TRADE - History Form 2 Notes

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Definition of Trade

Trade refers to the exchange of goods and services between people or countries. Man must have started trading soon after the evolution of the homo sapien sapiens. Trade was occasioned by the existence of varying environmental and climatic conditions. Trade arises from the basic human needs such as satisfying food requirements.



Methods of Trade

There are two main methods of trade;

  1. Barter trade
  2. Currency trade.

Barter Trade

This is the exchange of goods for goods. It is one of the earliest forms of trade that was even taking place during the reign of King Solomon of the Bible. Barter trade emerged from the natural needs of the people. For example, among the Kenyan pre-colonial communities such as the Maasai who kept livestock but did not have grains which the neighbouring kikuyu possessed. Barter trade sometimes even took place within the same community where some people had some special talents that others did not possess. E.g ironsmiths. A form of barter trade known as ‘silent trade’ was practiced in some areas where the two involved communities could not speak the same language. For example, it existed between Morocco and Carthage in 400 BC. Barter trade can still be witnessed in the modern society. For example, Kenya exchanges tea and coffee with petroleum, chemicals and machinery from other countries.

Barter trade however has the following disadvantages

  1. It may involve bulky goods in the transaction.
  2. There may lack double coincidence. It is difficult always to get the goods one wants.
  3. Lack of standards of deferred payment; if a good was borrowed, it would be difficult to decide whether the same value was returned later or not.
  4. Some goods cannot be sub-divided into smaller units. If one wanted cloth equal to a half a sheep, then he could not divide the sheep into two parts.
  5. Lack of store of value for some goods which cannot be stored for a long time since they are perishable. E.g. milk, vegetables.
  6. Lack of measures of value; a specific quantity of goods cannot be measured vis-à-vis other goods.

Advantages of barter system

  1. Poor countries without adequate foreign currencies benefit from it by being able to exchange goods they have for what they do not have.
  2. It benefits where money is non-existent.
  3. It avoids wastage as demand and supply tend to equate.
  4. It promotes interaction hence good relationship, peace and stability especially among traditional African societies.

Currency Trade

This is a type of trade that involves the use of money. Money is an item that is mutually recognized as a medium of exchange or a measure of value. In the pre-colonial times items like Gold dust, cloth, copper rods, and iron and cowrie shells were used as a form of currency.

Advantages of the use of money in trade

  1. Money is a medium of exchange- it is needed to obtain goods or services.
  2. Money as a measure of value enables units of goods to be bought. A specific quantity of goods can be measured Vis -a- Vis other goods.
  3. Money is a standard of deferred (future) payments which allows borrowing and lending to take place.
  4. It is a store of value- one is able to defer satisfaction of a want to future times or make provision for one’s want at a future date.
  5. It is a means through which immovable property can be transferred. For example when one sells a house in one city to go and dwell in another.
  6. Money as a unit of account is used as a calculating medium and assigning prices of goods and services.
  7. Money is easily divisible into smaller units. For example, if a product is valued at a lower price, the buyer only pays the agreed cost.
  8. The qualities of money and its functions overcome the difficulties of barter.

Money however becomes valuable only when those using it have confidence that it will continue to retain its value during the period it is in possession. Technology today has made the use of currency easier. There is the use of Visa Card and Mobile money services like Mpesa and Airtel Money to carry out transactions.

Difference between Barter Trade and Currency Trade

  1. In barter trade goods are exchanged for goods/in currency trade, there is use of money as a measure of value.
  2. In barter trade depends on the existence of a double coincidence of needs but in currency method one meets his needs by the use of money.
  3. Items used for barter trade are bulky (some) and inconvenient to handle - and others perishable. Money is not bulky.


Local Trade

This refers to the exchange of goods between people within the same geographical area such as a village or town.

