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Article

Allan D. Austin

a military leader in Africa, a slave in Mississippi, was born into the rising Bari family of the Fulbe people in the fabled but real African city of Timbuktu. His name is sometimes written as Abdul Rahahman and Abder Rahman. The Fulbe people were prominent leaders in West African jihads from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries and, though enslaved, the most persistent adherents to Islam in the Americas. Abd al-Rahman's father and family had moved south to territory soon to be called Futa Jallon in the highlands of present-day Guinea after he and non-Muslim allies wrested power from their animist opposition between 1776 and 1778. Well into the twentieth century the military Bari-Soriya and religious Karamoko Alfiya families, usually peacefully, traded rule over their people and lands.

For about a century Futa Jallon was the strongest nation in the area. In its capital Timbo, Abd al-Rahman ...

Article

Adhuu  

Trevor Hall

who was one of the first West Africans enslaved by the Portuguese in 1441, and transported by ship to Europe. He lived in Rio de Oro (modern-day Western Sahara). Information about his parents and marital status is not known; however, Adhuu was captured with a youth who may have been his relative. His reason for renown is that after he was enslaved in Portugal, he negotiated his freedom with Prince Henry the Navigator (1394–1460). Adhuu probably spoke Berber or Arabic, and communicated with Portuguese translators.

The Portuguese royal chronicler Gomes Eannes da Azurara witnessed Adhuu’s arrival in Portugal in 1441 Azurara said that Prince Henry had ordered Captain Antam Goncalves to sail from Portugal to West Africa and capture the first persons he found and transport them back to him Captain Goncalves sailed to Rio de Oro where he spotted human and camel tracks along the ...

Article

Trevor Hall

of the sixteenth-century slave trading ship Santa Margarida in the Portuguese Cape Verde Islands. Not much else is known about Alemam except that on 27 December 1515 Luis Carneiro, a scribe in the Cape Verde customs house at Ribeira Grande, Santiago Island, described him as “captain.” This information appears in entries of the surviving 1513–1516 Cape Verde customs receipt book transcribed from the original Portuguese manuscript into English by historian Trevor Hall (Before Middle Passage, 2015). In outfitting a slave ship and paying customs duty on a captive he imported from West Africa, Alemam shows the growing involvement of non-Iberian Europeans in the early sixteenth-century slave trade in Cape Verde.

In 1462 another non Portuguese ship owner the Genoese Antonio de nolle Antonio de Noli had colonized the uninhabited Cape Verde Islands for Portugal transforming the islands into the center of the expanding Atlantic slave trade ...

Article

George Michael La Rue

preeminent trans-Saharan merchant and caravan leader (khabir) from the Sudanese kingdom of Darfur, was born in Kubayh, the son of Ibrahim ibn ʿAli, a Tirayfi merchant from Kordofan who immigrated to Darfur, and an unknown mother. He was commonly known as khabir ʿAli. In the nineteenth century Darfur was Egypt’s leading supplier of trans-Saharan goods including ivory, ostrich feathers, and slaves. In 1838, when Darfur’s sultan Muhammad Fadl died, young ʿAli ibn Ibrahim had already crossed the Sahara along the route from Kubayh (Darfur’s commercial capital) to Asyut in Upper Egypt, perhaps as part of a caravan led by his mentor, paternal uncle, and future father-in-law, Muhammad Kannun, or one of the lesser Tirayfi caravan leaders. ʿAli ibn Ibrahim allegedly heard the news of the sultan’s death from Muhammad ʿAli, the viceroy of Egypt.

ʿAli married six times and had numerous children His first marriage was probably ...

