Sunday, September 10, 2017

How Many Slaves Landed in the U.S.?

Perhaps you, like me, were raised essentially to think of the slave experience primarily in terms of our black ancestors here in the United States. In other words, slavery was primarily about us, right, from Crispus Attucks and Phillis Wheatley, Benjamin Banneker and Richard Allen, all the way to Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass. Think of this as an instance of what we might think of as African-American exceptionalism. (In other words, if it’s in “the black Experience,” it’s got to be about black Americans.) Well, think again.

Slave Ship
The most comprehensive analysis of shipping records over the course of the slave trade is the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, edited by professors David Eltis and David Richardson. (While the editors are careful to say that all of their figures are estimates, I believe that they are the best estimates that we have, the proverbial “gold standard” in the field of the study of the slave trade.) 

Between 1525 and 1866, in the entire history of the slave trade to the New World, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World. 

10.7 million survived the dreaded Middle Passage, disembarking in North America, the Caribbean and South America.

And how many of these 10.7 million Africans were shipped directly to North America?

Only about 388,000.
That’s right: a tiny percentage.

Article written by:
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

The above article was written for PBS. It was originally posted on The Root, a website created by Professor Gates and others. If his name sounds familiar, in 2009, after a problem with the police at his home, President Obama called what they police did by detaining Professor Gate a "stupid act." The incident resulted in a "Beer Summit" between Gates, the responding Officer, and President Obama. Professor Gates is well respected and a personal friend of former president Obama.


Dear Friends,

One error regarding this article is its title. From 1655 to 1860, slaves were not brought to the United States. In fact, slaves were only brought to the United States from 1776 when we separated from Great Britain to 1860 which was the start of the Civil War. A second error is his reporting that the entire error of the African slave trade took place from 1525 and 1866. In actuality the African slave trade took place from 1516 to 1875.

While the slave trade started in 1516, the first slave ship arrive in North America in 1655. And of the 388,000 that landed in North America between 1655 and 1860, there were 93,185 landed in the United States after we declared our independence from England.

In 1783, our war with Great Britain ended. And 23 years later, in 1806, President Thomas Jefferson banned the import of slaves to the United States. From 1806 to 1860, there were 47,339 slaves that were smuggled into the United States against Federal law prohibited such importation.

America's slave trade legally lasted from 1776 when we declared our independence to 1806. The illegal slave trade, the crime of human trafficking, took place in the United States from 1806 to 1860 when it was a Federal crime to do so. Yes, no different than human trafficking is illegal today.

The figures that I present were taken from the same source which Professor Gates used: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database

Tom Correa
The American Cowboy Chronicles


  1. Where did the rest go? Can you give a source where we can see this for ourselves?

    1. Here is a site that is considered very good as for information. It us the site that the professor used.

    2. From what I've read, the vast majority went to the Caribbean and South America -- especially Brazil.

  2. Replies
    1. From what I've read, the vast majority went to South America and the Caribbean. People forget that the import of slaves was halted by President Thomas Jefferson in 1806. It became a Federal crime to bring slave in. But many don't realize that slaves were in huge demand in South America and the Caribbean, and slaves were bought and shipped out of the U.S. to countries there -- especially Brazil.

  3. Here is a great overview of the exact numbers which were shipped


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