 

 

Origin of Local Trade

This form of trade took place between groups of people who produced different goods mainly because of varying ecological conditions. It was motivated by the following factors;

  1. Existence of surplus production e.g. where some community’s harvest was excess; they could sell the excess commodity to carter for shortages elsewhere and to avoid wastage.
  2. Differences in climate and environmental conditions which affected the type of natural resources available in various places/ not all needs of a particular community can be satisfied by the resources available hence trade. The kikuyu of Nyeri had to go to Mathira for their foodstuff requirements during drought periods.
  3. Specialization and improved technology which always creates a need to exchange skills and goods with those who do not have. E.g trade between Mathira kikuyu cultivators and the Mukurwe-ini kikuyu ironmongers and weavers. Some even exchanged skills for money.
  4. Population increase making man to begin to supplement his needs by trading with his neighbors. Sometimes, this trade extended even beyond the local community to the neighbouring community. The Abagusii, for example, acquired hides, milk, snake poison, and pottery items from their Luo neighbours. Some seasonal markets emerged which enabled traders to meet and exchange goods on particular days of the week.

Factors that Facilitated Development of Local Trade

  1. Availability of capital for investments in trade – to generate more wealth.
  2. Specialization and improved technology, e.g. specialization in production, in technology and in marketing. Sometimes people even exchanged their skills for money.
  3. Demand and supply; the growing demand for goods and services was met by increase in supply.
  4. Enterprise; many people began to take greater risk and invested more in trade.
  5. Peace and stability. This enabled people to interact more and hence the growth and expansion of trade.

Impact of Local Trade

  1. There was development of market places which specialized in certain items like pottery, iron tools and baskets. Others specialized in livestock
  2. Local trade helped to strengthen bonds between people in the same locality. It even enhanced intermarriages and other social functions.
  3. Local trade satisfied the requirements of the communities in terms of tools, foodstuffs, medicinal herbs etc.
  4. Local trade enhanced acquisition of new products that a particular community did not produce.
  5. There was an improvement of transport routes. Some markets were strategically located along transport routes.
  6. In centralized governments like Buganda, Bunyoro-Kitara, Mali, Ghana and Wanga, the local markets that developed due to the trade became important sources of revenue for the kingdoms. In Bunyoro-Kitara for example, the Omukama had officers whose duty was to collect taxes from the market places.
  7. Many people were brought together through trade. In Bunyoro–Kitara, communities like the Alur, Acholi, Langi, Basoga, Baganda, Kumani, Iteso and Banyankole interacted through trade. NB; the greatest danger to the local traders was that they risked being attacked by hostile communities and wild animals.

 



Regional Trade

This refers to a type of trade between two distinct geographical regions

Characteristics of Regional Trade

  1. It Takes place within a bigger geographical area.
  2. It Involves intermediaries or middlemen between producers and the buyers.
  3. The trade often covers long distances to and from the market.
  4. It involves people who specialize mainly in trade as their means of livelihood.
  5. Larger Varieties of goods are involved.

In regional trade there existed established markets but goods did not have to be sold on a particular market days like the case of local trade. It also involved large volumes of trade as compared to local trade

Examples of regional trade included

  1. The Trans-Saharan trade
  2. The long-distance trade.

The Trans-Saharan trade

‘Trans’ means across. This was therefore the exchange of goods across the Sahara between the peoples of North Africa (Berbers and Tuaregs) and the people of western Sudan (the darkskinned people who occupy the region south of the Sahara)

The West African kingdoms of Mali, Ghana and Songhai were involved in this trade.

Development of the Trans-Saharan Trade. (8th-16thc AD)

