The Atlantic slave trade was the largest forced migration of people by sea in history.
Hard labor made tobacco, rice, and sugar plantations profitable. Buying and enslaving the people who supplied this labor ultimately became a lucrative and tragic part of the commerce in the Atlantic world’s maritime web of connections. During nearly 400 years of Atlantic-centered trade, between 11 and 15 million Africans arrived in the Americas as slaves. While the actual numbers are not known, scholars speculate around 1 million people were brought to North America.