In the span of a hundred years, from 1700 to 1800, the town of Liverpool in northwest England was transformed from what was "not much more than a fishing village" into one of the busiest slave-trading ports on the Atlantic, with its ships accounting for over 40% of the European slave trade from Africa to the New World.There was no single reason for Liverpool's dramatic growth. By 1700, ties with the American colonies had been firmly established -- the port was importing shiploads of sugar and tobacco in exchange for white indentured servants. Also, early in the 18th century, the areas surrounding Liverpool saw an extensive rise in the manufacturing of textiles, iron, and firearms and gunpowder -- tempting items for the black slave traders of Africa. Another reason for the growth was the availability of capital. Landowners and merchants hoping to increase their wealth began funneling their money into shipping ventures. And still another reason: the Royal African Company's monopoly on the slave trade had recently ended, opening the trade to all.Liverpool's first slaving vessel, ironically named the Blessing, set sail in 1700. In 1730, 15 Liverpool slave ships headed toward Africa; in 1799, 134 ships made the voyage. Although some voyages reaped huge profits -- the ship "Lively" made a profit of 300% in 1737 -- the overall profit for the trade during the second half of the century ranged between eight and ten percent. Still, due in large measure to profits from the slave trade, Liverpool prospered. Slave-trading voyages stopped in 1807 when England abolished its participation in the trade. Liverpool, however, would turn to industrial manufacturing and would continue to prosper for many years.

Liverpool's extensive growth during the 18th century, due in large measure to profits made in the Atlantic slave trade, brought an increasing demand for storage space. In 1793, in response to this demand, successful merchants built the Goree Warehouses, named after Senegal's Goree Islands off the coast of Africa. When fire destroyed the buildings in 1802, merchants rebuilt the warehouses in 1811, for trade with Africa continued after Parliament brought an end to the British slave trade. Artist Samuel Austin made this engraving in 1829.

Alexander Falconbridge, ill treatment.

...Upon the Negroes refusing to take sustenance, I have seen coals of fire, glowing hot, put on a shovel and placed so near their lips as to scorch and burn them. And this has been accompanied with threats of forcing them to swallow the coals if they any longer persisted in refusing to eat. These means have generally had the desired effect. I have also been credibly informed that a certain captain in the slave-trade, poured melted lead on such of his Negroes as obstinately refused their food....

...The hardships and inconveniences suffered by the Negroes during the passage are scarcely to be enumerated or conceived. They are far more violently affected by seasickness than Europeans. It frequently terminates in death, especially among the women. But the exclusion of fresh air is among the most intolerable. For the purpose of admitting this needful refreshment, most of the ships in the slave trade are provided, between the decks, with five or six air-ports on each side of the ship, of about five inches in length and four in breadth. In addition, some ships, but not one in twenty, have what they denominate wind-sails. But whenever the sea is rough. and the rain heavy it becomes necessary to shut these and every other conveyance by which the air is admitted. The fresh air being thus excluded, the Negroes' rooms soon grow intolerable hot. The confined air, rendered noxious by the effluvia exhaled from their bodies and being repeatedly breathed, soon produces fevers and fluxes which generally carries off great numbers of them.

a Leverpool ship . . . This ship, though a much smaller ship than in which I have just mentioned, took on board at Bonny at least six hundred Negroes . . . By purchasing so great a number, the slaves were so crowded that they were obliged to lie one upon another. This caused such a mortality among them that without meeting with unusually bad weather or having a longer voyage than common, nearly one half of them died before the ship arrived in the West Indies....

The place allotted for the sick Negroes is under the half deck, where they lie on the bare planks. By this means those who are emaciated frequently have their skin and even their flesh entirely rubbed off, by the motion of the ship, from the prominent parts of the shoulders, elbows and hips so as to render the bones quite bare. And some of them, by constantly lying in the blood and mucus that had flowed from those afflicted with the flux and which is generally so violent as to prevent their being kept clean, having their flesh much sooner rubbed off than those who have only to contend with the mere friction of the ship. The excruciating pain which the poor sufferers feel from being obliged to continue in such a dreadful situation, frequently for several weeks, in case they happen to live so long, is not to be conceived or described. Few, indeed, are able to withstand the fatal effects of it. The utmost skill of the surgeon is here ineffectual. If plasters are applied they are very soon displaced by the friction of the ship, and when bandages are used the Negroes soon take them off and appropriate them to other purposes.

