Summary Objective 4

Students will be able to demonstrate the impact of slavery on the economies of French, British and Spanish North America. Maps to Key Concepts 2, 4, 6, 8, 9 & 10


What else should my students know?

4.A Enslaved labor produced the major agricultural exports of the colonial era including tobacco, rice and indigo.

4.B England’s West Indian sugar colonies produced more than three times as much revenue as the southern colonies and more than five times as much revenue as the economies of the northern colonies.

4.C Participation in slavery and the slave trade was not limited to southern colonies; the English in the Middle Colonies and New England were also involved. Northern merchants shipped foodstuffs, lumber and other necessities in exchange for rice, sugar and molasses produced by enslaved people.

4.D In Catholic colonies like Spanish Florida and French Louisiana, the Catholic Church and the law sometimes offered pathways to freedom or limited protection to the enslaved. 


How can I teach this?

  • The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University has developed a curriculum and resources on its site A Forgotten History: The Slave Trade and Slavery in New England.
  • The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database maps the destinations of the ships of the Middle Passage and allows users to search voyages based on data including (but not limited to) origin, destination or date.
  • The Triangular Trade is one way to discuss northern colonies’ complicity in slavery and the slave trade. Fish and foodstuffs from northern colonies were traded to the West Indies to feed the enslaved population. In return, northern merchants brought home sugar and molasses produced by the enslaved population. That sugar and molasses were distilled into rum in northern distilleries. Northern enslavers and traders sent some of that rum to West Africa, where it was exchanged for enslaved Africans. Those enslaved Africans were sold to the West Indies and mainland British North America. The Crispus Attucks Museum has a useful graphic depicting the Triangular Trade.
  • When studying the culture of slavery in Catholic colonies, the Code Noir (the set of French laws regulating slavery in Louisiana before the Louisiana Purchase) is a useful resource.

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