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Maritime slavery

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Maritime slavery

  1. 1. Slavery and AbolitionVol. 31, No. 3, September 2010, pp. 311 – 326INTRODUCTIONMaritime SlaveryPhilip D. MorganThink of maritime slavery, and the notorious Middle Passage – the unprecedented,forced migration of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic – readily comes to mind.This so-called middle leg (from Africa to the Americas) of a supposed trading trianglelinking Europe, Africa, and the Americas naturally captures attention for its scale andhorror. After all, the Middle Passage was the largest forced, transoceanic migration inworld history, now thought to have involved about 12.5 million African captivesshipped in about 44,000 voyages that sailed between 1514 and 1866. No othercoerced migration matches it for sheer size or gruesomeness.1 Maritime slavery is not, however, just about the movement of people as commod-ities, but rather, the involvement of all sorts of people, including slaves, in the trans-portation of those human commodities. Maritime slavery is thus not only aboutobjects being moved but also about subjects doing the moving. Some slaves wereactors, not simply the acted-upon. They moved commodities, not merely representedcommodities. They were pilots, sailors, canoemen, divers, linguists, porters, stewards,cooks, and cabin boys, not forgetting all the ancillary workers in port such as steve-dores, warehousemen, labourers, grumetes, washerwomen, tavern workers, and pros-titutes. This attention to the seafaring community is part of a general movement toexplore oceans as arenas of interaction, to reverse the precedence usually given toland over water. There is now a ‘maritime turn’ to rival the ‘linguistic turn’ in ¨recent historical scholarship. As Karen Wigen notes, ‘the sea is swinging into view’ 2as never before. The articles in this special issue reflect this current interest in maritime spaces. TheMediterranean, the first stretch of water to be colonised by networks of routine,round-trip exchange, the ‘ur-sea’ as it has been termed, is referenced in DavidWheat’s essay. The Caribbean, like the Mediterranean, is ‘a space between continents’,and Wheat shows that the linkages between the two seas were direct, withPhilip D. Morgan is Harry C. Black Professor, Department of History, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD21218, USA. Email: pmorgan@jhu.eduISSN 0144-039X print/1743-9523 online/10/030311– 16DOI: 10.1080/0144039X.2010.504537 # 2010 Taylor & Francis
  2. 2. 312 Philip D. MorganMediterranean galleys and several hundred oarsmen from North Africa and theOttoman empire ending up in the Spanish Caribbean. Molly Warsh’s essay alsofocuses on the Spanish Caribbean and the combination of Indian and Africandivers whose exploitation produced a short-lived boom in pearl production near Mar-garita and Cubagua Islands. Most of the other essays in this issue focus on the largebody of water that the Turks and Moors crossed to reach the Caribbean. The Atlanticworld has received much attention of late, although studies of its ocean are still in theirinfancy. Thus, the Atlantic-based essays in this volume probe specific areas and topics– whether Portuguese or Brazilian slave ships, Gold Coast castles, or Anglo-Americanprivateering voyages – as ways of approaching this vast area and much less venerablefield of scholarly endeavour than that of the Mediterranean.3 By the late eighteenth century, the incursions of Europeans into the Indian Oceangrew apace and indigenous responses intensified. The Sulu Sultanate in Southeast Asia,as James Warren elucidates, engaged in long-distance marauding to increase its supplyof slaves. Its slave raiders regularly travelled further than Southeast Asians had evergone before and established a vast network of raiding bases and forms of communi-cation over great distances. The terror and trauma that these slave raiders visitedupon Philippine and Indonesian coastal communities cannot be underestimated,although captives and slaves were often assimilated into the raiders’ societies – tothe point that some slaves could even organise raids of their own, eventually ownslaves, and earn their freedom. Another response occurred in the north-westernsector of the Indian Ocean, where East African men, slaves and freedmen alike,played vital roles in shaping a maritime world. As steam vessels gradually supplantedsailing ships, Janet Ewald notes, Africans worked almost exclusively in the engineroom, in part because other mariners disliked that work and already monopoliseddeck crew positions, in part because even stokehole work on a vessel provided oppor-tunities, in part because men freed or escaped from bondage naturally gravitated to themobility of maritime life, and in part because loading coal in port could easily lead toworking with coal below deck.4 With the inroads of whaling vessels and steamships in the nineteenth century, thePacific became a place of dense, criss-crossing connections. If to this point Africansand slaves were comprised of the least favoured maritime workers, now the Chinesevied for that dubious honour, as John Grider explains. Prejudice against theChinese stemmed in large part from the overcrowded ships transporting contractedChinese labourers, reminiscent of slave ships. In addition, as the Chinese enteredthe seafaring labour market, they proved a direct threat to white sailors’ livelihoodsfrom their willingness to work for low wages. Steamships, as Grider notes, ‘devaluedsailors’ traditional skills and labor’. Grider tells a declension story: whites, blacks,and Pacific Islanders served together on sailing ships in the first half of the nineteenthcentury, but the latter half ushered in a new era of racial intolerance and exclusion. Whether the Atlantic, Indian, or Pacific oceans, the maritime sphere was in someways a world apart. Life afloat – cocooned in a complex machine, a ‘woodenworld’ – was distinct from life ashore. Seamen can seem marginal figures, dwellingon the fringes of settled society, speaking an argot unintelligible to outsiders,