...Various deceptions at used in the disposal of sick slaves and many of these must excite in every humane mind the liveliest sensations of horror. I have been well informed that a Leverpool captain boasted of his having cheated some Jews by the following stratagem. A lot of slaves afflicted with the flux, being about to be landed for sale, he directed the ship's surgeons to stop the anus of each of them with oakum. Thus prepared they were landed and taken to the accustomed place of sale, where, being unable to stand but for a very short time they were usually permitted to sit. The buyers, when they examine them, oblige them to stand up in order to see if there be any discharge; and when they do not perceive this appearance they consider it as a symptom of recovery. In the present instance, such an appearance being prevented, the bargain was struck and the slaves were accordingly sold. But it was not long bfore discovery ensued. The excrutiating pain which the prevention of a discharge of such an acrimonious nature occasioned, not being able to be borne by the poor wretches, the temporary obstruction was removed and the deluded purchasers were speedily convinced of the imposition.

Testimony of Alexander Falconbridge (ships doc)

From the time of the arrival of the ships to their departure, which is usually near three months, scarce a day passes without some negroes being purchased, and carried on board; sometimes in small, and sometimes in larger numbers. The whole number taken on board, depends, in a great measure, on circumstances. In a voyage I once made, our stock of merchandize was exhausted in the purchase of about 380 negroes, which was expected to have procured 500. The number of English and French ships then at Bonny, had so far raised the price of negroes, as to occasion this difference.

. . . Previous to my being in this employ I entertained a belief, as many others have done, that the kings and principal men bred Negroes for sale as we do cattle. During the different times I was in the country, I took no little pains to satisfy myself in this particular; but notwithstanding I made many inquires, I was not able to obtain the least intelligence of this being the case. . . . All the information I could procure confirms me in the belief that to kidnapping, and to crimes (and many of these fabricated as a pretext) the slave trade owes its chief support. . . .

. . . When the Negroes, whom the black traders have to dispose of [sell], are shown to the European purchasers, they first examine them relative to their age. They then minutely inspect their persons and inquire into the state of their health; if they are afflicted with any disease or are deformed or have bad eyes or teeth; if they are lame or weak in the joints or distorted in the back or of a slender make or narrow in the chest; in short, if they have been ill or are afflicted in any manner so as to render them incapable of much labor. If any of the foregoing defects are discovered in them they are rejected. But if approved of, they are generally taken on board the ship the same evening. The purchaser has liberty to return on the following morning, but not afterwards, such as upon re-examination are found exceptionable.

The traders frequently beat those Negroes which are objected to by the captains and use them with great severity. It matters not whether they are refused on account of age, illness, deformity or for any other reason. At New Calabar, in particular, the traders have frequently been known to put them to death. Instances have happened at that place, when Negroes have been objected to, that the traders have dropped their canoes under the stern of the vessel and instantly beheaded them in sight of the captain.

. . . Nor do these unhappy beings, after they become the property of the Europeans (from whom, as a more civilized people, more humanity might naturally be expected), find their situation in the least amended. Their treatment is no less rigorous. The men Negroes, on being brought aboard the ship, are immediately fastened together, two and two, by handcuffs on their wrists and by irons rivetted on their legs. They are then sent down between the decks and placed in an apartment partitioned off for that purpose. The women also are placed in a separate apartment between decks, but without being ironed. An adjoining room on the same deck is appointed for the boys. Thus they are all placed in different apartments.

Abolition fight

Thomas Clarkson. He, along with another Englishman, William Wilberforce, would lead this fight to end the trade.

