[Blackstudies-l] Finding a Slave Ship, Uncovering History

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Wed Jun 3 08:16:47 EDT 2015

   lisaparavisini posted: " An editorial from The New York Times. You can
find the story of the discovery of the slave ship here:
   Respond to this post by replying above this line
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<http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>  Finding a Slave Ship,
Uncovering History
lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>

[image: Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 11.49.32 PM]

*An editorial from The New York Times. You can find the story of the
discovery of the slave ship here:*

The trans-Atlantic slave trade that sent 12.5 million human beings in
chains from Africa to the Americas — killing about two million along the
way — has been described by the historian David Brion Davis as “one of
history’s greatest crimes against humanity.” It was driven not by hatred,
but by greed. The colonizers — including Spaniards, Portuguese, Dutch,
British, French, Danes, Swedes, Brazilians, and North Americans — wanted
cheap labor for sugar, tobacco, coffee, indigo and other goods demanded by
the aristrocracy.

This era is often reduced to an abstraction in contemporary conversation.
But the news that a team of researchers discovered the wreckage of a
Portuguese slaving ship off the coast of South Africa puts the modern world
in touch with the depravity of the enterprise. It also brings forth the
images of captives lying shackled together on their sides, like spoons in a
silverware drawer, in the filth-ridden holds of the ships that ferried
human cargo across the Atlantic for more than three centuries.

On Tuesday, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History
and Culture, along with other partners, will announce the discovery of the
wreckage of such a slave ship, the São José Paquete Africa, which went down
off the coast of southern Africa in 1794. Objects from the vessel, which
researchers say is the first discovery of a ship that went down with slaves
on board, will be placed on long-term loan to the museum. It is scheduled
to open on the National Mall in Washington next year.

As Helene Cooper explained in The Times
on Monday, Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the new museum, has long been
searching for artifacts from slave ships to illustrate the bondage and
movement of millions of people across the seas. Though there had been tens
of thousands of slave-ship voyages out of Africa, the search was long and

Finally, in 2011, a maritime archaeologist doing archival research in South
Africa came across the record, written in Portuguese, of an inquest
involving the captain of the São José. The document makes the clear
distinction between crew members, who are regarded as “men,” and the
Africans, who are not.

The ship, carrying between 400 and 500 enslaved people left the East
African country of Mozambique, on Dec. 3, 1794, on what was to be a
four-month, 7,000 mile voyage to for Brazil, which lay at the very center
of slave trade and where the Africans would be sent to work on sugar
plantations. Twenty-four days later, the ship encountered violent winds and
broke up on reefs not far from Cape Town and 100 yards from shore. The crew
survived, but half the Africans died. Those who survived were sold again
within days.

The captain’s testimony led researchers to Portugal, which with Spain, had
dominated the slave trade between the late-16th and mid-17th centuries.
There they learned that the ship had left Lisbon carrying a cargo of 1,500
iron blocks, which were used as ballasts to balance ships carrying human
cargo. The discovery of the iron blocks at the wreckage confirmed that the
ship had once carried human cargo.

The story of the São José and the enslaved Africans in its hold reminds the
modern world that the trade in human beings was carried out with the most
sophisticated tools of commerce at the time. But it provides only the
smallest glimpse of the horror endured by the millions who were stolen and
sold into bondage.

For the original editorial go to
  *lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>* |
June 2, 2015 at 11:51 pm | Tags: Atlantic trade
<http://repeatingislands.com/?tag=atlantic-trade>, slave ship
<http://repeatingislands.com/?tag=slave-ship>, slavery
<http://repeatingislands.com/?tag=slavery> | Categories: News
<http://repeatingislands.com/?cat=103> | URL: http://wp.me/psnTa-lkD

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