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Article

Baartman, Sara  

Jodie N. Mader

an enslaved woman from South Africa, placed on public display in nineteenth-century Britain and France, where she became known as the “Hottentot Venus.” “Hottentot” was a derogatory word used to describe groups now called “Khoisan” and likely derived from European disparagement of so-called click languages. She was born to a Khoisan family in an area north of the Gamtoos River valley in the eastern Cape Colony. Her name is written sometimes as “Saartjie” (Afrikaans); however, the Anglophone “Sara” is most commonly used. Her mother died when she was an infant, and her father was a cattle driver. A commando raid in 1810 by the Dutch Boers decimated her village, and Baartman, now orphaned, was sent to the Cape to be sold into slavery.

Pieter Cesars a freed black purchased her She became a nursemaid for his brother Hendrik Cesars and his wife Anna Catharina The British physician Alexander Dunlop saw ...

Article

Baartman, Sarah  

John Gilmore

Also known as Sara or Saartjie, and as Bartman (1788?–1815/16), a member of the Khoisan people of southern Africa, exhibited as a ‘freak’ in 19th‐century Britain. Her original name is unknown, but when she was employed by a Dutch farmer called Peter Cezar, she was given the Afrikaans name of Saartjie [Little Sarah] Baartman, and this was later Anglicized in various forms. In 1810 she was brought to Britain by Peter Cezar's brother Hendric [or Henrick], a Boer farmer at the Cape, and Alexander Dunlop, a British army surgeon. Dunlop soon sold his interest in the enterprise to Cezar, who made money by exhibiting Baartman in London and elsewhere in Britain under the name of ‘the Hottentot Venus’. ‘Hottentot’ was a traditional derogatory term for Khoisan people, while ‘Venus’ appears intended to refer to the idea of ‘the Sable Venus or more generally ...

Article

Barber, Francis  

Vincent Carretta

servant to Samuel Johnson, was the son of an unidentified enslaved woman in Jamaica. His father may have been his owner, Richard Bathurst, a colonel in the Jamaica militia. Barber’s slave name, Quashey, suggests that his mother may have come from the Akan-speaking area of Africa that is now Ghana. Quashey was one of only four slaves Colonel Bathurst kept when he sold his 2,600-acre sugar plantation and 140 slaves in Jamaica in 1749. Barber later recalled having been 7 or 8 years old when Colonel Bathurst brought him to London, England, in 1750 to live with his son, Dr. Richard Bathurst, a close friend of Samuel Johnson. Johnson was soon to become the most eminent man of letters in the British Empire.

Colonel Bathurst had Quashey baptized and renamed Francis Barber in London The date and place of his baptism are unknown He sent Barber to Yorkshire for ...

Article

Barberá, Ana Josefa  

Eduardo R. Palermo

was born in Africa in the mid-eighteenth century and brought to the River Plate region as a slave at an unknown date. After she was freed and purchased her own land, Barberá donated her property for the establishment of Tacuarembó, a city in northern Uruguay, in 1832. The donation represents the only documented case of a person of African descent contributing land for the subsequent founding of a town or city.

The existing historical record refers to Barberá as a freedwoman or “morena libre.” Until the late 1790s, she is registered as residing in rural northern Uruguay, with the respective landowner’s permission. She settled at the intersection of the Tranqueras and Tacuarembó Chico rivers, a site that became known among locals as “el rincón de Tía Ana” (Aunt Ana’s Corner). In July 1804 in Montevideo Barberá signed a commitment to officially purchase the plot of land with an ...

Article

Belle, Dido Elizabeth  

Asselin Charles

a mixed-race member of a noble Scottish family, was the illegitimate daughter of Captain John Lindsay of the Royal Navy and a slave of African origin, Maria Belle. Her parents met in the West Indies where Maria may have been captured from a Spanish ship. Belle may have spent part of her childhood in Pensacola, Florida, where Captain Lindsay was stationed for a year, from 1764 to 1765. He brought the child to England. His uncle, William Murray, first Earl of Mansfield, and his wife were childless. They were already raising another motherless great-niece, Elizabeth Murray, and they took Dido into their household, perhaps as a companion for Elizabeth. She was baptized on 20 November 1766 in St George s Bloomsbury London the parish church of Lord Mansfield s London house in Bloomsbury Square Her age is given as 5 years and her father is recorded as a ...