Opposition to slavery existed from the outset among enlaved Africans themselves. Even among Europeans, occasional opposition went back much further than Clarkson's 1785 essay -- almost back to the beginning of New World slavery itself. In 1643, the New England Confederation assisted runaway servants, including slaves. In 1652, Rhode Island declared that a slave must be freed after ten years of service. In 1676, slavery was prohibited in West New Jersey. The Quakers were another outspoken group against slavery. Their writings had great impact on the opinions of both Americans and Europeans.

In England, a humanitarian milestone was reached in 1772 when the courts decided in the famous Somerset Case that a slave became free as soon as he set foot on English soil. Slavery was abolished within England, but it was still permissible within the colonies, as was the slave trade itself.

Eliminating England's involvement with the slave trade would be no small task. Directly and indirectly, the trade supported many of England's industries, including textiles, sugar refining, and the manufacture of firearms. In 1787, two years after writing his essay, Clarkson helped organize a group called the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. The group wanted to make a case to Parliament, but first it needed evidence. So Clarkson travelled to Liverpool and Bristol, England's two major slave ports, to interview anyone with first-hand knowledge of the trade. With this ammunition, the group approached William Wilberforce, a Member of Parliament. He readily agreed to present their case. The fight for abolition of the trade was joined by many others, including former slave ship captain John Newton, former slave ship surgeon Alexander Falconbridge, and ex-slave Olaudah Equiano. They, along with countless others, began to sway the opinion of the public.In 1807, Parliament finally passed a bill that made it illegal for any English vessel to take part in the slave trade.

Live Africans Thrown overboard

Heading for Jamaica in 1781, the ship Zong was nearing the end of its voyage. It had been twelve weeks since it had sailed from the west African coast with its cargo of 417 slaves. Water was running out. Then, compounding the problem, there was an outbreak of disease. The ship's captain, reasoning that the slaves were going to die anyway, made a decision. In order to reduce the owner's losses he would throw overboard the slaves thought to be too sick to recover. The voyage was insured, but the insurance would not pay for sick slaves or even those killed by illness. However, it would cover slaves lost through drowning.The captain gave the order; 54 Africans were chained together, then thrown overboard. Another 78 were drowned over the next two days. By the time the ship had reached the Caribbean,132 persons had been murdered.
When the ship returned to England the owners made their claim -- they wished to be compensated the full value for each slave lost. The claim might have been honored had if it had not been for former slave Equiano, then living in England, who learned of the tragedy and alerted an abolitionist friend of his. The case went to court. At first the jury ruled in favor of the ship's owners. Since it was permissible to kill animals for the safety of the ship, they decided, it was permissible to kill slaves for the same reason. The insurance company appealed, and the case was retried. This time the court decided that the Africans on board the ship were people. It was a landmark decision.

The Middle Passage

For weeks, months, sometimes as long as a year, they waited in the dungeons of the slave factories scattered along Africa's western coast. They had already made the long, difficult journey from Africa's interior -- but just barely. Out of the roughly 20 million who were taken from their homes and sold into slavery, half didn't complete the journey to the African coast, most of those dying along the way.

The captives were about to embark on the infamous Middle Passage, so called because it was the middle leg of a three-part voyage -- a voyage that began and ended in Europe. The first leg of the voyage carried a cargo that often included iron, cloth, brandy, firearms, and gunpowder. Upon landing on Africa's "slave coast," the cargo was exchanged for Africans. Fully loaded with its human cargo, the ship set sail for the Americas, where the slaves were exchanged for sugar, tobacco, or some other product. The final leg brought the ship back to Europe.

The african Slave Trade

Along the west coast of Africa, from the Cameroons in the south to Senegal in the north, Europeans built some sixty forts that served as trading posts. European sailors seeking riches brought rum, cloth, guns, and other goods to these posts and traded them for human beings. This human cargo was transported across the Atlantic Ocean and sold to New World slave owners, who bought slaves to work their crops.

European traders such as Nicolas Owen waited at these forts for slaves; African traders transported slaves from the interior of Africa. Equiano and others found themselves sold and traded more than once, often in slave markets. African merchants, the poor, royalty -- anyone -- could be abducted in the raids and wars that were undertaken by Africans to secure slaves that they could trade. The slave trade devastated African life. Culture and traditions were torn asunder, as families, especially young men, were abducted. Guns were introduced and slave raids and even wars increased.

