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Extending the Frontiers

Extending the Frontiers: Essays on the New Transatlantic Slave Trade Database

David Eltis
David Richardson
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    Extending the Frontiers
    Book Description:

    Since 1999, intensive research efforts have vastly increased what is known about the history of coerced migration of transatlantic slaves. A huge database of slave trade voyages from Columbus's era to the mid-nineteenth century is now available on an open-access Web site, incorporating newly discovered information from archives around the Atlantic world. The groundbreaking essays in this book draw on these new data to explore fundamental questions about the trade in African slaves. The research findings-that the size of the slave trade was 14 percent greater than had been estimated, that trade above and below the equator was largely separate, that ports sending out the most slave voyages were not in Europe but in Brazil, and more-challenge accepted understandings of transatlantic slavery and suggest a variety of new directions for important further research.

    For the most complete database on slave trade voyages ever compiled, visit

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15174-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiii)
  6. Map of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, 1501–1867
    (pp. xiv-xvi)
  7. Chapter 1 A New Assessment of the Transatlantic Slave Trade
    (pp. 1-60)
    David Eltis and David Richardson

    The transatlantic slave trade was the largest transoceanic forced migration in history. Peoples throughout time had been forced to relocate in response to natural disaster, military defeat, or exhaustion of resources. Not quite as old was the forced movement of individuals to be sold in markets far removed from their homelands. Wherever slavery existed, and there were few parts of the globe where it was unknown, a slave trade was usually necessary to sustain the long-term viability of the institution. But at the start of the sixteenth century, the shipment of a few slaves from the Iberian Peninsula to the...

  8. Part I: Origins and Destinations

    • Chapter 2 The Foundations of the System: A Reassessment of the Slave Trade to the Spanish Americas in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
      (pp. 63-94)
      António de Almeida Mendes

      In several senses the slave trade to the Spanish Americas in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was the foundation stone of 350 years of forced migration from Africa to the Americas. It was the first major branch of the transatlantic traffic, and it probably retained this premier position in the aftermath of the beginning of the slave trade to Brazil—at least until 1640, when the Portuguese withdrew as the major carriers of slaves to the Spanish Americas. Even after this, the Spanish Americas continued as a major slave market for many years, but for the century and a half...

    • Chapter 3 The Slave Trade to Pernambuco, 1561–1851
      (pp. 95-129)
      Daniel Barros Domingues da Silva and David Eltis

      Historians know less about the slave trade to Pernambuco than about any other major branch of the traffic. A more or less continual slave trade began here very early, probably in 1560, and ended very late, in 1851. During these three centuries, few years passed without several hundred slaves arriving. Thousands of slave voyages were organized in and left from the port, and hundreds of thousands of slaves disembarked there. The hinterland of the port was the bridgehead in the Americas for the sugar complex and remained the world’s leading sugar-producing area for several decades. Two hundred and fifty years...

    • Chapter 4 The Transatlantic Slave Trade to Bahia, 1582–1851
      (pp. 130-154)
      Alexandre Vieira Ribeiro

      The pace of research on the transatlantic slave trade has accelerated recently, a pattern that perhaps derives from an increasing awareness of the importance of the topic for understanding societies on both sides of the Atlantic. The impact of the slave trade on African societies is central to understanding precolonial African history, and the enormous number of Africans who disembarked in the New World helped to shape the new societies of the Americas. In the Portuguese Americas, quite apart from the social and cultural ramifications of the trade itself, African slaves constituted the main labor force of a complex economic...

    • Chapter 5 The Origins of Slaves Leaving the Upper Guinea Coast in the Nineteenth Century
      (pp. 155-175)
      Philip Misevich

      Although the Atlantic slave trade has captured the popular imagination for centuries and attracted much scholarly attention since the 1960s, details of its workings on the African continent remain less clear than for the Americas. This chapter seeks to contribute to the understanding of the African end of the slave trade through an analysis of the Registers of Liberated Africans in conjunction with the revised edition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database (TSTD2). The linguistic identification of nearly 1,000 African names in these registers makes possible a partial reconstruction of the geographic origins of slaves embarked on vessels trading along...

    • Chapter 6 The African Origins of Slaves Arriving in Cuba, 1789–1865
      (pp. 176-202)
      Oscar Grandío Moráguez

      The legacy of the Atlantic slave trade continues to be one of the strongest influences over the evolution of identity in the Americas. The largest forced migration in human history uprooted more than 12 million Africans from their home communities and scattered them throughout the Americas.¹ A lot of information is now available, both about the slave trade and about slave experiences in the Americas. Much less is known, however, about the ethnicity of the African peoples who came to the Americas as slaves, and we know much less again about how these people became captives in Africa, and why...

