The Triangle Trade Illustration

The Triangle Trade
in the 13 Colonies

For Kids

The triangle trade was the term used to signify three major ports of call arranged in such a way that they form a triangle. 

As the colonies developed in the south, cheap slave labor was needed to produce cotton and other labor intensive crops. Soon, the triangle trade became known as the slave trade in the south.

In Colonial Times:

  • From England, textiles, rum and manufactured goods were shipped to Africa.

  • From Africa, slaves were shipped to the Americas.

  • From the Americas, sugar, tobacco, and cotton were shipped to England.

The triangle trade route was the most cost effective way that the English government could find to move goods with total control.

African people were kidnapped and sold into slavery. These people were packed onto to crowded ships and brought to the New World, the Americans, as a source of free labor. People were traded for goods.

The slave trade was profitable and cruel. African people would return from working in the fields or from hunting and find their families missing. In some cases, entire African villages were captured by the slave traders and loaded onto ships.

Some African kingdoms, like Benin, refused to participate in the slave trade. But people in other African kingdoms were eager to trade African people for goods like beads and textiles and brandy and horses and guns. The European traders had no trouble filling ships headed for the New World with captured people.

Many people died on the trip. People were packed on board without any thought of their comfort or even survival. There were no bathroom facilities. There was very little food. It's no wonder disease killed so many.

The Atlantic Slave Trade for Kids (Ted-Ed, video for kids)

Slave Trade - Eyewitness to History (1788)

For Teachers

Free Use Lesson Plans and Classroom Activities for Colonial America

Free Use Presentations in PowerPoint format about Colonial America

Free Use Clipart for the 13 colonies