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What was the death rate for slaves during the Middle Passage?

The death rate for slaves during the Middle Passage is estimated to be between 12% and 20%.

The Middle Passage, a term coined to describe the transatlantic journey of African slaves to the New World, was a horrific ordeal marked by extreme conditions and high mortality rates. The death rate for slaves during this journey is a subject of historical debate, but it is generally estimated to be between 12% and 20%. This means that for every 100 slaves who began the journey, between 12 and 20 would not survive to reach their destination.

The conditions on the slave ships were appalling. Slaves were packed tightly into the ship's hold, often chained together and given minimal space to move. The lack of sanitation, combined with the close quarters and poor nutrition, led to the rapid spread of diseases such as dysentery and smallpox. Many slaves also died from malnutrition and dehydration, as they were often given only enough food and water to keep them alive.

The psychological trauma of the journey also contributed to the high death rate. Many slaves, torn from their homes and families and facing a future of brutal servitude, chose to end their own lives rather than endure the Middle Passage. Others died from the physical abuse inflicted by the crew, or from injuries sustained during the violent rebellions that occasionally broke out on the ships.

The high death rate during the Middle Passage was not only a tragic loss of life, but also a significant economic cost to the slave traders. Despite this, the trade continued for centuries, driven by the high demand for slave labour in the New World. The human cost of the Middle Passage is a stark reminder of the brutal realities of the transatlantic slave trade.

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