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Jeannine DeLombard

Ball, Charles (1781?–?), fugitive slave, soldier, and memoirist, was born on a tobacco plantation in Calvert County, Maryland, the son of slave parents whose names are unknown. When Ball was four years old his mother and siblings were sold to slave traders to settle their late master’s debts; he never saw them again. Ball was sold to John Cox, a local slaveowner, and continued to live near his father and grandfather. After the sale of Ball’s mother, his father sank into a deep depression, eventually escaping from slavery on the eve of his purchase by a slave trader. Ball became close to his octogenarian grandfather, a former African warrior who had arrived in Maryland around 1730.

Cox died when Ball was twelve and the young slave worked for his late master s father until he was twenty years old During this time Ball married a slave named ...

Article

Jeannine DeLombard

fugitive slave, soldier, and slave narrative author, was born on a tobacco plantation in Calvert County, Maryland, the son of slave parents whose names are unknown. When Charles was four years old, his mother and siblings were sold to slave traders to settle their late master's debts; he never saw them again. Charles was sold to John Cox, a local slave owner, and continued to live near his father and grandfather. After the sale of Charles's mother, his father sank into a deep depression, eventually escaping from slavery on the eve of his purchase by a slave trader. Charles grew close to his octogenarian grandfather, a former African warrior who had arrived in Maryland about 1730.

Cox died when Charles Ball was twelve and the young slave worked for his late master s father until he was twenty years old During this time Ball married a slave ...

Article

David Dabydeen

African‐American seaman, probably a slave, who was injured and treated in London while fighting the French in the Napoleonic Wars. The years of Hammon's birth and death are unknown. Hammon published a narrative of his life, Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings and Suprizing Deliverance of Briton Hammon, a Negro Man, in 1760. Nothing is known of his life apart from what is recorded in the narrative.

The question of whether he was a slave or not is not entirely known, although he was the servant of a General John Winslow of Marshfield, Massachusetts. He was separated from his master in 1747 and became a captive of the Spanish on his many sea travels He travelled for almost thirteen years enduring various hardships such as imprisonment and enslavement During his travels Hammon held various jobs Notably he worked as a cook aboard a slaver that was bound for ...

Article

Angelo Costanzo

slave narrative author, wrote the earliest slave account published in North America. Practically nothing is known about him other than what he stated in the account of his life's events between 1747 and 1760. While living as a slave in New England in 1747, Hammon undertook a-sea voyage that turned out to be a thirteen-year odyssey featuring numerous perils and repeated captures by American Indians and Spaniards. A Narrative, of the Uncommon Sufferings, and Surprizing Deliverance of Briton Hammon, a Negro Man,—Servant to General Winslow, of Marshfield, in New-England, Who Returned to Boston, after Having Been Absent Almost Thirteen Years, published as a fourteen-page pamphlet, was printed and sold in 1760 by Green and Russell, a Boston publishing firm that was bringing out popular Indian captivity narratives.

This remarkable story of sea adventures treachery and multiple captivities is believed to be the first autobiographical slave narrative ...

Article

Roland L. Williams

(?-?), autobiographer. The Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings and Surprizing Deliverance of Briton Hammon, a Negro Man (1760), which recounts almost thirteen years of Hammon's adventures at sea, contains all that is known about Briton Hammon. Covering a mere fourteen pages, Hammon's account opens with a humble introduction expressing the hope that the reader will overlook any flaws in the text, since the author's “Capacities and Condition of Life are very low.” It turns into a tale of amazing events that occur after Hammon obtains permission from his master, General Winslow, to leave Marshfield, Massachusetts, to go to sea. On Christmas day 1747 he sails from Plymouth on a sloop bound for Jamaica in due course he arrives safely on the island Returning from it however his vessel catches on a reef off the coast of Florida Hostile natives attack the ship and kill everyone on board ...

Article

Joanna Brooks

Briton Hammon wrote A Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings, and Surprizing Deliverance of Briton Hammon, a Negro Man (1760), the first black-authored text published in America. The Narrative recalls Hammon's adventures for twelve years as a sailor, castaway, captive, prisoner, and slave around the Atlantic littoral. His story began on Christmas Day in 1747, when Hammon left the home of his master, John Winslow, in Marshfield, Massachusetts, to ship himself aboard a vessel bound from Plymouth for the Caribbean.

When the ship foundered on a reef off the Florida coast sixty American Indians attacked killing most of the crew and taking Hammon captive Hammon s captors soon released him to the captain of a Spanish ship headed for Havana Cuba In Cuba Hammon landed in the employment of the Spanish colonial governor and the local Catholic bishop then was impressed into the Spanish navy and imprisoned ...

Article

David Dabydeen

African preacher who travelled around England and Ireland sermonizing. Jea was born in Old Callabar, Africa, and at the age of 2½ was taken, along with his family, to North America, where they became the slaves of Oliver and Angelika Triebuen. They were ill‐treated and not properly clothed and fed. Working hours were long and intense, as Jea records in his narrative The Life, History, and Unparalleled Sufferings of John Jea, the African Preacher (1815).

The text captures his life as a slave his rebellion against Christian hypocrisy the finding of his faith his travels and the significance of his sermonizing Laden with quotations from the Bible it is itself a piece of Jea s preaching often questioning the virtues and beliefs of his readers Following his discovery of Christianity at the age of 15 when as he writes the Lord was pleased to remove gross darkness superstition ...

Article

Richard J. Bell

Methodist preacher and seaman, was born in the port town of Old Calabar, in Nigeria, West Africa, to Margaret and Hambleton Robert Jea. At age two Jea and his family were captured in Old Calabar and transported to America on a slave ship. With his parents and several siblings he was immediately sold to the family of Oliver and Angelika Tiehuen, members of the Dutch Reformed Church who owned land outside New York City. This knowledge comes from Jea's narrative, The Life, History, and Sufferings of John Jea, the African Preacher, written and published in 1815; it is the only source of information about most of Jea's life and travels.

