According to this article, many were entrepreneurs, attracted to New Port Rhode Island by the chance to make their fortune in Rum running and the lucrative slave trade. And it looks like most of them did.
The British and Dutch owned the most slave ships. The US was third.
The East India Company was given a monopoly over slave trade to America for most of the 1700 s
Slave ships were owned by bankers, these in turn operated by privateers, similar to the opium clippers that plied the ASIAN trade routes.
It was not the slaves thats for sure.
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