Of all the enslaved Afrikans who survived the dreaded Middle Passage, only a minority came to North America. The vast majority went to Brazil. According to to the conservative estimates of David Eltis and David Richardson, approximately 388,000 Afrikans survived the Middle Passage to eventually land in Britain’s America colonies. After becoming the United States of America, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade officially ended in 1808. However, slavery thrive, nonetheless. This was due to a system of slave breeding. Slave breeding became a common practice among planters as a result of several factors, but the most important was the anticipated impact of the abolition of the slave trade. A second reason grew from fears of rebellion--planters could now breed there own more passive type of slave. Rather than your typical plantation producing a cash crop of corn, sugarcane, tobacco, rice or cotton, some plantation bared the distinction of producing a unique cash crop—a "slave."
After the Louisiana Purchase American slavery expanded westward. Contributing to the growth and expansion of slavery was a new invention by Eli Whitney called the Cotton Engine or Cotton Gin for short. The Cotton Gin made the most difficult and cumbersome part of cotton production, removing the seed from the fiber, a simple mechanical task. The invention revolutionized the cotton industry by increasing fifty-fold the quantity of cotton that could be processed in a day. This with the already growing demand for cotton created an explosion in the demand for labor—slave labor that is. Manumissions decreased almost overnight in the South. To demonstrate the exponential growth in cotton production, in 1815 cotton production was 300,000 bales, by 1820 the amount of bales produced increased to 600,000, and by 1850 it had reached 4,000,000. In poundage it the figures seem more astounding. In 1800, the U.S. produced 35 million pounds of cotton; by 1830, 331 million pounds; and by 1860, 2,275 million pounds.
Ironically, the conditions of enslavement worsened after the colonists gained their freedom, and the years between 1830 and 1860 are often cited as the worst in the history of Afrikan American enslavement, a period which coincided with the expansion of slavery into the Deep South, the growth of cotton production, and the Second Middle Passage. Each contributed to the pejorative state of the peculiar institution.
With the deterioration of the soil due to tobacco production, the Upper South planter remained economically viable. The enslaved in the Upper South became extremely valuable commodities but not from their use as local laborers but as cargo items destined to servitude in the Deep South. In fact, according to Ira Berlin, "the internal slave trade became the largest enterprise in the South outside of the plantation itself . . . .”
Workers required to perform this labor had to be relocated or transported there from the Upper South, where tobacco was king, to the plantations of the Deep South where cotton was quickly becoming king. This Second Middle Passage, known as the domestic or internal slave trade lasted roughly from the 1820s to slavery's end in 1865. By the 1830's Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee were selling 80,000 enslaved Afrikan Americans per year.
Although little is written or spoken about this nefarious trade, estimates approximate that from between 350,000 to one million enslaved Afrikans were involved in the trade. The number of enslaved people required in the new states like Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, increased by an average of 27.5 percent each decade. And the Upper South made sure to capitalize off this increased demand. The price of the enslaved more than tripled, rising from $500 in New Orleans in 1800, to $1,800 by 1860.
How were these enslaved Afrikans transported? Most were transported by slave traders as opposed to their masters. Some traders moved their "chattels" by sea, with Norfolk to New Orleans being the most common route. During the 1840's Richmond became the second largest intrastate and interstate slave trading locality in the U.S. after New Orleans. Others were shipped downriver from such markets as Louisville on the Ohio River, and Natchez on the Mississippi. Many were transported by ships that unloaded at Charleston, South Carolina and New Orleans, Louisiana, where they were marched inland to plantations. Traders created regular migration routes served by a network of slave pens, yards, and warehouses needed as temporary housing for the enslaved. In addition, other vendors provided clothes, food, and supplies for the enslaved. As the trek advanced, some of the enslaved were sold and new ones purchased. Berlin concluded, "In all, the slave trade, with its hubs and regional centers, its spurs and circuits, reached into every cranny of southern society. Few southerners, black or white, were untouched."
Most of the enslaved, however, trekked across land chained together, constituting their own trail of tears. (Incidentally, the actual Trail of Tears experienced by the Native Americans was to make way for the use of their land for cotton production.) By the 1850s enslaved people were even loaded onto trains headed for the Deep South to work cotton and sugar plantations.
There are a number of striking similarities between the First and Second Middle Passages; they differ, however, in magnitude. In the First Middle Passage, the death rate was significantly higher than in the Second, but during the latter's we do witness a marked increase over the normal death rate of the enslaved. The enslaved were ill-fed, received little rest, and not given a clean or adequate supply of water on their long journey. Once they arrived in this new land they had to farm a new crop, work longer hours, and perform back-breaking labor. They had lost all semblance of a life they had had back east. The enslaved were driven much harder than when they had been in growing tobacco or wheat back. They had less time and opportunity to improve the quality of their lives by raising their own livestock or tending vegetable gardens, for either their own consumption or trade, as they could in the east.Their health was diminished, their quality of life was worse and their new lives were drastically different from their old ones. (The work was harder and the pay out was smaller.) While the trip and the experiences directly relating to this transfer, was not as devastating for the enslaved population as the First Middle Passage, but they were similar in that the men, women and children who were forced to walk from North Carolina to Alabama, lives would never be the same.