Factors that led to the development of the trans-Saharan trade

  1. Demand for West African good such as gold, slaves and kola nuts by the North Africans and for North African goods like horses, cotton cloth and weapons by the west Sudan people.
  2. Existence of rich merchants in the region, such as the Berbers and Tuaregs, who provided capital for investment in the trade/ availability of capital.
  3. Existence of Local trade in the western Sudan belt and among the barbers and Tuaregs provided a base for the regional trade.
  4. Existence of the Tuaregs, who provided security to traders, guided them through the deserts and maintained some water points like the oases where the Berber merchants watered their camels and rested before continuing with their journey to and from western Sudan.
  5. Availability of well established trade routes across the desert which made it easy for the traders to travel.
  6. Existence of Kings in western Sudan like Mansa Musa of Mali and Askia Muhamed of Songhai who provided protection to traders, ensured peace and political stability.
  7. Availability of pack animals like the camel and the horse which enabled easy movement through the desert. The camel could carry heavy loads and travel long distances without water.
  8. Existence of oases which became a source of water during the travels, for the camels and the traders.
  9. Invasion of North Africa by the Arabs and their eventual settlement led to increase in the volume of trade.
  10. There were also vast trade goods like gold, palm oil and ivory. This stimulated the development of trans-Saharan trade.

 

The trade goods in the Trans-Saharan Trade

From western Sudan;

  1. Gold- this was by far the most important commodity that originated from the wangara region, Bornu, Upper Senegal and upper Niger.
  2. Slaves- they were forcefully captured and later used as soldiers and labourers in the Arab world.
  3. Kola nuts and feathers. Monopoly of the Hausa traders from Kano region.
  4. Hides and skins- from Hausa land for making leather clothing and shoes.
  5. Ivory- originated from western belt mainly from cote d’ivore.
  6. Gum- from Mauritania and Senegal
  7. Dyed cloth and pepper

From the north

  1. Salt- from Taghaza, Taodeni, Bilma and Ghadames.
  2. Horses- from Tripoli were on demand among the political leaders and their soldiers.
  3. Glassware, beads, mirrors, perfumes, spices, dried fruits, needles, firearms, daggers and cowrie shells.

Organization of the Trans-Saharan Trade

Beginning of Trans-Saharan Trade was due to the fact that North Africa was rich in the salt that West Africa lacked while West Africa was rich in gold. The Trans-Saharan trade led to an exchange of salt for gold. The trade was between people of the western Sudan and Arabs from North Africa. Because of the long distance involved, the traders had to organize themselves very well. Traders travelled in large caravans of camels and traders to enhance their security. The rich traders from North Africa initiated the trade. They provided trade goods, camels and horses to middlemen who coordinated the trade.

The middlemen would contact desert guides known as takshifs who also acted as desert guards. They protected the traders and guarded the oases in the Sahara. The Tuaregs also provided the traders with security and acted as interpreters. The caravans usually departed from the north after the rainy season when sandstorms would subside for smooth travel. The traders made stops at the oases to refresh themselves and let their camels drink water. They carried gifts for leaders of the communities along the route to appease them and as reciprocation for security while traveling through their kingdoms. Rulers of western Sudan offered service to the traders while they were in the territory. The trade was conducted in barter/ exchanging one good for another/ silent trade. Some of the caravan traders used agents who sold goods on their behalf in the interim period between their departure back to the north until the time they came back to western Sudan. The rulers of western Sudan controlled trade/regulated amount of gold to be sold. The traders paid taxes to the kings of western Sudan. The main items of trade were gold and salt i.e. from the west came gold, ivory, slaves, ostrich feathers, leather, kola nuts and pepper. From the north came salt, horses, weapons, iron implements, clothes, silk and beads. Arabs and Berbers financed the trade.The traders followed fairly defined route.

The most important routes were as follows;

  1. A route Starting at Sijilmasa (an oasis) in Morocco through Taghaza (a desert town with a lot of salt) and ended at Andaghost in western Sudan.
  2. A route starting in Tunis and passing through Ghadames, Ghat, Agades and Gao. Then it passed through Hausaland, Gonja and eventually ended at Yorubaland in modern Nigeria.
  3. A route beginning at Sijilmasa and passing through Timbuktu before proceeding to Gao.
  4. A route beginning at Tripoli passing through Fezzan and eventually ending at Bornu in the Sudan Belt.

