The collection on slavery > The history of slavery

Between 1500 and 1850, an estimated total of twenty millions Africans were taken from their villages; somewhat more than half of them ended on the plantations and in the mines of North and South America and in the Caribbean islands. Enticed by the prospect of making good profits  , African traffickers drove people from the interior to the west and central African coast in order to sell them to English, French, Dutch and other traders. Conditions on board slave ships and on the plantations were appalling.

Slave shackle

Some 600,000 Africans were transported on board Dutch slave ships, most of them to Surinam and destinations like the Antilles, Guyana, Brazil etc, which the Netherlands had temporarily colonized at the time. The rest of slaves were resold to buyers in North America and, for the greater part, in South America. None of them ever returned to Africa. In spite of continuous revolts of many different kinds, the Dutch did not abolish slavery until 1863, long after freedom and equality had become generally accepted values in Western Europe.

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