  9. Part II: National Slave Trades

    • Chapter 7 The Significance of the French Slave Trade to the Evolution of the French Atlantic World before 1716
      (pp. 205-227)
      James Pritchard, David Eltis and David Richardson

      The transatlantic slave trade carried on by the most powerful nation of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe presents a striking paradox. It is the best documented of all the national slave trades after the Treaty of Utrecht; before 1714, by contrast, we have only fragmentary information about French slaving activities. Historians have recognized this paucity but have still argued that early French slave trading “was formative and displayed all the major characteristics of its eighteenth century successor.”¹ Paul Hair has documented more than one voyage a year from Le Havre alone declaring for Sierra Leone and the Americas between 1571 and...

    • Chapter 8 The Dutch in the Atlantic World: New Perspectives from the Slave Trade with Particular Reference to the African Origins of the Traffic
      (pp. 228-249)
      Jelmer Vos, David Eltis and David Richardson

      The historiography of Dutch overseas expansion often appears to embody two somewhat inconsistent positions. Among mainly Dutch scholars, certainly until recently, the Dutch role in Asia has received the most attention and has been seen as far more important than its Atlantic counterpart.¹ In Asia the Dutch displaced the Portuguese relatively quickly, and from the late sixteenth century dispatched large volumes of people (albeit less than half of them Dutch and few of them female) as well as capital to establish an informal empire of trade unrivaled in European terms until the development of British India. Many non-Dutch scholars, by...

    • Chapter 9 The Slave Trade of Northern Germany from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth Centuries
      (pp. 250-272)
      Andrea Weindl

      Throughout the seventeenth century, the transatlantic slave trade of the northern European states was largely organized by national companies, but the history of slaving activities by these companies cannot properly be told in national terms alone. Early modern intercontinental trade involved participation in global markets, and the financial capital for such trade transcended national boundaries and institutions. Consequently, it is sometimes difficult to discuss the slave trade purely in terms of national flags. German slave traders played at most a minor part in the history of the transatlantic slave trade. We know that subjects of the German states were employed...

  10. Part III: Some Wider Consequences and Implications of the New Data

    • Chapter 10 The Slave Trade, Colonial Markets, and Slave Families in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, ca. 1790–ca. 1830
      (pp. 275-312)
      Manolo Florentino

      Four out of every ten African slaves who disembarked in the Americas were imported by Brazil, yet the history of the African slave trade in Brazil is perhaps the least known among all the large-scale trade routes of the modern era. For this reason, the production ofThe Transatlantic Slave Trade: An Expanded and Online Database(henceforth TSTD2) is auspicious, since it seeks to provide both to specialists and to the interested public research instruments that can illuminate the history of the African diaspora in the Americas. It is especially gratifying that much of the new material embodied in TSTD2...

    • Chapter 11 The Suppression of the Slave Trade and Slave Departures from Angola, 1830s–1860s
      (pp. 313-334)
      Roquinaldo Ferreira

      Approximately 1.3 million Africans were taken to the Americas between the 1830s and the 1860s—the last three decades of the slave trade. By then most of the slave trade focused on Central Africa, and the number of African regions shipping significant number of slaves to the Americas was fewer than it had been in the eighteenth century. Embarkations of slaves from Senegambia were already relatively small and decreased further in the last decades of the slave trade. On the Gold Coast, the British withdrawal from Atlantic slaving in 1807 had an immediate impact on slave exports. In the Bight...

    • Chapter 12 The Demographic Decline of Caribbean Slave Populations: New Evidence from the Transatlantic and Intra-American Slave Trades
      (pp. 335-364)
      David Eltis and Paul Lachance

      The inability of slave populations to sustain their numbers without constant replenishment from outside sources is one of the most widely accepted ideas among scholars of slavery, as well as being of great underlying significance. Parts of the North American mainland after 1720, and the whole of mainland North America by 1800, are often cited as having the only societies in the history of slavery where the enslaved maintained their numbers without augmentation from new coerced immigrants. Slave registration data in the British Caribbean and more problematic census information from mid-nineteenth-century Cuba have enabled scholars to add Barbados, Antigua, and...

  11. List of Contributors
    (pp. 365-366)
  12. Index
    (pp. 367-377)