Article

Belley, Jean-Baptiste  

Philippe Girard

also known as Jean-Baptiste Mars or Timbaze, was a slave, freedman, officer, and deputy from the French colony of Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti). He was the first black deputy in the French Parliament and introduced the 1794 law that abolished slavery in the French colonies.

Belley’s origins are uncertain. By his own account, he was born on Gorée Island near present-day Senegal around 1747 and transported to Cap-Français (Cap-Haïtien) around the age of 2, presumably as part of the Atlantic slave trade. Another document, however, lists his birthplace as Léogane in 1755 Saint-Domingue. After obtaining his manumission, Belley, like many free people of color, acquired slaves. As a member of a Dominguan mixed-race unit, he may also have taken part in the 1779 siege of Savannah in support of the American Revolution, where he allegedly gained the warlike nickname of “Mars.”

Belley’s role during the Haitian Revolution, which began in 1789 ...

Article

Biassou, Georges/Jorge  

Jane G. Landers

former slave who became one of the leaders of the 1791 slave revolt on Saint-Domingue, was born on that French Caribbean island in the late eighteenth century. Biassou’s African-born mother, Diana, was a slave in Providence Hospital, affiliated with the Fathers of Charity, in the capital city of Cap-Français. Nothing is known of his father, Carlos. As an adult, Biassou served as a slave driver on a sugar estate owned by the Jesuit order in Haut de Cap. On 14 August 1791 Biassou joined other slave drivers at the Lenormand de Mézy plantation to plan the revolt that changed history. On 22 August 1791 several thousand slaves across the island’s northern plain set fire to the cane fields and great houses, and smashed the sugar-refining equipment on more than thousand plantations.

After the revolt s leader Boukman Dutty was killed Biassou assumed command of the slave armies sharing leadership with ...

Article

Crioula, Mariana  

Mariana de Aguiar Ferreira Muaze

a Brazilian-born slave, accused of helping to lead a slave uprising that broke out in 1838 in Paty do Alferes, a coffee production center in the southeastern province of Rio de Janeiro, known as the Quilombo de Manuel Congo. Mariana was married to a slave named José, a field hand, and both were owned by Captain-Major Manoel Francisco Xavier (?–1840), a wealthy landowner of many coffee plantations and approximately five hundred slaves. Even though the captured slaves who participated in the revolt often referred to her as the “queen” of the quilombo (Maroon community), Mariana Crioula was acquitted of all charges in January 1839.

Crioula was a seamstress and worked as a maid for Francisca Elisa Xavier (1786–1865), the wife of Manoel Francisco Xavier, at the Maravilha fazenda plantation Despite her married status she lived and slept at the main house serving her mistress ...

Article

Fabien, Louis  

Silyane Larcher

was born on 17 March 1794 in Fort Royal (now Fort-de-France), Martinique. The legitimate son of Louis Fabien, a freeman of color, and Françoise-Julienne Capieau, a freewoman of color, he grew up with seven brothers and sisters in a prominent family from Fort Royal. As a carpenter, hat seller, tanner, and owner of a cabaret, the elder Fabien was a well-known figure in the local urban community of gens de couleur.

Little information is available about Louis Fabien Jr., an assistant trader (commis de négociant) and business owner in Fort Royal, other than that he was among the convicted after the famous “Bissette affair.” In 1823 several freemen of color were arrested, accused of spreading “seditious libel” by circulating a pamphlet titled De la situation des gens de couleur libres des Antilles françaises On the Situation of the Free People of Color in the French Antilles ...

