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Slavery and European Colonial Economy

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From 16th to 19th century, European colonial economy mostly depended on enslaved Africans. From simply being the laborers in the fields of inexperienced merchants in the new colony, the slaves became a commodity used for transactions. From political to economic changes that the trading countries experienced, the African captives played a crucial role.

Most colonials were merchants by trade in search for gold and used people from Africa to do labor work in the new land as slaves. The service from the enslaved group was considered crucial for survival. According to European colonial officials, the abundant land they had adopted in the Americas was useless without sufficient labor to exploit it. The trans-Saharan slave trade supplied enslaved African labor to work on sugar plantations in the Mediterranean. The other slaves working there included white slaves from Russia and the Balkans. This same trade group was also responsible to send approximately 10,000 slaves a year to North Africa, the Middle East, and the Iberian Peninsula for work.

Working in Europe and Madeira, the Africans proved themselves to be competent workers and thereby became the labor force of choice in the western hemisphere. This translated into the colonial population adopting them for work. Between 1492 and 1776, 5.5 million of the 6.5 million immigrants settled in the western hemisphere were African. They were employed as field workers. The same standard of work was expected from women and children. Critically sick elderly and younger than six year old children were the only people who escaped the daily work requirement. Majority of these enslaved captives worked on sugar plantations



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