The captive's experience and slave resistance

The captive’s experience and slave resistance

The Captive’s Experience

  • Captives were usually taken from their homes in West Africa and sold to slave merchants. They were overwhelmingly from societies with varying cultures and languages which added to the isolation they experienced during their ordeal.
  • The journey across the Atlantic, known as the Middle Passage, was an extremely horrific experience. Captives were packed tightly into the cargo decks of slave ships and forced to endure unsanitary conditions.
  • Diseases such as dysentery and smallpox were widespread on the slave ships, contributing to a high death rate among captives during the Middle Passage.
  • Once in the Americas, enslaved Africans were sold at auctions where families were often forcibly separated and individuals were sold to the highest bidder.
  • The treatment of the enslaved on the plantations was brutal and dehumanising. Captives endured long working hours, harsh physical punishment, inadequate food, and poor living conditions.

Slave Resistance

  • Despite the harsh conditions, captives resisted their captivity in a variety of ways. Passive resistance included work slow-downs, sabotage of equipment, and feigned illness.
  • Enslaved Africans demonstrated active resistance as well. This included running away, violent rebellions, and protesting against their inhumane treatment.
  • One of the most significant slave revolts was the Haitian Revolution in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, which began in 1791. The revolt was led by enslaved Africans and resulted in the first independent nation in Latin America.
  • In the British colonies, uprisings such as the Jamaican Maroon War, showed the spirit of rebellion and the desire for freedom among the enslaved.
  • Resistance often led to brutal punishments from the slave owners. However, these acts of rebellion played a critical role in gaining attention and sympathy for the abolitionist cause in Europe and the Americas.