  3. 3. Slavery and Abolition 313wearing a distinctive garb, sporting particular hairstyles and bodily markings, andeven walking with a noticeably rolling gait. The Greeks, N.A.M. Rodger notes, hesi-tated to count sailors among the living or dead; many Africans thought that the seawas the realm of the dead. Seafaring is often thought to be the province of extremelyhumble, desperate people. The ‘smell of tar’, one scholar notes, ‘did not ennobleanyone’, and the risks associated with seafaring were palpable; people had to be indire straits, it is commonly assumed, to work in such a hostile environment. The low-liness of jobs at sea explains why Jack Tar often likened his fate to slavery. The lot of the‘common seaman’, one New Englander pointed out, was ‘noe better than commaneslauerye’. Or as, Edward Barlow, the seventeenth-century English mariner pungentlyexplained, ‘all the men in the ship except the master’ are ‘little better than slaves’. Con-templating naval service, the young George Washington heard that it would ‘cut himand staple him and use him like a Negro, or rather, like a dog’. Mariners can be con-sidered a breed apart, and their profession for many was not an honourable one.5 At the same time, as Daniel Vickers astutely observes, the majority of sailors ‘spentmost of their lives – perhaps even most of their working lives – on land’. In that sense,mariners could never be a breed apart; for many, seafaring was an extension of terres-trial existence, and an occupation quite honourable, highly skilled, in fact. In any case,the maritime world, and the focus of its historians, is as much on the intersection ofsea and land as on the sea itself. Intermediate zones – littorals, beaches, coastlines,ports, and harbours – the environment of ‘saltwater peoples’, those living withineasy walking distance of the sea or growing up within earshot of surf, now hoveinto view. Maritime history thus pays considerable attention to the lives of sailorsashore; all the ancillary personnel and institutions that supported life afloat – the mer-chants, shipping agents, crimps, stevedores, longshoremen, lighter-men, dockworkers,artisans, as well as the shipyards, ropewalks, cooperies, boarding houses, taverns, andbrothels – require examination. In Bermuda’s whaling industry, for example, twice asmany slaves worked ashore processing the animals as toiled afloat catching them.Sailor towns became as important as sailors.6 The maritime world was masculine in many ways, but women played significant ´ ´roles. Pablo E. Perez-Mallaına has noted how mulatto women seemed to be ‘especiallyattractive’ to Spanish mariners. Ports were generally places of female majorities,because of the economic opportunities they presented to women. Throughout theCaribbean and North America, free black women operated small businesses such asinns, taverns, shops, boarding-houses, and bakeries, forming key parts of the maritimeservice economy. In Charleston, South Carolina, some white women lived off theincome generated by their hired-out slaves who hawked and peddled goods on citystreets, were seamstresses, and washerwomen. So-called ‘Negro washing houses’were commonplace. As floating sojourners, sailors needed services provided by localresidents to satisfy their daily needs ashore. Local African and Afro-Creole women– innkeepers, laundresses, and sexual companions – found a niche. Women couldeven be mobile in ports. In 1688 a Sephardic Jewish woman and four women ofAfrican descent – perhaps her slaves or companions, for she apparently comman-deered the boat – lost their lives when their vessel was shipwrecked between the
  4. 4. 314 Philip D. Morgan ˆDutch entrepot of Curacao and Coro, a town on the northern coast of mainland ¸Spanish America (now Venezuela). In Africa and the Caribbean alike, incomingships were met by canoe-borne slaves – ‘bumboats’ in local parlance – offering pro-visions and other services (a ‘charcoal seraglio’ was one contemporary term for thephenomenon).7 Maritime labour had its obvious attractions for slaves. If plantation labour was thealternative – as it was in many places – life at sea was generally preferable. Thus,impressment did not hold the same fears for blacks as it did for whites, becausenaval service, as Denver Brunsman puts it, ‘signified a step up’ from slaves’ everydaylives. White sailors could view impressment as tantamount to slavery, but SamuelBarber, Dr Samuel Johnson’s impressed manservant, was reluctant to leave the navybecause it improved his lot. As cribbed, confining, and dangerous as shipboard lifewas, seafaring offered mobility and the opportunity to broaden horizons. Usuallythe first to hear of major events, maritime slaves became valuable conduits and infor-mants within their communities. Maritime slaves were the most cosmopolitan of men.No wonder so many of the earliest black leaders ‘rolled out of the forecastle’, as JeffBolster notes, rather than the pulpit. Furthermore, life afloat generally affordedbetter treatment than plantation labour. Yes, the lash was still ubiquitous, but oppor-tunities were greater too – the chance of cash wages, the ability to engage in privateventures, and even exposure to literacy and book-reading were all more likely.Sailors were not just wage workers, but traders, and they wrote the earliest black auto-biographies. Letters from African American sailors, while rare, do exist; and suchletter-writers, impressed by the Royal Navy, avoided the metaphor of enslavementso popular among white sailors; rather, they proclaimed their American citizenship.On board ship, skin colour often mattered less than skill. The camaraderie of being‘in the same boat’, working as part of a collective team, sharing food and accommo-dations, had its allure.8 Whites testified to black maritime skills. In 1758 one white observer declared Ber-mudian black sailors ‘the best in America, and as useful as the whites in their naviga-tion’. Some Bermudian slaves were so adept at trading that they acted as informalsupercargoes, managing the purchase and sale of a cargo. A French visitor toJamaica in 1765 praised the ‘intelligence’ of these ‘black managers’ as they negotiatedwith the rich island planters, revealing ‘the punctuality with they carry out the businessof their Masters, and bring back their vessels’. Experiencing a transitory inversion ofthe typical racial order, the white captain who turned over the helm to a black pilothad to trust in the man’s abilities. No wonder black pilots had a reputation forbeing self-confident men. A Bermudian ‘colored boy’ in his teens (no doubtexposed to the maritime world) taught the 9-year-old George Tucker how to countand to multiply as far as his 12 times table.9 African-Americans no doubt contributed to the technology of seafaring in the age ofsail, but, so far as is known, only two concrete examples have come to light. First,about the time of the Seven Years War ‘a happy expedient was hit upon for makinga ship ride easy in a storm at sea, which was affected by launching overboard aspare boom made fast to the end of a hauser’. This technological improvement, a
