The middle passage was the journey of the slave ships from the west coast of Africa, across the Atlantic, to North America.This voyage is referred to as the middle passage because it was the middle leg of a trade route that developed between North America, Europe, and Africa.Slaves would be traded in the Americas for goods which in turn would be shipped to Europe.The ship would then head back south to Africa and pick up slaves to start the whole process over again.The middle passage is known for much more than just the middle leg of this trans-Atlantic trade route, however.It was the most dangerous and difficult part of the journey for both the ship and crew but especially for the Africans.
As slaves were captured or traded for in the slave camps on the coast of West Africa they would be held in large pens.When a ship docked, the crew would begin loading slaves into the hold.The process could take weeks before the ship was full enough to leave.During that time many slaves waited in the hold of the ship they would be traveling on.Most crews would pack the slaves as tight as they could to maximize profits on the voyage.During the voyages, life for the slaves was intolerable.When the weather was good the slaves would be brought up on the deck for some exercise, they would be required to jump up and down to the rhythm of an African drum or metal kettle.The men wore large metal shackles on their ankles, they often ended up with bleeding ankles.The women and children, who were not bound, enjoyed the dancing a lot more than life on the "tween decks." Food and water were scarce and sanitation was non-existent in the slave holds or "tween decks" as they were referred to.Often these holds, which were teeming in filth, were breeding grounds for all types of disease.Many slaves died during the voyage of the middle passage, if not for the harshness of the conditions, then b