After kidnapping potential slaves, merchants forced them to walk in slave caravans to the European coastal forts, sometimes as far as 1,000 miles. Shackled and underfed, only half the people survived these death marches. Those too sick or weary to keep up were often killed or left to die. Those who reached the coastal forts were put into underground dungeons where they would stay -- sometimes for as long as a year -- until they were boarded on ships.

Slave Traders,

Africa's west coast was known as the "white man's grave," and for good reason. The slave traders who worked along the coast lived in an inhospitable land. Exposure to the hot, damp climate and to diseases that their bodies had little resistance to resulted in short life expectancies. There was a reason to be there, though, and that reason was money. Every slave trader had the hope of making a quick fortune, and although many would become successful, there were many more -- such as Nicolas Owen -- who wouldn't.

An entry in the journal of Nicolas Owen reads as follows: "I have found no place where I can enlarge my fortune so soon as where I now live, wherefore I entend to stay in order to enlarge my fortune by honest mains." Owen was sincere when he stated that the slave trade was a way to prosper "by honest means" -- nowhere in his journal, which he kept for five years, does he show any compassion for slaves or the least bit of remorse for being involved in the slave trade.

Owen had sailed to Africa with his brother. Once there, they were captured and imprisoned. A slave dealer named Richard Hall rescued the two and offered them jobs as his agents. With no money to return home, the two brothers accepted the offer. Like all traders at the time, Owen did not capture slaves himself.

it was Africans who acquired slaves and traded the captives for various European goods. Sometimes the captives would be prisoners of war. Other times, groups would venture deep into Africa's interior for the sole purpose of capturing slaves.

passages illustrate the inherent dangers of being a slave trader. In one account, Owen tells of how some Africans had seized an Englishman who was walking at night on a trail. "As soon as their prize is secure they devour him without mercey along with their ascociates in the bushes, who has prapared a fire for that purpose.

[edit] Shipments to the Americas, Caribbean and Australia

From the outset of their arrival in Britain, the Romanies were regarded with fear and suspicion, no doubt because of their dark complexion and foreign appearance that was far different to the local English population in the 16th century. England began to deport Romanichal Gypsies as early as (1544), principally to Norway, [13][14] a process that was continued and encouraged by Elisabeth I and James I. [15] In (1603) an Order in Counsel was requested to transport Romanichal to Newfoundland, the West Indies, France, Germany, Spain and the Low Countries. European countries forced the further transportation of the British Romani to the Americas.

In the years following the American Wars of Independence, Australia was the preferred destination for Romanichal transportation, as it's use as a penal colony.

In the 17th century Oliver Cromwell shipped Romanichal Gypsies as slaves to the American southern plantations [26] and there is documentation of English Gypsies being owned by freed black slaves in Jamaica, Barbados and in both Cuba and Louisiana. [27][28][29] Gypsies, according to the legal definition which was anyone identifying themselves to be (Egyptians) or Gypsies.

The last form of enforced servitude (villeinage) had disappeared in Britain by the beginning of the 17th century.

Slavery resurfaced in that century as a form of punishment against Catholics. As many as 100,000 Irish men, women and children were forcibly taken to the colonies in the British West Indies and British North America as indentured servants after the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.[7] In the 17th century, slavery was used as punishment by conquering English Parliament armies against native Catholics in Ireland. Between the years 1659 and 1663, during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland by the New Model Army, under the command of Oliver Cromwell, thousands of Irish Catholics were forced into servitude. Cromwell had a deep dislike of the Catholic religion, and many Irish Catholics who had participated in Confederate Ireland had all their land confiscated and were transported to the British West Indies as indentured servants.

Occasionally, Scottish Highlanders and other Scotsmen were forcibly taken and transported abroad at this time. The need for labour in the Virginia plantations and West Indies encouraged planters and their agents to "press gang" unwary or naïve locals onto ships, bound for the Americas. Once at their destination, these people were indentured to plantation owners against their will. They were released eventually, unlike Africans similarly employed. Many made enough money to buy passage back to Scotland, whence they had come. These actions were justified on the basis that the persons in question were labelled as indigent, and under a 1652 law such people could be deported to overseas colonies.