The newly enslaved family was set to work as field hands and quickly felt the hardship of poor conditions and physical abuse Jea found little comfort in the message of obedience and humility preached to ...

Article

John Saillant

Around 1816 he published two books, a Collection of Hymns and his Life, History, and Unparalleled Sufferings; from the latter is derived virtually all available information on his life. The autobiography, which was undoubtedly embellished in some of its particulars, recounts Jea's birth in Africa, his childhood in colonial New York, the abuses he suffered under slavery, his manumission, his family life, and the travels and religious exercises of his maturity.

Jea reported that after he became restive under slavery around the age of fifteen he was baptized in a Christian church a circumstance that he claimed to use to compel his master to liberate him He told of preaching in North America Europe and the East Indies as well as of marrying three women in succession one Native American one Maltese and one Irish His children all preceded him in death Like many early African American authors Jea ...

Article

Leila Kamali

Black beggar and performer in 19th‐century London known as ‘Black Joe’. The details of Johnson's birth are unknown, but he is immortalized in a drawing, first published in 1815, which is featured in John Thomas Smith'sVagabondiana; or, Anecdotes of Mendicant Wanderers Through the Streets of London (1817).

Johnson had served in the merchant navy until he retired following an accident. Not being entitled to any relief payments because of his foreign birth, he was obliged to earn a living by begging. In order to avoid confrontation with the local beadles, he first started on Tower Hill, where he amused passers‐by by singing George Alexander Stevens's ‘Storm’, and later ventured into the public streets, becoming a so‐called ‘Regular Chaunter’. Johnson built a model of the ship Nelson and fixed it to his hat so that by bowing his head he was able to simulate the motion ...

Article

John Herschel Barnhill

sailor, was born on Union Island, St. Vincent, British West Indies, the son of a shipbuilder. As a child he attended St. Vincent Grammar School because his father wanted him to be an engineer. Mulzac himself wanted to be a sailor, a desire that became a passion when his father took him to visit HMS Good Hope in Kingston, Jamaica.

On completing grammar school Mulzac sailed as a seaman on the schooner Sunbeam, captained by his brother John. He subsequently sailed on a Norwegian ship from Barbados through the Caribbean and the Atlantic, again as a seaman. When the ship's captain invited Mulzac to church with him in Wilmington, North Carolina, Mulzac encountered his first taste of segregation when the sexton directed him to the black church some blocks away.

Mulzac received his training at Swansea Nautical College in South Wales and in New York City He ...

Article

Shivani Sivagurunathan

Blackboxer who fought and lived in Britain. Perry was born in Annapolis, Nova Scotia. He initially served on a British man‐of‐war for four years and, after being discharged, turned to a career in boxing. His time on the man‐of‐war earned him the nickname John ‘the Black Sailor’ Perry. He arrived in London in 1845 after walking from Birmingham, having hoped to find a patron for his prizefighting along his journey. In London he met Johnny Broome, a former British lightweight champion. Broome trained Perry, and in the following year he faced his first professional opponent, Bill Burton Perry was an entertaining fighter not simply because he was physically impressive he was handsome 6 feet 1½ inches tall and weighed 212 pounds but also because he moved with skill and poise His style of milling was particularly striking where he would move around his opponent while balanced ...

Article

A. J. Peluso

deckhand, scowman, sailor, and marine artist, was born in Mobile, Alabama, the son of Nelson Selby and Margaret Hicks, occupations unknown. Nothing more is known of Selby's family, and little is known about his youth. By 1905, as a child of twelve, he was employed as a deckhand working the ships in Mobile Bay—schooners from ports around the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. One day his leg was mangled in a snapped towline and had to be amputated. In spite of the loss he managed to engage successfully in various manual and unskilled jobs and earn a precarious living.

Selby spent some of his early working years in Baltimore Maryland as a scowman for the Atlantic Transport Line Even with a peg leg he could climb a rope ladder as deftly as anyone without his disability Nor did the work of scowman suppress ...

Article

Barton A. Myers

abolitionist, activist, soldier, and journalist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennysylvania, to William and Mary Stephens, free African Americans who had fled Virginia's eastern shore in the wake of the Nat Turner rebellion. Little is known of Stephens's early education, but he likely attended a combination of segregated primary schools in Philadelphia and the Sunday school of the First African Baptist, a fervently abolitionist church that his parents attended. Prior to the war Stephens worked as a cabinetmaker, a skilled position that offered him elite status in the urban Philadelphia black community.

Stephens's antebellum exploits included a wide range of civic and political activities. In 1853 he helped found the Banneker Institute, an African American literary society and library, honoring Benjamin Banneker the African American scientist and inventor While working with the society he met influential white leaders including General Oliver Otis Howard later head ...

Article

Mark Andrew Huddle

fugitive slave, memoirist, and sailor, was born into slavery on the Wagar plantation in southern Maryland, the son of two field slaves whose names remain unknown. Although there is little information about Thompson's life beyond his memoirs, his descriptions of his experiences in slavery as well as his adventures as a black seaman are important contributions to our knowledge of both those worlds.

John Thompson's recollections of his early years are vague at best. His realization that he was a slave came at age six, when he witnessed the sale of his oldest sister. Even at that early age, as Thompson recounted in his memoirs, he was engaged in backbreaking work in the corn, wheat, and tobacco fields of the Wagar plantations. Like many slave-narrative authors, including Harriet Jacobs, Henry Bibb, Solomon Northup, William Parker, Solomon Bayley, James Mars, and William ...