Challenges Faced by the Trans-Saharan Traders

  1. There was Communication barrier due to lack of a common language for transactions. This was a challenge during the pioneer years.
  2. Traveling long distances for many months, usually up to three months, across the desert was tedious and stressful.
  3. Traveling under extreme weather conditions; too hot during the day and too cold at night.
  4. Scarcity of water and food during the journeys. The traders suffered serious sickness due to such extreme weather variations.
  5. There were constant Attacks by hostile communities who sometimes robbed them of their merchandize.
  6. Traders were sometimes attacked by insects like scorpions and wild animals.
  7. The traders sometimes suffered from Loss of direction due to the vastness of the desert.
  8. Exposure to frequent sandstorms which killed many traders.
  9. Sometimes wars between kingdoms disrupted trade.

Impact of the Trans-Saharan Trade

Positive impact;

  1. The trade stimulated the emergence of urban centres along the trade routes. Towns like Taghaza and Timbuktu developed due to the production of trade commodities like salt and gold respectively.
  2. Profits from the trade stimulated the growth of strong empires as the kings levied taxes on the caravan traders. Examples of such empires include Mali, Ghana and Songhai.
  3. Introduction of horses in the western Sudan belt led to strengthening of the state armies as horses were used by the armies to boost security in the region.
  4. A class of wealthy traders emerged in western Sudan. These were mainly the local merchants who interacted with the merchants from North Africa.
  5. The trade stimulated the emergence and growth of smithing technology and industry.
  6. The trade led to the introduction of iron tools in wider areas of western Sudan. This boosted agricultural production in western Sudan and ensured food security in the area.
  7. There was population increase in western Sudan due to increased food production as a result of better farming tools.
  8. It also enhanced contacts between North Africa and the Sudan belt. This facilitated the spread of European goods and ideas between the peoples of the two regions.
  9. The trade facilitated the spread of Islamic religion in the Sudan belt. For example, the Hausa traders were converted to Islam.
  10. There was introduction of the Islamic system of education in the Sudan belt. The University of Timbuktu for example, teaching mainly Islamic syllabus, was one of the institutions that emerged as a result of the trade.
  11. Sharia law was introduced in the states that accepted Islam in western Sudan.
  12. The trade led to the introduction of the Arabic architectural designs in West Africa.
  13. The Islamic and Arabic culture-language, mode of dressing and eating mannerisms also spread to western Sudan.
  14. The mode of transport in the region was remarkably revolutionized by the introduction of camels and horses making transport efficient.

Negative impacts

  1. The trade increased warfare in the region as communities gained access to firearms and horses. Thousands of people lost their lives.
  2. Many people in the western Sudan belt were captured and taken into slavery to meet the demands of the trans-Saharan traders.
  3. The demand for ivory also led to the destruction of wildlife in western Sudan.

Decline of the Trans-Saharan Trade.

The trade reached its climax at around AD 8th c. by 15th c, the trade had declined due to the following reasons;

  1. Exhaustion of the salt and gold minefields as well as other like ivory. This discouraged traders from coming to West Africa.
  2. Increased political instability in the region due to so many wars of conquest created insecurity to the traders.
  3. The desert conditions e.g. harsh weather, dangerous insects, snakes and robbers discouraged many traders from the activity.
  4. Invasion of the region by the almorarids and the Tuaregs increased insecurity even more along the trade routes. Hence traders discontinued their involvement.
  5. Moroccan invasion of western Sudan in the 16 th century undermined the trade.
  6. The growth of the trans-Atlantic trade attracted some of the trans-Saharan traders thus reducing the volume of commodities that were sold.
  7. Colonization of west and North Africa by Europeans who took over the resources hence African activities were undermined.
  8. Invasion of North Africa by the ottoman Turks created insecurity along the caravan routes leading to decline of the trade.
  9. Anti-slave trade pressure from the British and eventual abolition of slave trade reduced trade profits.
  10. The establishment of commercial ports on the western African coast and the use of navigable rivers by the 16 th century AD rendered caravan trade unpopular as it was slow, cumbersome and risky.


International Trade

This is a type of trade that involves the exchange of goods between different countries in one continent or beyond the continent.

