Slavery had existed in Africa even before the Atlantic Slave trade began to take root. War prisoners often made up a large majority of the slaves, the others being indentured servants for the purposes of judicial retribution or by choice for survival.
Though the slaves were often stripped of their individual rights, by choice the masters of those slaves in Africa often treated their slaves still as human being, and after a time being the line between being a slave and a free man began to blur because of the intuitive respect granted by the principles of their society. Slaves were able to be business owners, and marry free people as they saw fit, with significantly less prejudiced views than was seen in slave marriage in America. The Europeans, taking advantage over this system in place in West/Central Africa, traded guns and other goods for these war prisoner slaves. Because of the strategic warfare value of these goods, warfare along the western coast of Africa spiked. The Atlantic Slave trade began when large scale agricultural production was at an all-time high. The nearly three thousand mile long coast from which African slaves were taken stretched from the Senegal River to the Congo River. All of the major European assets were involved, to some degree, in this trade. Britain, however, was responsible for nearly 3 million african slaves in the early eighteenth century.
Overall, the Transatlantic Slave Trade was responsible for upwards of twelve million forced immigrants from the period of the fifteenth to the nineteenth century. Many free men and women of color were also captured and enslaved, not just those war prisoners and criminals. They were captured in order assist the European powers in building their colonies in the Americas. The Transatlantic slave trade is also known as the “Triangular Trade” as the journey went in a triangle from first Europe, then to Africa, then to the Americas, and finally back to Europe. The trade was, however, one sided. The benefit provided to the Europeans was the growth of their empire through an exponential increase in human labour, allowing them to produce desirable items such as cotton, sugar, and tobacco.
For the Africans involved in the slave trade, none of the benefits were long lasting or influential, economically speaking. The Transatlantic slave trade provided European powers with a vast monopoly of wealth that helped to set the foundation of the modern economy and contributed to the major industrialization of Europe. The effect of the trade was more negative than positive for the Africans involved, as it led to internal conflict weakening the people as a whole (“African American Immigration”).