It is also on record that a considerable number of Highland Jacobite supporters, who had been captured in the aftermath of Culloden and subsequently the rigorous Government sweeps of the Highlands to root out Jacobite fugitives and transgressors of the new laws against Highland culture itself, languished in fetid prison hulks on the River Thames for months, until sentenced to transportation to the Carolinas as indentured servants/slaves. [15
Gilbert Baillie, gypsy, prisoner in Edinburgh, Tolbooth, transported from Greenock to N.Y., 21 Oct. 1682, ETR

John Baillie, gypsy, d.o. from Greenock to N.Y., same date

Robert Baillie, gypsy & thief, prisoner in Dumfries Tolbooth, 5-1-1739, banished to plantations in America for life

Jean Brown, gypsy & thief, prisoner, as above

Mary & Peter Faa, gypsies, prisoners in Jedburgh Tolbooth banished from there 30 Nov. 1714, transported via Glasgow on a Grennock ship…to Virginia

Jean Hutson, gypsy & thief, prisoner in Dumfries to America for life…1 May 1739

Mary Robertson, gypsy, prisoner in Jedburgh, 9-1-1715 to Virginia

English surnames which show up in various works on the Gypsies include Bailey, Belcher, Boswell, Brown, Green, Robinson, Robson, Roberts, Smith, Stanley, and Sutherland, among others. The descendants of such early settlers would be justified in believing that their ancestors - who bore English and Scottish surnames and arrived on these shores in English ships – were indeed “English” or “Scottish.” But the reality of their true ethnic origins can be found with just a little digging…

Around 1000 A.D., Gypsies, who had originated in India, migrated westward to Turkey where they still reside in significant numbers, and then fanned out again into the Balkans, Eastern Europe, and, finally northern Europe.

Gypsies probably reached the British Isles by the year 1500, travelling to trade, work in metals or entertain for a living......In the British Isles we have four groups - in their own languages: Romanichals (English Gypsies), Kale (Welsh Gypsies), Nawkens (Scottish Travellers/Gypsies) and Minceir (Irish Travellers). Together they number around 100,000 in the UK, about half nomadic."

Barbados served as an entrepôt for the distribution of slaves to other British territories

Barbados served as an entrepôt for the distribution of slaves to other British territories in the western hemisphere for many years. Whether ultimately bound for Virginia, Jamaica or elsewhere, large numbers of slaves passed first of all through that island (Hancock, 1980b). However, while the designations Gypsy, Gypcian, Egyptian, &c., turn up in the records of transportation located in Britain, nothing similar appears anywhere in the documents examined in Barbados.

Nevertheless, an examination of the lists of transportees found in these works and in the Barbados Records indicated that a great number of individuals bearing Romanichal (British Gypsy) surnames did in fact arrive in Barbados: the names occurring include Boswell, Cook/Cooke, Hern/Herne/Heron, Lee/Leek, Locke, Palmer, Penfold/Pinfold, Price, Scot/Scott, Smith and Ward, ranging from one Pinfold to nine Boswells to over a hundred Smiths. Only a small percentage of these were likely to have been Gypsies, of course. Sometimes, a further clue was provided by the county of origin of the individual, where given (Cookes from Middlesex and Kent), or by occupation (Boswell, a blacksmith), but these must also be considered non-conclusive.

So far, only one reference to Gypsies as a discrete group in the West Indies, and referred to as such, has been located, and that from Jamaica:
I have known many gipsies [to be] subject from the age of eleven to thirty to the prostitution and lust of overseers, book-keepers, negroes, &c., to be taken into keeping by gentlemen, who paid exorbitant hire for their use (Moreton, 1793:130).

