Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xi

I have accumulated a great many debts in researching and writing this book about transatlantic black migration across the late eighteenth-century British empire. They are debts I can never discharge, but it is a great pleasure to have the opportunity to acknowledge a few of them here. I first seriously grappled with the questions and concerns at the heart of this book as a history graduate student at Duke University. In Durham, Janet Ewald, the late John Cell...

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Introduction: Black Migrations

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pp. 1-10

On an overcast afternoon in the wet season of 1787, three trading ships working in the Sierra Leone River were interrupted in their business by the approach of a lone British war sloop and a leash of creaking transports, the sloop firing cannon to announce its arrival. The traders already in the estuary—some, no doubt, Guineamen awaiting their human cargos—had just been joined by a...

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Part I. Captives

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pp. 11-16

By the 1740s, merchants and slave traders along the Biafran littoral and their connections in the interior succeeded in consolidating long-existing trade networks while aggressively forging new ones. In the resulting commercial transformation, the trading men and women of Bonny and Elem Kalabari (also known as New Calabar) in the eastern Niger Delta and Old Calabar in the Cross River began...

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1. The Slave Trade from the Biafran Interior: Violence, Serial Displacement, and the Rudiments of Igbo Society

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pp. 17-31

Who were they and where did they come from, the thousands of slaves who perished, passed through, or were integrated into the social fabric of Old Calabar, Bonny, and Elem Kalabari? Coming to terms with these two fundamental questions focuses attention on the matter of how enslaved migrants from the emigrant heart of the British empire were affected by their journeys. Contemporaries...

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2. The Slave Ship and the Beginnings of Igbo Society in the African Diaspora

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pp. 32-56

What did it mean to be an Igbo man or woman in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world? Was it a shared language? A spate of common beliefs and practices? A way of viewing the world? Scholars who have addressed Igbo society and culture in the African diaspora have tended to answer such questions affirmatively. Viewing Igbo society in these ways recognizes what Igbo ultimately came...

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3. White Power and the Context of Slave Seasoning in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica

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pp. 57-85

In the late eighteenth century, British slave ships loaded more captives from along the Bight of Biafra (mostly at New Calabar, Bonny, and Old Calabar, really) than from slave ports in any other region of western Africa. Across the Atlantic, the island of Jamaica was the Bight of Biafra’s American analogue. In the late eighteenth century, British ships carried more women, men,...

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4. Routines of Disaster and Revolution

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pp. 86-120

The stage on which freshly arrived Africans worked out new lives in Jamaica was formed in large measure by the whims and desires of a small number of white planters and their managers. Moreover, in the late eighteenth century the context and rhythm of slave seasoning was further shaped by peculiar environmental circumstances. In the years surrounding the American war a handful of storms...

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Part II. Voyagers

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pp. 121-124

Five days after the commissary—a man called Gustavus Vassa—handed in the last of the embarkation lists, the Atlantic, the Belisarius, and the Vernon got under way. The small convoy was charged with ferrying some four hundred black Londoners, Vassa among...

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FIVE: Social Movement and Imagining Freedom in the British Capital

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pp. 125-138

Why did hundreds of blacks depart London to hack out a British colony in Sierra Leone? An item in the Public Advertiser during the first month of 1786 starts toward an answer. The notice in question asked the city’s wellheeled merchants and gentry to focus their attention on the plight of “Asiatic Blacks”—i.e., South Asian sailors—who, dismissed from their ships, were stranded in London with little or no means of support. The missive encouraged the formation...

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SIX: Migration and the Impossible Demands of Leaving London

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pp. 139-153

By the fall of 1786, potential emigrants and their Samaritans had come to terms. Eight months of plans, proposals, and counters were slowly turning into something of actual substance. Before this time, black Londoners were obliged only to decide whether they agreed with the proposals before them. Now, they faced the harder question of whether they would put their lives behind what they had...

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SEVEN: From Slaves to Free Subjects in British North America

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pp. 154-166

The men and women who comprised the mass migration from the Maritimes mustered an ironic inf luence over the reorienting tendencies of transatlantic migration. Whereas the transatlantic social experiences of captives from the Biafran interior and of black adventurers from London can both be largely comprehended as communities made in crossing, the migration from Nova...

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EIGHT: Black Society and the Limits of British Freedom

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pp. 167-176

Loyalist emigrants from the former thirteen colonies washed over Nova Scotia in a massive wave.1 Coming first in great fleets of organized transports and then in steady streams of constantly shuttling ships, between April and late November 1783, more than sixteen thousand refugees from Britain’s failed war landed in her last North American colony. In return for their allegiance durin...

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NINE: The Effects of Exodus: Afro-Maritime Society in Motion

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pp. 177-199

Sometime around 1790—some seven winters after the first black loyalists arrived in Nova Scotia—a domestic worker along the Bay of Fundy galvanized the frustrations of settlers like William Fisher and initiated among local blacks a discussion over whether they might better their conditions by once again choosing emigration. A remark batted about at a dinner party, the story...

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TEN: Arriving in Sierra Leone: Catastrophe and Its Aftermaths

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pp. 200-243

The prospects of black voyagers bound for Sierra Leone were not so grim as those faced by captives from Africa destined for Jamaica. But prospects are only that, and the realities black colonists confronted upon landing in western Africa were nothing short of calamitous. The Londoners who disembarked...

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Conclusion: Migration and Black Society in the Eighteenth-CenturyBritish Atlantic World

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pp. 244-252

An unceremonious death, this is what awaited so many black migrants, whether slave or free, on the other sides of their transatlantic journeys. But while they lived, the ways they moved (out of the Biafran interior, out of South Carolina, out of Georgia, out of New York, out of London, out of Halifax), and the consequences of their ocean voyages (some headed east, some west, others...

Notes

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pp. 253-312

Bibliography

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pp. 313-332

Index

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pp. 333-346