Why African Slaves?
African slaves were chosen to work the sugar plantations as opposed to American Indian labor, European indentured servitude, or free wage labor. The reason for this was "The first slave ships arrived in 1505 and continued unabated for more than 300 years. Most came from western Africa, where Portuguese colonies had already established trading outposts for ivory, pepper and other goods." (Live Science) "African peoples were captured and transported to the Americas to work. Most European colonial economies in the Americas from the 16th through the 19th century were dependent on enslaved African labor for their survival. According to European colonial officials, the abundant land they had "discovered" in the Americas was useless without sufficient labor to exploit it. Slavery systems of labor exploitation were preferred, but neither European nor Native American sources proved adequate to the task." (National Geographic) An interesting outlook on the view of the sanctity of the lives of the African slaves is shown when "A Catholic priest named Bartolomé de las Casas asked King Ferdinand of Spain to protect the Taino Indians of the Caribbean by importing African slaves instead. So, around 1505, enslaved Africans were first brought to the New World. For the next three and a half centuries, slaves of African origin provided most of the labor for the sugar industry in the Americas." (West, Jean) In essence, African slaves were chosen over other sources of labor because their lives were not held in high regard in the eyes of the Europeans and they were easily obtainable after the establishment of European colonies in Africa. In addition African slaves were a more viable option because of their evolved European disease resistance that was built over centuries of interacting with Europeans; the Indians were extremely vulnerable to European disease.