Inhabitants of Antigua, in the West Indies, load barrels, or hogsheads, of sugar onto small vessels to be loaded onto the larger ships that sit offshore. A white man, perhaps an overseer, inspects one of the barrels at bottom left. The larger ships, once loaded, sailed for Great Britain, a leg of the triangular trade between Britain, Africa, and the West Indies. Sugar and other cash crops produced by enslaved people in the Caribbean were transported to England and sold. With the profits earned from the sale of those commodities, British merchants sent manufactured goods such as finished cloth and guns to Africa, where they were exchanged for enslaved Africans. These people were then transported to the Caribbean or the Americas to work the plantations.
This aquatint depicts a scene that involved Great Britain in the triangular trade; however, the American colonies and other European powers also took part in the transatlantic slave trade.