Article

Gladstone, John  

David Dabydeen

Slave owner, instigator of the ‘coolie trade’, and father of the British prime minister William Ewart Gladstone (1809–98). Sir John Gladstone was a leading member of the West Indian Association of Liverpool, a group of plantation owners and merchants trading with the West Indies in slave‐produced commodities. He owned sugar estates in Jamaica and British Guiana and was a passionate opponent of abolition. In 1830, in a series of last‐ditch attempts to persuade the government not to end West Indian slavery, Gladstone (then a member of Parliament and spokesman for the West India interest) argued that slavery was normal in primitive societies, and that West Indian Blacks had peculiar constitutions, enabling them to work easily under a tropical sun. He held up the dreadful prospect of freed slaves slaughtering the smaller white populations.

In 1833 Gladstone was deputed by Liverpool's West Indian interest ...

Article

Hilario Congo  

Daryle Williams

Free African liberated in Brazil whose multiple efforts to secure “full freedom” led to an important diplomatic-juridical exchange between the governments of Brazil and Britain in 1853–1854, was likely born in the late 1820s or early 1830s, somewhere in the hinterlands of northern Angola. (It should be noted that the term “Free African” is a discrete proper noun applied to Africans liberated under special legal conditions of the suppression of the slave trade. It is distinct from “a free African,” which would mean any African who was not enslaved.)

Angola was a region that supplied the insatiable demands of Brazilian slave markets once the legal trade through Luanda was shut down around 1831. Through a surprisingly rich set of historical documentation related to Africans rescued from the Brazilian-flag slave ship Cezar it is possible to reconstruct significant portions of Hilario s life in Brazil during his successive ...

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

Kingsley, Anna Madgigine Jai  

Philippe Girard

also known as Anta Majigeen Njaay or Anna Madgigine Jai, was an African-born slave, freedwoman, and planter who spent her adult life in North America and the Caribbean. Kingsley, originally named Anta Majigeen Njaay, came from the present-day country of Senegal on the western coast of Africa. Her exact birth date is unknown. Her ethnic background was Wolof, so she may have come from the Jolof Empire. She may have been exported through Gorée Island, a prominent slave-trading emporium near present-day Dakar, Senegal. After enduring the Middle Passage, she arrived on the Danish ship Sally in Havana, Cuba, in July 1806.

In October 1806 Kingsley was purchased by Zephaniah Kingsley Jr a Bristol born Quaker planter and merchant who had successively lived in England the United States and the Danish West Indies He was supportive of slavery an institution that underpinned his vast wealth but also progressive in ...

Article

Lawrence, Fenda  

Assan Sarr

, notable Gambian slave trader, was a free black woman and a relatively wealthy merchant who visited the American South in the second half of the eighteenth century, largely but not exclusively to trade in slaves and other things. She was partner to an English merchant with the last name of Lawrence. Fenda Lawrence traveled to the British North American colonies (now the United States) with respect and status as a person of color. At the time she was described in some European sources as a considerable trader in the River Gambia on the Coast of Africa.

Fenda Lawrence most likely met Englishman Lawrence (first name unknown) when he came to the Gambia River to trade. Her status was similar to that of other female merchants in precolonial Gambia (then Senegambia) of the time who had European partners. Like many of these signares as they were called she had ...

Article

Lewsham (Newsham), Amelia  

Kathleen Chater

was born in Jamaica, the daughter of house slaves of Sir Simon Clarke, a member of the Council of Jamaica. Nothing is known of Amelia’s early life in Clarke’s household, but she had a condition, albinism, that was to change her future.

Albinism is an inherited genetic condition that prevents production of the normal amount of the skin pigment melanin. Although Amelia’s features were those of her parents of African origin, her skin, eyes, and hair were abnormally fair. It now seems distasteful to gawk at physical peculiarities, but this was not the case in the eighteenth century. Amelia and others like her were not regarded with revulsion or embarrassed pity, as they might be today, but as evidence of the wonders of nature. Clarke was determined to improve his family fortunes, and he decided that such a remarkable source of interest could not remain unexploited.

When she was about ...

