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The M iddle Passage. S hantilly Pena Mallory Steffey. Table of Contents. Introduction A Sudden Change of Fate The Ships The Journey Disease Suicide Overboard Olaudah Equiano After the Journey. Introduction. What is the Middle Passage?

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s hantilly pena mallory steffey

The Middle Passage

Shantilly Pena

Mallory Steffey


Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • A Sudden Change of Fate
  • The Ships
  • The Journey
  • Disease
  • Suicide
  • Overboard
  • OlaudahEquiano
  • After the Journey


  • What is the Middle Passage?
    • The journey African Slaves took to the Americas.
  • How many slaves went through the Middle Passage?
    • 11,300,000 slaves went through the Middle Passage
  • How many died during the journey?
    • 1 out of 4 died during the journey.
  • Why were the Africans chosen to be slaves?
    • They were immune to European diseases and knew how to farm well.
  • Maps

A Sudden Change of Fate

  • African rulers dictated who was taken
    • War captives, etc.
  • West coast of Africa
    • Half never reached it
  • Held in dungeons under ‘slave factories’
    • Sometimes held for over a year
  • Unsure of their fate
    • Were told they were to work in fields
    • Were skeptical
    • Some thought they sailors were cannibals



“When I looked round the ship too and saw a large furnace of copper boiling, and a multitude of black people of every description chained together, every one of their countenances expressing dejection and sorrow, I no longer doubted of my fate and quite overpowered with horror and anguish, I fell motionless on the deck and fainted. . . . I asked if we were not to be eaten by those white men with horrible looks, red faces and long hair?"



  • Disease was high
    • Small Pox
    • Dysentery
    • Ophthalmia
  • Dead bodies left to lie
  • Rats and bugs carried many illnesses
  • Spoiled food and drinking water


  • Often attempted; rarely succeeded
    • Slaves viewed as valuable cargo
    • Captain wanted to keep as many alive as possible
      • Reaped the reward
  • Ways in which slaves attempted to kill themselves:
      • Jumping overboard (through sewage hole)
      • Hanging from the cleats (twine or yarn)
      • One male scratched his throat open with his fingernails
      • Refusing to eat (most common and unsuccessful way)
  • Most were unsuccessful
    • Others cheered for ones that were

Refusal to Eat

  • Were tortured
  • If this failed, a speculum orumwas used
  • Notable case

Notable Case

A child, not even one year old, was very sick and unable to eat the boiled rice that had been made for the slaves. The captain decided that the child was just being difficult, and set out to ‘teach it a lesson’. A twelve pound piece of wood was tied to his neck, and he whipped the child at every meal. On the fourth day of this torture, the child died, unable to withstand the brutal beating. The captain then called the mother of the child to throw the body overboard. In the beginning, she adamantly refused, but after a severe lashing, she gave in. She walked slowly to the body, gently lifted it up, and tossed it as lightly as she could off the ship. The story is undoubtedly true, told under oath before Parliament.



  • Thrown over because
    • Needed to lighten the load
    • Food and water were dwindling
    • Illness
  • Thrown through the sewage hole
  • Were sometimes beaten to death before being pushed off
  • Notable Case


  • Born 1745 in Africa, died 1797 in London
  • When 11, his sister and he were kidnapped and put on a slave ship
  • 1754, sold to Michael Pascal
    • Royal Navy officer
    • Renamed him GustavusVassa
  • Lived on sea for seven years during a war with France
  • Was a servant the rest of his enslavement
  • Learned to read and write
  • Travelled a great deal
  • 1783, returned to London to fight for the outlaw of slavery because a former slave and friend (Jack Annis) had been kidnapped by his previous owner
  • Was freed in 1766

After The Journey

  • Bought by plantation owners and the wealthy
  • Often split from families and friends
  • Anywhere from $200 - 80

These Africans,

  • who endured so
  • much in the past year,
  • were now forever doomed
  • to a life of labor with
  • no chance of reward.