The Two Princes of Calabar [Chapter 3] Sparknotes

Chapter 3: “The Deplorable Condition”

  • “It is important to note that the involvement of Africans in the trade did not end on the coast of Africa, but continued during the Middle Passage, where Africans worked as sailors and interpreters on the slave ships. Some of those Africans were enslaved, but many were hired on the coast of Africa. In addition, sailors often relied on assistants from among the captives as they supervised their cargoes.”
  • The Robin Johns, unlike their fellow captives, were completely aware of their situation, which probably lead to a less terrifying experience. “…they had no fear of the white sailors on board the Duke of York; in fact, they may have known some of them already…”
  • second mate John Ashley Hall recalled that he felt at ease and safe with the captives, and that all of them could speak English. “…he believed the slave trade to be ‘perfectly illegal, and founded in blood.'”
  • The RJ’s ability to use and understand English was helpful to them.
  • “John Barbot noted that ‘all the slaves…believe that we buy them to eat them…'”; many refused to eat or drink out of depression.
  • Cpt. Bivins packed his ship too tight by slave traders’ standards, and his mortality rate was a startling 19% as opposed to the average of 14.9%.
  • Captives on his ship had less than 5 sq. ft. of space.
  • Sharks trailed the ships.
  • Many slave traders attempted to feed their captives food from their native lands, but would beat the ones who wouldn’t eat until they either ate or died.
  • John Barbot had the gall to call himself “naturally compassionate” and then go into detail about how he tortured his captives until they ate or died.
  • Traders made the slaves exercise on deck, and would beat them if they did not “dance”.
  • Trip was about 7 weeks of sailing if the weather was good.
  • Disease and violence were common.
  • The Robin Johns were lucky. They were sold together, and were sold to a French physician who treated them well (all things considered) in Dominica
  • After 7 months in Dominica, a trader named Cpt. William Sharp sailed his ship, the Peggy, into port. He found the RJs and promised to smuggle them back home to OT; however, he was a skeeze and just turned around after smuggling them out and sold them to a man in Virginia, Cpt. John Thompson.
  • Thompson was a very cruel man who beat the RJs whenever he pleased.
  • In 1772, Thompson died, and the RJs were able to escape at last on the ship Greyhound, sailed by Cpt. Terence O’Neil. He took them back to Bristol with him at the bidding of two of his sailors who were slaves fro OC.
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