Britain became involved in the slave trade for money, land and power. Early on in the 1500s, Spain and Portugal had begun trading in slaves, but England saw the potential economic opportunities, and quickly established sugar and cotton plantations in the colonies.
Use to set the scene for study of the Atlantic slave trade. The rise in consumer demand for sugar, cotton and other raw materials can be linked to industrialisation, urbanisation and economic development. Discuss how the growth of the British Empire related to competition for both economic and military advantage.