Millions of people enslaved
Although other people, both white and Native American, have been held as slaves in North America, the experience of the African people who were forced to come to North America as slaves was more unusual, because more than half of the people living in slave states were slaves.
How did people become enslaved?
Most of the people who became slaves in North America were from West Africa. You would be living in a village when outsiders attacked and captured you, and then they would sell you to somebody else, who sold you to somebody else.
In the end somebody would sell you to a white man who would keep you in a slave fort on the coast of Africa. Half of the people captured with you died of hunger or sickness, while you were walking to the coast.
The Middle Passage
The ship was terrible – dirty, and stinky, and you were crowded like on a crowded bus, and you had to stay there for two or three months. You wore chains that fastened you to people on either side of you the whole time. You had to lie down because there wasn’t even room to sit up, the ceiling was so low. Almost one out of ten of the people around you got sick and died.
Sometimes people gave up and tried to starve themselves to death, but the sailors beat them or tortured them until they ate something. Sometimes people call this horrible trip the Middle Passage.
Auction in the Americas
Most people in North America went to southern states like Mississippi or Alabama to pick cotton, A few people went further north, to the Carolinas, to plant and pick tobacco and rice and indigo – a blue dye for clothing. But overall most of the slaves went to Brazil or the Caribbean.