  5. 5. Slavery and Abolition 315simple form of sea anchor or ‘floating anchor’, used in deep waters when a regularanchor would not reach the bottom and there was a pressing need to keep theship’s head pointed into the wind, was credited to ‘a negro seaman’. In 1848, LewisTemple, an African-American blacksmith in New England created the toggle ironharpoon, which became standard in American whaling for at least half a century.10 The camaraderie of sailors sometimes trumped race. Seafaring involved, as Bolsternotes, one of ‘the most racially integrated labour forces in eighteenth-centuryAmerica’. The linking of sailors and slaves in the public mind is nicely captured inthe erection of a cage in Belize to ‘confine disorderly Seamen and Negroes’. Similarly,in Charleston the workhouse became a ‘House of Correction’ for ‘fugitive Seaman &Slaves’. Placed on the same plane, white sailors could befriend blacks.11 Nevertheless, despite the camaraderie and practical attractions of seafaring, mari-time life was often brutal for blacks. Two incidents, centuries apart, can illustratethe point. In 1583 on board the flagship of the New Spain fleet, a white sailor calledhis fellow tar ‘a black dog’ whereupon the two scuffled, with the black sailor stabbinghis white compatriot in the ribs. That they later reconciled is remarkable, but surely theblack sailor never forgot the racial epithet. Similarly, in 1812, in English Harbour,Antigua, Humphrey Clinker, a black sailor (perhaps a reader of Tobias Smollett),was quietly minding his own business on the naval vessel Amaranthe’s deck whenhis shipmate performing guard duty, abused him, calling him a ‘black bugger’.When Clinker told the man to move along, the sentry ran his ramrod into Clinker’seye. Deprived of his sight in one eye, Clinker learned the dangers of provokingwhite men, even if he could take consolation in the sentry’s guilty verdict whentried for maiming a shipmate. Evidently racial prejudice was hardly absent on boardship. The degree of abuse that fell on black sailors in New England vessels in theearly nineteenth century, Vickers notes, was ‘remarkable’. Cooks and stewards,mostly black and composing just about one seventh of the crew, received over athird of all punishments.12 Privateering exemplifies the risks and hardships that slaves ran at sea. Admittedly,some enslaved sailors serving on privateers gained a significant share of the prizemoney in recognition of the personal risks they ran and to motivate them in battle.Slave mariners on privateering vessels often fought alongside white sailors and wereentrusted with weapons. Some masters even freed such slaves to safeguard themfrom sale if captured; and Massachusetts during the American Revolution becamethe one state that would not routinely sell captured slaves as commodities.However, as Charles Foy emphasises, enslaved sailors faced greater hardship thanwhite sailors should their ship be captured. Generally, they were sold as prize goodsrather than jailed and exchanged as prisoners; the Massachusetts exception waslargely circumvented. Privateering was thoroughly ‘compatible with slavery’, asJarvis notes; and blacks almost always suffered the harshest fate if captured byprivateers.13 A major thrust of recent scholarship on the maritime world has been to show itsvariations. Maritime slavery could never be a singular phenomenon. The experiencevaried enormously, depending on whether slaves resided in big or small ports, were
  6. 6. 316 Philip D. Morganbluewater or coastal sailors, went on long or short voyages, boarded large shipsor small sloops, fished or whaled, were privateers or naval hands. Where the scaleof operations was large, crews tended to be heterogeneous, life was riskier, tensionsmore severe, discipline stricter, and the hierarchy of command more elaborate.From outports and in smaller vessels, crews tended to be more cooperative, oftenfamily-, household-, or neighbourhood-based. Deep-sea work was isolating whereasboatmen, Bolster notes, ‘slept ashore, ate local foods in season, had more regularcontact with relatives, and avoided the clock-time regimentation of seafaringwatches’. Even the vessels engaged in the transatlantic slave trade – ranging fromthe 1,269-ton ship Charles in 1857 to the 10-ton schooner Little Sally in 1763 –suggest the extremes, the one with scores of sailors, and the other with just ahandful. Although maritime life could be cosmopolitan and international, it wasoften intensely regional, local, even parochial. Paul Gilroy’s vision is of an integrative,international, countercultural ‘Black Atlantic’, but deeply researched colony studiesshow how important local identities were to ‘black Atlantic denizens’. DanielVickers has complained of a tendency ‘to treat seafaring in general as a singlespecies of activity best illustrated by its most extreme varieties’, by which he means‘vessels of the British Navy, the East India Companies, the long-distance whalingindustries’, and most extreme of all, the slave trade. Many other trades – coastaland short-haul – were organised quite differently.14 Mapping the hierarchy of ports and the size of respective fleets would be a usefulexercise; only parts of the overall are known. In the eighteenth-century British Atlanticworld, London was the dominant hub, with 3,000 annual clearances by mid century,and home to about 12,000 seamen. At about this time, approximately 75,000 marinerswere employed in the British Atlantic. Perhaps the busiest port in the