better part of four centuries; an operation responsible for untold suffering and the deaths of millions of African men, women, and children.
Drawing heavily on journals, state documents, business ledgers, and memoirs, authors Mannix and Cowley provide a thorough and formidable review of the slave trade's execrable history ― its origins, rapid expansion, pinnacle, decline, and eventual abolishment. Black Cargoes traces in meticulous detail how the business was run, who financed it, and an explanation of the complex and profitable interactions of merchants and governments which eventually resulted in the rise of the plantation system, the maritime trade in New England, and the means to finance the industrial revolution in England and France. Above all the authors rigorously examine the forced submission of generations of Africans, slave raids, barracoons and coffles, the appalling conditions onboard ship for both Africans and seamen. The inexplicable cruelty of slave traders and their collaboration with African leaders. The decades of struggle abolitionists faced with indifferent politicians, plantation owners, and businessmen who turned their backs on the anguish of countless victims. While it can be said that Atlantic slave trade changed the history of the world, it did so at an unspeakable cost – precipitating the dissolution and disintegration of an entire continent's societies..
To current generations, facts about the Atlantic slave trade may hold few surprises. However, at the time of its publication, Black Cargoes was the first general history of the Atlantic trade to be written since the turn of the century over 60 years before. Grim and gripping history, Black Cargoes remains one of the most historically significant treatise of the Atlantic slave trade of its time.