Trial in Sierra Leone - Guilty Verdict Means Slavery

Trial in Sierra Leone - Guilty Verdict Means Slavery African American History Crimes and Criminals Social Studies Government Slaves and Slave Owners Trials

Before European slave traders descended on Africa—kidnapping people from their homes and villages, then transporting them to the “New World” to work as slaves—Africa had its own system of slavery.

We learn something about how it worked in Sierra Leone (a coastal country in western Africa) from a French-language book, by M. Chambon, which was published in 1764. Using unidentified sources, the author describes the people and their customs.

The top-row image, which (in its English translation) shows a “King who renders justice,” depicts a trial in process. The stakes are high, for the defendants, because if they are found “guilty,” they could become slaves.

M. Chambon (translated by Jerome Handler and Michael Tuite) tells us about the trial and the risk of slavery in Sierra Leone:

...the people in this area only enslave people whom they capture in warfare and criminals or evil-doers. The king is the chief judge; he chooses several counselors to help him decide different cases among his subjects who plead their own causes/or defend themselves. . . but so that the judges cannot show favoritism, the litigants are required to wear masks over their faces.

Click on the image for a much-better view.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Apr 07, 2014

Updated Last Revision: Apr 19, 2019

Media Credits

Image from “Le commerce de l'Amerique par Marseille,” by M. Chambon (Avignon, 1764), vol. 2, plate X, facing page 166.


A King and his Judicial Court, Sierra Leone, 1764 ; Image Reference JCB_15102-4, as shown on www.slaveryimages.org, compiled by Jerome Handler and Michael Tuite, and sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library.



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"Trial in Sierra Leone - Guilty Verdict Means Slavery" AwesomeStories.com. Apr 07, 2014. Jan 22, 2020.
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