eighteenth-century Caribbean was Oranjestad, St Eustatius, with 2,000 clearances a year in theearly 1770s. This number almost matched the number of vessels clearing Boston, Phi-ladelphia, and Rhode Island ports combined. Slaves would have formed a large pro-portion of the crews coming in and out of Statia. Enslaved sailors, for example,comprised more than two thirds of berths on mid-eighteenth-century Curacaon ¸vessels trading with Venezuela. Similarly, slaves must have dominated port life in Char-lotte Amalie on Danish St Thomas, because two thirds of the island’s slaves lived in thetown. On sugar islands, perhaps 3 to 4 per cent of slaves were involved in maritime life,but on non-sugar islands, the proportion rose to at least 15 per cent, sometimes muchmore. The tiny Cayman Islands, with admittedly a small slave population to match,had an almost total maritime orientation. Its enslaved population engaged in turtling,fishing, trading, and wrecking. When in 1781 a transatlantic slave ship en route toJamaica was wrecked on the Caymans, apparently many of the enslaved Africanswere sold to pay salvage.15 The African coast gave rise to different maritime opportunities. The Gold Coast washome to some of the most skilled canoe men in Africa; Europeans took these Fantemen to other coastal regions because of their expertise. As Ty Reese demonstrates, ahybrid form of slavery emerged along this coast, melding European concerns aboutproperty with African notions of rights in persons. In other coastal regions, the
  7. 7. Slavery and Abolition 317French preferred Lebou and Wolof mariners; by the late eighteenth century the Kruwere seen as highly desirable auxiliary seamen in Sierra Leone. According to oneknowledgeable white observer, the Kru preferred ‘task work, or working by thepiece’, rather than a monthly wage; they then exerted themselves ‘exceedingly whenthe reward is proportioned to the labour’. The ‘Kru mark’ was a broad blue or blackstripe running from the forehead down the bridge of the nose, sometimes extendingto the chin, with arrow marks on each temple. More conventional nautical tattoosdepicting boats, anchors, stars, and the like also came to decorate some Kru bodies.By the middle of the nineteenth century, as Janet Ewald notes, so-called ‘seedies’(deriving originally from ‘sidis or ‘sayyids’, Africans in northern India but comingto denote sailors and dockside workers from the Swahili Coast) became ‘the IndianOcean equivalent of Atlantic krumen’.16 Maritime work varied greatly by task. A skilled mariner looked down on an ordinaryseaman, even more so on stewards, cooks, and cabin boys, some of the lowliest occu-pations afloat, and for that reason often the preserve of slaves, people of Africandescent, and later the Chinese in the Pacific. The slave trade involved specialisedwork. Slave trade vessels often employed interpreters to calm captives, relay infor-mation, and prevent insurrections. The 16-year-old cabin boy Antonio on thefamous Amistad acted as interpreter between crew and predominantly Mende speak-ing African rebels who seized the ship, even though he claimed to have been born inCuba. The use of African guardians to police and intimidate their fellow captives seemsto have been common in the early slave trade. The Royal Africa Company certainlyengaged in the system for a while, but it was obsolete by the end of the seventeenthcentury. The degree to which Portuguese ships followed suit is not wholly clear.17 A major variation in the Atlantic was between its northern and southern sectors.Although slave sailors were found throughout the Atlantic basin, the southern Atlanticsaw far more slave sailors than the northern. In the most authoritative study, StephenBehrendt found that black mariners from Africa, the Atlantic Islands, the West Indiesor America comprised at most 3 per cent of all crewmen in the late British slave trade.Given that on average, mariners in the British trade made about three slaving voyages(because of high mortality and significant desertion, less than half of a slaver’s crewusually returned to a British port), many white crew members in the North Atlanticslave trade spent their whole career without serving with a black slave crewmember. By contrast, instructions to a captain sailing to Benguela in the South Atlan-tic to ‘get rid of white sailors’ and ‘substitute them with black sailors’ (as revealed byMarianna Candido) were probably commonplace. In ships setting out from Portugal,the number of slaves in the crew was rarely more than a fraction, but most interest-ingly, as Candido again demonstrates, captains tended to recruit Africans from thecoastal region they planned to visit. Presumably, their linguistic skills would be invalu-able. In ships setting out from Brazil, slave sailors sometimes comprised as many as ahalf, but frequently at least a sixth, of the crew. Thus, Brazilian slavers represent thepolar extreme in the recruitment of slave sailors – although of course they representednearly half of the transatlantic slave trade – and provide a most marked contrast withslavers shipping out of Britain, France, or Portugal.18
  8. 8. 318 Philip D. Morgan Maritime slavery also waxed and waned over time. Wartime, for example, expandedsome kinds of maritime opportunities – privateering and naval service, mostobviously – while restricting the regular merchant marine. In some colonies largetransformations occurred over time. In 1700, white sailors outnumbered their blackcounterparts 6:1 in Bermuda, and only about one sixth of the island’s slave menwere sailors; but on the eve of the American Revolution, about two thirds of themen sailing Bermudian vessels were slaves. During the early nineteenth century,North American shipping expanded, employing more than 100,000 men per year,with black men filling about a fifth of sailors’ berths. In early nineteenth-centurySalem, approximately 10 per cent of crews were African American, and crews weremarkedly more heterogeneous than they had been before. By the mid-nineteenthcentury, however, opportunities for black sailors had contracted heavily in NorthAmerica. Similar expansions and restrictions occurred elsewhere, as Ewald andGrider show, in particular.19 It is all too easy to romanticise maritime