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Alemam, Joham  

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

Hawkins, Sir John  

Erin D. Somerville

The first Englishman to transport African slaves across the Atlantic. The son of a sea merchant and Mayor of Plymouth, Hawkins inherited the family sea business after his father's death. After early voyages to the Canary Islands, he moved to London in 1560 to seek support for voyages to the West Indian colonies, then under tight Spanish control.

Hawkins's first slave trading voyage departed for the west coast of Africa in October 1562. Upon arrival in Upper Guinea, Hawkins raided Portuguese ships for African slaves and other merchandise. Three hundred slaves were brought to Hispaniola, where he illegally sold them to English planters. The financial gains of the expedition were so extensive that Queen Elizabeth I supported an equally profitable second voyage in 1564, which moved over 400 slaves from Sierra Leone. A third slaving voyage in 1567 also supported by the Queen was not as successful ...

Article

Jea, John  

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

Jea, John  

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

Jea, John  

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

John Henry  

John Garst

“steel-driving man” and legendary hero, may have been a historic person born a slave in Mississippi, Virginia, or some other Southern state. In ballad and legend he is simply “John Henry,” but “John Henry” is a common combination of given names, so Henry may not have been his surname.

Songs about John Henry were collected as early as 1905. In 1916 the former West Virginia governor W.-A. MacCorkle confused him with John Hardy, an African American gambler and murderer who was hanged in Welch, West Virginia, in 1894 and is the subject of his own ballad. By the mid-1920s the ballad “John Henry” was being recorded commercially by Riley Puckett (1924), Fiddlin' John Carson (1924), and other white “hillbilly” performers, and shortly thereafter recordings by such African American bluesmen as Henry Thomas (1927) and Mississippi John Hurt (1928 began ...

Article

Thompson, John  

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 ...

Article

Wheeler, Peter  

Graham Russell Hodges

Peter Wheeler was born enslaved to unknown parents on the farm of Job Mathis, a prominent farmer and shipbuilder in Egg Harbor, a coastal shipping town in New Jersey. During a childhood spent working on Mathis's farm, Wheeler learned to read and write at a Quaker school. Although Mathis's will provided for Wheeler's emancipation, on the slaveholder's death in 1804 (the year gradual emancipation was instituted in New Jersey), his heirs sold Wheeler to the farmer Gideon Morehouse.

As a slave born before 1804 Wheeler was termed a slave for life though his master s will nullified that legal condemnation Mathis s family refused to register the emancipation Thus Wheeler was forced to migrate with Morehouse to Genoa a town in Cayuga County in Upstate New York There Morehouse became a respected citizen and a trustee of the town s Presbyterian church From his master Wheeler learned ...