Expanding European empires in the New World lacked one major resource -- a work force. In most cases, the indigenous peoples had proved unreliable (most of them were dying from diseases brought over from Europe), and Europeans were unsuited to the climate and suffered under tropical diseases. Africans, on the other hand, were excellent workers: they often had experience of agriculture and keeping cattle, they were used to a tropical climate, resistant to tropical diseases, and they could be "worked very hard" on plantations or in mines.
In the colonial era, the various colonies played different roles in what was produced and used for trade purposes in this triangular trade. Massachusetts and Rhode Island were known to produce the highest quality rum from the molasses and sugars that had been imported from the West Indies. The distilleries from these two colonies would prove to be vital to the continued triangular slave trade that was extremely profitable. Virginia’s tobacco and hemp production also played a major role as well as cotton from the southern colonies.
After the British ended their own slave trade, they felt forced by economics to induce other nations to do the same; otherwise, the British colonies would become uncompetitive with those of other nations. The British campaign against the slave trade by other nations was an unprecedented foreign policy effort. Denmark , a small player in the international slave trade, and the United States banned the trade during the same period as Great Britain. Other small trading nations that did not have a great deal to give up, such as Sweden , quickly followed suit, as did the Dutch, who were also by then a minor player.