This module focuses on the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the system which forced the enslavement of Africans who were transported to the western world. Enslaved Africans faced some of the most brutal treatment in human history, enduring a journey across the Atlantic Ocean that lasted anywhere between 4-10 weeks on ships with two hundred to eight hundred people packed into the bottoms of the vessels’ holds. Some revolted, some took their own lives, some fell sick and died on the journey. But for those that survived, arriving in ports and trading cities in the Caribbean, South America, and the US was only the first step of the rest of their lives.
These three documents in the boxes below are a small sample of the Rubenstein Library's archives of the trade but provide an important window into understanding the legacy of the trade and the people involved. Follow the instructions accompanied with each document and use the Document Analysis Worksheet (located in the Analysis and Evaluation box on the left) to reflect on what you observed.
Goals for this exercise:
Key Historical Dates:
Ascention Insurance Account, 1793 - (pay close attention to page 3)
Context/Summary: Account detailing the value of the ship Ascention and its cargo including 52 slaves. Apparently, the ship was lost in the slaves' insurrection in 1793. Information was gathered for the purpose of collecting insurance.
Citation: Ascention Insurance Account, 1793, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Document #2 -
Archibald Boyd Papers (go to page 5)
Context/Summary: Personal and business correspondence of Boyd and his son, James E. Boyd, attorney and political leader. Include letters of Samuel R. Browning, a slave trader, commenting on the health of various slaves on the condition of the slave market.
Citation: [description of item], Archibald Boyd Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Document #3 -
George and Christopher Champlin Letter, 1773 (go to page 1)
Contect/Summary: Collection consists of a letter by Champlins' agents, Threlfall and Anderson, to the Champlins, reporting on the slave market.
Citation: Letter from Threlfall and Anderson to George and Christopher Champlin, George and Christopher Champlin Letter, 1773, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University