Strange cargo.
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Strange cargo.

To supply labor for the plantation economies of the Americas, Europeans forcibly removed roughly 12 million people from Africa between the 15th and the 19th centuries. These men, women, and children were marched from their homes to the coast and placed on “slavers” like the one pictured in this diagram from an 1808 report on the African slave trade. Designed to carry the largest number of people in the smallest possible space, these ships provided an indescribably horrible experience for the humans chained below decks. Roughly one in six slaves died at sea from disease, malnutrition, and suicide.

Source: Thomas Clarkson, The History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the African Slave-Trade by the British Parliament (1808)—American Social History Project.