Examples of international trade include

  1. The Indian Ocean trade
  2. The trans-Atlantic trade.

The Trans-Atlantic Trade

The trans-Atlantic trade involved Europe, Africa and the Americas thus earning it the name Triangular trade. It was also called the trans-Atlantic slave trade because it involved crossing the Atlantic and the main commodity was slaves. The trade was fueled by the technological innovations especially in Spain and Portugal which facilitated sea transport. The trade happened at a time when the Europeans were keen on expanding overseas (15 th and 16 th c AD) for the following reasons;

  1. They were searching for the sea route to India and Far East to get the spices and other commodities. The Turks had blocked the land route.
  2. The Europeans wanted to acquire gold and other precious items that believed to be in existence in Africa.
  3. The Europeans wanted to revenge against the Muslims who had colonized the Iberian Peninsula between 8 th c and 1491 AD.
  4. They were motivated by the desire to spread their civilization to the backward areas of the world.
  5. European countries such as Portugal and Spain also wanted to increase their geographical knowledge.

Origin of the Trans-Atlantic Trade

The exact date when the first slave was captured and sold was 1441 AD. Young Portuguese sailor named Ahtam Goncalvez captured a man and a woman on the Western Sahara coast whom he presented to Prince Henry the Navigator, the Portuguese king, thus setting off a chain of reaction in the trade. The Portuguese built a fort on the Arguin Island on the coast of Mauritania in 1445 which was used as a base for buying slaves and Gold. The suppliers of the slaves at the fort were the Moors. The Portuguese ventured into the gold coast in search of gold in 1471. They built a fort at Elmina in 1482.The Portuguese then established trading contacts with the king of Congo who even accepted Christianity and Portuguese culture. (He baptized his son Afonso Bemba Nzinga)

By 1500AD, the Portuguese established sugar plantations in the island of Sao Tome near modern Gambia. They relied on slave labour from Gambia.

Development and Organization of Trans-Atlantic Slaves.

The demand for labor in the western hemisphere stimulated a profitable three-legged trading pattern. European manufactured goods, namely cloth and metal wares, especially firearms, went to Africa where they were exchanged for slaves. The slaves were then shipped to the Caribbean and Americas from 1532 AD, where they were sold for cash or sometimes bartered for sugar or molasses. Then the ships returned to Europe loaded with American products. European ports of Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow in Britain, Bordeaux and Nantes in France, and Amsterdam in Holland were crucial in this trade.

The forts that developed in West Africa due to this trade were Elmina, Lagos, Whydah, Accra, Badagri, Sekondi, Winneba, Goree and Dakar. In the 16 th c, the Portuguese emerged as the main suppliers of slaves to Spanish colonies, having been granted special licenses, asientos, by the Spanish monarchy. African slaves were more preferred by Europeans because;

  1. They were available in large numbers.
  2. They were found to be cheaper to use than European labouerers and American Indians.
  3. They were thought to be immune to both European and tropical diseases.
  4. They appeared stronger and therefore suitable for manual labour.

The Dutch were among the first European nations to compete the Portuguese in slave trade. For example in 1630, they wrestled the Elmina Fort from the Portuguese and captured Luanda in 1641. They were supplying slaves to new sugar plantations in the British Colony of Barbados and the French Caribbean colonies of Martinique of Guadalupe.

The British and the French used merchant companies to conduct the slave trade having been motivated by the fortunes the Dutch were making. e.g, the Royal African Company was granted charter in 1672 and began taking colonies to the British colony in Jamaica.

The original capture of slaves was almost always violent. As European demand grew, African chieftains organized raiding parties to seize individuals from neighboring societies. Others launched wars specifically for the purpose of capturing slaves

Factors that Facilitated the Acquisition of Slaves

  1. Existence of the institution of slavery in West Africa where the war captives, adulters, witches, the weak, debtors and murderers were enslaved
  2. Availability of firearms to precipitate warfare and capture of the conquered as slaves.
  3. Existence of well defined trade routes easily used by the slave merchants to access the interior slave markets.
  4. The great demand for slaves in the New World (Latin America) and North America.