life. As Peregrine Horden and NicholasPurcell note, ‘sea history allows landlubber historians to indulge a taste for theromance or the frisson of seafaring’. Perhaps no sphere is more prone to exaggerationthan piracy. On the one hand, Marcus Rediker argues that ‘Africans and African Amer-icans both free and enslaved were numerous and active on board pirate vessels’. Alleg-edly, black crewmen comprised a key part of the pirate vanguard, their ‘most trustedand fearsome’ members – presumably because they had most to lose by being returnedto slavery. More than half of some pirate crews were supposedly black; thus, in 1718, 60of Blackbeard’s crew of 100 were said to be black. Kenneth Kinkor goes further thanRediker. For him, pirates were ‘united in a common enterprise transcending national-ity, religion and race’. He believes that pirates displayed remarkable tolerance. Theshared experience of oppression was supposedly a solvent of racism. White crewseven elected blacks to positions of command: a quartermaster of fame, CaptainKidd, was black. On the other hand, Arne Bialuschewski is deeply sceptical of suchclaims. For him, pirates ‘usually saw little worth in’ slaves, and were much more inter-ested in bullion and other valuables. He cites the brutalities inflicted on slaves bypirates. He quotes a sailor captured by Blackbeard, describing his company as‘about 130 Men all Stout Fellows all English without any mixture’. Perhaps his mostdramatic example concerns the mutineers of the slave ship Baylor who in 1722‘threw about 100 slaves overboard’ – an incident that recalls the numbers involvedin the Zong atrocity some 60 or so years later. Bialuschewski punctures the romanticaura surrounding piracy.20 The complexities of maritime slavery are encapsulated in specific stories. Especiallycompelling is African seaman Gorge’s choice, as Walter Hawthorne relates it, to remaina slave sailor rather than becoming nominally free. Gorge clearly identified as a‘mariner’ and thought of himself as Portuguese, even as he acknowledged hisAfrican heritage. Such choices complicate the stark polarities of slavery andfreedom. This individual story is similar to the tale of the 70 enslaved sailors of theBermudian privateer, the Regulator, who, when offered freedom in Massachusetts,chose instead to return to Bermuda, even if it meant returning to slavery. There, at
  9. 9. Slavery and Abolition 319least, they would rejoin families and friends ‘and a familiar, profitable seafaring life’.Just as Gorge thought of himself as Portuguese, so these enslaved sailors thought ofthemselves as Bermudian; indeed when being transported home, they cried ‘Huzzahfor Bermuda’ and seized the ship, which was later condemned as a prize. A more con-ventional narrative occurred in 1747 when three Afro-Spanish mariners, who had beenvictims of British privateers, sailed from New York on the Polly. Near Jamaica theyseized the sloop, killed the five crewmembers, and sailed for Santo Domingo. There,they claimed that they had been enslaved by the crew and had rebelled to regaintheir freedom.21 Gorge’s story can also be replicated in other tales of notable individual mariners.The most famous black seaman in the eighteenth century was Olaudah Equiano.Whatever the truth of his origins (whether the Bight of Biafra or South Carolina),he unquestionably laboured as a slave for more than 10 years on merchant ships cross-ing the Atlantic and Mediterranean. His complicated relations with white sailors whoboth befriended and exploited him are telling. He purchased his freedom in 1766 andcontinued to work as a seaman, travelling widely to Central America, the Caribbean,the Arctic, and North America, before settling in England. In 1789 he published hisautobiography, much of it about his seaborne exploits.22 Equiano was the most famous enslaved mariner, but he was far from being the onlysuch fascinating individual. Another was the mulatto of Portuguese origin, Lope Mar- ´tınez de Lagos, who in the 1560s acted as a pilot on three voyages between Mexico andthe Philippines. Discovering on his last trip that he was secretly condemned to deathfor defrauding the royal treasury, he organised a successful mutiny, murdering all theofficers. From 1629 onward a Spanish mulatto, perhaps a Tortugan or Cuban (there ´ ´was conflicting testimony), Capitan Diego Martın, alias Diego el Mulato, was anotable pirate, working with French and later Dutch sea-rovers, taking prizes and pris-oners from Campeche to Veracruz. In 1638 he proclaimed his Catholic faith andoffered his services to Spain, promising that no enemy ship would stop alongCuba’s coasts, in the knowledge that ‘I am here very few would dare pass on to theIndies, for they certainly fear me’. Havana officials recommended acceptance of theoffer, with Diego receiving a royal pardon and a salary equivalent to that of anadmiral. Thomas Jeremiah was an enslaved harbour pilot in Charleston, South Caro-lina, who gained his freedom probably in the 1760s and branched out into the fishingand salvage businesses. He became a slave owner and ‘one of the wealthiest men ofAfrican descent in British North America’. His dizzying ascent either led him to envi-sage a role for blacks in the coming American Revolution or made him a target forpatriot forces who wanted to intimidate black harbour pilots. Either way, he was avictim of his own success and was hanged and then burned for allegedly plotting aslave insurrection. As a last example, consider the enslaved 17-year-old Yoruban,who arrived in Bahia, in 1822. Thirteen years later he bought his freedom, took the ´name Rufino Jose Maria, and became a cook on a slave ship. In 1841, after anumber of voyages, he was captured by a British anti-slaver and taken to SierraLeone. He managed to return to Brazil, but was soon back in Sierra Leone attendingQuaranic classes. In 1845 he settled down in Recife where he became a fortune teller
