Capture and Coffle of Enslaved Africans, Angola, 1786-87

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Image Reference

Louis de Grandpre, Voyage a la cote occidentale d'Afrique, fait dans les années 1786 et 1787 (Paris, 1801), vol. 2, facing p. 49. (Copy in Library Company of Philadelphia)

Caption, "Noir au bois Mayombe." The author, a French Naval officer who was in the Angola region in 1786-87, gives a lengthy description of the slave trade in this area. The African slave traders, he writes, go far into the interior to acquire slaves, yet they speak the same language "and only differ in their dialect or pronunciation. Slaves are brought to the coast in several ways: three or four will be conducted by around 20 traders. Five or six of these traders march in front . . . the others follow, and since the trail is very narrow . . . it is difficult to escape. . . . . for those who try to resist, they tightly tie their arms behind their backs with a rope . . . There are those who not only resist, but who are able to free themselves. For others who defend their freedom and fight the traders, the latter place a forked branch which opens exactly to the size of a neck so the head can't pass through it. The forked branch is pierced with two holes so that an iron pin comes across the neck of the slave . . ., so that the smallest movement is sufficient to stop him and even to strangle him . . ." (pp. 48 -49; our translation). Slaves sold to the French were largely destined for Saint Domingue.