Article

Alloron  

Stephanie Beswick

Sudanese leader, was the first prominent Bari private merchant, slave trader, and opportunist insurgent warlord. He rose to power during the 1860s by exploiting poisonous dynastic rivalries between Nyigilo and Subek, the royal sons of Lagunu, the unchallenged Bari leader in 1840, and their respective noble offspring. The faction of Nyigilo had enjoyed the support of Catholic missionaries up to their departure in 1860, but thereafter allied with the northern slave traders who at that time were establishing fortified trading operations throughout southern Sudan. It was to become an era, for the first time in Bari history, during which commoner traders such as Alloron found it possible to acquire economic and political power. However, the upstart was often reminded of his humble origins by the epithet “man without rain,” implying that he lacked the arcane fructifying powers of royalty.

The arrival of Turks northern Sudanese and Europeans ...

Article

David Northrup

Atlantic merchant, was born and lived in Duke Town, a part of the trading community of Old Calabar, near the Cross River in what is now southeastern Nigeria. The names of his parents are unknown. His name is also given as Ntiero Edem Efiom. He married Awa Ofiong, whom he called his “dear wife,” as well as two other wives whose names are not known. His only known child was a son, Duke Antera.

Antera grew up in a family prominent in the marketing of merchandise brought by Europeans in exchange for African slaves and other goods In addition to the local Efik language the young Antera learned to speak English through contact with the British captains and crew who called at Old Calabar The fact that he could also read and write English suggests he may have received some formal education in England as did the sons of other ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

a prominent trader in nineteenth-century Ghana, was born in 1790 His mother was a Ga woman from Accra who had family ties with the Alata chief in the neighboring town of Osu and the Asere chief of Kinka His father was Colonel Henry Bannerman a Scottish officer and a trader in the Royal Africa Company stationed at the British fort of Cape Coast Bannerman s father s connections in the British government and his mother s connections in southern Ghana helped prepare the way for his rise as a businessman Bannerman s ambitions were facilitated by the changing nature of trade between European nations and West Africa The British government s efforts to close the international slave trade posed some challenges for coastal communities on the Ghanaian coast although the stabilization of the Asante kingdom s borders had already led to a decline of slave exports from the region ...

Article

Paul E. Lovejoy

abolitionist and slave-narrative author was born in the commercial center of Djougou West Africa inland from the Bight of Benin in what would later be the republic of Benin He was a younger son of a Muslim merchant from Borgu and his wife who was from Katsina the Hausa city in northern Nigeria then known as the Sokoto Caliphate his parents names are now unknown His home town Djougou was located on one of the most important caravan routes in West Africa in the nineteenth century connecting Asante the indigenous African state that controlled much of the territory that would become Ghana and the Sokoto Caliphate After a childhood in which he attended a Koranic school and learned a craft from his uncle who was also a merchant and a Muslim scholar Baquaqua followed his brother to Dagomba a province of Asante There he was captured in war in ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

writer and escaped slave, was born probably in 1824 in the town of Djougou located in what is now northern Benin Djougou was an important trading town with close commercial connections to the kingdom of Dahomey to the south and the sultanate of Nupe to the east Baquaqua s family which spoke Dendi as their first language was deeply involved in long distance trade His mother was originally from the Hausa speaking town of Katsina far to the east of Djougou while his father claimed Arab descent He probably spoke Hausa as well as the Arabic he learned in qurʾanic school Baquaqua traveled on caravans to the east and west of Djougou at the behest of his father However he did not want to follow his father s wish that he become a Muslim scholar so he stayed with one of his maternal uncles a well connected Hausa trader ...

Article

Trevor Hall

based in Portugal whose merchant ships traded between the Portuguese Cape Verde Islands and Valencia, Spain. Nothing is known about his family. Barchi’s reason for renown was that during the last two decades of the fifteenth century his ships transported thousands of enslaved Africans from the Cape Verde Islands to Valencia. Although not much is known about Barchi himself, his business opens a window into the working and scope of the Old World Atlantic slave trade from the Portuguese archipelago in Cape Verde Islands, West Africa to Spain.

