For European sea captains, the transportation of slaves was "the middle passage" of an established trade route. A trader would sail from Europe carrying goods to pay for slaves in Africa. His next voyage, carrying the slaves, would take him to the West Indies or the North American mainland. There, he would barter the slaves for supplies that commanded high prices in Europe. He would sail back to Europe to sell those supplies. The middle passage was an inhuman ordeal for the slaves. From capture to delivery in the Americas, one slave out of two died. Arriving at the slave markets, the blacks were auctioned off. Most of the markets were in Brazil or the West Indies until the 18th century. The North American colonies usually bought slaves from the West Indies, but after 1700, Charleston, South Carolina, became the major port for slavers' ships.
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