The middle passage of the Triangle Trade between Europe, Africa, and the Americas carried recently captured men, women, and children from the west coast of Africa to the colonies of the New World. Records indicate that over two million people were forcibly transported across the Atlantic between 1500 and 1700, and only 1.7 million survived the journey. Approximately 266,000 were brought to the Spanish colonies during this time.
The horrors of the Middle Passage are well documented: cramped conditions, lack of food and water, widespread disease, and abuse at the hands of captors all led to a high mortality rate. But traditional historical narratives of the journey tend to leave out the specific horrors faced by female captives. Women and girls were raped by captors and crews. Pregnant women received no special treatment to ensure the health of themselves or their unborn babies, and most women who went into labor while aboard a slave ship lost their lives. Mothers of young children had to struggle twice as hard to ensure not only their own survival but also that of their children, only to be separated at the slave markets when they were sold to different buyers.
The statistics here represent the Middle Passage voyage of the English slave ship James. This voyage represents the larger trend of English ships bringing enslaved people to the Spanish colonies, which was growing into an important partnership at the end of the 1600s.
The seventy-two enslaved people who survived the journey across the Atlantic were probably forced to work on sugar plantations in the Spanish colony of Cuba.
For more records of slaving voyages, visit Voyages: The Atlantic Slave Trade Database.