THE DANISH NATIONAL ARCHIVES: Timeline on the Danish slave trade


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1758-06-01 00:00:00

The Danish slave trade

The slave trade has existed since ancient times. For example, the ancient Egyptians had vast quantities of slaves. The Vikings also had slaves, which they called thralls. Slaves were people who had been taken captive in order to work. When the Europeans arrived in West Africa in the 1400s, they found an opportunity there to buy slaves and send them across the Atlantic Ocean to North and South America and the Caribbean.

1760-01-01 00:00:00

The fort on the Gold Coast

The main Danish fort on the Gold Coast (present day Ghana's coast) was called Fort Christiansborg. It was located at the village of Orsu, which today is the city of Accra in Ghana.

1770-01-22 00:00:00

Buying slaves

The Danish ships often bought slaves at the Danish forts on Africa's coast. Other times, the ships sailed to and fro along the coast and bought the slaves one at a time at foreign trading posts.

1770-07-02 00:00:00

The ship is loaded

It was important to get a proper load of slaves and sufficient provisions (food and drink) aboard along the coast of Africa before the ship sailed off toward the West Indies.

1771-01-01 00:00:00


When the slaves were brought aboard along the coast of Africa, provisions (food and drink) were also brought aboard the ship for the 2-3 month trans-Atlantic voyage. Generally there were 40 sailors and 200-300 slaves on board. They all had to have food and water on the journey.

1771-06-05 00:00:00

The slaves are shined up

After the slave ships had crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Africa, they arrived in the West Indies. The surviving slaves were often in poor physical condition after 2-3 months with too little exercise, food that was too monotonous and too much dehydration. They also had acquired psychological problems which they had to combat.

1775-02-26 00:00:00

Slave mutinies

On the slave ships, there were only a few seamen to keep control of the many slaves. The ship "Christiansborg" sailed from the Gold Coast in 1775. At the time of departure, there were 357 slaves and 42 crew members aboard.

1775-07-01 00:00:00

A lethal sailing voyage

The crossing from Africa to the West Indies usually took 2-3 months. For the tightly packed slaves, the sailing voyage was frightful. Many of them died along the way.

1788-01-01 00:00:00

Create plantations in Africa!

The physician Paul Erdmann Isert worked on the Gold Coast in 1783-1786. He sailed on the slave ship "Christiansborg" to the West Indies. He experienced a bloody slave mutiny aboard the ship. His experiences in Africa, on the slave ship and in the West Indies convinced him that the slave trade had to be abolished.

1788-02-01 00:00:00

Slaves are sold

When the slaves had been shined up after the hard voyage, they were sold at a public auction. The auction was a slave market. The slaves were sold here to the highest bidder.

1791-12-28 00:00:00


The Europeans' trade on the Gold Coast (today the coast of Ghana) occurred as barter, in which slaves were bought.

1792-01-01 00:00:00

Defense for slavery

For the most part, no one criticized the slave trade or the use of slaves, not until after about 1750. On the contrary, many people thought that the Africans had it better in the West Indies than they had it in Africa.

1792-03-16 00:00:00

Abolition of slave trade

In the summer of 1791, the Danish Government appointed a Slave Trade Commission. It was intended to work on a prohibition against slave trading. The Commission's chairman was Finance Minister Ernst Schimmelmann, who was an opponent of the slave trade.

1792-06-01 00:00:00

Advantages of abolishing slave trade

Criticism of the slave trade first really began at the end of the 1700s. Most critics were inspired by the vehement public debate on the subject in England. In Denmark, there was no great debate. But many articles did appear about slave trading in the trend-setting magazine Minerva.

1824-02-25 00:00:00

Illegal slave trade

The prohibition against the Danish slave trade in Guinea and the trans-Atlantic transportation of slaves took effect on January 1 1803. But slaves were traded nonetheless.

1825-12-31 00:00:00

Instructor guide

The Danish National Archives' educational sequence on Tiki-Toki can be used free of charge. If texts and images are transferred to other media, the Danish National Archives must be credited (named as source).

THE DANISH NATIONAL ARCHIVES: Timeline on the Danish slave trade

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