Learn American History through 50 pop songs

Triangular Trade

Synopsis

Triangular trade refers to a pattern of colonial commerce in which slaves were bought on the African Gold Coast with New England rum and then traded in the West Indies for sugar or molasses, which was brought back to New England to be manufactured into rum. The leg of the triangle which carried captive Africans from Africa to the West Indies is referred to as the Middle Passage. It is estimated that 15–25 of every 100 slaves died during this voyage.

Lyrics

© Copyright 2010 by Mr. and Mrs. Gillenwater

In New England rum is distilled
From molasses and barrels are filled
Then shipped off to the Golden Coast
And traded for slaves at African posts

These millions of doomed African slaves
Are shipped through the frigid deadly waves
Over the triangles Middle Passage
And traded in Barbados for molasses

The molasses is then shipped due north
To New England’s Atlantic ports
To this coast the traders come
And trade their molasses for barrels of rum

From New England to Africa
Barbados and back again
A three-legged journey is made
Over and over and over it’s made
Triangular trade

In New England rum is distilled
From molasses and barrels are filled
Then shipped off to the Golden Coast
And traded for slaves at African posts

These millions of doomed African slaves
Are shipped through the frigid deadly waves
Over the triangles Middle Passage
And traded in Barbados for molasses

The molasses is then shipped due north
To New England’s Atlantic ports
To this coast the traders come
And trade their molasses for barrels of rum

Vocabulary

Triangular trade— Ships from New England sailed first to Africa, exchanging New England rum for slaves. The slaves were shipped from Africa to the Caribbean for molasses. Then the ships returned to New England, where the molasses was used to make rum.

Middle Passage— The route from Africa to the America’s along which slaves were transported. It was called the middle passage because it was the ‘middle leg’ of the triangular journey called the triangular trade.

Tiered Questions

Tier 1 Questions

What were the three stops involved in the triangular trade?

What were three items involved in the triangular trade?

Tier 2 Questions

Explain the relationship between rum, molasses, and slaves of the triangular trade.

Draw a map that shows the three stops involved in the triangular trade.

Tier 3 Questions

Draw a map of the triangular trade. Include the three stops and the three items traded.

Imagine you have been taken from your home and family, chained up, and forced into a boat to an unknown destination. You are kept chained and piled below deck with hundreds of other victims being forced into slavery. Write a letter describing what you see, hear, and feel.

Test Prep Questions

Colonial Trade Routes

1) What would be the best title for this map?

  • (1) British Domination of the Americas
  • (2) Colonial Trade Routes
  • (3) Spanish Colonies in the New World
  • (4) The United States in 1750 on the belief that the world is flat