The Two Princes of Calabar [Prologue] Sparknotes. You’re Welcome, Internet.

I’ve got to read The Two Princes of Calabar: An Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Odyssey by Randy Sparks for one of my classes, so naturally the first thing I did was see if there was a sparknotes version.

There isn’t.

So, I decided to do my good deed of the year and make a my own sparknotes knock-off.

You’re welcome, internet.


Here’s the map inserted in the front of the book:


  • 1767
  • Little Ephraim Robin John & Ancona Robin Robin John are the two princes in the title.
  • Robin John is the “last name”
  • Old Calabar is the whole section of land, split into New Town and Old Town. All of this land was ruled by slave trading families. NT & OT were constantly at odds.
  • LERJ & ARRJ were in the slave trading family of OT.
  • Grandy King George, ruler of OT, LERJ’s brother, ARRJ’s uncle
  • “Prince” was not a title of OC, English brought it over.
  • The account of LERJ & ARRJ was found in a firsthand, handwritten account.
  • Letters were written from LERJ & ARRJ to Charles Wesley, the brother of the founder of Methodism, John Wesley.
  • “But in this book I explore the impact of the rise of the Atlantic World on a particular place in time–eighteenth-century Old Calabar–through the lives of two men who were themselves products of that Atlantic World.”
  • The Robin Johns are most easily categorized as Atlantic creoles.
  • Over the course of the Atlantic slave trade, about 11 million African people were taken for slaves.
  • Guineamen – slave ships
  • Efik – ethnic group of African peoples to which the people of OC belonged
  • NT decided to persuade the English traders to help them entrap and murder hundreds of the people of OT
  • “During the bloody battle, a British captain captured two members of the ruling family of Old Town, [LERJ & ARRJ]. The captain carried the men to the Caribbean island of Dominica, where they were sold to a French physician. After several months, a ship’s captain offered to help the young men escape to freedom.”
  • Said Captain Skeeze lied. He just helped them to escape to turn around and sell them to a Virginian merchant, there making profit.
  • Five years later, the same thing happened. But this time, the captain was trying to sell them in Bristol, where Thomas Jones, a British merchant/slave trader who helped them escape the ship. They stayed in the jail there until their case was heard by the Lord Chief Justice Mansfield William Murrany, who freed them.
  • “Their case was the first dealing with slavery in Britain following the landmark Somerset case” of 1772.
  • Became close with Charles Wesley and family.
  • They tried to sail back to OC after several months in England, but were shipwrecked on a desert island off the coast of Africa for 16 days. After rescue, they had to return to England. They stayed for several more months, then finally were able to return to OC.
  • Went back to being slave traders. 

2 responses

  1. Hello there!

    Thank you so much for this 🙂 Quick question for you, overall, what most surprised you about the historical origins of slavery and the slave trade?

    • No problem! 🙂 And I think that what constantly surprises me the most about this is the way that Christians were able to justify and turn a blind eye to it for such a long time – it makes me, as a first-world Christian today, constantly question “why is this shirt only $15?” and “where did this pair of jeans really come from?” It surprises me how this whole situation can all at once seem so foreign and hit so close to home. Another surprise to me is that Little Ephraim went back into the business of slave trade after he himself had gone through years of upheaval at the hands of traders. That tidbit baffles me.

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