Thursday, 14 June 2007

A Pictorial Account of the African Slave Trade - Part 2

2. Auction of slaves

A poster on the auction of slaves in St Helena, south Atlantic, 1829

An auction taking place in Richmond, Virginia, 1861.

A slave market in Brazil, 1820s

3. Hard labour in the plantations

Slaves working in a tobacco farm in Cuba, 1850

Slaves working in a sugar mill in Surinam, 1839.

Slaves working in a sugar plantation in the West Indies, 19th century.

Slaves carrying bales of cotton to a river port in the south, 1850s

Black porters carrying sacks of coffee beans in Brazil, 1826.

Slaves husking corn in the US, south 1861.

4. Modes of punishment

Punishment was meted out to those who disobeyed their masters or mistresses, or who tried to run away. Rebellion against their masters was punishable by hanging or decapitation. Dogs were used to hunt down slaves that attempted to run away.

Slaves who participated in a revolt were hanged. Slaves convicted of major crimes were decapitated in the British West Indies. One of the drawings above (bottom left) shows two heads impaled on wooden poles.

Slaves being punished in Madagascar, 1850s. On the left, a boy wearing a heavy metal collar bent around his neck. On the left, a girl is constrained by a wooden board that is assembled from two pieces wood.

A thirteen year old servant repeatedly burnt on the back by her mistress for upsetting her. The mistress was apprehended for abuse, but released on a $5,000 bail.

A brutal whipping, witnessed by other coloured people, in Virginia in the 19th century.

A slave hanging by the ribs for participating in a revolt in Surinam, 1770s. An eyewitness described how it was done: a cut was made in the ribs and a hook was inserted in the hole. The victim survived for three days until he was clubbed to death by a guard who claimed that the victim had insulted him.

A slave being punished for running away in Brazil, 1846. He is forced to wear a tin mask. A chain is secured to his leg, probably enabling fugitive slaves to be chained to each other. It was reported that the wearing of the face mask was to prevent a slave from committing suicide by swallowing “a large quantity of strong liquor” at one go or choking himself to death by swallowing “dirt or earth”.

A female slave being punished in Surinam, 1770s. She is forced to carry a 100 pound weight chained to her ankle for several days. Her “crime” was not replying to the white person when spoken to for which she also received 200 lashes.

Although slavery has been abolished a long time ago, other forms of human trafficking still exist, particularly the sexual exploitation of women for profit.

Grateful acknowledgment for the use of photos and illustrations to: (Book cover of 'Roots') (Map of the Caribbean islands)

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