During the fifteenth century Portugal had a monopoly over European maritime trade with West Africa. Although the Treaty of Alcáçovas (1479) and the protocol of Tordesillas (1494 prohibited non Portuguese ships from trading with sub Saharan West Africa the treaties permitted European merchants to trade with Portuguese islands off the West African mainland The Portuguese crown established customs ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Atlantic slave-trade survivor presented as a gift to Britain's Queen Victoria, was born in the early 1840s in or near the southern Beninese town of Okeadon. Her birth name is not known, but her marriage certificate would list her name as Ina Sarah Forbes Bonetta, perhaps indicating that her original name was Ina. Southern Beninese states had fought for years against the inland kingdom of Dahomey for autonomy, as the slave-trading empire sought to force its southern neighbors to pay tribute and accept Dahomean control over the slaves that were often sold to European and South American merchants. In 1846 Dahomean soldiers seized her and killed her parents during the Okeadon War between Dahomey and its enemies in the Yoruba city of Abeokuta after a traitor had allowed Dahomean troops entry to the town Bonetta was fortunate she did not join the 600 or so town residents ...

Article

Kari J. Winter

slave, sailor, soldier, and farmer, was born Boyrereau Brinch, the seventh of eight children (four boys and four girls) born to Whryn Brinch, the son of Yarrah Brinch, and of Whryn Douden Wrogan, the daughter of Grassee Youghgon. He lived in the city of Deauyah in the kingdom of Bow-woo, which was probably situated in the Niger River basin, in the area that would later become Mali. In 1758 when he was around the age of sixteen Boyrereau was abducted by slave traders transported to Barbados and sold to Captain Isaac Mills of New Haven Connecticut who trained him for British naval service Like thousands of other slaves and freed Africans in the Caribbean Brace as he would come to be called years later after his manumission This may have been an anglicized version of Brinch was forced to labor aboard ship during ...

Article

Philip J. Havik

merchant and trader in Portuguese Guinea, present-day Guinea-Bissau, was born in the 1780s, in the town of Cacheu on the Guinea coast, into a family with strong connections to administration and commerce in the region. Her father, Manuel de Carvalho Alvarenga, was also Guinean-born; he was descended from Cape Verdeans who had settled there in the 1700s, acting as commanders of the ports of Cacheu, Farim, and Ziguinchor, who intermarried with African women. Her brother, Francisco de Carvalho Alvarenga, became an important trader and held posts in the Portuguese administration in the town of Ziguinchor in the Casamance region (part of Senegal since 1886 Her aunt Josefa de Carvalho Alvarenga was born in the Cape Verde islands and married wealthy officials and owned landed property and slaves in the archipelago Although Rosa de Carvalho Alvarenga s mother s name is unknown she was in all likelihood of Banhun origin ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

also known as Tallen and John Bull, was enslaved in Africa, shipped to America, freed by the interception of a British vessel, made prisoner of war while serving in the British navy, then tricked into slavery in Savannah, Georgia; he earned and purchased his freedom three times over, being defrauded the first two times.

From accounts he gave later in life, it is believed he was born among the Kissi, a people ethnologically related to the Malinke, in what is now Guinea, on a tributary of the Niandan River. His given name was Tallen. Captured in a local war at age 12, and brought to the coast for sale as a slave, he was being transported across the Atlantic when the ship carrying him was intercepted by a British vessel, probably in 1811. The exact circumstances remain a matter of controversy. By his own account, recorded in 1857 ...

Article

Aaron Myers

In the late seventeenth century, gold was discovered in the area that is now the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil, triggering an inundation of gold prospectors from the surrounding provinces and Portugal. They brought large numbers of African slaves with them to extract the precious metal and began importing slaves from Africa’s Gold Coast (present-day Ghana and the surrounding countries), a region known for its advanced mining activities. By 1720 the city of Ouro Preto had become the center of gold mining in Minas Gerais. This was the destination of the African king Chico Rei and many members of his tribe.