  10. 10. 320 Philip D. Morganand healer. His wide travels exposed him to many worlds, and he spoke severallanguages – Portuguese, Yoruba, Arabic, and probably slave-trade pidgin. Thesefour individual examples taken from successive centuries illustrate the opportunitiesand dangers of maritime life.23 Not just individual biographies but illustrations can illumine the maritime world inwhich slaves were a part; and a fair number of which are set in Europe. One of the ear-liest is a depiction of black waterfront workers in Venice in 1495. About 30 years later,Christoph Wieditz depicted black slaves filling water barrels for a vessel in a Spanishport. In the 1570s a striking waterfront scene in Lisbon, Chafariz d’El Rey, whereperhaps about 10 per cent of the population was black, is notable for its depictionof black life. In the painting, scores of individual blacks make an appearance, andthe range of activities is remarkable: blacks filling water vessels from a fountain; exten-sive head-carrying of large jugs of water; two constables arrest one black man; anotherblack man dances with a white woman; one freed black, wearing a cape bearing the redcross of the Order of Santiago, rides a horse; one black man in a small boat is rowingwhile another is shaking a tambourine, as a white couple appear about to kiss. In 1745William Hogarth famously created a picture of a slave playing a pipe and tabor tomimic the pose of Captain Lord Graham in his cabin. Maritime veterans such asBilly Waters, the one-legged busker, or Joseph Johnson with a model ship on hishead, graced London streets. In 1815 John Downman drew a sensitive portrait ofThomas Williams, a black sailor from Liverpool. In the early nineteenth century adrawing of Captain Robert Lawrie’s ‘servant’ (probably slave) Tom has him speakingin dialect with the words reproduced in a bubble from his mouth. The watercolourDrunken Sailor by John Locker shows a black sailor helping an obviously drunkwhite compatriot. Their arms are symbolically linked.24 Naturally, Africans and their descendants populate African, Caribbean, and to alesser extent North American maritime scenes. African coastal illustrations, particu-larly along the Gold Coast, regularly feature manned canoes of all sizes and dimen-sions. One of the earliest New World equivalents (from the 1660s) is a group of sixblacks in a canoe turtle hunting in the French West Indies. Between 1774 and 1777,Gabriel Bray painted about 70 watercolours of places and people he visited while onthe naval vessel the Pallas: particularly notable are a possible portrait of threekroomen of Sierra Leone, three Gold Coast canoemen standing upright and paddlingvigorously, various West African coastal scenes, a remarkable delegation of Africanson his ship, and a breaming of a naval vessel with about seventeen blacks at work,probably in English Harbour, Antigua. In 1778 John Singleton Copley’s Watsonand the Shark was inspired by an event that took place in Havana, Cuba, in 1749,when 14-year-old Brook Watson was attacked while swimming in the harbour.Copley portrays nine of Watson’s shipmates, one of whom was black, coming tohis rescue. From the 1770s onwards, illustrations of tent boats or plantationbarges, usually manned by six to eight oarsmen and a black helmsman, showsthem navigating Surinamese rivers. In the same decade, Nicholas Pocock drew aboat seemingly transporting slaves to a larger vessel off the Pitons, St Lucia,perhaps part of an inter-Caribbean slave trade. In 1800 Pocock painted a view of
  11. 11. Slavery and Abolition 321English Harbour, Antigua, with a group of blacks setting sail in a small boat. In 1823William Clark famously depicted slaves rolling sugar hogsheads onto lighters fortransport to ocean-going vessels. ‘Bum Boat in Carlisle Bay’, shows a boat beingrowed by a man (on right) and woman; the boat is loaded with fruits and vegetables,and a monkey is sitting on the gunnel. The bumboat, a term used in England for thiskind of vessel, was employed to bring provisions and commodities for sale to largerships in port or offshore. The appearance of an Iranun maritime raider, with threebanks of oars, under full sail, as illustrated in James Warren’s essay, was a muchless benign, indeed fearsome and frightening, sight.25 The lives of enslaved mariners exhibited paradoxes and contradictions. Living cheekby jowl with free sailors could produce camaraderie but just as probably hostility. Mar-itime slaves travelled widely, but were subject to collective isolation in a machineresembling a wooden prison. The crew could act as one and yet was highly differen-tiated by rank and function. The maritime world both blurred and rigidified thespheres of freedom and slavery. A globalised labour force became a segmentedlabour force, with particular racial groups confined to the lowliest positions. Somemariners were highly cosmopolitan; others had highly localised identities. The shipcould be a ‘forcing house for internationalism’ but parochial attachments remainedstrong. From a slave owner’s perspective, sending slaves to sea seems highly risky,courting fate, but apparently familial ties and the autonomy of seafaring encouragedslaves to return back to a home port. According to one study, slaves deserted far moreinfrequently than whites. Similarly, in cases of smuggling, slaves were far from a liab-ility, for their testimony was inadmissible in court, making them especially valuable toowners. Maritime mobility was both a blessing and a curse; it could broaden horizonsand offer trading opportunities; but it posed significant risks. Ironies thoroughly bede-villed the experiences of maritime slaves.26AcknowledgementsI thank all the contributors for their essays, and Gad Heuman for his patience andencouragement.Notes [1] See online Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, http://www.slavevoyages.org/tast/assessment/ estimates.faces. Mortality rates for African slaves seem to have been by far the worst, much higher than for indentured Indian labourers, which in turn were higher than for free white labour: Shlomowitz, ‘Mortality of Indian Labour’. See also Christopher et al., eds, Many Middle Passages. [2] Wigen, ‘Introduction’, 717. See also Klein and Mackenthun, eds., Sea Changes; Bentley et al., eds. Seascapes; Bethencourt and Curto, eds., Portuguese Oceanic Expansion. [3] Abulafia, ‘Mediterraneans’, 64 –93, esp. 82. [4] Ewald, ‘Crossers of the Sea’. For other studies of different parts of this ocean, see Fisher, ‘Working Across the Seas’; Hooper, ‘An Island Empire’; and Eltis and Hooper, ‘The Indian Ocean’.
