Punishment Aboard a Slave Ship, 1792

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This record was last updated on 13 Jun 2016

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Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, British Cartoon Collection, LC-USZ62-6204. Originally published in London, April 10, 1792.

Engraved colored print by Isaac Cruikshank (the Scottish caricaturist), captioned, "The Abolition of the Slave Trade, Or the inhumanity of dealers in human flesh exemplified in Captn. Kimber's treatment of a young Negro girl of 15 for her virjen [sic] modesty." Shows John Kimber with a whip in his hand and an African girl suspended by her ankle from a rope over a pulley. An anti-slave trade drawing, reflecting an important and well-documented episode in the British campaign against the slave trade. John Kimber was the captain of a slave ship, the "Recovery," owned by Bristol merchants, which had left New Calabar (present-day Nigeria) bound for the West Indies in 1791. In a speech before the House of Commons in 1792, William Wilberforce, the abolitionist leader, accused Kimber of having caused the death of the girl by inflicting injuries on her because she had refused to dance naked on the deck of his ship. As a result of Wilberforce's speech, Kimber was arrested and tried before the High Court of Admiralty in June 1792; he was also charged with having murdered another girl on his ship. Kimber was quickly acquitted of all charges, the jury having concluded that disease, not maltreatment, had caused their deaths. See, Peter Marshall, 'The Anti Slave Trade Movement in Bristol', in Patrick McGrath (ed.), Bristol in the Eighteenth Century (Newton Abbot, 1972), pp.206-207; cf. Madge Dresser, Slavery Obscured: The Social History of the Slave Trade in an English Provincial Port (London: Continuum, 2001), p. 163; S. Swaminathan, Reporting Atrocities: A comparison of the Zong and the trial of Captain John Zimber, Slavery & Abolition 31 (2010): 483-499.