Punishment for Fugitive Slaves, 17th cent.

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Image Reference

Francois Froger, Relation d'un Voyage fait en 1695, 1696, & 1697 aux Cotes d'Afrique, . . . Brezil, Cayenne & Isles Antilles . . . (Paris, 1698), facing p. 150; A relation of a voyage made in the years 1695, 1696, 1697 (London, 1698), facing p. 120. (Copies in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)

Captions, (top), "comme les Portugais fouettent leurs esclaves lorsquils ont deserté" (how the Portuguese flog slaves who have escaped); (bottom left), "invention d'un Francois de la Martinique" (invention of a Frenchman of Martinique); (bottom right), "esclave qui a la jambe coupé pour avoir deserté" (slave who had his leg amputed for having escaped). The 1698 English edition contains this image, but facing p. 120, while the 1699 Amsterdam edition contains a similar, albeit derivative and not identical copy (facing p. 154). In a discussion of slavery in Brazil and the “miserable state” of the enslaved, Froger talks about runaway slaves and the punishments they receive when captured. The following translation appears in the 1698 English edition: “. . . if their masters once catch them, they give them no quarter; for they hang a great iron collar about their necks on each side whereof there are hooks, whereunto is fastened a stake or branch of a tree, with which they thrash them at pleasure. . . . But if it so happen that after this sort of chastisement they relapse again into the same fault, they . . . cut off one of their legs, nay, and sometimes hang them for an example, of terrour [sic] unto others . . .. I knew one [slave master] in Martinico who being of a compassionate nature could not find in his heart to cut off his slave’s leg, who had run away four or five times, but to the end he might not again run the risqué of losing him altogether, he bethought of fastening a chain to his neck, which trailing down backwards catches up his leg behind, as may be seen by the cut [engraving]. And this, in the space of two or three years does so contract the nerves that it will be impossible for this slave to make use of his leg. And thus, without running the hazard of this unhappy wretch’s death, and without doing him any mischief, he thereby deprived him of the means to make his escape” (pp. 119-120).