Slavery in 1844
HISTORICAL NOTES FROM THE STORY
From the 1400s through the 1800s, a period of about 500 years, it’s estimated that 7–12 million Africans were taken out of western/central Africa to be sold as slaves in the “new world.” Colonialism by Europeans and others from North and South America were demanding cheap labor to economically grow special crops for trade and to supply their mother countries. The growing demand served to increase the value and hence the price for obtaining cheap labor. The solution, since Biblical times, has been slavery.
Not as historically well known, during the period from the 7th to the 19th century, the Arab slave trade took over 18 million Africans from the continent through the trans-Saharan and Indian Ocean routes to sell them to the Muslim countries around the Mediterranean.
From 1807 to 1860, the British West Africa Squadron seized 1,600 slave ships and returned nearly 150,000 Africans to the continent – but it was a mere 1% of all those taken out through West Africa. No one knows how many Africans died on board the slave ships during the 2–3 months it took to make the middle passage en route to the slave auctions. Estimates range from 20-30% or more of those who left Africa from the west coast died of disease, ill treatment, jumping overboard as a result of grief, sea sickness, home sickness, mutinies, and the just plain filthy conditions on the slave ships. Another 10–12% died even after reaching their destination or from excessive physical abuse, slave uprisings and being overworked.
The fictional Qua-shee was a slave. His owner was Captain Fuentes, captain of a Spanish slave ship. While a captive, he was brought to Captain Fuentes’ attention because of his ability to speak many Spanish words and sentences after only a month on board. While en route to Cuba from Africa, Captain Fuentes gave Qua-shee the opportunity to become more sufficiently fluent in Spanish, and over the next 2 ½ years in Cuba, he polished his Spanish and learned the basics of the English language. Cuba had been a British property, but was traded to Spain in exchange for Florida. Qua-shee went on to learn three additional European languages while Captain Fuentes leased him to other slave captains on their way to Africa to bring back more African captives.
Qua-shee’s language skills eventually led him to the chance meeting with Daneshi, the fictional captured Ashanti Princess who became the love of his life. Both of their lives were redefined as a result and the story goes on in their lives together. His name, Qua-shee was the name given to all males born on a Sunday. Other defining names would be added over time. All males of his and other tribes had similar names given to boys and girls based on the day of the week they came into the world.
According to the actual law in both America and Great Britain, slavery was illegal in 1844 and had been since 1807. Other active slave nations followed and by 1844 most all of the major players in the international slave trade had also made trafficking in slavery an illegal undertaking.
In Cuba, the slave trade was still legal, or at least openly accepted. The business of buying and selling people of any color was as brisk as ever. Cuba was one of the two busiest distribution centers for the selling of slaves at public auction. Portugal was the other country where fresh slaves continued to be welcomed and sold. Slaves arrived almost daily to be auctioned to the highest bidders in both of these locations. Buyers came from nations everywhere. In Cuba, as Captain Fuentes’ slave, Qua-shee witnessed the seemingly endless arrival of cargo ships loaded with slaves packed in the ships of almost every nation known to man. In chains, the captives were herded naked as the day they were born, straight to the auction blocks in the town center for inspection by buyers. The treatment and conditions of the tormented people who had been ripped from their homes by others of their own kind, tore at Qua-shee’s heart.
Though Qua-shee lived as a slave in Captain Fuentes small plantation, he existed in a favored status without having to endure the whips and chains like so many of his brothers and sisters from Africa. He worked closely with the Captain and spoke only Spanish all the while, and learned much of the culture of the West as could be found in Cuba. When Qua-shee was leased to other slavers, he replicated the same undertaking by learning to speak French and Portuguese, as well as improving his understanding of the English language. Captain Fuentes thereby turned him into an interpreter who understood the speech of the slavers’ captains and also the dialects of many of the Africans on board the slave ships. He was literally a hired interpreter, one who understood various African dialects as well as being able to communicate with the officers and many of the sailors on board a slave ship. He received no pay. As a slave, payment for his services went to Captain Fuentes. It was the start of a new life with no further hint of his previous one beyond his status as an exceptional warrior.
