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Introduction In the seventeenth century, there was a settlement called Jamaica Point on Sherbro Island off the coast of Sierra Leone (see map 4). It was an important , well-fortified port town. Like the island of Jamaica in the Caribbean, Jamaica Point was also intimately bound to the Atlantic slave trade. There the British established a “slave factory” from which captive men, women, and children could be readily purchased and shipped across the Atlantic. The British were sold these captives, of course, by African slave traders catering to the Atlantic demand for captive labor.1 The naming of Jamaica Point after one of the most important British colonies in the Caribbean is indicative of the links that connected African continent and Caribbean island. Not surprisingly, most captives sold into the Atlantic slave trade from Sherbro Island were sent to Jamaica. The use of the name Jamaica Point is also testament to the fact that trans-Atlantic influences ran not only from east to west but also from west to east. At times the complex intermingling of these shifting influences seems almost impossible to disaggregate. The very name Jamaica, after all, is a corruption of Xaymaca. It was the name given to the island by its very first settlers— the indigenous population that had been resident there for centuries prior to European arrival and African forced migration. Long after those very first Jamaicans had been displaced, killed, and alienated, the name of their homeland had made it across the Atlantic so that even they had left their mark. Although the British abolished the slave trade in 1807, and after this period captives leaving Sherbro were shipped primarily to the Spanish and French Caribbean, Jamaica Point continued to be represented on British (and French) maps of Sierra Leone at least until 1840.2 The link between Africa and Jamaica was, of course, the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It was the system that facilitated the killing, capture, and sale of men, women, and children who were to be shipped across the Atlantic to forcibly provide their labor. The history of this system is, first and foremost, Map 4. Jamaica Point, Sherbro Island (Sierra Leone). Cartographer, James Wyld Jr. First published in London in 1840. Image used with the permission of Afriterra Library, Introduction · 3 then, about lives lived and lives lost. The history of these lives has been told many times, in many ways; with each retelling, efforts have been made to move one step further from “silencing the past.”3 This study adds to a growing body of scholarship on the Atlantic slave trade. In so doing, it offers a historical narrative of captives on a forced journey from Africa to Jamaica in the late eighteenth century. It uses the American Revolution, the ramifications of which were felt throughout the Caribbean, as its starting point and ends with the abolition of the British slave trade in 1807. An analysis of the men, women, and children forcibly transported to Jamaica during this thirty-two-year period offers important insights about Atlantic slave societies in general and Jamaica in particular. As the last group of captives legally transported on British slave ships, they were among the last of the enslaved to put an African stamp on Jamaican slave society. During this period, captive Africans arrived to the island in larger numbers and were part of a process of intense Africanization. The scholarship in this area is rich and varied. The arguments made in this study would have been impossible without the groundbreaking developments in slave trade studies of recent years. Perhaps the most influential of these developments is the 2009 publication of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database. The first edition of this database was published about a decade earlier, and even then it revolutionized slave trade studies as it allowed for nuanced demographic analyses that, prior to its publication, were rarely attempted. Two of the more notable exceptions to this are the pioneering demographic analyses completed by Philip Curtin and Barry Higman.4 From Africa to Jamaica uses the 2009 revised edition of the database to reassess the demographic contours of the Atlantic slave trade to Jamaica. Yet as this study makes clear, the database is at best a starting point for any demographic analysis of the slave trade. The intra-American forced migration of captives and illegal slave-trading activities are but two factors that also shed light on the number of captives transported to any particular port.5...


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