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AMERICAN BEGINNINGS. Journal. September 6, 2013—What does it mean to be a slave? . Background on Slavery in America. Slave trade in English settlements began in 1619 when 20 slaves arrived in Jamestown via Dutch ship.

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  • September 6, 2013—What does it mean to be a slave?

Background on slavery in america
Background on Slavery in America

  • Slave trade in English settlements began in 1619 when 20 slaves arrived in Jamestown via Dutch ship.

  • Spain and Portugal already practice slavery, but England’s use didn’t grow until 1670s.

  • Most slaves came from W. African coast.

  • Those taken as slaves were primarily wartime captives, criminals sentences to enslavement, or debtors.

The slave trade
The Slave Trade

  • The Atlantic crossing, known as “the middle passage,” was atrocious.

  • For six to ten weeks, Africans were chained below decks in cramped, confining spaces.

  • Overcrowding, disease, and despair claimed many lives.


Olaudah equiano

Equiano s background
Equiano’s Background

  • According to his autobiography, Equiano was born a chief’s son of the Ibo (or Igbo) culture of present-day Nigeria.

  • Captured and sold as a slave to a series of African masters before making the journey to America on the Middle Passage.

  • Sold in the West Indies to a British Navy officer, Michael Pascal, who renamed Equiano as GustavusVassa.

Equiano s background1
Equiano’s Background

  • Equiano spent years fighting for Britain in hopes of being freed for good service.

  • Sold again in 1762 to a Quaker merchant, Robert King, who trained him in business.

  • In 1766, after 21 years as a slave, Equiano bought his freedom, moved to London, and started a business career.

  • By 1773, he was at sea again, first to find a northwest passage, and later traveling the Central America and Turkey.

Turning points
Turning Points

  • In the late 1770s, Equiano returned to London and became involved in anti-slavery efforts and converted to Christianity.

  • When the debate over abolishing slavery came to Britain in 1789, Equiano wrote, self-published, and promoted his narrative.

  • His narrative exposed the cruelty of the slave trade.

  • He died in 1797, only ten years before Britain abolished the slave trade.

A closer look
A Closer Look

  • Equiano’s narrative contains many details, most of which can be supported by other sources.

  • In 1999, English professor Vincent Carretta uncovered two documents that suggested Equiano was not born in Africa

    • His baptismal record from England

    • A Ship’s passenger list

      Both identify Equiano’s birthplace as South Carolina!

  • Historians continue to debate the evidence and how it may change the value of The Interesting Narrative.

  • Carretta points out that even if the narrative is based on oral accounts from other slaves, the descriptions still provide a valuable portrait of early African life and the Middle Passage.

Literary term
Literary Term change the value of

  • Slave Narrative—the life stories of people who survived slavery.

    • Portrays the culture shock of a newly captured African

    • Focuses criticism on slave traders, not slave owners

    • Includes religious and moral appeals against slavery

Equiano s audience
Equiano’s change the value of Audience

  • Mostly American and European abolitionists.

  • Immediate purpose was to influence British political leaders who were debating the slave trade issue.

Mrs mary rowlandson
Mrs. Mary Rowlandson change the value of

  • Background of the narrative:

    • Tensions were high in the Massachusetts Bay Colony at the end of the seventeenth century.

    • Relationships between Native Americans (Wampanoag) and Europeans had broken down.

    • Colonial troops began driving the Wampanoag from their land.

      • Cut off from food they stored for snowy months.

      • In desperate need of supplies

      • Angered by prior attack on Wampanoag

Who was mrs mary rowlandson
Who was Mrs. Mary Rowlandson? change the value of

  • 40-year-old wife of a minister.

  • Watched feud carry on around their house.

  • Twenty colonists were killed and twenty-four were taken captive, including Rowlandson and her son and daughter.

Impact of the narrative
Impact of the Narrative ransomed back to her husband.

  • Rowlandson’s books offered a one-sided and negative view of the Native American; however, her observations helped explain Indian culture to colonists.

  • Much of her story concerned details of the Indians’ struggle for survival.

Your homework
Your Homework excerpt?

  • OlaudahEquiano & Mrs. Mary Rowlandson worksheet—due Tuesday, September 10th!