SLAVERY IN THE UNITED STATES IN 1850
Below are some interesting points of information retrieved from “The History of Slavery and the Slave Trade, Ancient and Modern.” Its subtitle, “The African Slave Trade and the Political History of Slavery in the United States.” It was compiled by H.O. Blake and printed in Columbus, Ohio in 1857 – 1858. It is a hard bound volume of 840 pages of accurate, historic information written by British and American frigates captains, owners of slavers who made the runs to and from Africa, and by others who had recorded information for many years before that book was published. It is 6 1/2 x 10 inches in size and it is 2 1/2 inches thick. The following two paragraphs appeared in that book.
“Slavery was first introduced into the North American colonies in 1620 by a Dutch vessel which landed a portion of her human merchandise at Jamestown, Virginia. The event was almost simultaneous with the landing of the Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock, December 22nd, 1620. In buying and holding Negro slaves, the Virginians did not suppose themselves to be violating any law, human or divine. Whatever might be the case with the law of England, the law of Moses, in authorizing the enslavement of ‘strangers,’ seemed to give to the purchase of Negro slaves an express sanction. The number of Negroes in the colony, limited as it was to a few cargoes brought at intervals by Dutch traders, was too small to make the matter appear of much moment, and more than forty years elapsed before the colonists thought it necessary to strengthen the system of slavery by any express enactments.
In the colony of Massachusetts a body of fundamental laws was established in 1641. One of the articles, based on the Mosaic code, provides that, ‘ there shall never be any bond slavery, villainage, nor captivity among us, unless it be lawful captives, taken in just wars, and such strangers as willingly sell themselves or are sold unto us, and these shall have all the liberties and Christian usages which the law of God established in Israel requires. This exempts none from servitude who shall be judged thereto by authority.’ This article sanctions the slave-trade and the holding of Negroes and Indians in bondage. This seems to be the first positive enactment in the colonies on the subject of slavery.”
The slave population in the United States amounted, in 1850, to 3,204,313; exhibiting an increase for the last decade, (1840-1850) of 715,858. Of the slaves in 1850, 2,957,657 were black, or of unmixed African descent, and 246,656 were mulatto. The free colored population in 1850 amounted to 434,495; of whom 275,400 were black and 159,095 mulattoes. The total number of families holding slaves was, by the same census, 347,525.
U.S.CENSUS OF 1850 – Slave Population By State
New Jersey 236
North Carolina 288,548
South Carolina 384,984
Utah Territory 26
The story told in this book is entirely fictional. However, the names of all the ships are actual names of slave ships of the period and the actual name of the British Frigate from the British Royal Navy so named in this story. Captain Foote, Captain of the actual HMS Madagascar is the real name of the British Captain of the Frigate that was part of the British and American fleet assigned to interdict slave ships off the coast of West Africa during the same period as this story. He was historically credited with interdicting six slavers and returning their African cargo of potential slaves to Africa before they could reach their illegal ports in the West. Five of the ships he interdicted are known and are recorded in British history. The name of the sixth slaver he interdicted was recorded as “not known.” (Could it have been the Andorinha, with Qua-shee and Daneshi on board, thus saving its name from ignominy?)
The names of the tribes, the Ashanti and the Koromantyn, are actual historical tribes from the interior of Africa. Their roots and their culture go back hundreds of years and have intermixed with other advancing populaces in the continent over time. As Africa went through its extreme transformation to become a rich source of human history and success stories during the last 100 years, slavery within the continent has continued within itself in many places.
Slavery has been with mankind since warfare has existed in the earliest of mankind’s history. It still exists in our day in many different forms and it exists in virtually every country in the world, in various forms. Slavery in the United States began before there even was a United States of America, as noted above. Its rationalization as a valuable form of labor that helped build our country from the beginning cannot be disputed, but its principles and justifications are as flawed and misguided as were those of any supposed humane civilization that has ever existed. No race, no skin color, no religion, no nationality and no peoples in the world today are exempt from its hellish imprisoning punishment. One day, the one true God of our universe will delete it from the world he created.