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Understanding Slavery

A Slave on Three Continents

A Slave in America
Slaves taken from ship to market The slave ship carrying Olaudah Equiano and hundreds of other Africans finally reached port. Their destination was the English colony of Barbados. Soon they were put up for sale:

On a signal given (as the beat of a drum), the buyers rush at once into the yard where the slaves are confined, and make choice of that parcel they like best. The noise and clamor with which this is attended, and the eagerness visible in the countenances of the buyers, serve not a little to increase the apprehension of terrified Africans, who may well be supposed to consider them as the ministers of that destruction to which they think themselves devoted. In this manner, without scruple, are relations and friends separated, most of them never to see each other again.

Equino's route to America

No one purchased Equiano, who was still just a boy of 12. So he was shipped north to a plantation in Virginia. There he was shocked to see the instruments used to control and punishment slaves:

A black woman slave was cruelly loaded with various kinds of iron machines; she had one on her head which locked her mouth so fast that she could barely speak, and could not eat or drink.

Next: Slave Sailor


Timeline of Olaudah Equiano's Life
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