315 Years of the American Slave Trade in 2 Minutes

The slave trade in the Americas was a more than three-century-long institution that fundamentally shaped how countries like the United States formed. The U.S. is still reckoning with its legacy, and Americans unsurprisingly tend to focus on North America’s role in the triangular trade. But Brazil was also a huge destination for slave ships, especially during the later years of the slave trade, as a new infographic reminds us.

Slate, which is currently tackling the history of American slavery in a nine-episode podcast, created an interactive animation that tracks slave shipments across the Atlantic from the 16th through the 19th centuries, tracking where specific slave ships originated and landed over the course of that period. Each ship carrying human cargo destined for slave markets in the Western Hemisphere is represented as a dot, with the size of the dot corresponding to the size of the group of captured people on board. If you pause the animation and click on one of the dots, information about the specific ship and its origins, when available, and the number of people it ultimately carried into slavery will appear.

Compare the map above, showing slave ships in 1818, with the one showing ships in 1787 during the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. During the intervening decades, the major slave ports in the Americas shifted from the West Indies to Brazil.

Slate reports that over the 315 years of slavery documented in the infographic, some 10 million kidnapped Africans were transported to the Western Hemisphere to serve as slaves, while an estimated 2 million didn’t survive the trans-Atlantic journey. Less than four percent of that total (less than 400,000) came to North America, while 4 million people were shipped to the Caribbean, 4.8 million to Brazil, and 1.3 million to Central America.

While slave trading remained legal for decades afterward, the U.S. banned importing new slaves in 1808, around the same time that Britain and other European powers did the same. Brazil was the last American nation to ban slavery outright, holding out until 1888.

It’s well worth checking out the interactive, animated version over on Slate.

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College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy

One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

Nate D. Sanders Auctions
Sylvia Plath's Pulitzer Prize in Poetry Is Up for Auction
Nate D. Sanders Auctions
Nate D. Sanders Auctions

A Pulitzer Prize in Poetry that was awarded posthumously to Sylvia Plath in 1982 for her book The Collected Poems will be auctioned on June 28. The Los Angeles-based Nate D. Sanders Auctions says bidding for the literary document will start at $40,000.

The complete book of Plath’s poetry was published in 1981—18 years after her death—and was edited by her husband, fellow poet Ted Hughes. The Pulitzer Prize was presented to Hughes on Plath’s behalf, and one of two telegrams sent by Pulitzer President Michael Sovern to Hughes read, “We’ve just heard that the Collected Plath has won the Pulitzer Prize. Congratulations to you for making it possible.” The telegrams will also be included in the lot, in addition to an official congratulatory letter from Sovern.

The Pultizer’s jury report from 1982 called The Collected Poems an “extraordinary literary event.” It went on to write, “Plath won no major prizes in her lifetime, and most of her work has been posthumously published … The combination of metaphorical brilliance with an effortless formal structure makes this a striking volume.”

Ted Hughes penned an introduction to the poetry collection describing how Plath had “never scrapped any of her poetic efforts,” even if they weren’t all masterpieces. He wrote:

“Her attitude to her verse was artisan-like: if she couldn’t get a table out of the material, she was quite happy to get a chair, or even a toy. The end product for her was not so much a successful poem, as something that had temporarily exhausted her ingenuity. So this book contains not merely what verse she saved, but—after 1956—all she wrote.”

Also up for auction is Plath’s Massachusetts driver’s license from 1958, at which time she went by the name Sylvia P. Hughes. Bidding for the license will begin at $8000.

Plath's driver's license
Nate D. Sanders Auctions


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