More than 15 million Africans were enslaved during the Atlantic slave trade, which lasted for more than 400 years. Many of those slaves were brought to North and South America and the Caribbeans. The American colonists relied heavily on slave labor to build the country, but the British were not the first to bring slaves to America. Though Portugal was the first to buy slaves out of Africa, Spain was the first country to send them to America. In 1502, a Spaniard named Juan de Cordoba became the first merchant to send an African slave to America, and Spain soon began relying on African slaves for its labor in the New World.

Slaves Under Spanish Colonists

The Spanish began colonizing America soon after Christopher Columbus made his discovery. The new settlers enslaved Native Americans to work in plantations and mines. The Native Americans were no match for the Spanish with their guns and their horses, nor did they have the immunity for the diseases that the Spaniards brought with them, like measles. The Native American population fell from an estimated 50 million to about 8 million in 100 years, according to Discovering Bristol website. Ultimately, the Spanish turned to African slave labor to replace the Native Americans.