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Another peril of the slave trade was the possibility of slave insurrections. Chennai Map It was not uncommon for the captives to organize rebellions on board the ship and attempt to gain their freedom. In 1760, Captain John Nicoll’s ship Agnes fell victim to a slave uprising; the rebellion resulted in Nicoll killing the 40 slaves involved. On the New York schooner the Catherine, slaves on board organized an uprising and took over the ship.

Slaves were traded in the colonies as part of the triangular trade, the three-pronged process of exchanging goods that grew out of the expansion of the European colonies. The triangle began in Africa, where large numbers of ships waited off the coast to receive cargoes of slaves. Captives were purchased for a variety of goods, including guns and gunpowder, cloth, kettles, knives, shells (used as currency), and rum.

Having obtained their cargoes, the slave ships generally sailed for the West Indies, where the slaves were sold and the ships were loaded with cargoes of raw sugar. From there, the ships traveled to New England, where the sugar was sold. New cargoes of rum and manufactured goods were loaded, and, bearing these items that could be exchanged for slaves, the ships then returned to the coast of Africa. In reality, transatlantic trade was not this simple. But the sequence of exchanging manufactured goods for African slaves, whose labor provided the raw materials that went into making items in high demand, generally applies to the colonial slave trade.

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