- ›› Coverage People : Olaudah Equiano
Glossary Term – Person
Olaudah Equiano (1745–1797) was an abolitionist and former slave who authored The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano; or, Gustavas Vassa, the African, Written by Himself. Equanio’s Narrative told the story of his capture and life in bondage. While he wrote that he was born in West Africa and kidnapped at about eleven years of age, historians have recently considered evidence that he was born in South Carolina. He was enslaved by a British sea captain and in 1766, purchased his own freedom and settled in...
Historian James G. Basker (Barnard College, Columbia University) discusses his latest book, American Antislavery Writings: Colonial Beginnings to Emancipation (The Library of America, 2012).
James Oliver Horton, the Benjamin Banneker Professor of American Studies and History at George Washington University, and Lois E. Horton, Professor of Sociology at George Mason University, explore the human dimension of the inhumane institution of American slavery and trace the rise of Jim Crow as a new means of racial control.
Olaudah Equiano purchased his own freedom in England and published his autobiography in 1789. Many people read Equiano’s Narrative, and his account exposing the horrors of slavery influenced Parliament’s decision to end the British slave trade in 1807.
Historians estimate that approximately 472,000 Africans were kidnapped and brought to the North American mainland between 1619 and 1860. Of these, nearly 18 percent died during the transatlantic voyage from Africa to the New World. Known as the “middle passage,” this sea voyage could range from one to six months, depending on the weather. On large ships, several hundred slaves could be packed below decks. Branded and chained together, they endured conditions of squalor, and disease and starvation claimed many lives....