|There are a number of images in the previous harrowing description that differ in their emotional impact on the reader from the previous selection. First, the action takes place in the present. The victim is the privileged daughter of a chief, whose ill treatment shocks her and intensifies reader empathy. The separation of families and the gratuitous killing of the child violate domestic norms. The physical deprivation and cruelty that the captives have suffered in their forced march to the coast only delivers them to more terrible and prolonged suffering on the slave ships and the West Indian plantations. Let’s now look at those ships.
Transporting the Slaves
The following account describes specific details of slave prices and traffic in an anonymous report on “The Actual State of the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa” from The Amulet of 1832:
To the islands of Tomara, Factory, and Crawford Islands off the coast of Sierra Leone came ships from all European countries, fitted out by men of all religious persuasions, except Quakers, and thought it no shame to purchase their fellow-creatures as they would cattle. There is a slave factory where slaves are collected and sent off by water. The regulated price of a slave is as follows: for a man $135, for a woman $120, and for a child $90. The number of slaves sold by a single trader is 6,000 per year. Two slave ships leave the coast every month, having on board each, on the average 250 persons. It appears then, that while the English public supposed that the slave trade was suppressed, it had been carried on for the last ten or twelve years, to nearly as great an extent, and under much more revolting circumstances than ever. By treaties with Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Brazil, mutual right of search is allowed to cruisers of each nation, but no right of mutual search exists with France and North America, and slaves are continually being transported with impunity under their flags. (Anonymous 1 249)
The writer here condemns professed Christians, whose greed drives them to profit from the suffering of their fellow man, and governments that support such activity. The price of slaves shows how little slavers value life. A description of the crowded conditions aboard the ships is found in the “Old Sailor’s” (M. H. Barker’s) account, “Daddy Davy” from the Forget-Me-Not of 1831:
The schooner had a cargo of slaves not men-not women-no; there were ninety-seven little children from four to twelve years of age, in the most horrid and emaciated condition. The space in which they were kept was so confined that they could scarcely sit upright, and, having nothing but rough planks to lie upon, the rolling vessel had chafed their joints into wounds; they looked as if perishing from hunger. The captain had freighted his schooner at Loando, in the Congo country with one hundred and thirty male and female children and six fine young men. Thirty-three of the children had died on the passage, and had been thrown overboard. (Barker 35)
The accounts of the prolonged, crowded, and unsanitary conditions the slaves suffered aboard ships bound for the West Indies make it easy to believe that many slaves hoped the ships would sink to end their misery. The mistreatment of children and the casual disposal of the dead were certain to excite concern from the female readers of annuals. Among his investigations, Clarkson reported that a small vessel of twenty-five tons that he had seen was intended to stow seventy slaves sitting down with their limbs contracted within the limits of three square feet for all the voyage from Africa to the West Indies. There both the slaves and the vessel would be sold, and that way the trader could convert his total investment into money.