Wooden Yokes Used in Coffles, Senegal, ca. 1789

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Image Reference

Thomas Clarkson, Letters on the slave-trade, and the state of the natives in those parts of Africa, . . . contiguous to Fort St. Louis (London, 1791) plate 3, facing p. 37. (Copy in Library Company of Philadelphia)

Clarkson writes: "The third way [of bringing slaves from the interior to the coast for sale to the French Senegal Company] is described in the plate No. 3. In Fig. 1, B represents a large log of wood, X a crutch at one end of it, and A a twisted cord to which it is fastened at the other. This log is made fast to a Negro's neck in Fig. 2 (see other image of yokes from Clarkson on this website). It is reported to be so heavy and unmanageable that it is extremely difficult for the person who wears it to walk, much less to escape or run away. In travelling it is said to be necessary to lift up the log, that is thus fastened to the neck of each, and to place the crutch of it on the shoulder of every preceding slave. . . . In this way then many of the Negro slaves from Bambara to Galam have been made to travel. . . . When it has been necessary to halt, the crutch has been taken from the shoulders of each, and the person, who has worn it, has remained . . . unable to walk or manage himself as before, and has become almost as secure, as if he had been chained to the spot in which he had been made to halt. When it has been thought necessary to proceed, the log has again been put on the neck of every preceding slave" (pp. 36-37). This description is based on Clarkson's communications with De Villeneuve, a Frenchman who visited the Senegal area in the mid-to-late 1780s; see image VILE-43 on this website. See also image LCP-16