  12. 12. 322 Philip D. Morgan ´ [5] Rodger, The Wooden World, 15; McGaffey, ‘Dialogues of the Deaf ’, 249–67; Perez-Mallaına, ´ Spain’s Men of the Sea, 36; Vickers, Young Men and the Sea, 107; Wiencek, An Imperfect God, 59. [6] Vickers, Young Men and the Sea, 3, 17, 112, 181; Jarvis, In the Eye of All Trade, 248–9. These two recent books are impressive, and along with Bolster, Black Jacks, are indispensable. For other work that stresses the connections between land and sea: Pearson, ‘Littoral Society’; Land, ‘Tidal Waves’; and his War, Nationalism, and the British Sailor. ´ ´ [7] Perez-Mallaına, Spain’s Men of the Sea, 166 –7; Wheat, ‘Nharas and Morenas Horras’; Hartigan- O’Connor, The Ties That Buy, 20, 45 –7; Kennedy, Braided Relations, 150– 3; Rupert, ‘Waters of Faith’, 151 –64; Shelford, ‘Sea Tales’. [8] Brunsman, ‘Men of War’, 15, 30; Scott, ‘The Common Wind’; his ‘Afro-American Sailors’, 37– 52 and ‘Crisscrossing Empires’, 128– 43; Bolster, Black Jacks, 2; Vickers, Young Men and the Sea, 239; Bolster, ‘Letters by African American Sailors’; Jarvis, In the Eye of All Trade, 107– 8, 135, 137 –8, 368; and ‘The Binds of the Anxious Mariner’, 88. [9] Jarvis, ‘The Binds of the Anxious Mariner’, 90; In the Eye of All Trade, 152, 283.[10] Macpherson, Annals of Commerce, III: 374; Frost, ‘Lewis Temple’, 803–4.[11] Bolster, Black Jacks, 45; Finamore, ‘Pirate Water’, 3 –47. esp. 44; Harris, The Hanging of Thomas Jeremiah, 119. ´ ´[12] Perez-Mallaına, Spain’s Men of the Sea, 39; Morgan, ‘Black Experiences’, 105 –33, esp. 119; Vickers, Young Men and the Sea, 240.[13] Jarvis, In the Eye of All Trade, 241, 246 –7.[14] Vickers, Young Men and the Sea, 94 –5, 129; Jarvis, In the Eye of All Trade, 80, 369; his ‘On The Material Culture of Ships’, 51 –72, esp. 54; Bolster, Black Jacks, 19; http://www.slavevoyages.org/ tast/database/search.faces, voyage ids 4252 and 36269 (using standardised tons); Gilroy, The Black Atlantic; Vickers, contribution to ‘Roundtable’, 325–6.[15] Jarvis, In the Eye of All Trade 123, 165, 252, 356–7; Rupert, ‘Contraband Trade’, and ‘Marro- nage, Manumission, and Maritime Trade’, 367; Hall, Slave Society, 87, 90; Bolster, Black Jacks, 18 –19; Smith, Maritime Heritage, 51, 171.[16] Brooks, The Kru Mariner, 3, 5, 34 –5, 38; Ewald, ‘Crossers of the Sea’.[17] Fayer, ‘African Interpreters’; Sweet, ‘Mistaken Identities’, 298–9; Smallwood, ‘African Guardians’.[18] Behrendt, ‘Human Capital’, 66 –97, esp. 77 – 81; Klein, Atlantic Slave Trade, 85 –6; Rodrigues, De costa a costa, 186– 7; Crespi, ‘Negros apresados’; Sweet, ‘Slaves, Convicts, and Exiles’, 193 –202; Eltis, contribution to ‘Roundtable’, 294–9.[19] Jarvis, In the Eye of All Trade, 106, 149; Bolster, Black Jacks, 2; Vickers, Young Men and the Sea, 177.[20] Horden and Purcell, ‘The Mediterranean’, 724; Rediker, Villains of All Nations, 53 –6; Kinkor, ‘From the Seas’, and ‘Black Men under the Black Flag’, 195–210; Bialuschewski, ‘Black People under the Black Flag’, 468. See also Bolster, Black Jacks, 13 –15 and Williams, ‘Nascent Socialists’, 31– 50, esp. 42 –3.[21] Jarvis In the Eye of All Trade, 445– 6; Zabin, Dangerous Economies, 137–8.[22] Sweet, ‘Mistaken Identities?’; Byrd, ‘Eboe, Country, Nation’; Carretta, Equiano the African. ´ ´[23] Perez-Mallaına, Spain’s Men of the Sea, x, 40 –1, 213–15; Landers, Black Society 21; Wheat, ‘A Spanish Caribbean Captivity Narrative’, 198; Lane, Pillaging the Empire, 71; Harris, The ´ Hanging of Thomas Jeremiah; Reis et al., ‘Rufino Jose Maria’, 65 –75. ´ ´[24] Bugner, ed., The Image of the Black, vol. 2, part 2, 191; Perez-Mallaına, Spain’s Men of the Sea, 40; Levenson, ed., Encompassing the Globe, 78 –9; Earle and Lowe, eds., Black Africans, 29 –31, 41 –2, 159 –60; Hamilton and Blyth, eds., Representing Slavery, 95, 217, 236, 252, 293, 304; J.T. Smith, ‘Joseph Johnson’,; John Downman, Thomas Williams, Oct. 13, 1815, Tate Liverpool. See also Quilley, ‘The Face of the Sea’, and his From Empire to Nation.[25] Transatlantic slave trade and slave life in the Americas, http://hitchcock.itc.virginia.edu/Slavery, BRY01, BRY07, 2-589a, LCP-54, DAP6, VILE-60, 3-246, 229, Allen06 (egs of African canoes);
  13. 13. Slavery and Abolition 323 JCB_15102-3 (French West Indies); NW0264, JCB_04050-3, BEN5a (Surinam); NW0066 (Clark); NW0007 (bum boat); Pocock, View of English Harbour, Antigua, PAD0940, National Maritime Museum; Hamilton and Blyth, eds., Representing Slavery, 32, 54, 121– 2, 172, 236, 252. For other North American and Caribbean maritime illustrations, see Bolster, Black Jacks, illustrations following p. 112.[26] Linebaugh and Rediker, Many-Headed Hydra, 151; Jarvis, In the Eye of All Trade, 150, 176, 365.ReferencesAbulafia, David. “Mediterraneans.” In Rethinking the Mediterranean, edited by W.V. Harris. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.Behrendt, Stephen D. “Human Capital in the British Slave Trade.” In Liverpool and Transatlantic Slavery, edited by David Richardson, Suzanne Schwarz, and Anthony Tibbles. