Barricade Aboard a Slave Ship

Barricade Aboard a Slave Ship (Illustration) World History Social Studies Slaves and Slave Owners

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This painting, of a ship [the Marie Seraphique] at Cap Francais (in Haiti), depicts a barricade which separated the main deck from the quarterdeck on a slave ship. 

No one could get around it by going over the top or around the sides.  Its purpose was to isolate the officers' quarters and the female slaves barracoon from the front part of the ship where male captives would come outside to eat and exercise.  

Another purpose was to create a safe area for the crew, in the event the slaves rebelled.  Loopholes, in the barricade, would provide a place for the crew to fire their muskets or use half-pikes for stabbing people.  

Often, such a ship was also equipped with two platforms to "serve as toilets for the Africans, having holes in the floor through which waste could drop into the sea."

The translated caption says: 

View of Cap Francais and the Marie Seraphique of Nantes/Captain Gaugy/the day of the opening of its [slave] sale [after] its [the ship's] third voyage from Angola, 1772, 1773.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5155stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jan 28, 2014

Updated Last Revision: Jun 16, 2015

Media Credits

Image, Library of Congress.

Watercolor, by an unknown artist, of a 1772-73 slave-barricade aboard ship. The work is maintained at the Musée du Château des ducs de Bretagne, Nantes, France.

Published in (among other works) Before Freedom Came: African-American Life in the Antebellum South, E.D.C. Campbell and KS. Rice, eds., (Univ. Press of Virginia, 1991), plate 6, p. xv.

Quotation from The Diligent:  A Voyage Through the Worlds of the Slave Trade, by Robert Harms (New York: Basic Books, 2002), at page 251.



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