A Slave Ship to Remember: The Zong

M G Singh By M G Singh, 25th Jul 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1m9m6qzx/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>History

Slavery was a fact of world history. It continued till 19th centuy. Slaves were transported by ships and these slave ships by themselves are worth study. One of the most famous ships was the Zong,


Slave ships are a part of history. They were special ships that were used to cart Negro slaves from the West Coast of Africa to the United States. The route across the Atlantic Ocean normally took between 6 to 8 weeks and the slaves chanied and mancled below deck suffered a high attrition rate and about 10% died. The dead slaves were thrown over board and were the feed of the sharks that followed the slave ships in packs.Once one accepts that slavery was in a way a part of human dvelopment, the slave ships easily fit into this scenario.

The Slave Ship; the Zong

One of the most notorious ships was the Zong. This ship was constructed in England and was to be used especially for carrying slaves across the Atlantic. The Zong was an all wood structure and had special enlosures below deck to house the slaves. A replica of the Zong is still available and moored in the Thames at London. It is now a museum ship and the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery was celebrated aboard this ship about 2 years back.
One factor that was part of this chain was the slave castle. I shall have to write seperately about them.

Why is the Zong Famous

The Zong is famous for its voyage across the atlantic under command of captain Luke Collingwood. This was the first voyage of Captain Collingwood as the captain of a slave ship. this voyage took place in 1781.

Collingwood sailed from Dakar with more than 400 slaves in its holds. But the ship because variety of problems was after 6 weeks only in the mid Atlantic and still far from Jaimaca , where it was headed. Collingwood consulted his crew and despite opposition, it was decided that 120 slaves who were sick and infirm would be cast into the ocean. This was a cold blooded decision and the slaves were manacled together and cast into the ocean. As a show of soliderity 10 more slaves jumped into the waters to the chagrin of the Captain.

Bizzare goings on

Having lightened his hold, the ship reached Jaimaca a little before Christmas in 1781. The Ships owners filed a compensation claim for the 130 slaves thrown over board. The case was heard in London and the insurance company refused to pay the claim amount. The reason was that the Captain had falsely claimed that the reason for throwing the slaves over board was shortage of fresh water. In Jaimaca when the ship docked, it had over 400 litres of water.

Last Word

None of the crew were tried for murder for the deaths of 130 Negroes. On the contrary the Attorney General of England in a statement said that the slaves were just merchandise and good men could not be punished if merchandise was thrown over board. Thos e were terrible times and now 200 years later the Zong can be seen in London on the river Thames.
I am reminded that an eagle is free, but man enslaved his own kin. What a contrast
I will like to add that what looks preposterous now, was routine in that age.

All photos from wiki free


Slave Ships, Slavery, The Zong

Meet the author

author avatar M G Singh
A man who spent his early years in Air Force. An avid writer with over 6000 articles and 60 short stories published.Two novels on the anvil for publication.

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author avatar Kingwell
25th Jul 2015 (#)

Thanks Madan for a most interesting post although the story is horrifying today. You are right of course, we must accept slavery as a part of human development. The thought of dead bodies being thrown overboard is one thing but the thought of being thrown to the sharks while still alive is quite another. I hope you will write more of these stories as we need to know just how far humanity has come in just two hundred years. Some of our actions today may appear quite different to those living in the 23th century. Blessings.

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author avatar Madan G Singh
26th Jul 2015 (#)

Yes kingwell, slavery was a necessity in development of human life and though. Something inevitable

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