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For thousands of years, armies at war have taken prisoners. A prisoner might have been a soldier, farmer or artisan who lived in the conquered kingdoms. They were usually made to work for the winning army as slaves. Slaves were used in many kingdoms, such as Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, for labor. Sometimes the kings and other wealthy people in the community had slaves work for them in their homes.
Triangle Trade Route
Between 800 and 1500 AD, countries of Europe began to do a great deal of trading with the nations of Africa. Portuguese, Spanish, English, and Dutch traders were using their boats to sail all around Africa and trading what they bought to people in Europe and Asia.

At first the Europeans went to Africa to trade for gold, other metals, feathers, and ivory tusks. Soon it was discovered that many of the African Rulers would also sell their slaves who were taken to distant places and traded for other supplies. When colonies were settled in the Americas across the Atlantic Ocean they established trade routes with them as well. In 1532 AD, the first slave was taken directly from Africa to the Americas.

The Europeans brought the kings rifles, ammunition, and other goods. Then the African slaves were packed into big sailing ships. The ships took them to the Colonies of America and to the island nations of the Caribbean. They were traded for tobacco, cotton, sugar, and molasses. Then these items were taken to Europe and traded for the guns.

Through this system, called the Triangle Trade Route, perhaps 1012 million people were sold into slavery. It lasted for three hundred years until many countries made it illegal to sell people. In the United States the country had to fight the Civil War (18601865 AD) for the slave trade to finally stop.To this day, because of the slave trade, you find millions of men and women of African decent all over North and South America.

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