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2007. ¨Bentley, Jerry H., Renate Bridenthal, and Karen Wigen, eds. Seascapes: Maritime Histories, Littoral Cultures, and Transoceanic Exchanges. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2007.Bethencourt, Francisco, and Diogo Ramada Curto, eds. Portuguese Oceanic Expansion, 1400–1800. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.Bialuschewski, Arne. “Black People under the Black Flag: Piracy and the Slave Trade on the West Coast of Africa, 1718–1723.” Slavery and Abolition, 29: 4 (December 2008): 461–76.Bolster, W. Jeffrey. Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997.———. “Letters by African American Sailors, 1799–1814.” William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 64 (2007): 167 –182.Brooks, George E. Jr. The Kru Mariner in the Nineteenth Century: An Historical Compendium. Newark, Del.: Liberian Studies Association in America, 1972.Brunsman, Denver. “Men of War: British Sailors and the Impressment Paradox.” Journal of Early Modern History 14 (2010): 9 –44.Bugner, Ladislas, ed. The Image of the Black in Western Art, vol. 2 From the Early Christian era to the Age of Discovery, Part 2. Africans in the Christian Ordinance of the World (Fourteenth to the Sixteenth Century), edited by Jean Devisse and Michael Mollat. New York: William Morrow, 1979.Byrd, Alexander X. “Eboe, Country, Nation and Gustavus Vassa’s Interesting Narrative.” William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 63 (2006): 123 –148.Carretta, Vincent. Equiano the African: Biography of a Self-made Man. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2005.Christopher, Emma, Cassandra Pybus, and Marcus Rediker, eds. Many Middle Passages: Forced Migration and the Making of the Modern World. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.Crespi, Liliana. “Negros apresados en operaciones de corso durante la Guerra con el Brasil (1825– 1828).” Temas de Asia y Africa II (1994): 109 –122.Earle, T.F., and K.J.P. Lowe, eds. Black Africans in Renaissance Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.Eltis, David. Contribution to ‘Roundtable: Reviews of Emma Christopher. Slave Ship Sailors and their Captive Cargoes, 1730–1807, International Journal of Maritime History 19, no. 1 (June 2007): 287 –342.———, and Jane Hooper. “The Indian Ocean in Transatlantic Slavery.” Unpublished essay, 2010.Ewald, Janet J. “Crossers of the Sea: Slaves, Freedmen, and Other Migrants in the Northwestern Indian Ocean, c.1750 –1914.” American Historical Review 105, no. 1(February, 2000): 69 –91.Fayer, Joan M. “African Interpreters in the Atlantic Slave Trade.” Anthropological Linguistics 45, no. 3 (2003): 281 –295.
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  16. 16. 326 Philip D. Morgan ´Sweet, James H. “Mistaken Identities? Olaudah Equiano, Domingos Alvares, and the Methodological Challenges of Studying the African Diaspora.” American Historical Review 114, no. 2 (April, 2009): 279 –306.———. “Slaves, Convicts, Exiles: African Travelers in the Portuguese-Atlantic World, 1720–1750.” In Bridging Early Modern Atlantic Worlds: People, Products, and Practices on the Move, edited by Caroline A. Williams. Farnham: Ashgate, 2009.Vickers, Daniel with Vince Walsh. Young Men and the Sea: Yankee Seafarers in the Age of Sail. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005.———. Contribution to “Roundtable: Reviews of Emma Christopher, Slave Ship Sailors and their Captive Cargoes, 1730 –1800. International Journal of Maritime History 19, no. 1 (June 2007): 287 –342.Wheat, David. “A Spanish Caribbean Captivity Narrative: African Sailors and Puritan Slavers, 1635.” In Afro-Latino Voices: Narratives from the Early Modern Ibero-Atlantic World, 1550–1812, edited by Kathryn Joy McKnight and Leo J. Garofalo. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2009.———. “Nharas and Morenas Horras: A Luso-African Model for the Social History of the Spanish Caribbean, c.1570 –1640.” Journal of Early Modern History 14 (2010): 119–150.Wiencek, Henry. An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003. ¨Wigen, Karen. “Introduction” to “Forum: Oceans of History.” American Historical Review 111, no. 3 (2006), 717 –780.Williams, Crystal. “Nascent Socialists or Resourceful Criminals? A Reconsideration of Transatlantic Piracy, 1690–1726.” In Pirates, Jack Tar, and Memory: New Directions in American Maritime History, edited by Paul A. Gilje and William Pencak. Mystic: Mystic Seaport, 2007.Zabin, Serena R. Dangerous Economies: Commerce in Imperial New York. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009.
  17. 17. Copyright of Slavery & Abolition is the property of Routledge and its content may not be copied or emailed tomultiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holders express written permission. However, usersmay print, download, or email articles for individual use.