African Slave Trade, the gathering, transport, and sale of blacks from tropical Africa to other lands. The sale of blacks at commercial centers in North Africa and the Middle East lasted for thousands of years. The sale of blacks from western Africa to the New World took place from the 16th through the 19th century. This Atlantic slave trade took millions of men, women, and children to the Americas to meet labor needs there. It played an important part in the settlement of the New World and the growing prosperity of Europe but brought great misery to its victims.