Spanish Influence and Colonization in The New World: What you Need to Know , Continued

Slavery was a part of the West African economy well before the Europeans began using them in the Americas. The Spanish were using slaves on their Canary Island sugar plantations and continued to do so in South America. When Christopher Columbus’ son, Diego Colon, told the king of Spain that he needed more men to work the fields, the king sent him 50 African slaves. Eventually a continuous flow of slaves were brought across the Atlantic from Africa until hundreds were brought at a time.   Slaves were brought to the Americas in large ships as part of what was called Triangular Trade. It was called Triangular Trade because it included three legs of a sea journey as shown in the diagram below.

Cycle showing Trade

The African slaves fit the needs of the Spanish and Portuguese colonialists in South America much better than the natives. They were stronger and immune to European diseases. Their skin was darker and they were able to withstand the hot sun. Many were accustomed to doing rigorous farm work in Africa. In addition, the African slaves did not know the area, and so had nowhere to run and hide. The use of African slaves in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies set a precedent for slavery in America in the years to come, especially for the colonies in North America.