Originally named Galanga, Chico Rei was the king of a small Congolese tribe of some 200 people in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Around 1740 he and his tribe were taken prisoner by Portuguese slave traders and sold into slavery in Minas ...

Article

Robert Fay

Although Sengbe—pronounced Sin’gway, and later Anglicized as Joseph Cinque—lived for approximately sixty-six years, he is best known for his role in a drama that lasted a little more than three years. Scholars believe that Cinque, who belonged to the Mende ethnic group, was a married man and father before his abduction. Cinque was born in Sierra Leone and at about the age of twenty-six, he was kidnapped by slave raiders and sold to Portuguese slave traders who took him to Havana, Cuba. There, he and other Africans were resold and put on the Amistad Shortly after leaving Havana harbor Cinque led a group of slaves who freed themselves and attacked the ship s crew killing all but two crewmembers The rebels kept these two alive and ordered them to sail back to Africa The crewmembers however tricked them and sailed north About two months later the ship landed ...

Article

Coffee  

Alice Knox Eaton

or Cuffee slave insurrectionist was the reported leader of the first major slave rebellion in the American colonies His name means son born on a Friday in the Akan language of Gold Coast Africans The Akan known in the era of the slave trade as Coromantees were reputed to resist enslavement with great bravery and ferocity In the early eighteenth century slavery had become an integral part of the economy of New York City with an active slave market and a regular influx of slave labor from Africa As the slave population grew treatment of slaves became increasingly brutal as British colonists attempted to make slave labor as productive in the North as it was in the South Unlike slaves on southern plantations however slaves in New York City lived in densely populated areas and had many more opportunities to meet with one another and plan organized resistance On the ...

Article

Madge Dresser

Controversial philanthropist and merchant involved in the slave trade. He was the Bristol‐born son of a Bristol merchant who spent his early life in London, but it is in Bristol that he is most famous. A staunch Anglican and Tory, he was briefly MP for the city in 1710. His huge donations to church renovation and school building projects, mainly but not exclusively in Bristol, ensured his reputation as the city's greatest benefactor, as his major statue in the centre and his fine tomb by Michael Rysbrack attest. Several Bristol streets, schools, buildings, and venerable local charities still bear his name, and his birthday is still honoured in civic celebrations.

Colston s relevance to black history lies in the fact that he was involved in the British slave trade and in the trade of slave produced goods By the 1670s he was a City of London merchant trading ...

Article

Christopher Campbell

Reluctant early 17th‐century Khoikhoi immigrant to Britain, tragically manipulated by the East India Company. Coree was taken from the area around the Cape of Good Hope (then known as Saldania) in southern Africa, and unwillingly brought to Britain. He and a companion both suffered the misfortune of being captured after boarding Gabriel Towerson's East India Company ship Hector, but of the two, only Coree survived the voyage. The cause of his fellow captive's death was recorded, unconvincingly, as being due to ‘extreme sullenness’. On his arrival in Britain, Coree was placed in the household of a merchant and then governor of the East India Company, Sir Thomas Smith. It was hoped that Coree would provide the company with useful information about his homeland and, as a result, he was relatively well treated with accommodation, food, fine vestments, and even a suit of armour. However, according to Peter Fryer ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

an influential trader in early nineteenth-century Sierra Leone, was born in the town of Wonkafong in the Sumbuya district near Conakry, Guinea, around 1770. His father, Fendu Modu, was a prominent merchant from the Susu ethnic community who also served as the chief of Wonkafong and advised the ruler of the small Sumbuya kingdom. Dala Modu first came to the fledgling British colony of Sierra Leone in 1794 with his father. Fendu Modu realized the commercial potential of the colony’s capital of Freetown, and so he sent his son and roughly fifty followers to the outskirts of this town in 1795 The community they established would become known as Dalamodiya in honor of Dala Modu Sumbuya was a major producer of white polished rice that was much in demand in Freetown and Fendu hoped to secure new markets for that crop This proved beneficial to the British administration ...