Gypsy Slaves

many Gipsies were banished to America in colonial times, from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, sometimes for merely being 'by habit and repute' Gipsies, is beyond dispute ... Gipsies may be said to have been in America almost from the time of its settlement (1865:418).

the earliest actual document known to us, dates from the time of the administration of Oliver Cromwell's successor, his son Richard, when the first trans-Atlantic expulsion of Gypsies was instituted:
In 1661 'Commissions and Instructions' were issued anew to justices and constables, by Act of Parliament, with the view of arresting Gypsies ... a great many Gypsies must have been deported to the British 'plantations' in Virginia, Jamaica and Barbadoes during the second half of the seventeenth century. That they had there to undergo a temporary, if not 'perpetual' servitude, seems very likely (MacRitchie, 1894:102).

A reference dated November, 1665, comments upon the motives for indenturing Gypsies and others in this way:
The light regard paid to the personal right of individuals was shown by a wholesale deportation of poor people at this time to the West Indies ... out of a desire as weel to promote the Scottish and English plantations in Gemaica and Barbadoes for the honour of their country, as to free the kingdom of the burden of many strong and idle beggars, Egyptians, common and notorious thieves, and other dissolute and looss persons banished and stigmatised for gross crimes (Chambers, 1858:304).

In 1714, British merchants and planters applied to the Privy Council for permission to ship Gypsies to the Caribbean, avowedly to be used as slaves (MacRitchie, op. cit.), and in the following year, according to a document dated January 1st, 1715,
Prisoners ... were sentenced ... to be transported to the plantations for being [by] habit and repute gipsies ... On the said gipsies coming here the town was brought under a burden [and] they had used endeavours with several merchants who have ships now going abroad [i.e., to transport them as slaves], for which they are to receive thirteen pounds sterling (Memorabilia, 1835:424-426). Among the family names of those individuals were Faa, Fenwick, Lindsey, Stirling, Robertson, Ross and Yorstoun.

Gypsies, according to the legal definition which was in effect throughout this period in England, included "all such persons not being Fellons wandering and pretending [i.e. identifying themselves to be Egypcians, or wandering in the Habite, Forme or Attyre] counterfayte Egypcians" (Statutes, Eliz., 39.c.4, quoted in Smith, 1971:109. See also Axon, 1897, passim, and Beier, 1985:58-62).

Phillis Wheatley, Negro servant to Mr. John Wheatley, of Boston.

Phillis Wheatley, Negro servant to Mr. John Wheatley, of Boston." Born in present-day Gambia around 1753, little is known of Wheatley's early life. When 7 or 8 years old, she was kidnapped and shipped from the Gambia to Boston; her purchasers named her Phillis after the ship that brought her to Massachusetts. Living in their household as a servant, she was permitted to learn to read, and not long after began writing poetry; her first published poem appeared in 1767. She left no account of her life in Africa or the middle passage, and her life ended sadly in Boston in 1784. Her portrait was done when she was about 20 years old.

Jigger - flea

Extracting a jigger, scene in the Brazils"; shows a black woman extracting a chigger from the foot of a white man in what appears to be some sort of tavern; note, pottery jug in left-hand corner. A tropical flea native to the Americas, the chigger (jigger, chigoe) was extremely troublesome to Europeans and Africans in many areas of the New World; invading the skin through the feet or toes, they laid their eggs and if the egg sacs were not removed (by a simple technique), they could ultimately cause a serious itching pain. The English painter, Earle, visited Rio de Janeiro in 1820.

Baltimore 1861

The Dandy Slave: A Scene in Baltimore, MD." According to the accompanying article, "Whenever a negro can afford it, he dresses well, sometimes quietly and in good taste . . . . One rainy Sunday in Baltimore, our artist saw and sketched one of these dandy negroes escorting home from church his mistress. He was a slave, and this poor old faded woman owned him" (p. 307). This man was apparently hired out by his owner and worked as a waiter on steam-boats or hotels; he was, of course, compelled to share his wages with the owner.

Free woman

A "missie" (that is, a common-law wife or mistress of a white man, usually a free woman of color) taking her child to be baptized, accompanied by two slaves-- one carries the infant, the other a bible; the women are dressed in their finest.

Slave sales and auctions

Slave Markets

Top, advertisement is for sale of 170 recently imported Africans from Angola; bottom ad offers reward for return of two African-born slaves, Billy and Quamina, from a plantation.