Ways of Obtaining Slaves

  1. Selling of domestic slaves in exchange for goods like beads, guns, glass etc
  2. Selling of criminals, debtors and social misfits in society by the local chiefs to the Arab slave traders.
  3. Prisoners of war could be sold off.
  4. Porters were sometimes kidnapped, transported and sold off to the Arab traders.
  5. Raiding villages, this would begin at night with gun shots and people would scatter consequently leading to their capture.
  6. Through inter tribal wars many Africans become destitutes and these would be captured by the slave traders.
  7. Tax offenders were sold off by the African chiefs.
  8. They were also captured through ambushes during hunting, travelling and gardening.
  9. Slaves would be acquired from the main slave trade market in Zanzibar.
  10. Other Africans are also said to have gone voluntarily in anticipation of great wonders and benefits from the new world. Following capture, slaves were force- marched to the coast to holding pens where they were oiled and fed ready for inspection, before being loaded on ships. Prices of slaves depended on sex, age and size.The slaves were bartered for guns, alcohol, gun-powder, cloth and different metals.

Two Trading Systems were Used

  1. Factory system where political authorities allowed Europeans to establish permanent coastal baracoons or fortresses where slaves were kept in bulk as they awaited shipment. This method was only used by chartered companies as it was expensive. It was also only viable in Dahomey where slaves were in large numbers.
  2. Private trading. Sailing with vessels down the coast, and then stopping at different points to purchase slaves until there was enough cargo. The slaves were branded before loading them into the ships ready for the trans-Atlantic journey which was called the “Middle Passage”. The ships were filthy, hot, and crowded. By 1654, some 8,000-10,000 Africans each year were undergoing the Middle Passage. The moment of sailing is described as the most traumatic. Many Africans revolted during the middle passage in a bid to escape. For some jumping overboard was more preferable than their ‘blood being turned into red wine, bones into gunpowder, skins, into black leather shoes and flesh -the Whiteman’s meat’ as they believed.

Dangers of Middle Passage

  1. Suicide
  2. Disease
  3. The mortality rate averaged between 13 and 33 percent of the slaves and the crew. “If the Atlantic were to dry up it would reveal a scattered pathway of human bones marking the various routes of the Middle Passage.”.

Factors which Led to the Development of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

  1. Increased demand for slave labour by European countries led them to West Africa where they were available in large numbers.
  2. Greater preference for African slaves by the slave traders since they were thought to be more strong and resistant to tropical disease and could cope with stress easily.
  3. West Africa had well defined interior routes which enabled establishment of earlier strong trade links by the Europeans. There were also vast trade goods like gold, palm oil and ivory. This stimulated the development of trans-Atlantic trade.
  4. African chiefs had developed a taste for European goods like cloths, firearms and glass enabling exchange for slaves, gold ivory and palm oil. There was also existence of the institution of slavery in West African communities.
  5. The introduction of firearms facilitated the capture of slaves and hence their increased supply.
  6. The exploitation of minerals and establishment of plantations in the Americas pushed demand for slaves to higher levels hence trade with the region expanded.
  7. The increased demand for raw materials to feed the growing industries in Europe led to increased demand for slaves in cotton farms in the Americas.
  8. The rivalry between the Portuguese and the Spaniards and with the Britons over the control of slave trade pushed the trade to a higher new level.
  9. The fact the trade was very lucrative led to its further expansion.
  10. Improved technology which meant ability to construct greater capacity ships. This enhanced transportation of more slaves from West Africa and thus development of the trade .

