Africans Liberated from a Captured Slave Ship, 1846

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This record was last updated on 26 Sep 2016

Image Reference

Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch, ed., The Story of the Sea (London, 1895-96), vol. 2, p. 441

Caption: "They were Free." This image is found in a lengthy chapter on the Atlantic slave trade. The scene illustrates a detailed description of Africans liberated from a Brazilian slaving vessel, the "Paqueta de Rio," by a British naval vessel, the "Cygnet," off Sherbo/Sherbro island, Sierra Leone. The account initially appeared in the "Sierra Leone Watchman" (November 15, 1846) which reported that there were 547 Africans on board. They were, according to the Watchman (p. 442), "all stowed together, perfectly naked . . . The slaves who were confined in the hold--it being utterly impossible for the whole of them to remain on deck at one time--were in profuse perspiration . . . The smell on board was dreadful . . . . the greater part of the slaves were chained together with pieces of chain, which were passed through iron collars round their necks; iron shackles were also secured round their legs and arms . . . .[After they were freed, the captives] set to work, and, with the billets of wood which had hitherto formed their bed, knocked off each other's shackles . . . . They were branded like sheep. Letters were burnt in the skin two inches in length. Many of them, from the recent period it had been done, were in a state of ulceration. The illustration is a late nineteenth century artist's rendering and is a complete fabrication; sometimes reproduced in modern secondary sources on slavery which erroneously give the impression the image is based on an eye-witness drawing.