Article

Lindsay, Dido Elizabeth  

Leslie Primo

Reputed daughter of Sir John Lindsay, then in the Royal Navy, on duty in the West Indies about 1760–5. Sir John discovered Dido's mother, a slave, on board a captured Spanish ship. She was brought to England, where it was speculated that a brief relationship between them resulted in Dido's birth. Soon after her birth, and for reasons unknown, Dido (also known as Belle) was taken to Kenwood House to be brought up with her ‘cousin’ Lady Elizabeth Murray by Lord and Lady Mansfield, Sir John Lindsay's uncle. Lord Mansfield was the Lord Chief Justice who would later be responsible for the landmark ruling of 1772 that freed the runaway slave James Somerset (see Somerset case). Sir John Lindsay died in 1788, when Dido was 25, leaving £1,000 in his will to share between Dido and a mysterious ‘brother’.

Dido lived at Kenwood for ...

Article

Mãe Preta  

Micol Seigel

a mythical figure of black womanhood popularized in post-independence Brazilian history and memory. She is a composite of enslaved Afro-Brazilian wet nurses and domestic workers, conjured as an archetype in literature, music, art, public monuments, and political movements. Her image has served a range of ideological missions, shifting in relation to changing social hierarchies, race relations, labor migrations, gender conventions, and urban demography. Revealing as much about the eras that produced them as the historical people her images represent, views of her persona have oscillated from romantic fantasy to antipathy to nostalgia to critique.

For much of the nineteenth century, the Mãe Preta functioned as an iteration of the myth of the faithful slave, free of the risk of sexual corruption represented by the mulata. As the century progressed, particularly after the Law of the Free Womb of 1871 abolitionists invoked a contrastingly menacing Mãe Preta to sound ...

Article

Newton, John  

John Gilmore

Clergyman of the Church of England who led what he later considered to be a reprobate youth and worked in the slave trade. It was while on a slaving voyage (1748–9) that he experienced a religious conversion. Nevertheless, he continued to work in the slave trade, and made three more voyages before retiring from the sea in 1754. He became widely known as an evangelical Christian, and was eventually ordained as a clergyman of the Church of England in 1764, serving first in the parish of Olney in Buckinghamshire, and later, from 1780 until his death, at St Mary Woolnoth in London.

At Olney, Newton became a close friend of the poet William Cowper, and together they wrote the collection known as the Olney Hymns. Newton's own contributions include the words to some of the best known hymns in the English language ...

Article

Peters, Thomas  

Jeremy Rich

leader of African-American settlement in Sierra Leone, was born sometime around 1738. Some sources contend Peters was born in a Yoruba-speaking community in what later became Nigeria, but the lack of documentation makes identifying his origins extremely difficult. These same accounts contended he came from a wealthy family, but that he was captured by rivals and sold to Europeans. It is clear that he was brought to Louisiana by French slave traders around 1760 aboard the ship Henri IV. Since French ships purchased slaves from Senegal to Congo and Madagascar, his background is unknown. Peters managed repeatedly to escape different slave masters in the 1760s and early 1770s Later accounts claimed Peters was branded whipped and tortured for his rebelliousness At some point a wealthy slave owner named William Campbell purchased Peters and put his new acquisition to work at a mill in Wilmington North Carolina ...

Article

Sancho, Ignatius  

Leyla Keough

Ignatius Sancho was born on a slave ship en route to the West Indies; both of his parents died during the journey, casualties of the Middle Passage. Never having lived in Africa, Sancho was in many ways a product of Western civilization. His letters, written between 1768 and 1780, and published posthumously in 1782, proved to the English public that an African could not only master the language and literature of England but become a discriminating reader and a discerning critic.

Upon arriving in Britain, Sancho was bought by three sisters in Greenwich who treated him poorly and denied him education. But the sisters' neighbors, the Duke and Duchess of Montague, were impressed by Sancho's curiosity about books and his quick mind and secretly lent him materials to read. In 1749 when the sisters threatened to sell him into American slavery Sancho fled to the ...