The Atlantic Slave Trade
A document-based teaching unit
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This teaching unit, complete with student readings and maps, examines the origins of the Atlantic slave trade, the role of both Europeans and Africans, the Middle Passage, and the differences and similarities between slavery in the Americas and Africa. Students examine 17th- and 18th-century documents supporting and opposing the slave trade. These include a 1612 proposal to the King of Portugal regarding slavery, readings from Olaudah Equiano’s classic description of Middle Passage experience, and the work of British reformers seeking to outlaw the trade. Students engage in debates over the legality of slavery using documents from the historical era. A role-playing activity involves them in a mutiny during the Middle Passage.
Lesson 1: Slavery: Definition, Extent, and Justifications
Lesson 2: Enslavement
Lesson 3: The Middle Passage
Lesson 4: Arrival in the Americas
Lesson 5: Ending the Atlantic Slave Trade
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