"A Slave-Coffle passing the Capital" and depicting slaves wearing handcuffs and shackles passing the U.S. Capital, meant to depict a scene ca. 1819. This image was intended to illustrate part of a debate in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1819, concerning the admission of Missouri to the Union. The representative from New York, James Tallmadge, Jr., proposed that as a condition of admission slavery not be permitted in Missouri "except of those already held as slaves." While the debate was going on, Tallmadge pointed out that the South wanted Missouri to be a slave state and that a "striking illustration of what the South" wanted was to be viewed at that moment in front of the Capital. Apparently, as the debate was in progress "a trafficker in human flesh . . . has passed the door of your Capital . . . driving before him about fifteen of these wretched victims of his power. The males . . . were handcuffed and chained to each other, while the females and children were marched in their rear, under the guidance of the driver's whip" (p. 265).

Bibb describes this scene. He writes about a Mr. Young, a Methodist, "who was the owner of a large number of slaves, many of whom belonged to the same church with their master. They worshipped together." Bibb describes Young as a kind master who ultimately became "deeply involved in debt" forcing him to sell his property, including his slaves, "many of whom were his brothers and sisters in the church. . . . The slaves were offered on the auction block one after another, until they were all sold before their old master's face. . . . After the men were all sold they then sold the women and children. They ordered the first woman to lay down her child and mount the auction block; she refused to give up her little one and clung to it as long as she could, while the cruel lash was applied to her back for disobedience . . . . There was each speculator with his hand-cuffs to bind his victims after the sale; . . . the Christian portion of the slaves asked permission to kneel in prayer on the ground before they were separated" (pp. 199-200). One of the most celebrated of the North American slave narratives. Bibb was born of a slave mother in Kentucky in 1815, escaped from slavery in 1838, and ultimately became a leading figure in the fugitive slave community of Canada.

To be sold on board the ship Bance-Island . . . a choice cargo of about 250 fine healthy Negroes". Advertisement in the South Carolina Gazette by a prominent merchant firm and a leading importer of slaves in Charleston. The advertisement announces the forthcoming sale of Africans from the “Windward and Rice Coast,” and stresses their freedom from smallpox. The Library of Congress assigns a possible date "from the 1780s (?)", but the advertisement was, in fact, published on April 26, 1760. See Philip Hamer, ed., The Papers of Henry Laurens (Univ. of South Carolina Press, 1972), vol. 3, pp. 35-36.

Caption, "un Anglais de la Barbade vend sa maitresse" (an Englishman from Barbados sells his mistress/lover). Image is probably based on one version or another of the story of Yarico, an Amerindian woman, and her lover, Inkle, an English sailor who allegedly duped her and sold her into slavery in Barbados. For details, see Jerome S.` Handler, A Guide to Source Materials for the Study of Barbados History, 1627-1834 (Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1971), passim.

Slave market, 1764

Caption, "marche d'esclaves" (slave market); engraving made from author's description. Scenes depicted (our translations), top,1) Negroes for sale in a public market; 2) Negro slave examined before being purchased; 3) an Englishman licking a Negro's chin to ascertain his age, and to determine from the taste of his sweat if he is sick; 4) Negro slave with the brand of slavery on his arm. Bottom: 5) slave ship lying in the harbor waiting for the trading to be completed; 6) chaloupe loaded with newly purchased slaves transporting them to the ship; 7) Negroes on shore wailing and crying at the sight of their loved ones and friends being sent away

Salve trade - kidnapping

Caption, "Kidnapping" The illustrations in this anti-slavery book strongly reflect its abolitionist position. Here is illustrated the kidnapping of a free person of color to sell him as a slave. "Nothing is more common," the author writes, "than for two of these white partners in kidnapping . . . to start upon the prowl; and if they find a freeman on the road, to demand his certificate, tear it in pieces, or secrete it, tie him to one of their horses, hurry off to some jail, while one whips the citizen along as fast as their horses can travel. There by an understanding with the jailor who shares in the spoil, all possibility of intercourse with his friends is denied the stolen citizen. At the earliest possible period, the captive is sold out to pay the felonious claims of the law . . . and then transferred to some of their accomplices of iniquity . . . who fill every part of the southern states with rapine, crime, and blood"

The Stamp Act

George Grenville knows that the Sugar Act won't generate enough revenue in the colonies, and so he instructs his secretary in the Treasury, Thomas Whately, to draft legislation for a new tax. This duty will require that a wide range of legal and trade documents, as well as newspapers and even dice, carry official stamps.

