Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-v

Contents

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p. ix

Illustrations and Tables

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p. xi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xvi

This book is the product of more than ten years of research and writing that began when I entered UCLA as a master’s student in African American studies. Over that time, a great many individuals have provided encouragement, assistance, and guidance. To each of these individuals, I wish to express my heartfelt appreciation. ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-14

In August 1764, the sensational case of a slaving voyage struck by multiple shipboard insurrections was widely reported in the American press, filling newspaper columns in port cities throughout the Northeast. The vessel in question was the Hope of New London, Connecticut, which limped into port at the Caribbean island of St. Thomas...

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1. Enslavement, Detention, and the Middle Passage

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pp. 15-40

In about April of 1794, a group of young African men were bought by South Carolinian slave trader Joseph Hawkins, who was trading in the rivers north of Sierra Leone. Hawkins had arrived in Africa the year before on a slaving expedition and resided inland for some time. Having finally purchased his slaves, he now faced the task of getting these men...

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2. Conditions Favorable for Revolt

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pp. 41-66

In the spring of 1750, the Bristol ship King David, commanded by Captain Edmund Holland, had purchased some 350 slaves and set sail across the ocean. The vessel left the port of Old Calabar in the Bight of Biafra destined for the West Indian island of St. Kitts. Among the Africans confined to the hold was a man who must have had some prior experience...

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3. Precautions against Revolt

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pp. 67-84

In May of 1704, the English slaver Postillion made its way down the Gambia River collecting slaves for the Royal African Company. When the vessel arrived at Joar, the ship’s captain, John Tozor, purchased one hundred slaves and was given a drum and a banisou1 by the Royal African Company’s local representative, which Captain Tozor was instructed...

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4. Revolt

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pp. 85-103

On the night of December 2, 1769, the captain and crew of an English slaver retired to their quarters as they had done so many nights before, unaware that this night was to be like no other. The ship, a Liverpool vessel named the Delight, was anchored off the coast of Little Cape Mount on the Windward Coast. ...

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5. Unsuccessful Revolts

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pp. 104-118

In the late summer of 1797, Captain Peter McQuay set sail from the West Central African port of Loango after loading his ship, the Thomas, with 375 slaves. The Liverpool ship was destined for Barbados, but the captain and many of his crew would never make it that far alive. ...

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6. Successful Revolts

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pp. 119-138

In October of 1752, more than four hundred Africans from Bonny and the Gold Coast found themselves on board the Bristol slaver Marlborough as it was about to embark on the treacherous journey across the Atlantic. Among them, twenty-eight Gold Coast Africans managed to earn the trust of the Marlborough’s master, Captain Codd...

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7. Shipboard Revolts in the Americas: A New Wave

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pp. 139-163

One fascinating case of resistance aboard a ship engaged in the international American slave trade can be seen in the incidents surrounding a revolt that occurred off the coast of Chile on the Spanish ship Tryal in the early morning hours of December 27, 1804. Of the 493 cases of insurrection identified in this study, this marks the only case of shipboard...

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Conclusion

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pp. 164-177

The poem that inspired the title of this book captures the very essence of shipboard revolt. Although written many decades after slavery and the slave trade had been abolished in the Americas, Harlem Renaissance poet Claude McKay’s “If We Must Die” conjures up images of heroic resistance in the face of overwhelming racial hatred and violence that perfectly...

Appendix: Chronology of Shipboard Slave Revolts, 1509–1865

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pp. 179-213

Notes

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pp. 215-240

Bibliography

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pp. 241-258

Index

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pp. 259-266