Genetic Impact of African Slave Trade Revealed in DNA Study

A major DNA study has shed new light on the fate of millions of Africans who were traded as slaves to the Americas between the 16th and 19th centuries.

More than 50,000 people took part in the study, which was able to identify more details of the “genetic impact” the trade has had on present-day populations in the Americas. It lays bare the consequences of rape, maltreatment, disease and racism.

More than 12.5m Africans were traded between 1515 and the mid-19th Century.

Some two million of the enslaved men, women and children died en route to the Americas.

The DNA study was led by consumer genetics company 23andMe and included 30,000 people of African ancestry on both sides of the Atlantic. The findings were published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

You can read more in an article in the BBC News website at:

One Comment

David Paul Davenport July 28, 2020 at 5:31 pm

I’m not sure why the dates 1515-1865 accompany this article. The first slaves were taken by the Portuguese when Henry the Navigator sponsored voyages of exploration in the 1420s to Sengambia, and the trans-atlantic slave trade did not end until Brazil outlawed slavery in 1888. The importation of slaves into the United States ended officially in 1808 (but would have resumed had the Confederacy gained its independence given that legislation to do so had passed the CSA Congress). What is remarkable is that the US took in only 5% of the slaves brought to the New World by slave traders and their descendants vastly out number those of African heritage currently living in the Caribbean islands, nearby coastal lowlands, and mush of Brazil. The difference is that most African-Americans are descendants of those who were “seasoned” (the term used in those days) to the working conditions of plantation agriculture (sugar cane mostly) in the Caribbean and Brazil before being sold to traders who took them to the southern United States to work sugar, rice, and tobacco.Seasoned slaves cost a great deal more than those brought directly from Africa and were generally treated much better than those who remained in the Caribbean in particular. As a result when the British empire ended slavery in 1833 it could provide “compensated manumission” to the owners – the British government bought the freedom of adult slaves and decreed that all those under the age of 14 were free, something the United States government could not afford to do in part because it lacked the financial resources and there were millions of slaves who needed to be freed and in 1833 on the British controlled islands of the Caribbean there were only 800,000.


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