At the same time, and into February 1765, colonial agents meet with Grenville. The colonists, they insist, are loyal subjects; they are willing to raise a revenue in proper constitutional form, through their own legislatures. But Grenville turns a deaf ear, Parliament refuses to entertain colonial petitions, and the Stamp Act easily passes in March.

Toward the end of May, news of the act reaches the colonies. The Virginia House of Burgesses, ready to adjourn, rushes through a set of resolutions protesting the tax.

After 1 November 1765, the date the Stamp Act is due to go into effect, and throughout the early months of 1766, public life is in disarray. The stamps required to conduct business legally are locked away, and officials debate whether ports and courts should close or remain open. Colonists groan under the burden of the Stamp Act's restrictions and the fear of disobeying it. In England, sympathetic merchants, eager to reestablish a free flow of trade and to regain their former profits, lobby Parliament to rescind the tax on the colonies. After lengthy consideration, Parliament votes to revoke the tax, and when the glorious news reaches the colonies, church bells ring.

The Sugar Act

The war with France that had stretched on for years and encircled the globe finally ends in 1763. Colonists are proud of their role in defeating the French, but England is faced with a vast territory to safeguard and a soaring debt to service. The French have been banished from the mainland continent of North America, but another threat persists. In 1763, in order to avoid confrontations with Indian nations, the English ministry issues a proclamation forbidding settlement to the west of the Appalachian Mountains.

In 1764, George Grenville, First Lord of the Treasury, proposes to strengthen the mother country's hold on its American investment. Addressing the King in his declaration of intent, Grenville argues that "it is just and necessary, that a revenue be raised, in your Majesty's said dominions in America, for defraying the expences of defending, protecting, and securing the same." Working within the framework of earlier legislation regulating trade but for the first time directly imposing a tax on the colonists.

British enforcement of trade regulations has been notoriously lax, and colonial merchants have grown rich and comfortable. The new Sugar Act, they are dismayed to find, cracks down on their smuggling, intrudes upon their lucrative West Indies trade, constrains commerce in a broad range of goods, ties up their vessels at port, creates a more elaborate and more invasive customs apparatus, and sends violators to jury-less vice admiralty courts for trial. The Sugar Act, the merchants fear, will take a bite out of their profits.

The colonies have already been mired in a post-war depression. The Sugar Act worsens their trade balance.

In Boston, town meeting (the local government) carefully considers the Sugar Act and the impending Stamp Act. "We . . . declare our just expectations," Bostonians announce, as they assert their rights and advise their representatives to the Massachusetts legislature to stand firm for traditional prerogatives. Meanwhile, in New York, American patriots urge their countrymen to cast off British luxuries and set about producing their own raw materials and home manufactures. Such self-sufficiency, they insist, will empower colonists to dispel their dread and become the "richest People upon Earth."

As members of the British empire, colonists have enjoyed the fruits of its robust, far-flung trade. As a quick glance through any newspaper will show, an array of goods are on offer in colonial markets: Cadiz salt; raisins; Madeira wine; rum from Barbados and Jamaica; coffee, cocoa, and Bohea tea; French indigo; watercolors and India ink; spermaceti candles; music and instruments; shoes and bonnets; travel books, poetry, and novels.

James Otis, a Boston lawyer and Massachusetts legislator, composes a pamphlet entitled Rights of the Colonies Asserted and Proved. If the colonists are not directly represented in Parliament, he argues, then Parliament has no authority to tax them. The Massachusetts Assembly votes its approval of the pamphlet, and in October it draws up a petition to the king that makes the same case.