In 1803 A Shipload Of Igbo Slaves Refused A Life In Chains – So They Made The Ultimate Sacrifice

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Image: Donovan Nelson via Face2Face Africa

It’s May 1803, and a boat full of captive Igbo people is making its way along the Georgia coast. Having survived the perilous journey across the Atlantic Ocean, they are en route to St. Simons Island to begin a life of slavery. Suddenly they rise up, breaking free of their chains at last. But more white men wait for them on the land, leading the Igbo to make an impossible choice.

Image: George N. Barnard

By the beginning of the 19th century, slavery had been practiced in the United States for almost two centuries. Over the years, the demand for slaves had increased as the population had grown. Many men had made their fortunes shipping captives from Africa to sell to households and plantations across the country.

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Image: Johann Moritz Rugendas

The international slave trade had begun to wane, with many states restricting the import of slaves from abroad. However, there was still money to be made in the long and dangerous journey known as the Middle Passage. Having captured men, women and children in western Africa, traders would load them aboard ships and send them across the Atlantic to America.

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