Life Aboard a Slave Ship | History

Life Aboard a Slave Ship | History

about 1525 to 1866, 12 and 1/2 million Africans
were taken from their homeland and forcibly shipped
across the Atlantic. A journey that almost 2 million
of them wouldn’t survive. By the turn of the 18th
century, European merchants were building vessels
capable of transporting hundreds of slaves per journey. These ships had extra
portholes for ventilation, weapons mounted on deck
in case of rebellion, and additional compartments
added below deck to take on more human cargo. Before boarding the ships
at African port cities, slaves were stripped
of their clothing and remaining
possessions and had their heads completely shaved. During boarding, which could
take weeks or even months, slaves lived on the
deck of the ship in a temporary wooden house
constructed by the crew. The crew also installed
netting around the deck of the ship
designed to catch slaves who might opt for
death over forced servitude. Once moved below deck, slaves
would find themselves stuffed into compartments
with ceilings as low as 4 and 1/2
feet, where they would spend most of their voyage. They were segregated
by gender and age. Adult men were kept separately
and shackled in pairs, women usually left unbound in
their designated compartment, and children often free
to move about the ship. There was no
plumbing of any kind. Slaves were forced to relieve
themselves where they sat, creating hellish conditions when
combined with the heat and lack of ventilation below deck. Disease was rampant. Measles, smallpox, influenza,
scurvy, and dysentery, the number one killer, ravaged
slaves and crew members alike. The slaves generally spent about
eight hours a day above deck, but were still separated
by gender with a barricado, a reinforced wall that could
be used to protect crew members in case of a revolt.
Slaves were also subject to forced
exercise, sometimes including dance and song for
the entertainment of the crew. Disobedient slaves were tortured
and beaten, usually whipped with the especially cruel cat
of nine tails, a tool designed to inflict maximum pain. Slaves who refused to eat their
typical meal of rice and beans were forced to do so,
sometimes with a speculum oris, a medieval tool used
to pry open unwilling mouths. Women, while usually
left unshackled, were raped and sexually
abused by members of the crew, sometimes arriving in the new
world carrying the children of their attackers. But it was the women using
their minuscule freedoms who would often coordinate
mutinies against their captors. But these rebellions
were rarely successful. The true extent of the
horrors of the Middle Passage came to light in a 1783 court
trial over the slave ship Zong. The Zong left Africa in 1781
with 442 enslaved on board. After a two month journey
riddled with navigation errors, 62 slaves and seven crew members
had perished without reaching their destination. Disease was spreading
throughout the ship, and fresh water was
running dangerously low. Captain Luke Collingwood was
afraid of the financial costs of more deaths. Slaves that died
of disease were not covered by the ship’s insurance,
but slaves who drowned were. Some 133 slaves were
thrown overboard. Collingwood claimed it
was necessary to do so to halt the spread of disease. At the trial between
the Zong’s owners and their insurance
company, the owners argued that because it was
legal to kill sick animals for the health of a ship,
it was legal to treat infected slaves the same. The court agreed. But the trial itself exposed
the horrors aboard the Zong. The story was republished
by British abolitionists with the name of
the ship redacted, meant to show that this tragedy
could happen on any slave ship across the Middle Passage. 24 years after the Zong
trial, the slave trade was outlawed in both Great
Britain and the United States. It would take England another
26 years and the US another 58, plus a civil war, before
the practice of slavery was banned outright.

57 Replies to “Life Aboard a Slave Ship | History”

  1. Scariest part about this is if we were all born then we would have been brought up to think that’s normal. We wouldn’t bat an eye.

  2. Good video, very informative…left out a key part…Something called Buck Breaking. I suggest every black person who sees this video look into that……

  3. I would not make a good slave I need my space and air now I see why some people jump off the boat no hygiene or bathroom or enough space or enough air and all them people are lock up and one space

  4. Slavery didn't become illegal in African countries till the 20th century as late as the 70s and 80s in as still practiced

  5. Question how they got 12.5 million slaves to the America along with cargo crew members with No engine or motor across the Atlantic. Back then they where depending on wind. BS copper colored people know your history NOT there HIS-story

  6. Most of them now are Americans in good conditions, citizens of the toughest and greatest country in the world , look at Africa now lady

  7. Everybody is blaming each other. Whites, blacks it doesn't matter people! If you do your research you'd realize slavery had long existed BEFORE 1525. Vikings used to capture and enslave people of all color and so did the Romans. Aztecs and Incas in South America used to capture tribes and enslave them as well. Back then the Earth was very cold, dark, and lawless ruled by tyrannical leaders. Evil comes in all shades.

  8. What port where these people brought to when they came to America? How long does it take to sail from Africa to America without fresh water? Why are there laws that prohibit the number of caucasian slaves in South Carolina? Why were native Americans described by european eye witness accounts as resembling Ethiopians with wool like hair? Can you explain the Treaty of peace and friendship between the United States and Morocco? Can you also need explain George Washington letter to the Sultan of Morocco? I smell lies and reconstructed history.

  9. I will never believe it was statistically possible to transport such a multitude of people such a long distance under such deplorable conditions. It just is not feasible. What it is, is a way to convince black people they are aliens in this land, and not the original inhabitants. African-American? The term has always been ridiculous & ultimately a verbal slap in the face.

  10. Oh, come-on. Enough is enough. Slavs were valued Roman slaves and are even called "sclave" in Latin but you keep repeating this black version of it. If you don't stop I'll tell you who and how got them to Rome.

  11. Where are our Reparations, Reparations, Reparations. Japan got reimbursed. Indians got reimbursed. Mexicans got liberated. Where are Blacks Reparations. Dont say its section 8 and Welfare checks. Because every race receives that. Where are our Reparations. Only place we can catch up at is entertainment. This isnt fair when only the best get the check. We dont need a competitive job market we need markets that have lucative jobs like Asians have like mexicans have.. You see one black person being hired in every job. The best jobs we get are temporary. And we get to work beside the illegal immigrants. Cold part is when things get slow the illegals get to stay and black americans have to find other jobs. This isnt fair. On top of this the owner of the site is either mexican or Asian. Wow. They wonder why young black boys ron and steal. This is why we can never get the jobs we want we only get he jobs the industry wants us to have. This is do to mass incarceration so young black americans have a record before they can even get a good job. So then our best choice is a warehouse with a orange vest which is only enough for a pair of shoes and gas money and food for the week. We in the same boat they brought us here on..Where our our Reparations
    So we can buidld our own companies and buy our own stuff just like everybody else does.

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