2. Effects on people - slaves

Great Britain's textile industry was booming, and the demand for cotton for the new machines grew rapidly. Remember, Britain had an Empire, consisting of colonies around the world, from Africa to Asia. Wealthy colonists soon saw the riches that could be gained creating cotton plantations in places like the Americas and the West Indies. Wealthy members of the new middle classes and upper classes also craved new products like coffee, sugar, chocolate and tobacco. These needed warm climates to grow - and the British Empire had control of some warm places!

Next, vast numbers of workers were needed. Europe had for many years been taking people by force from places in Africa and the West Indies. This trade now grew.

Many merchants, traders, bankers and business men and their families made enormous wealth through this, and often lived in luxury. We know the lives of many white workers - including children - were very hard; the lives of slaves were arguably worse.

Watch this video [Crash Course with John Greeen]

This video looks at the British slavers and their justification of this cruel human trafficking.

The map below shows the way goods and slaves moved across the Atlantic Ocean during the early years of the Industrial Revolution.

The diagram of the ship shows how many slaves were housed on the 'middle passage' journey from Africa to the new colonies and their plantations.

Detailed explanation


File:Triangle trade2.png
File:Triangle trade2.png

Write notes about the experiences of slaves.
The websites provides lots of sources - letters, journals and diary entries, sketches and diagrams, eye-witness accounts, that give a historian evidence about these events.

1. Kidnapped and sold in West Africa.
This is a really useful site.

2. Enduring 'the middle passage'. Look here [begin at 13 minutes]
3. Sold at auction - look here. Read this sad account of one huge
auction of slaves.
4. the working lives of slaves - look here


Slavery was embedded in the economic and financial life of Great Britain and Europe. Through slavery, many made enormous fortunes. The profits made through the triangular trade route were often spent on investment in the new machines and factories, as this page explains. Thus the rich and powerful were very resistant to any change. To understand their arguments for slavery - look here. Salve auction scene enacted

However, this did not stop the growing number of voices who protested about slavery and sought to have it abolished. In the mid 18th century a small handful of christians lobbied for an end to slavery and were easily defeated. But years of organised campaigning eventually saw hundreds of thousands of British citizens join the call for an end to the slave trade. Significant rebellions in the Carribean by slaves, also caused unrest. The bill to end slavery was passed in 1807. Further campaigning also led to the freedom for slaves across the British Empire, when a Bill to ban all slavery was passed in 1833. Read about the Abolition movement - here and explore the rest of the images at this site. This site also has great information and sources

This is an interactive site which you can explore for more detail, and to research an area of interest.