Impact of Trans-Atlantic Trade on the People of West Africa

  1. It caused immense suffering to many people.
  2. It led to forced emigration of about 10 million people to the Americas between 1500 and 1888.
  3. Many slaves died between capture and arrival to their destinations.
  4. Depopulation occurred in areas where slaves were taken from. This led to underdevelopment since the young and productive people were taken away.
  5. African traditional industries were destroyed by the sale of cheap manufactured goods from Europe.
  6. There was increased conflict between communities especially where the gun was used. This led to destruction of property during the inter-community wars.
  7. Many African communities were weakened and were left unprepared for the scramble and partition of Africa which soon followed.
  8. It led to rise and growth of states e.g. Asante, Dahomey.
  9. It led to founding of Liberia and Sierra Leone as settlements for slaves who were freed.
  10. It led to changes to social roles; women became the heads of their families due to the enslavement of men.
  11. Some African cultures spread to the Americas e.g Jazz Music and samba dancing styles of Brazil and even witchcraft.
  12. The trade led to the rise of the mullato population. E.g in Senegal, where they are mainly found in Goree and Dakar, as a result of the intermingling between the European traders and the African women.
  13. It contributed to the decline of the trans-Saharan trade and the colonization of West Africa.

Economic Impacts of Slave Trade

  1. It led to introduction of new (manufactured) goods in West Africa which undermined many indigenous technologies like smithing and medicine.
  2. Africa was depleted of her vital manpower that was greatly needed in agriculture and defence. This led to economic retardation.
  3. Destruction of African property during the slave raids.
  4. Led to the eventual decline of the Trans Atlantic trade at its abolition.
  5. Stimulated development of ports in West Africa and in Europe.
  6. African leaders accumulated a lot of wealth e.g Dahomey, jaja, Asantehene.
  7. It led to development of European economies. A number of large cities grew along the coastal ports. For example Glasgow, Bordeaux Liverpool and Nantes.
  8. Growth of industrialization in Europe as the slave labour ensured constant flow of raw materials into the industries.
  9. Some of the slave dealers accumulated enormous wealth. For example, the merchants like Barclays Brothers and sailing companies like Lloyds.
  10. The trade led to the expansion of plantation farming in USA (cotton and sugar plantations) which relied on slave labour.

Decline of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

In 1807, the British government made a decision to abolish slave trade.

Factors that led to the abolition of slave trade;

  1. Rise of humanitarians in Europe such as Christians and scholars condemned it on moral grounds. The missionaries wanted it to be stopped because they wanted good conditions for the spread of Christianity. The formation of the humanitarian movements in England aimed at stopping all kinds of cruelty including slave trade, flogging of soldiers and child labour.
  2. Industrialization in Britain was one of the main forces behind the abolition E.g. Britain industrialists urged its abolition because they wanted Africans to be left in Africa so that Africa can be a source of raw materials for their industries, market for European manufactured goods and a place for new investment of surplus capital.Formation of Anti-slavery movement and the abolitionist movement in 1787. Its chairman was Granville Sharp and others like Thomas Clarkson, William Wilberforce who gathered facts and stories about the brutality of slave trade and slavery to arouse public opinion in Britain.
  3. The attainment of independence by USA in 1776 left Britain in a dilemma since she had no colonies where she would take the slaves to work.
  4. The French revolution of 1789 and the American revolution of 1776 emphasized liberty, equality and fraternity (brotherhood) of all human beings. As a result, people began to question whether anyone had a right to deprive fellow man of his liberty when he had done wrong.
  5. The British desire to protect their national interests, British planters wanted slave trade stopped to avoid competition with other European planters. This is because other planters were producing cheaper sugar, British sugar accumulated hence the need to stop over production.
  6. The closure of the American slave market after the defeat of the South American states in the American civil war of 1865 left the slave dealers with no market for their slaves.
  7. The rise of leading London economists with new ideas e.g. Prof. Adam Smith(challenged the economic arguments which were the basis of slave trade when he argued convincingly that hired labour is cheaper and more productive than slave labour, Rousseau spread the idea of personal liberty and equality of all men.
  8. Influential abolitionists like William Wilberforce (a British member of parliament) urged the British government to legislate against the slave trade in her colonies. They in turn influenced public opinion against slave trade.
  9. The ship owners stopped transporting slaves from Africa and began transporting raw materials directly from Africa and America to Europe, which led to a decline in slave trade.

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