Documents from the Atlantic Slave Trade


by Elizabeth Donnan, editor,

This file contains notes on several documents associated from the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Elizabeth Donnan, editor, Documents Illustrative of the History
of the Slave Trade to America, vol. IV, "The Border Colonies and
the Southern Colonies" (Washington, DC: The Carnegie Institute of
Washington, 1935).
JJones collection

Document 367, "Voyage of John Hawkins, 1793-1795"       
pp494-500

     This document was written by John Hawkins, the supercargo on
     a slave trip from Charleston SC to the West African coast at
     Rio Pongo and Rio Nunez.  Both rivers are in the modern-day
     country of Guinea northwest of the capital of Conakry. 
     (Don't confuse the country of the Republic of Guinea with
     the "Guinea Coast" of European trade.)

p495 The footnote refers to a slave ship that belonged to the
     Charleston SC firm of Mann and Foltz, which sailed in 1803
     under Danish registry and was captured by the French.  The
     footnote also mentions the Delos Islands which were located
     off of the coast adjacent to Conakry, Guinea.

p495 Coastal Africans tried to trade fruit and ivory with
     Hawkins' crew, but they were only interested in slaves.

p496 What do you think of Hawkin's reasoning that slavery was
     terrible, but it was better to buy slaves in order to rescue
     them from the terrible conditions of African slavery?

p497 Hawkins had two wives and a partner named Hurdee.  Who were
     these people?  What were their motives in associating with
     Hawkins?

p498 How did slaves behave on the trip to the coast?  Was their
     behavior rational?

p499 Once on the ship, the captives tried to revolt, and were
     subdued with gun fire with one slave dead and one lost
     overboard.

p500 On 15 June 1794, the ship finally left African waters loaded
     with about 500 slaves, although fifty were in bad health.

---------------------------------------------------------------
Document 375, "Negroes Imported into South Carolina, 1805"   
p508

p508 This document lists ships that entered Charleston harbor and
     unloaded slaves.  You should be able to identify the sources
     of slaves like Angola, Congo, Gold Coast, Goree and Gambia. 
     "Windward Coast" means the coast between Senegal and Gold
     Coast, including the coast of modern Guinea.  Bonny is near
     the mouth of the Niger River.

p509 Footnote #4 concerns the ship "Republican" which arrived
     from Goree on 2 May 1805.  In January 1806, the same ship
     failed to enter Charleston harbor, and sold its slaves in
     Havana for sugar, which it then brought back to Chalreston
     for sale.

p510 This list of slave ships owners includes both small
     businessmen and large entreprises that owned many ships. 
     The William Boyd firm of Great Britain was one of the
     biggest.  Elsewhere in this volume, another document reveals
     that Boyd was from Scotland, but lived in Charleston
     since the 1790s.

p511 According to footnote #2, Charleston merchants did not begin
     to trade directly with Africa until fairly late.  Instead,
     they were accustomed to buying slaves from merchants in
     Havana or other Caribbean ports.

p512 The announcement on 18 November 1805 for the sale of the
     slave ship "Margaret" includes the kind of information you
     would expect to find in a used car advertisement.  What kind
     of people read and responded to such an advertisement?

pp513-515 Note how many more ships brought slaves to Charleston
          in 1807 compared to 1806.  The next document provides a
          possible reason for this.

----------------------------------------------------------------
Document 445, "Act to Prohibit the Importation of Slaves into the
United States, 1807"
pp666-671

p666 The US passed a law in 1807 outlawing the importation of
     slaves or participation by US citizens in the overseas slave
     trade beginning 1 January 1808.