English Exercises > past simple exercises > Slavery


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(using the past simple)

Who were they ? Where did they come from ?

Slaves  (be) men, women and children. They  (come) from Africa. People  (capture) them in their villages and they  (force) them to go to the coast and to take ships across the Atlantic oceans to the Americas.

It  (start) at the end of the fourteenth century. The slaves usually  (become) servants at the time. Later, the Europeans  (need) labour to exploit the natural ressources of the new lands, so, they  (import) more slaves from Africa.
The middle passage (crossing the Atlantic)

The slaves  (arrive) at the harbour and they  (not/know) what to expect : no slave ever  (come) back ! They  (be) terrified and  (have) to go on ships : the sailors  (load) them and  (consider) they  (be) goods to be sold. Many  (not/survive) the journey because of the horrific conditions in which they  (cross) the Atlantic : the merchants  (chain) them and the slaves  (have) little room to move. Some of them  (commit) suicide by refusing to eat.



Slave ships  (use) a route called "the middle passage": it  (be) the second part of the "triangular trade". European merchants  (exchange) goods like pots, pans, guns, alcohol and horses to Africa against slaves ; they  (ship) the slaves to the Americas,  (sell) them and  (bring) goods like sugar, cotton, rum, tobacco and coffee back to Europe. Merchants who  (trade) this way  (can) become very rich as American goods  (fetch) a high price in Europe.
Arriving in America

The document is
 a poster      a letter      a postcard      a newspaper article      a poem      a recipe      a definition
What is it about ?
 selling vegetables     a cargo dance      reuniting families      meeting new friends      selling slaves
When was the auction ?
 July 24th, 1769      August 3rd, 1769
How many slaves arrived on the ship ?
 39      15      24      16      94
Where did they come from ?
 Malta      Sierra Leone      Gambia      Charlestown

Buyers inspected the merchendise...

Masters bought slaves at market

or at auctions.

Masters also sold slaves at auctions and bought new ones.
Being a slave
Slaves had a difficult life : they worked a lot. For instance, in the fields slaves worked from sunrise to sunset and at harvest time they could work up to eighteen hours a day. Slave children around the age of five were working in the fields too. Slaves lived in slaves quarters, their houses were just wooden huts that they often shared with another family.
Can you write the legend corresponding to each of these pictures ?
house slave - field slaves - slave cabins - slave quarters - sugar boiling house - in a rum distillery -
rice plantation - slaves picking cotton - overseer watching slaves working in a field -

Underground railroad

Some slaves ran away from their condition and escaped, so, they became fugitives. They usually tries to go to the North or even to Canada. Rewards were promised to peopole helping catching those fugitive slaves and
The "underground railroad" was a system for helping and hiding fugitive slaves. Anti-slavery people gave the fugitives food, shelter and money so they could run away from the South and go up North.
Learn more about the underground railroad : http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USASunderground.htm





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