the life of a slave on a slave ship

The Middle Passage Slave Trade

The middle passage

Crossing the Atlantic from Africa was called the 'Middle Passage' of the 'triangular trade'. It often took two months, during which time the slave ship sailed alone. A slave revolt on board was the greatest fear of the small crew of the ship. To keep control, they carried pistols and cutlasses. They often whipped the slaves with a 'cat o' nine tails' for the slightest wrong. The men were separated from the women and children by a high wooden wall. They were always kept shackled with iron leg chains.

the life of a slave on a ship

Many slaves became seasick or developed diarrhea. Unable to move because they were chained into their positions, the slave's deck became a stinking mass of human waste. Slaves who had developed sores where their chains had rubbed their skin, had festering wounds often with maggots eating away their flesh. Conditions on the slave ships were so bad that many slaves decided they would prefer to die and tried to starve themselves by refusing to eat or by jumping overboard. However, slaves that would not eat were whipped or force fed and the traders and ship owners began fixing nets to the sides of the boat so that the slaves could not jump overboard. Slaves had no choice but to endure the horrific conditions.