“The deck that is the floor of their rooms, was so covered with blood and mucus which had proceeded from them in consequence of the flux that it resembled a slaughter-house. It is not in the power of human imagination, to picture itself a situation more dreadful or disgusting.... [We] frequently find several dead; and among the men, sometimes a dead and living negro fastened together. When this is the case, they are brought upon the deck, and being laid on the grating, the living negro is disengaged, and the dead are thrown overboard.” -Ship surgeon Alexander Falconbridge, 1788
Physically ▪ Inspected ▪ Chained ▪ Smell of sweat & human waste ▪ Unable to eat ▪ Whipped ▪ Burned lips with hot coal ▪ Hot, dark and damp conditions ▪ Exposed to disease ▪ Unfit air for breathing ▪ Sores from chains ▪ Dead were thrown overboard
Not in Article: ▪ Sick from the ship and European food ▪ Brought up on deck for exercise ▪ Cleaned with salt water that burned their sores ▪ Women were raped ▪ Many revolted
Psychologically ▪ Did not know why he was taken, as he did not understand their language. ▪ Did not know what was going to happen to him. ▪ Feeling of dejection and sorrow. ▪ Thoughts of suicide (many did jump overboard). ▪ Horrified by what was around him. ▪ Watched the dead.
Not in Article: ▪ They did not speak one another’s language ▪ Unsure of what happened to family & loved ones ▪ Treated as cargo/property, not humans
The Zong One of the most notorious incidents during the middle passage. British slave ship Zong, 1781.
Bound of Jamaica when disease swept through the ship. Captain ordered 54 of the sickest captives to be chained together and thrown overboard. The, 2 days later, 78 were thrown into the sea.
The captain claimed he had good reason to throw them overboard: insurance covered Africans who drowned but not those who died from disease.
In England, the owners filed insurance claims for all those who drowned. But, news of the conspiracy leaked to the public, and the insurance company refused to pay. The owners took the case to court, and the jury sided with the owners claims for compensation.
The insurance company appealed the decision, which was then overturned in a landmark decision. The court ruled the insurance company did not have to pay because the captives who died were people, not cargo. This court case and event raised awareness about the emerging abolitionist movement.